To market, to market

“To market, to market, to buy a fat pig …”

So goes a junior school nursery rhyme that popped into my head as I, with a thermos of coffee in my hand, crawled into our old farm truck. We were heading to the livestock building at the Keady Market. The market is only about a half hour northwest of WestWind Farms, but it is pleasant to sip a hot coffee as the beautiful winter scenery flashes by.

The fact was, and is, that we were not going to Keady to buy anything, certainly not a fat pig, as we have a beautiful flock of Berkshires. Our reason to go was to sell a half dozen young buck Boer goats, and as the sale in the small animal building doesn’t get under way until the hour of noon, we were not in any hurry. My son had already selected, captured and loaded the goats, so I had nothing to do, or reason for going, other than the fact that I enjoy the social aspect of any country gathering.

I finished drinking my coffee as we waited in turn while a couple of Mennonite horse and buggies backed up to the docks to unload their animals. As they pulled away, ours were herded out to the holding pens. It was then that I wandered around to look at the sheep, goats, calves and pigs that were there to be sold under the direction of the auctioneer’s hammer.

The morning was quite cool, the sale not to start for yet another half hour, so I found myself warming up in the heated room where coffee and lunch items were purchased. Not being hungry, and lacking need of any more coffee, I plunked my butt on a sidewall bench just to soak up the heat and absorb the drift of many mixed conversations.

It was a jovial group of farmers, both male and female, who wandered in and out, and I was often asked, when they saw the crooks in my walking stick, “Where did you get that cane?” I answered, as usual, “I made it from a piece of ironwood – hop-hornbeam, if you care to look it up. It was a moonlight acquisition from a golf course about 30 years or more ago. I used it as a bird perch in a macaw’s cage, and it was so hard, it couldn’t chew it. But lately, having sat in an empty cage for a number of years, I decided to make better use of it.”

Then I went on to say, “I use it now for killing snow snakes.” The entire room went silent. Then someone said, “I’ve never seen a snow snake, not around here.”

“Well,” was my answer, “doesn’t that tell you what a good job I’m doing?”

When the chuckles died down, the general conversation drifted to the rumour that someone in the area had just won the multimillion-dollar lottery. When I was asked if it was me, I answered, “That is what put the crooks in my cane. I had to beat them off at my door. Everybody wants a piece of it.” When someone jokingly shouted, “Who are you? Where do you live?” I quietly answered, “I am a liar from the Markdale area.”

Breaking the long moment of silence, as my statement sunk in, was the grin on the chin of a dark-hatted Mennonite chap whose chuckle, though almost unheard, was joined by the jovial group. At that same precise moment, we all heard the bell, indicating the sale would begin in moments, so off we all went.

In less than 20 minutes, the auctioneer’s hammer indicated that the last of our goats was sold, so off we went to pick up a cheque – and from there it was “home again, home again, jiggety-jig.”

Take care, ‘cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins