I had my heart set on buying the duck at the Taos County Fair’s junior livestock auction Saturday. The duck, a creamy brown and white, was in her cage in the section where the fowl and rabbits were kept. She was this year’s grand champion.
My job as the managing editor of the newspaper is to bid and buy an animal raised by a 4-H’er. This is my seventh auction.
|Cora with her champion duck, Daisy
In the past I’ve bought goats (a favorite animal since my grandparents raised milking goats), ducks, and last year, the grand champion goose. As our tradition, we always give the animal back to the kid who raised it.
While I’m not an old hand like many in the audience, I’ve learned a few things about the auction. First, I scope out the animals. Hence, I wanted the duck.
Next, it takes the audience a bit to warm up to bidding. That’s how I got the champion goose last year for a good price.
Steer and pigs go for a lot of money. One hog went for $625 Saturday, presumably won by someone who will have it butchered. But then again, so do goats, sheep, chickens, and even rabbits later in the auction. Sometimes people will jack up the price because they know the kid raising the animal. Sometimes there are bidding wars when people get carried away, which are fun.
I’m not an animal expert. But I loved the duck. Daisy, whose name I learned later, was the second animal up for bid. Cora, the 4-H’er who raised her, held the duck in her arms as she paraded her around the ring.
I raised my paddle — in the shape of a cowboy hat, no less, with my number on one side — to start the bidding at fifty bucks. Someone on the other side did the same. The auctioneer went back and forth in increments of ten bucks. In the end, my bid of $270 was the winning one. People clapped.
Afterward another tradition: I meet the 4-H’er. We pose for a picture. And then I say the kid can keep the animal. A couple of times when I bought goats, the 4-H’er wanted me to take them.
But Cora is happy. Daisy is a pet and obviously a beloved one. She dressed Daisy with a bow and a beaded necklace around her neck. She explained Daisy is an Indian Runner. She doesn’t waddle like other ducks. She has five at home.
Cora is planning to show Daisy at the state fair. I hope she wins.