Farm auctions are one of my favorite places to look for tools and survival gear to prepare. For inexpensive preps, like sheets and curtains, I often hit yard sales and flea markets to turn into fabric, fishing gear and boots with some life left in them. But, you’ll need to keep a survival retreat going during a long-term SHTF case for the big things, a farm auction is where you need to go.
One of the biggest farm auctions in the whole world is held in my state twice a year. Not only is the week-long event an auction on a farm, it’s an auction on an Amish farm. People from across the world are saving up all year round, so at the Mount Hope Auction they’ll have plenty of money to spend on old-fashioned hand tools, farm machinery and well-trained livestock.
The farm equipment sold at Amish was made to be pulled by horses or is hardy and easy to fix, and sometimes also at auctions held at old farms in rural areas. Working on equipment without special tools or high-tech technology would make it much easier to keep it going when you can’t call online in a mechanic or parts store anymore.
Every member of the prepping family will get excited about something almost always when attending a farm auction – including the kids. During the events, the auctioneer will sell far more than big farm equipment on the block. You should expect to find home-grown and off-grid kitchen items, heirloom toys that often help teach young people farm skills, and a multitude of gardening items of all kinds.
This is an approximately a 1940 Ford 2N tractor. It is exceptionally uncommon. This tired, rusty beauty was billed as a “parts tractor” but it was up and running perfectly.
Tractors of all shapes and sizes will be eligible at farm Auctions. Before you go, you must do your research not only to get a good deal, but to find a model that will possibly have spare parts easily in your field – or manufactured in your homestead workshop for survival retreats.
If you don’t need a tractor but know what’s an uncommon find or high demand, you might score either a barter item or a tractor you may be able to resell at a higher price to finance the purchase of other preps or survival gear you currently lack.
This tractor is a Ford 9N. Although it is not as rare as the rusty beauty shown above, it was still an awesome find. My husband scored both tractors for about $1,200.
#2. Hay Baling Equipment
If you are going to hold medium and large livestock during a long-term drought as a source of protein and milk, they will need hay to prevent them from starving in the winter months. It would not be possible to get hay delivered to your survival retreat when the planet, as we know it has come to an end either temporarily or permanently.
The hay baler shown above, and the rake attachment shown below, are just a few examples of the type of baling equipment that is commonly seen at farm auctions. You can also find hay balers at an auction on Amish farm which can be pulled by a horse team. You may even find horse-drawn logging equipment, if you are very fortunate.
Yes, you can even find row boats, canoes, and sometimes even amphibious vehicles, as farm auctions.
Make sure to pay attention to the fast-talking auctioneer when he details the water worthy nature of the craft. If you are handy, perhaps you can cold weld a bad spot on an aluminum boat, but you need to know how much work the fixing up will entail, before bidding.
The availability of guns at a farm auction may vary but state, but it is not unusual to find quality hunting rifles at such sales.
Before you can collect the gun at the auctioneer table you may have to submit to a background check.
#5. Heavy Equipment
Farmers often have older, but still in decent shape, heavy equipment at their sales.
Common types of heavy equipment found at farm auctions include backhoes, skid steers, track hoes, and dump trucks.
Four wheelers and side-by-side ATVs are nearly as common on farms as horses.
Farmers use the all-terrain vehicles to haul feed, square hale bales, to pull logs, and to hook a winch to for a series of heavy-duty work.
#7. Butchering Equipment
Farmers often butcher their own meat and possess not only stainless-steel tables and sinks to work upon, but both electric saws and special knives to complete the process.
If you’re trying to become a professional butcher on the side to raise extra money, you don’t need a separate building to kill the meat you are raising or hunting on your own survival refuge. You can see in the photo below how easily a typical annexed garage can be transformed into a butchering area.
Farm auction are also great places to score bulk produce.
You will not likely be permitted to personally inspect each numbered tub that is placed up on the auction block during the sale, but it is common to be able to browse a trailer full of filed produce tubs before they are sent up for bidding.
#9. Cast Iron
Some of my best bits of cast iron were bought at farm auction. One skillet can hold about 10 hamburgers, and is over 100 years old. Don’t let a bit of rust on a piece of cast iron, or even a lot of rust, stop you from bidding on that item.
Cast iron can be almost impossible to ruin. When I find cast iron heavily rusted, I simply put the sanding bit on the power drill and use it to remove the unwanted dust, then wash it away before re-seasoning.
Though discovering old-fashioned manual tools is one of the reasons I search so often through farm auction listings, I often pick up cheap power tools that still have enough life left in them to use as backup tools or for bartering.
Manual equipment for farm auctions include: potato mashers, manual drill and bit set, cheese press, juicers, two man saw, meat slicers, coffee grinders, and everything that can be used in a kitchen or workshop off the grid. Can you really have enough hammers and nails anyway?
At farm auctions, I sometimes buy miscellaneous cans full of nails, screws, and other tools, and was never once disappointed later when going through the “treasures.”
#11. Food Preservation
Having a collection of Mason jars will help you a lot especially in food preservation. You can use these jars and rings again and again. During a long-term catastrophe, you must maintain all the foodstuffs you grow and raise by canning, smoking, dehydrating pickling, or salting.
A farm auction is an excellent location to find perfectly good food storage supplies. I refuse to purchase even empty lid boxes (unless they are super cheap or part of a larger collection of items) because the rubber on the lids may have broken over time and not sealed properly.
#12. Utility Trailers
Even if you’re not holding large or even medium livestock on your prepper retreat, a cattle trailer bargain could still come in handy. A small trailer can be converted into a proof chicken coop for heavy-duty predators, used as a portable tool shed, as an attachment to a bugout vehicle for carrying any number of objects, including crops grown in portable containers.
Usually, service trucks, or even hay wagons, are found in great abundance at farm auctions. Not only could a trailer be used to transport good on or off the survival retreat, but it could also be converted into a mobile greenhouse, portable cattle pen, or upcycled into a living area in a camper-style.
Buying animals at a farm auction can be easy on the wallet, but I advise doing so only with caution.
Many farmer auctions are set up very well by renowned sellers, folks who care for their horses, pigs, hogs, chickens, goats, ducks and turkeys. But often the animals’ health checks may be lax as farm auctions are operated by larger and more commercial interests and enable members of the public to sell their livestock too. If you are familiar with the farm owners, breeders, or dealers, you may run the risk of buying a sick animal or one that has “been doped” so the auction show ring appears calm and manageable.
This list highlights only the 15 most advantageous and popular prepping items most commonly found at the farm auction. In no way is it an exhaustive list. You’ll certainly find hundreds of more quality and inexpensive, and even hard to find, homesteading, survival, and off grid living supplies at farm auctions in your area.