Field Trip!
Small Farm Animal Auction



A couple of weekends ago the fella and I were deciding what to do for the day.  Actually that’s a lie.  I’ve started off with a lie.  We weren’t lounging around the house deciding what to do like a happily ever after couple.  The fella was off somewhere doing something and I was off doing something, when I remembered it was the Small Animal Farm Auction.

I waited for him to get home and the second he walked in the door  I said, “You have to go to the Farm Auction with me so I don’t feel like an idiot there taking pictures of goats all by myself.”  He said, Will it take more than an hour?  I said No, and the deal was made.

We drove up to the small town/enclave/village/series of streets called Rockton.  Home of the World Famous Rockton Fair.  What do you mean you’ve never heard of it?

Right there on the fairgrounds a miracle was happening.  People were buying and selling small farm animals.

Farm Animal Auction 21


When we got there I immediately looked for a goat.  There was no goat.  At all.

There were hens and roosters and chickens and bunnies and turkeys but … no goats.  I turned around to leave but the fella convinced me to stay.  I would like to say he was being supportive, but the truth is he spotted hamburgers for sale at the back of the hall.

So while he ate what he described as the most delicious burger EVER (farm raised, grass fed, local beef) I strolled around to look at the wares.

Farm Animal Auction 18



I didn’t buy any farm animals.

That’s probably the first thing you’re wondering, so I thought it best to address that right away. Although I did have a fondness for this special little guy.


Farm Animal Auction 3


That was a turkey by the way.  There were aisles and aisles of small farm animals in boxes.  It was all very interesting but these people had obviously never seen a Restoration Hardware catalogue before.  Their display tactics were appalling.

Farm Animal Auction 19


In all of those cardboard boxes were full grown birds just waiting for a home.

Farm Animal Auction 13


How does a farm animal auction work exactly?  A man who looks like a farmer auctions stuff off.  And that’s pretty much it.  It’s way more fun than it sounds.  And let me tell you, chickens go cheap. A box of 4 Ameraucanas went for about $20.

Farm Animal Auction 5


There were also ducks at the auction. People love their ducks.  There are even people who love ducks more than chickens.  There really is nothing cuter than a duckling.

Farm Animal Auction 7


I loved this Silver Laced Cochin.

Farm Animal Auction Collage 1


Among all the cardboard boxes and milk jugs used as shipping crates, there was one crate that stood out amongst them all. The crate that was labelled safe for airline shipping.  For the well travelled duck.


Farm Animal Auction 9



More cochins …

Farm Animal Auction 14

There was also feed among the fowl.  Millet and other things for feeding your livestock.


Farm Animal Collage 2

The most spectacular find of the day was this cage of Gould’s Finch.


Farm Animal Auction 10


I’m not sure what kind of dove that is on the bottom right, but if it’s a Mourning Dove there’s no need to buy it.   Poor things are so stupid you could probably just walk up to one and pick it up.  You know.  From the nest it made in the middle of the road.

Farm Animal Collage 3


45 minutes and one hamburger later, we were out the door with no purchases under our arms.

Farm Animal Auction 17


Which is probably for the best.  A girl can only house so many pieces of livestock illegally before she’s just tempting fate.  I consider it a small town miracle that no one’s complained about my cow yet.

Note from Karen: To anyone concerned about these animals being housed in cardboard boxes, you can relax. This is how an auction is held. The animals need to transported to the hall in something. These boxes which allowed the birds to be transferred to the hall will also be quite handy for taking your purchase home. The birds don’t live in cardboard boxes, they’re in them for the day so they can be purchased by small farm owners. If you’re truly desperate to worry about something, worry about the commercial poultry houses.


  1. Marti says:

    No new girls? None? Were you broke? Hoarding corn? This is very disappointing. I assumed you were going to this animal auction with some serious intent. Totally bummed.

