It was a crisp, sunny day for my first experience of the monthly Ranelagh market. Once again I expected some kind of sign..... and I found one.... the flat tray ute in front of me on the last stretch of the road to Ranelagh had a cage strapped to it.... and I thought "Aha! These people are expecting to buy some kind of animal from the market.".....so I followed them as they led me to the unsigned Ranelagh agricultural showgrounds!
I knew I was in the right place when I opened my car door and heard the squawk of an orchestra of birds. I felt extremely self-conscious in this rural setting without a farm vehicle and hid my camera away until I had sussed out the tone but I should have known that the people here would be as relaxed and friendly as those in Cygnet and indeed in the rest of Tasmania.
Men in a range of hats and women in a range of shapes were investigating the cages, the tags and the owners of the chooks, ducks, game birds, rabbits and even kittens for auction. On the bench in the centre of the shed were other goods for auction..... various pumpkins,a small wooden box of potatoes, several bundles of raspberries, packs of egg cartons and jars of jam.
It was cold and draughty in the shed so I wandered off before the action started, to buy a cup of tea from the nice ladies manning the kiosk. No plastic or paper cups here; just a rack of old china mugs and I thought I must remember to bring this back before I go home! It was from there that I heard a man shouting and went around the sheep pens to see what was going on. About 20 people were gathered around, bidding on 3 calves; the auctioneer was shouting and pointing, finally indicating that the deal was done. Then off he strode towards the chook pens.
In Adelaide you just would not see all these different, interesting fowls and roosters, of every colour and shape. It has all been homogenised into the ISA browns; great layers but of no heritage value. This photo does not do justice to the beauty and diversity of what was here today. Everyone followed the auctioneer from cage to cage and everything was sold, taking a good hour to get it done. The few ISA browns sold for between $1 and $4 each while a pair of some gorgeous little English game birds sold for $60.... these people really knew their chooks!
There was a lad there, about 14 years old I'd say, who bought all the really cheap birds no-one else wanted, and went home with about 20 hens and roosters for not much more than $20. And to think I didn't even take a box! I had no idea this was going to be such a bargain. A couple of ducks got away, causing the shed door to be quickly closed while they were rounded up. The bloke who paid the most for some exotic looking speckled pair took them home in a sack.
And what did I buy? .... a huge Queensland Blue pumpkin! Well, I couldn't go home without anything! I am really looking forward to the next Ranelagh market....when who knows what will be up for auction.
Life is good....