If you're in northeastern Mass. or Southern NH/ME, Sunday, Oct. 17 at noon is the date and time for the annual fundraising poultry auction run by the kids at the Essex County chapter of Future Farmers of America. It's held rain or shine in the poultry barn at the Topsfield Fairgrounds, on Route 1 at the junction of Rt.s 97 and 1 in Topsfield, Mass. Past auctions have seen everything up for bid, from sacks of feed to heritage breed turkeys, call ducks, muscovies, golden pheasants, bobwhite and coturnix quails, cockatiels and budgies, layng hens, guinea fowl, geese and bantams -- fancy breed and "barnyard." The Topsfield Fair (which ends the Monday preceding the auction) donates all of the newly-hatched chicks from its hugely popular incubator exhibit, so there could be boxes and boxes of RIR, leghorn and barred rock chicks (unsexed). Some years there are LOTS of bunnies (heehee) and one year there was an overabundance of silkies. There are always lots of roosters too, surprise surprise. But it's always a grab-bag and you never can tell what you'll find there. While the auction starts at noon and runs until everything is sold or it's dark (whichever is first), if you want to sell items you should plan to get there by 11:30 so you can register and deliver your items to the FFA kids. Bidders can come anytime but also have to register to get a bidding number (the card you hold up to identify yourself to the auctioneer when you bid). There is a table just for that, so head there first when you arrive. Sellers can put up any kind of fowl and small animals for bid (examples: poultry of all breeds; bunnies & cavies; cage birds; pigeons & doves), and also non-live goods and agricultural equipment such as homemade jam and soaps, used (but in good condition and clean) cages, laying boxes, feeders, etc. You can opt to donate the goods to the FFA kids (so they keep the entire proceeds of the sale) if you want. If you prefer to get some money back for selling your items, the FFA kids get to keep 25% of the proceeds from the sale and you get 75%. If you bring fowl to auction, they MUST be bloodtested and banded (Mass.) if 16 weeks or older; younger birds must be from a bloodtested flock, and you must show your card or bloodtest results that show the flock is clean. This is for all chickens, turkeys, game birds, guineas and pea fowl. Waterfowl, cage birds (finches, etc.) and pigeons&doves are exempt. All birds and animals should be safely and securely boxed or caged (if you want to include the cage with the birds in the sale). I hope it's okay to list this even though it's not exactly a swap or Chickenstock, but it is a lot of fun, and 25% of the auction proceeds go to the kids to fund their FFA chapter activities, mainly a trip to the FFA national convention. The kids also have a refreshment stand with hotdogs, chips, etc. so you can get a snack during the auction, and the proceeds from that also help fund the FFA chapter. See you there! Wear your BYC hats! P.S. Dress warm! You can always peel off layers if the weather warms up, but in the many years I've gone, I've always been glad I wore my longjohns and a windbreaker or raincoat! P.P.S. If you bring animals or birds that need warmth, such as cavies and cockatiels, note that the poultry barn is NOT heated, and your animals/birds should be kept in appropriate insulated caging for their health and safety.