  2. Jen says:

    I like the stories about your chickens, but animals in cardboard boxes is a sad display. Did you really look at them as products? Have a bit of respect (which I really think you do have given the way you display you chickens on the web). Pictures, and your blog post, like these reinforce the idea that these animals are just commodities that can be traded with no respect to their life. Karen, I don’t think you really think of your livestock as commodities, but this type of ‘reporting’ reinforces that belief. How sad…

    • Karen says:

      Jen – This is how livestock is purchased. The event is organized by the “Feather Fanciers” club of the area. All of the birds were healthy. I agree it’s sad to see them in cardboard boxes for the day, but they aren’t LIVING in cardboard boxes. They’re there temporarily until someone brings them to their new home, which will be a farm. A real farm. Not a factory farm. I have absolutely no problem with this event. ~ karen

    • Lynne says:

      Hello Jen,
      I agree with Karen. I have been to the Rockton fair many times ( I lived 5 minutes away for years) and the people who run the event and those who sell their small animals have a true respect for each and every one of those wee animals.

      I lived amongst these very farmers and they were 100 % kind and caring of their animals. I actually respect that they made homemade boxes for the day event. Clearly they don’t have
      ‘standard cages’ for the chickens etc to live in every day. How great is that? They live free range and not in a cage on an every day basis. Hence.. the homemade box.

      I think it is sweet. Thank you for capturing the true essence of a small town fair Karen.


    • Pam'a says:

      I’m fairly sure the cardboard boxes did not have a lasting deleterious effect on any of the animals attending the sale. I’d even go so far as to posit that the lack of personal biographies detailing each one’s personality didn’t damage their self-esteem. But Karen, if you neglected to smile and make eye contact with each of them, well… I just won’t be able to think of you the same way anymore. ::sniffle::

  3. Karen says:

    That is a Ring Neck Dove. And trust me, I know, you can not just walk up to a Mourning Dove and pick it up.

  4. Auntiepatch says:

    Good for you! I’m afraid I’d be going around releasing all the animals. I can’t stand seeing animals in cages. Bad men – yes…..animals – no…

    • Karen says:

      LOL. As I explained to someone else. It’s just for the day so you have something to take them home with. Also, it would be quite a riotous event if all the birds were allowed into the hall without a cage! ~ karen

  5. bex says:

    Haha! A good laugh thanks! I don’t know how you managed to leave without those pretty um coloured birds though. Can’t remember the name..tisk. They are beautiful!

  6. Meagan says:

    I’m left feeling awfully sad for these poor animals confined in these very tiny boxes. It doesn’t even look like they could turn around. That’s even worse than fairs which I struggle with. I know you’re an animal lover, didn’t you find it hard to be there supporting the show? (I’m not saying that in a judgy way just in a I’m surprised thee-who-saved-fish-with-holes through-them could stay for 45min.) I had no idea that was how they were sold, I suppose it’s good to be informed of such things. Sigh.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Meagan – See the other comments I’ve replied to … ~ karen

    • jan lovig says:

      Meagan. These animals do not live in these boxes. They are only for transportation to the auction, much like if you see a horse in a trailer..the horse does not live in the trailer.

  7. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    I need to take you to Keady…on a Tuesday…in the warm weather…you will love it!

  8. Langela says:

    A goat? Why a goat?

    • Karen says:

      Love goats. ~ karen!

      • Chau says:

        Karen, why goat? You don’t have much of anything to feed them around your yard. They do eat a lot, you know. My friend owns two goats and a baby (an accident before they fixed the “Daddy-O”). The idea was to have the goats “cleaned out” shrubs and weeds growing wild in their hilly yard. Turn out they also have coyotes and bobcats around, so the goats were kept within the fenced yard and fed w/ hay and food from the feed store which costs a bundle.

  9. Reg says:

    Yeah, the Rockton Fair. Great place to visit on a beautiful fall day.

    Umm. Is it just me or does the auctioneer look like someone from Duck Dynasty?

