0628AUCTIONAudio2Auctioneer Eddie Peeler, 57, call bids at Coker Sale Barn in Cleveland.
When: 4 p.m. to midnight Saturdays. Closed July 4. Goat sale, noon the fourth Saturday of each month
Where: Coker Sale Barn, 9648 Duncan Bridge Road, Cleveland
How much: Free
More info: 706-219-3305
CLEVELAND — Drive down Duncan Bridge Road on just about any Saturday night and you'll see a parking lot full of cars at Coker Sale Barn.
It's auction night.
Folks gather outside to talk, pet baby goats, stroll the aisles between stalls to check out the large animals or get in line to sell whatever it is they've brought - anything from drill bits to dominecker chickens.
"It's a free place to go," said Tammy Adams, 45, of Helen. "The kids, they enjoy seeing some of their classmates come here, and they actually meet here sometimes and hang out."
Each Saturday, with the exception of July 4 and one Saturday close to Christmas, buyers pack the bleachers inside the barn, and sellers line up ready to offer chickens, goats, horses and sometimes even trucks to the crowd - for a price, of course.
Wayne Coker of Commerce owns the sale barn.
"It is a lot of work. I just don't know no better, I guess," Coker said with a laugh.
Coker owns quarter horses, and said he bought the barn "to support my horse habit."
Horses do sell at the barn, often close to midnight, since the nonanimal items and small animals come first. But Coker said a lot of people come to buy chickens or goats.
He said chickens can sell from $3 a piece to about $80 for a pair, depending on the breed.
"It varies. You know, you've got the little cross-bred chickens, they bring, you know, three to five dollars," Coker said. "You've got the big ones. We sold a pair of domineckers (that brought) 80 bucks back in the spring. Sometimes, you know, them banties, they'll bring $20 a pair. Fifty dollars a pair in the spring."
Hannah Peevy, 14, of Dacula brought her Alpine and Saanen goats to the sale barn a couple of weeks ago, hoping to sell them.
Peevy said she, her mom and her sister, Alondra Gonzales, 6, raise the dairy goats together.
"I've been doing it for five years," said Peevy, gently nudging back a small goat trying to escape from its pen.
Peevy said it was her first time at the barn, but Alondra had been once before.
"I like to raise goats because each one of them have their own personalities," Peevy said. "They're real gentle. Some of them have a little spunk. You come across those every once in a while."
Coker said the process of becoming a seller like Peevy is simple - just come and get a number and get in line.
"They have to come get them a buyer's number. (There are) buyer and seller numbers," Coker said. After taking a number, he said sellers can "just get in line and keep moving up with their chickens."
Coker said people with goats can come and tag them, and "we'll take care of them from there."
Some buyers, like Mitchell Abernathy, 51, of Sautee come to the sale barn every week. Abernathy said he's been coming "every Saturday for about three years."
"I just like the animals," he said. "I like to see what everybody's got. Everybody's got something different."
Abernathy said he mainly comes to the auction to buy birds.
"I usually leave after the chicken sale. I don't stay for the goats and cows," said Abernathy, adding that he saw some bantams, a small type of chicken, that he might bid on that night.
Abernathy said he usually arrives to the sale barn at 3:30 p.m. - 30 minutes before the auction begins - "just to see what all comes in."
"I have pheasants and banties and turkeys and Rhode Island red laying chickens," said Abernathy, who keeps the birds as a hobby - and for the eggs.
"I have a cage sitting down there," said Abernathy, pointing near the auctioneer's booth. "I sold some cockatiels and rabbits and a turkey tonight."
Of all the things he's seen for sale at the auction, Abernathy said, "the weirdest thing I ever seen was a water buffalo, about a year ago."
Auctioneer Eddie Peeler, 57, of Mooresboro, N.C., has seen it all pass in front of his auctioneer booth.
He's been the auctioneer at the sale barn since it opened in 2002, and years before when it was a cattle auction, then located in Habersham County.
"I was a trader just like some of these people," Peeler said, speaking of the crowd in front of his booth. "And just got interested in it and thought it was fascinating.
"It started out Mr. Barrett's sale 25 years ago, and then Mr. Coker bought them out," Peeler said, his voice hoarse from calling.
Peeler said he went to Nashville Auction School about 30 years ago, and learned to "count."
"The first thing you have to do is learn to count, and then you have to learn how to count backwards," Peeler said.
"You count so much, if somebody offers you a number, you automatically know what the next number is without even thinking," he said. "And you have to do that every day. It's just like, you know how some schools have prayer first thing? First thing we did was count, every day for two weeks."
Although Peeler lives more than 140 miles away, he comes each Saturday to call at the sale barn.
You might wonder just what it is auctioneers are saying when they're calling for bids. Peeler said it's not as complicated as it sounds.
"All it is is, ‘I'm bid' and ‘would you give?'" Peeler said. For example, "I'm bid three, would you give four?" he said.
Heather Brock, 26, of Hollywood is the auction clerk. She sits next to Peeler during the auction, keeping up with who bids on what.
"Heather and I have been working together so long, she actually makes a good ring man, or floor help, because she can catch a bid and she's somebody that I can trust," Peeler said.