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What the Heck Is a Slave Auction?!?

Paula Ebert headshotRural life. Where else but the Future Farmers of America would you find a fundraiser where the kids are sold as “slaves” for a day?

I went to my first “slave” auction last year. The auctioneer has a great time sort of messing with the kids, in a positive way, of course. He’ll ask the boys if they can sew as their talent for the auction. Some say, “Heck yes!” Messing with him back.

Some of the kids are clearly “bought” by grandparents or parents, and one suspects that they don’t slave at all. However, my husband buys the “slaves,” and I’ll say they definitely work around here!

One young man, who was on the football team, was out here digging post-holes by hand. I asked him which was harder, farming or football, and without any hesitation, he said “farming!” Many of the members of FFA aren’t farmers at all. It seems that FFA is part of the social fabric of the local high school, where Ag classes are offered. When we moved here, and my city son was adapting to the farm, I tried to tell him that being able to drive a tractor would be a real plus, he thought it wouldn’t be so unique. But it is, even in this rural area. However, we have several relatives who are farmers extraordinaire, and you can hear the kids talking about driving the hay wagons, or taking care of hogs or cattle for 4-H or FFA projects, so you get all kinds of kids.

There’s a young woman here today who came prepared with work boots and gloves. Good for her. Once in a while, a kid comes without any gloves. The young woman is, as we speak, out putting up fence. She relayed to me that she told her father she’d be fencing, he said “Does the farmer have any idea you don’t know how to fence?” She said no, but she was game to learn. She came back, reporting excitedly that she got to drive the skid loader. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my 12-year-old granddaughter drives the skid loader.

We’ve had kids come and plant wind-breaks, build the chicken coop, and do various farm chores like the fencing. With rare exceptions, they are willing to work, and cooperative.

I think the slave auction fundraiser goes way back. I’ll have to ask my husband, who was president of the FFA in 1966. What is amazing is that the kids continue to agree to this fundraising. Isn’t rural life wonderful?

slave working on the farm