So we went to the lake with my folks for the weekend, and I talked my dad, Jeff, and son Connor into going to the Hillsdale farmer’s market on Saturday morning.

I was just going to get beets to pickle, but we ended up in this barn we like because one end is full of bunnies and the other full of ducks, with lots of cages of chickens in the middle. It’s an auction.

I saw a little banty hen who seemed very sweet. She was broody, fluffing out her feathers and acting like she was protecting her chicks — they had either taken her off a clutch of eggs or taken her babies away (several boxes of chicks were there, for sale.)

So I registered and got a bidding card. I’ve done this before, at this place — bidding is fun.

I bought the frustrated mama hen, and one other. Then my dad took the card and bid on a dozen feathered-out bob white quail chicks to release in his woods.

Meanwhile Connor is standing around talking to the pigeon guys. There are guys who breed them, race them, etc. and there were some beauties in one cage called “saddlebacks” — red, black and “blue”(grey). Five birds in cage 217.

My dad had paid him some money for taking dead trees out of a swampy spot at the cottage, so he came and got the card and prepared to bid on lot 217. He was kind of nervous and wanted to do it right (he’s that kid) — but the place was crowded elbow-to-elbow with mostly men, mostly farmers, veteran auctiongoers with cigarettes in their mouths and bid cards in their shirt pockets. Connor’s grandpa stood behind him, leaning on a cane, but let him do it himself.

So the auctioneer starts the bidding at 3 dollars a bird. My kid does some quick math and holds his card up, nodding at the auctioneer in a perfect imitation of the old timers he’d been watching.

“threeandaquarterthreeandaquarterthreeandaquarterthreeandaquarter…who’s gotthreeandaquarteronlot217?…threeandaquarteronce.. threeandaquartertwice…”

I’m across from my kid and can see him standing there all excited and nervous… and all around him these old boys in John Deere caps, arms folded, half grinning at how cute he is. Not a single one of them would bid against the kid.

SOLD, to the happiest boy on the planet, off to the library tomorrow to figure out how to build a dovecote.

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