Saturday, March 07, 2009

Longtown Poultry Auction

A sale of poultry and poultry equipment is put up for auction a couple of times each year at the Longtown Auction. There was one such auction this morning. My pal Isobel and I had made plans to attend today's auction. Isobel (Izzy) picked me up just at 9.00 this morning and she drove us the 12 miles or so to Longtown and the famous auction mart.
Izzy was glad to have a little break from the sheep as sheep farmers are in the middle of lambing season at the moment. Izzy and her husband have been up to their elbows in sheep at all hours during the past few weeks ensuring that the latest crop of lambs come into the world safely.

I have only ever been to one other poultry auction here and that was over 10 years ago. I must say that these auctions are certainly growing in popularity! It was very crowded!
All the poultry enthusiasts come down from the hills!
There are signs requiring people to wash their footwear. This is for foot and mouth disease prevention.
Here are the pens that hold larger animals (sheep and cattle) during other auctions on other days.

Izzy and I got there just before the auction was to start and we found that we couldn't get inside to view the pens very easily. I'm glad we were not there to bid on anything because in addition to the crowds viewing the stock, there was a huge queue to register for an auction number and to buy a catalogue.

There were two auction rings used today for selling. One smaller auction ring was selling caged birds (canaries, budgies etc.) and poultry supplies while the main ring was being used to auction off eggs for hatching and the hundreds of ducks, geese, pheasants, quail, peacocks, turkeys and of course chickens!

We began our visit by looking at the equipment - not so crowded in this area -
I got some ideas for nest boxes I realize that I didn't get any photos of the huge crowds. Judging by my photos of the empty livestock pens, the place looks positively deserted. The mart was actually heaving with people. We had to walk sideways (excuse me . . . .pardon me . . . . can I slip by . . . ) the entire time we were in the big hall.

Here are some examples of the fine poultry up for auction today:Buff SussexSpeckled Sussex - these were gorgeous and my photo doesn't do them justice -Maran - lay beautiful dark brown eggsBuff OrpingtonQuailGolden Pheasant

The following video clip from my camera gives you some idea of the noise levels we experienced today.

Though neither Isobel or I bought anything, it was great fun to look, people watch and foster outlandish and impractical ideas about raising more poultry than either of us need. If we bought an incubator and more wire mesh . . . .

The few chickens that I keep at the moment keep us well supplied with enough eggs for our family and a few surplus for our neighbours. I like my hybrid layers. They do a spectacular job. The three pure breed hens are nice as well and they lay beautiful dark brown designer eggs when they feel like it. In my opinion these eggs do not show up often enough to justify the hens' space in my coop. I toy with the idea of turning these less productive chickens into soup, but the thought of all that plucking and cleaning keeps the poor layers from the chopping block. A more industrious and frugal poultry owner would have done away with them a long time ago but my idleness and (if I'm honest) mild sentimentality allows them to live on.

Perhaps this summer, I will get my act together with regard to these chickens. The non-productive ones could be culled and fresh birds will be brought in. I could then justify the expense of some fancy nest boxes . . . I could get nest boxes at the next poultry auction.

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