  10. Emily says:

    Wait a minute… you are kidding about the cow…right?

  11. Ann says:

    Hilarious. Wish we had something like that here. Well, we probably do and I just haven’t happened across it yet.

    As of now, we have chickens and rabbits. But we have baby runner ducks arriving next week. Runner ducks are great foragers and don’t care for being in a pond at all. Which is good. Cause my only pond has some beautiful gold fish in it and I want them to live. But bugs? Not so much and I am hoping the ducks take care of bugs the chickens don’t like. Like ticks. So I don’t have to have another itchy scratchy tick bite on my stomach like I do right now.

  12. Teresa says:

    Just in case no one else wanted you to know;
    That is an Eurasian Dove. They’ve migrated here from Europe I believe. We have them in Texas.

  13. Michele says:

    Looks like a Collared dove to me, just like the pair who come to nest in my garden every summer, they have the sweetest soft cooing . By the way I live near Oxford, UK and I love your blog. I’ve only been following for about 2 weeks but I have already discovered a thing called a paint stirrer and managed to cadge one from the paint merchants FREE.
    BTW are Ameraucanas the same as Araucanas or a cross breed. I used to have Araucanas back in the days before my Fella said ” If you want a dog ALL other livestock has to go” Still waiting for the 20 year old cat to die, I think he’s injecting her daily with life support drugs! I do love her though.

    • Karen says:

      Michele – Welcome to my site! Ameraucanas and Araucanas are different but similar breeds. Both lay blue eggs and have fuzzy faces. If you want to read about their differences see this post by the chicken chick. ~ karen!

  14. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Cool post! I remember going to sales like this with my Grandfather when I was a little kiddo.

  15. Brie says:

    I love how you even include a disclaimer telling people to relax about the animals being in boxes, and the first couple comments are STILL complaining about it!! As soon as I finished reading, I hurried down to the comments to see who just had to say SOMETHING about it. Oh dear.

    Anyways, I adore goats as well- especially baby goats! Talk about overstimulation!

  16. Amy says:

    Oh! I want a goat! I want a couple of fainting goat. And I think my corgi/blue heeler mix would love to have something else to herd since the cats never seems to go where he wants!

  17. karol says:

    Ah, the Mourning Doves. Yes, they’re as dumb as a box of rocks. We have them here in Florida. I’ve seen them land on the east side of our lawn and WALK to the west side of the lawn where the bird feeder is located. Not sure why they don’t just land on the west end to begin with. To me, birds just look funny walking.
    They make a lot of noise and draw a lot of attention from hungry hawks. Circle of life… someone has to be on the bottom of the food chain.

  18. Sandy says:

    Hi Karen, I’m with you. The chickens and the rabbits did they look like they were in destress? NO they didn’t, they actully had a lot of room. When they go in for the night they will perch together and huddle too. To the worriers don’t be so up tight, ther’re lovin it!

  19. Michele says:

    Thanks for the link Karen, I think Araucanas in the Uk are slightly different as they have a top knot a bit like the feathered hats very old ladies used to wear, rather than fluffy jowls. Never heard of an Easter Egger before, but thats maybe called a Cotswold Legbar here, the egg colours are a similar range.
    Good luck with the flooring.

  20. Carol-Anne says:

    Springdale Farms in Milton has goats Karen. You can pet them and feed them; they love it! They have a really nice gift store and a great bakery/cafe too! I only live about 15 minutes away from it but just found out about it last year.

  21. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Why don’t they just let all the animals run around the room and then when you win one you have to catch it..Yeah..wouldn’t that be fun..and so much more relaxing for the livestock..And then to get it home you hold it in your lap all the way cause you don’t want it in a box where it will be safe and warm and calm for the trip..Hope you like chicken poop on your pretty clothes..Pfffft..City People..We have a farm animal action & flea market nearby every Wednesday Karen..Thank God they don’t stuff those cows & horses into little cardboard

  22. when we moved here 9 months ago, we looked up the by-laws. We could have 3 chickens per acre (that makes 6 for us) and 2 animal units. Cows, pigs, goats, sheep. I’ll start with the chickens and see how that goes. i’m learning a lot from your lessons. thanks!

