Hay Market is a Sign of Spring

Buckeye Farm Beat

Weekly report from Ashland Auction provides an economic indicator for spring’s arrival.

Published on: March 28, 2011

Tom Dilgard sends me the results of the Ashland County Auction every Monday morning. I visited the auction a few years a go and wrote a story about it. It is held every Friday with Tom as the auctioneer. I’ve come to enjoy spending a few minutes each week with his “Market Report” that arrives by email. I know there are bigger auctions up in Amish country but I like seeing what folks are buying and selling and Tom’s sale.

Although the market is called, “A hay, straw and grain auction,” it sells everything from apple dumplings to furnace pipe. The list this week included kolaches (a pastry), Indian corn, hickory nuts, lima beans, pineapples and pop corn. Apples, bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew all find buyers. And there are always eggs for sale. This week they brought between 60 cents and $1.05 a dozen. Pretty good deal.

I like to keep a watch on the number and price of the hay sold in bales. I guess it goes back to my days loading hay for horseman Howard Shultz on Som Center Road in Mayfield. Howard was a master at packing his truck with most hay bales he possibly could. We always left the counting to Howard and the various farmers he dealt with because Howard was good a hiding a bale or two in the tightly packed truck.

Tom Dilgard, left, sells a load of firewood and the Ashland County Hay, Straw and Grain Auction.

He would chuckle as we drove away from the barn. “We put 177 bales in there and he thinks we only had 173.” I’m pretty sure most of those farmers were chuckling back, “He thinks he got four free bales and we charged him for an extra five.”

Dilgard’s weekly report  breaks out the hay sales by first, second, third and fourth cutting as well as large round bales and large square bales. He also notes how much they sell per bale or per ton. I like to watch for hay prices fall off in late winter/early spring when the grass is starting to green up. With hay bales going for $1.30 to $2.90 each this week, I assume most of the customers are pretty sure they have enough hay to get them into the pasture season.

Likewise, since I burn a lot of firewood in the winter, I find it interesting to see how the firewood is selling. Tom calls it all “Ashland ash” as he calls for a bid. The week I was there it ran the gamut from cherry to walnut to maple. Mostly it came by the pickup load and delivery within 50 miles was included. Again you can kind of judge the end of spring based on what the firewood is bring in Ashland. This week it brought a pretty reasonable $27.50 to $85 a load.

Like I said there are plenty of auctions in Ohio’s Amish country, but if you want to spend a Friday morning where you can get anything from clover seed to ear corn, the Ashland Auction at Heritage Acres on the corner of State Route 250 and Township Road 1136 offers about anything you cold want -- including a little economic indication of the arrival of spring.