Sold! to the highest (online) bidder


The look, and sound, of auctions has changed in recent years as more companies provide buyers with the opportunity to participate in online bidding.  As an auction buyer this has changed the auction experience, in obvious, and not so obvious ways.

Why attend in person?

You just can’t get the same thrill of the auction if you aren’t there live.  Plain and simple. We want to attend local auctions in person because they give us a great opportunity to socialize and network with neighbours.  Although we always have an eye out for a deal that is too good to pass up, the items for sale are not always the main reason we attend local auctions.

Why attend online?

Some auctions are provinces away, but have one very specific item that we are interested in purchasing.  Online bidding allows us to participate in a larger number of auctions than ever before. As a buyer, we can find specialized items while saving time and money on travel. As a seller, it is great to increase your buying audience outside your immediate geographical area.

Purchasing at a distance has changed the dynamics at auction sales, both in the demographics and geography of those who attend.  Both in person and online auction services are valuable. We, personally, shop for different items when we are buying online, since we haven’t had the opportunity to get a close look or listen to the item.  It is also somewhat easier to avoid the emotion of competitive bidding when it feels like you are bidding against the computer and not the person in the camo hat. However, it can be challenging to remind yourself to be realistic about post-sale transportation for large items or long hauls.

It really is great to have the best of both auction worlds.  Buyers and sellers benefit when potential markets expand.

Auction purchases can be memorable because of the item, the price or the experience. Comment and tell us about your best auction purchase.

Looking for a deal?


I don’t know a farmer who isn’t on the lookout for a good deal, so when we got the opportunity to speak at the Manitoba Auctioneers Association Convention we were sold!  As we were preparing our presentation we got talking about how integral auctions are to farming culture.  Livestock, land and equipment can all be purchased at auction, so no matter what the season there is an ag auction for you.

So, why are auctions so enticing?

Culture -  Auctions give everyone a chance to get a pulse of the ag comings-and-goings.  This is like the “coffee-shop-talk” for a week, a month or even a season, all condensed into a day.  The auction atmosphere provides just enough distraction and anonymity to strike up conversations with neighbours and strangers alike.

Action - There is something about the energy and buzz at an auction that you can just get swept away into.  Sellers count on this! The excitement of the fast pace and friendly competition of bidding gets your heart pumping.

Curiosity -  You never know what you will find!  Even if you have checked the listings, done your research and looked at all of the photos, you just might find a hidden treasure or a deal that is too good to pass up.  

Endorphins are flowing at auctions!

Check out the Manitoba Auctioneers Association to learn more about how auctions work, find buyer tips, check the auction schedule or become a member.

If you have ever wanted to be an auctioneer, check out the Auctioneering College of Canada.

Prep Week: Field trips

Planning isn’t all about documentation… it also means field trips. Not to a literal field quite yet, but to your shed, shop or garage. One of the key things in our safety plan is to physically check each work area, vehicle and piece of equipment for:

Fire extinguisher.jpg
  • Fire extinguishers - charged correctly, not expired and the right type and location for each piece of equipment

  • First aid kit - fully stocked with supplies

  • Emergency procedures folder - includes field locations (legal and emergency sign blue numbers for those with yard sites), directions from various local towns (our fields supported by emergency services from a number of different towns) and an outline of the information you need when calling 911 in an emergency

    Remember, in an emergency you might forget things you would normally know! Although it is possible to store this information electronically on your phone, we believe in redundancy and so we have a physical copy in each vehicle or piece of equipment.

Checking equipment and updating emergency procedures folders can be a time consuming process, which is one of the reasons to get started now! If you updated your field list earlier this week then you already have current field information for your emergency procedures folders.

After we complete these checks we post the information, as a way to keep ourselves accountable and transparent. It also reminds us to take note of exactly where these items are in each piece of equipment or vehicle.

So, pick a nice sunny winter day and organize your safety checklist, and create a shopping list if you need to! Message us with your system of keeping track of safety equipment in your fleet of vehicles and equipment.

Prep Week: Are you from around here?

Documentation isn’t glamorous. I get that. But, it is important. So, here we are on post #3 about documentation.

Many farms depend on non-family employees to run their operations. Our farm uses International Rural Exchange Canada to help us find trainees who live with us, work with us and become part of our family farming operation each year. (Want to know what this looks like? ) For us, having an orientation binder has been a helpful tool in preparing trainees for their work on our farm and role in our farm family.

