Minnesotan Duane Botzek recently shared some of his writings with American Cowman, and he says, “I am a writer - something my English teacher told me I could never do - a gift that has been within me for fifty five years. The plain and the ordinary are transformed and become extraordinary, as my passion to share joy causes me to write.”

He adds, “I was born and raised on a farm in central Minnesota and continue working in the dairy-farming tradition. However, I think of myself as more than a farmer - I describe myself as an artist/farmer.”

Here is what Botzek was prompted to write about farm auctions:

I have not gone to but a handful of farm auctions, but there is something about being there, in that moment, that is quite mysterious…

It has been difficult for me to attend farm auctions for a number of reasons that come from the sensitive core of me. It is painful to have to watch strangers suddenly, carelessly, casually going through things that have held deep meaning for those who worked so long and so hard with them, and came to be things that they loved…

And then there are the scavengers at farm auctions…the low bidders…looking for deals as bragging rights for the day, then turning over a great find to make a quick buck…

But then there the people…the neighbors...the friends…who, for the sake of the owner, want the precious things to survive, and have a genuine desire to help the farmer of the auction to move on with life…

There are the whole range of mixed emotions that a farm auction brings - emotions of loss, as in a death, a divorce, a broken dream, a forced down-sizing, an unwanted letting-go of little treasures, a stripping away of memories of a place, a life, and a whole piece of history - in some cases, the loss of what one thought to be their whole purpose in life!

Most farmers hold their auction with many mixed feelings; with a numbness in their eyes that cannot completely cover their sadness or hide their sense of loss as they come to realize that this time, they are crossing a line that has not been crossed before, and they didn’t realize just how they’d feel until they were on the other side…

If you’ve ever truly engaged in the act of farming your own farm, you may feel overwhelmed in the moments of an auction…

Is only one day or two
A turning of a page
Once stuck like glue?
Dispersal…disposal…bumping my things around
On a home piece of ground
It’s ending implications
May be profound

We should have seen it coming. The ending is always at the beginning, if we can focus enough to see it through the distractions of life - distractions that shade the truth of things to come.

In the beginning, the beginning dances, like dark dances with the light, and the ending is also invited to dance, and it flows in from a place where dark and light touch…one’s flexibility and judgment can get so lost…one’s sense of direction can get so lost…

A farm auction brings a farmer back to the place where ending and beginning meet for a mysterious moment in time…the unexpected is always present in life, but at this mysterious moment, a farmer feels the ending of his era…and so he begins again…

Most farmers have their auction, and then they’re gone…never to return…woodenly thinking that in the end, it doesn’t matter…that things would never be the same…

But there are farmers who, mysteriously, with all the hard times facing the winds of change, the family trials, the low markets, the bad loans, the weather, the storms – what seems like a lifetime spent waist deep in manure - come back from it bruised, but better than if they had never experienced it at all!

At a farm auction you can feel a page being turned in a story, because, after that day, it will never again be the same - like a love story…a song…a poem…a novel…a biography…a historical document… a collectable with photos and images of things of an era…

When you come to the end…there is always a new beginning…

I have not gone to but a handful of farm auctions. There is something about being in that moment that is quite mysterious…

…but I’m still not sure I can be at my own.