  23. Cynthia says:

    Lol at the doves.

    I’d love to take home some chickens for $20 if I had the space. Or a backyard.

  24. Trissi V. says:

    I liked your disclaimer at the end, but my first thoughts when I saw the boxes was…that’s GENIUS. Some of them are really put together well. Plus, they look cleaner on the inside than most hamster cages I have seen.

    Also, I know turkeys get big, but I don’t know how you left that little turkey face there. He was so cute!

  25. Marie says:

    I think it’s nice that you took the time to go and take pictures so that you could report back to us. I spent many hours digging up dandilions from my front lawn this weekend and kept thinking “I wonder where I can get a goat for this job, maybe just a short-term rental”. Let me know if you find one!

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. No goat ideas but chickens LOVE dandelions! Young ones are good in salad too. Just make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticide. Or peed on. ~ karen!

  26. Jeannie B says:

    Karen, I think those temporary cardboard cages at the auction are a great idea. Very organic. I once won a budgie at a fair. A real live budgie! They popped it into a small KFC box with no ventilation holes. I took it home and gave it to my mother in law, who had a cage. She kept the budgie for years. I always wanted to get an Angora rabbit. They’re beautiful. And yes, I would love a baby goat and a baby lamb and a baby piglet. I think I’d love to have a little farm, like in Charlotte’s Web, where the ducks and chickens and all the animals talked. Yeh, that’s the kind of farm i’d like to have. Just dreaming………

  27. Trish says:

    so…as someone living around the corner from you, why were you looking for a goat?!!?

  28. nicole j says:

    Really enjoyed this post, reminds me of home. My grandma raises little critters like exotic chickens and ducks etc…and some sheep, and she has always made most of her living by doing this and taking them to sales just like this in nearby towns. She takes great care in making the little “cages” for her critters to take them to the auctions, she has raised them and cared for them and wants them to get to their new home safe and sound…

  29. rktrixy says:

    I know what you mean about the mourning doves. We had one that made a pathetic nest on the fire escape outside our third floor office window. By pathetic, I mean 4 or 5 twigs, laid in a haphazard manner. No weaving. And… you guessed it, the eggs were laid and dropped straight down to the street. Gah!

    Another “genius” mourning dove decided to nest in the caution light at the stoplight at the end of the street by the office. Every time the light would come on she woke up. But – I think she was able to raise her clutch. She just didn’t get much sleep… DUMB!! LOL!

  30. Amy in StL says:

    I once owned a rabbit. I thought it was cruel to put her in a small cage for the two hour drive to my parents house so I held her on my lap. I petted her to calm her and…. she bit me. Then she scratched my leg jumping to the passenger seat floorboard. She made the rest of the trip in the trunk… I bought a carrier as soon as I dropped her off at my parents house; where mom learned that a pissed off bunny is a biting bunny.

  31. Laura Bee says:

    I remember bringing chickens home in a feedsack from the Stouffville Flea Market, the boxes are such a great idea! I have great memories of sitting up in the stands watching the livestock auctions too.
    We “babysat” a friends goats for a few weeks when I was a 10ish. So much fun, they really are the most personable farm animal. After the chickens of course.

  32. Patti says:

    Ahhh!!! BIRDIES!!!!!! Did they have all kinds of birds, or just farmy kinds?

  33. I am leaning toward “gosling” in the box rather than duckling, but would need a closer look!
    8th picture down

    and YEA — crap on your lap is no phun! A box (hopefully with some pine shavings) is a great idea!

