THERE were no six-figure prices but values were generally on par with vendor expectations at Ted and Bev Hill’s clearing sale at West River last week held by Elders.
After 43 years in the district the 150 lots laid out in rows painted a clear picture of the Hill’s farming life from when they bought their first partly cleared block in 1971 and, oddly enough, some of the earliest implements were still in strong demand.
The day’s top price was $46,000 paid by local West River farmer Michael Dougherty for a JCB 3185 Fastrac tractor (5000 hours).
According to one machinery dealer in attendance it was a fair price but the 4WD John Deere 8560 tractor (4000hrs), with a rebuilt motor, was a couple of thousand under value when it sold for $15,500.
Next of the big-ticket items sold was a Flexi-Coil 1720 air seeder set up with knife points and press wheels that sold for $33,500 to Katanning farmer Scott Keast who also considered it fair value.
The property’s main John Deer 9750 STS header was passed-in after failing to attract attention when Elders auctioneer Dean Hubbard called for a low $55,000 opening bid.
The sale attracted 156 registered bidders and for some it was a chance to put a face to the avid ABC radio caller known as Ted from West River, who almost single-handedly put the district on the map.
Although the couple is retiring to a smaller property nearer the west coast, he said he would continue to have his radio input but the time had come to pursue his other passion in life – breeding and racing thoroughbreds.
The Hills had started their farming life on a conditional purchase property and soon after added an adjoining partly-cleared farm.
At the peak, their landholding topped more than 6000 hectares but in recent times they had reduced their farming aggregation to 4000ha which they had now sold to corporate buyer Daybreak Cropping.
The story of their farm development started with two heavy clearing chains that made $1050 (90 metre, 300 feet) and $175 (15.2m, 50ft).
Mr Hubbard had no problems getting a start on the old root rakes suggesting there were still a few rough paddocks in the Wheatbelt to clean up.
The first was a seven-wheel Pederick model that made $5000 and the next was a similar size Weston that fetched $2600.
A Trac rake/windrower that fetched $4450 was another remnant of the Hill’s early farming life.
These were followed by a mass offering of Chamberlain ploughs and although buyers were reluctant to spend too much, there were plenty of people who wanted one to level paddocks after last year’s flooding rains.
The 20-40 millimetres of rain the district had recorded in past few days in thunderstorms, courtesy of Cyclone Kelvin, had not only made the sale an extremely humid affair but also increased the need to own a plough.
The four 24-disc machines fetched $700 and $800 (three times) and the 22-disc model sold for $300.
The old scarifiers didn’t meet the same competition with a 13.3m (44ft) John Shearer cultivator selling for $700 and a second one failing to get a nod.
Fast forward to present day machinery and a Hardi Commander 5000V boomsprayer with a 28 metre (92ft) boom sold for $22,000.
Some of the other top price-makers were a 14-tonne Burando Hill chaser bin with new tyres ($13,000); three 45t Brereton field bins with augers ($11,200, $10,000 and $8000) and the best of the rest made $3500.
After such a lengthy farming career some of the gear was showing its wear and that was the case with the Cole 5-in-1 bin mounted on a Hino truck that made $6200.
An assortment of even older trucks made only a few hundred dollars but the Ford D1314 truck with a bulk bin on the back sold for $2600.
It delighted its new owners when they declared: “Look, the doors open.”
The sale was marked by a big number of advertised items that were not on offer making it advisable for potential buyers to check before making the long journey to a clearing sale.
Future clearing vendors also received a lesson not to leave the keys in their sale vehicles and machinery when the keys to a John Deere tractor went missing.
Adding to that inconvenience was the swarm of bees that were calling a Gehl Grasslands Mix-all home.
It sold for $500 but needed work before it was operational.
The New Holland 352 Mix-all made $1900.
Prices of interest for sheep producers included $4100 for the farm’s main TPW self-pinning wool press; a second older automated press made $500 and the best of eight Lister shearing heads made $600.
Sheepmen also paid $1100, $1600, and $1550 for various sets of portable sheep yards and two sheep feed trailers each made $500.
Other items sold included a New Holland mower conditioner ($2500); a John Deere 9600 header, that had its 9.1m (30ft) front at the repairers ($7000); two Grain Commander augers measuring 13.9m (46ft) and 11.5m (38ft), $3700 and $2300 respectively; a Case 2390 tractor (4500 hours), $11,000; a Chamberlain 4280 tractor with duals ($7500) and an almost vintage John Deere 3130 tractor with a front-end loader ($8000).
Another almost vintage item that interested a few was the 6m (18ft) Millard caravan with annexe that fetched $950.
In the outside vendors’ section, a camper trailer sold for $4250 and a Manitou telehandler MLT523T went for $27,500.