Of course, there are training documents beyond an orientation binder; things like equipment manuals and emergency procedures protocols. However, the orientation package is a first point of reference for questions about “how we do things” on our farm. There are a number of great, and very extensive safety planning tools and human resource manuals available… this is not that. Our orientation binder is a sprinkling of information to get our trainees started on the right foot. Coming to a new farm, in a new country, and living with a new family is overwhelming. Our hope is that the orientation binder provides some information, some reassurances and a promise of more information to come.

If you are an International Rural Exchange host family, a host of trainees through any organization OR just interested in seeing what our orientation binder includes, drop us an email at, comment or direct message us and we will be happy to share our template.

Prep Week: Keeping track of what's where

Yesterday we talked about keeping a written/physical record of your fields. Capturing what is in your head into a cohesive record allows everyone in the operation to easily access the size, shape and location of your fields. However, it doesn’t stop there. Another key component of planning is what to plant on each field.


The first round of planning 2019 crop rotations happened months ago. This round of planning involves making adjustments based on:

  1. Marketing predictions

  2. Winter weather to date (considering things like moisture levels, snow cover and conditions for fall-seeded crops)

  3. Availability of seed (based on changes from suppliers or changes in your requirements due to #1 and 2)

Crop Rotation Worksheet.PNG

"Rotation Planning is fluid right up until the seed is in the ground.

Our crop rotation plan is fluid and flexible right up until the seed is in the ground, and even then sometimes we are forced to re-seed a field. In this case we may choose to re-seed with the same crop or an entirely different crop, based on the timing, weather forecast and seed availability. Our planning tool is just a guide to help us communicate. February is a great time to revisit it and update it with any changes that you might already have in mind.

We keep a multi-year planning record as well as a quick “cheat sheet” with just this year’s planned rotation. Let us know if you have any planning tools that you use to record and communicate your cropping plans. Drop us a comment or message us directly! Think spring! #Plant19 is just a few months away.

Prep Week: Digging into the office side of farm work

February is a month of anticipation, preparation and planning. This week we will drive into the thinking, and documentation, that we use to help us collect, capture and communication our thoughts. It is important to be able to capture what is in your head for a few reasons:

  • no one else can read your mind

  • you can be more objective if information is collected into one spot

  • sharing information with your trusted circle helps plan and guide future action

Irregular Field Shapes2.PNG

This year we are using a different company to help us capture data, map and plan for our precision applications and analyze the impact on productivity. Our first task in this process was to update our land list. Our land list includes:

  • legal land description (section - township - range)

  • the common name (the farmer who owned it 3 generations ago or the name of the one-room school that was located there)

  • the number of acres

  • the crop to be planted there (more about crop rotations later this week)

This may seem like a “no-brainer” for some farms with a very stable land base. However, for us this process is complicated by things like:

  • changes in rented land base

  • land exchanges (for physical location convenience or crop rotational purposes)

  • the sale of a decommissioned rail line that runs through our property

  • land improvement projects that changed the boundaries and acres of existing fields

  • irregular natural boundaries

  • fields that do not align with legal descriptions: fields divided and farmed along natural boundaries (ravines, elevation changes) rather than by legal descriptions

Why Does it Matter? Updating your land list can seem like a make-work project. But it is important for at least three main reasons:

  1. To accurately capture data from application of inputs through analysis of harvest, so that the analysis and calculations that result from this data are as accurate, and therefore useful, as possible.

  2. To be able to accurately communicate about field locations, shapes and sizes with employees, product vendors and custom applicators.

  3. To develop complete and current emergency and safety procedures plans.

If you have any questions about our land list process, just drop us a comment or direct message! Or email

Check back for prep work conversations about crop rotations, orientation manuals and safety plans later this week.

Tech Tips: Calendar Synch

The cold weather seems like the perfect time to get out calendars and find time for a vacation. Maybe Commodity Classic (Florida…February… yes, please!).

In November, we had the chance to speak at a fabulous conference where we talked about calendar apps we use to help stay organized and in synch. Several audience attendees shared their favorite apps for keeping their family organized and we wanted to share them with you!

  1. Cozi

  2. Wunderlist

  3. Google Calendar

For those of you who are also volunteering or managing a sports team in addition, the below two apps are great at keeping the entire team in synch and up to date. We know they aren’t farm related, but we love them so we’re sharing them anyway!

Sports Schedules

  1. Sports Engine

  2. Team Snap

Stay warm, and hopefully synch up your calendars so you can find time for a little break from this cold snap!