  34. Linda S says:

    Karen, You have sure ruffled some feathers with this post, haven’t you? lol, In response to Marie’s comment, you said, “Hmm. No goat ideas but chickens LOVE dandelions! Young ones are good in salad too.” Yup, I agree…luv me some young chicken in a salad with homemade ranch dressing drizzled over the top! lol I can only wonder if perhaps you have had a little more than your fair share of ceramic tile dust this week???

  35. Anna Starner says:

    I live in PA and we have the Amish farming here. Every Tuesdays and Friday there are farmers markets that hold weekly small animal auctions. I thought the boxes at your sale were genius. How did you leave without any animals.

  36. Evalyn says:

    I live across the highway from a herd of goats. Hours of great entertainment! And the babies are the cutest things ever.

  37. Cathy in Colorado says:

    Great story, Karen. I really enjoyed it. Those boxes look very kind compared to some of the cages I’ve seen at county fairs. There has to be some means to hold the animals until they get home and these look comfortable and clean. I love animals as much as anyone could and I see no cruelty here.

  38. Barbie says:

    There are dozens of different kinds of millets we use in our production of wreaths, but the one you have pictured is my personal favorite! Never thought much about the fact that it is used for FOOD for livestock! LOL It is just a great color and contrast of green for a great fall”ish” looking design!


    Love the Silver Laced Cochin….WANT….!!!

  39. Laura says:

    The comments never disappoint!

  40. korrine says:

    I am assuming that box says “fancy” pigeons and I’ll be darned if those aren’t some fancy ass pigeons.

  41. cheryl seals says:

    Karen, Thanks for the great bird pictures, beauties in their own right ! As for the boxes I don’t understand why people posting comments thought this was not right, this is the way small livestock auctions are held…Also this is the way the kids who do 4-H and FFA transport their animals..Those boxes are not inhumane in any way, in fact they are the same with the mesh as a cat or dog carrier so think of that peeps only temporary…Sorry no goat pics ! cheryl

  42. Fran says:

    OMG, I love the box idea, every time my fella needs to take an animal to auction he uses wire to make the ‘crate’ to carry to auction in….THESE ARE GENIUS AND CHEAP!!! We don’t have to use so much expensive wire for the box idea!
    Also wanted to point out the while at auction the animals need a small space to rest it, they are not used to all the ‘action’ around them and if they had a lot of move around room they might harm themselves or heaven forbid break a wing which would mean DEATH. People get a grip, auctions are necessary for the sellers and buyers. It let the animal be it foul, bovine, equine or GOAT, it go to a home where it is needed or wanted and helps the sellers out as well.
    IF you’ve never lived in the country or lived the TRUE COUNTRY life please don’t make negative comments about some peoples way of life!
    Thanks Karen I have been reading your blogs for a couple hours now, you’re a hoot! I love your new en suite!

  43. Lori says:

    I’m “working” on this Friday before Victoria Day and catching up on your blog. As a grown up farm-kid I *love* the “won’t somebody think of the children” type comments whenever someone blogs about farm-y things. (“chickens” should be subbed in for “children” there).

    BTW: (unrelated to the chicken auction) Does anyone ever tell you that you remind them of Mary Bellows from “Do It For Yourself”? That was my *FAVORITE* tv show as a kid. I always wanted to be Mary Bellows.

  44. I DO worry about all those poor hens/chickens in commercial poultry houses 🙁 That’s why I buy my eggs and chicken from a small local organic farmer.

    I’ll still hit ‘send’, but I really wonder about the quality of this comment…

  45. It’s no fun being in a box; then again, it’s no fun being in a car or an airplane for eight hours. Sometimes it’s just the way it is, if you wanna go somewhere. I get the feeling these little guys are going somewhere good. I’m with Karen – worry about the poor creatures in factory farms. That is sad and despicable.

  46. Holly says:

    This was a really interesting and educational post! thanks for sharing! I take my cat to the vet in a carrier close to the same as those boxes, and those birds all seemed happier than my cat is about it! haha! i hope i get to visit an auction some time soon. Looks like a neat thing to do- but i’d probably come home with a zoo!

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