Beasts on the block
SEBRING - Apparently, patience is just as important as money at a chicken auction. Sixty chicks, three horses, two bunnies and a duck were sold Thursday morning at Highlands County Animal Control’s livestock auction. When Animal Control Director Darryl Scott asked for a $2 opening bid on a rooster and four hens, it quickly became a contest between two bidders. Dee Beaulieu wouldn’t quit at $20, the other bidder was just as determined, so the lot finally went for $25. “I’m done,” Beaulieu announced. “I’m not going crazyville.”And then, her face fell as no one would even bid $5 for the third rooster-hen lot. “You’re killing me,” she accused Scott. Finally, she raised her white card. “Who’ll give me $6?” Scott trumpeted. “Oh well,” said Beaulieu, even though she didn’t really want 10 chickens. “It’s for a good cause.” Lot 5 was a pen of five roosters. Again, no one wanted to bid. “Take ’em to another auction and double your money,” Scott was trying anything to motivate buyers. Finally, one man signaled, and the auction moved to the duck and two bunnies. No bidders. “We used to have chickens,” Beaulieu said. But one day, her son left the gate open and, well, that’s why she was bidding. Now, she’ll have fresh eggs again — most hens lay one a day. And chickens are nature’s little composters, Beaulieu said. She dumps table scraps and yard waste in the chicken yard and within weeks, it turns into black soil. At 11:20 p.m., the auction moved to the pasture. “She’s ready to go,” Scott said, holding the halter of sorrel mare. “She’s been wormed, and she wants to be with people. She likes to paw at the fence, but when she gets her foot caught, she doesn’t freak. She just stands there till you get her feet out.” “Who’ll start me at $50?” Scott asked. Bidding advanced: $60, $100, $120, $140, $150, $160. And the first horse sold for $170. “This has been a 30-year dream for her to own a horse,” said Ann Roettinger’s friend, Jan Vogel. Roettinger, of Sebring, jumped horses at competitions until age 25. For the past three weeks, she’s wanted to adopt this mare, and has appeared at the shelters with apples for the buddy she’s now calling “Summer.” As for the next two geldings, a creamy beige went for $50, a bay sold for just $30. “I got kids who can ride him,” the beige’s new owner said. The bay was purchased by Pam Mosher. Heartland Horses for the Handicapped Stable Manager Joy Ongly and volunteer Kathi Newell had heard about the auction that morning and drove by to fill a seventh stall at Avon Park, where clients with learning deficiencies can ride a horse led by a volunteer. The bay was an anxious animal, so Ongly and Newell wondered if it would fit the specialized needs. Mosher, who runs a horse rescue, offered to determine if the gelding would be appropriate for Heartland. If so, she would donate it. Ongly and Newell had found the seventh horse in their string.