Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The farm grew by about 5% in size today! We were the successful bidder at a closed auction for the Burke farm, south of Wheatland along Petersburg Road. Bidders were required to submit a sealed bid 1 or more days ahead in order to be admitted to the auction. After our discussion of a bidding strategy, I took in a sealed bid last week. So, this morning, Ross and John and I arrived at the attorney’s office just a few minutes ahead of the 10 am start.
As we settled ourselves in the rather crowded room, I looked around and saw many friends — neighboring farmers for whom we have the highest respect. It was great to be in their company. I thought, “Wow, there is a lot of really quality farm operations represented in this room. How can we compete with these guys?”
The attorney explained the necessary details about the boundaries of the farm, the condition of the house and buildings, and the procedures of the auction itself. He reported that he had opened all the sealed bids, 7 of them as I remember, and announced the highest one. It was not our bid, but we were ‘in the ballpark’. The bidding time was then opened by the attorney to see if there was anyone who wanted to go above the highest announced bid. There was pause in the action, and then a farmer across the table from me bid about 50,000 above the initial one. There was then a small raise, and then we offered a significantly larger one. Only two bids were offered after that…with ours being the last on the table. Again, there was a long quiet pause, ended with the attorney saying, “Going once…..going twice… … … sold.” It was a pretty calm event, not something like ‘Storage Wars’ on TV. The sellers left the room with the attorney to consider if they would accept this final bid. During this time, everyone in the room took part in very friendly conversation –it was not uncomfortable or awkward. But then one of the other farmers said, “Doesn’t it seem like they’ve been gone a long time?” Yes it did! Eventually the sellers and attorney returned with the announcement, “We have a sale.” We breathed a sigh of relief. I hesitate to report the exact amount we spent today; I will offer that it was our most expensive piece of ground, ever. But it was also less than some of the sensational rumors about farmland sales these days.
Our fellow farmers, whom I would describe as friends, departed as we remained to go over the details of the closing process. We had a friendly conversation with the three sisters who were the sellers. One of the three was especially emotional, and told us that the farm had been in their family since the Civil War. We tried to comfort their emotions, explaining that for as far into the future as we will be the owners, the place would always be known as “The Burke Farm”. We explained that we would do our very best to be good stewards. This seemed to quiet their sadness a little. We will see them again when we go to the closing, which should occur in about a month.
Our banker took us to lunch to celebrate this big event in our farm’s life. We dropped him off back at Old National after our meal together at Applebees.
John, Ross, and I drove out to the farm location, and took a closer inspection as to what we had purchased. We noted some small improvements we could make quite soon– gotta remove an old concrete building foundation in a corn field, gotta remove some trees and close up a gap in a levee. There’s a tree trunk that has blown down in the edge of the woods that needs to be pushed out of the field. John could be doing the fall spraying there. We started our mental list of priorities of other ideas. Do we sell the house and buildings? Do we rent out the small grain bins, or sell them? Or do we merely clear it all away to make ready for next year’s soybeans? Do we try to sell some timber from the woods? We will answer these questions before planting time. But we must be patient, for we do not get ‘possession’ of the place until closing.
It was a very satisfying day for the partners of Carnahan & Sons, Inc. And a sincere thanks to our fellow bidders who were very gracious to us afterward. We live in a great community surrounded by good farmers.