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Looking Back with Barrie Potter: The Audet Sale

In the late spring of 1981, Barrie Potter headed to Orwell, Vt., along with Frank Marstella, Tim ‘Cooner’ Coon, Bobby Goodine, Doug Seidel and Ralph Gushee, to prepare cattle for the Audet Farms Milking Herd and Bred Heifer Dispersal on May 7.

“Audets was a farmer/breeder herd and they also had some bulls in stud and quite a few bulls on the farm that weren’t contracted to a bull stud,” Barrie said. “It was a really nice farm on Lake Champlain. He was a real common sense type farmer.”

The sale was managed by Hanover Hill Sales and Service, and Dave Younger managed the sale crew and Mabel Hancock worked as the secretary.

“Dave loved to stay at the Middlebury Inn; he had been all over the world judging cattle, but the Middlebury Inn was his favorite place to stay,” Barrie recalled. “His wife Rose, who was from Germany and had a thick German accent, served all the lunches for the crew and when she laid lunch out, it was a big spread of everything you could want for a good lunch.”

The Audet herd had claimed 13 Progressive Breeder Registry Awards, with a BAA of 107.0% and carried a herd average of 21,216 pounds of milk, 852 pounds of fat with a 4.0% butterfat test.  The sale touted five cows with records over 1,000 pounds of fat. Two popular AI bulls, Audets Fond Matt at Tri-State and Audets Elevation Elroy at ABS, hailed from the breeding program.

The sale was a huge success with 89 head averaging $6,674 and a $120,000 top in Audets Glendell Margo EX0-92. Margo was a Vermont state record holder at 2-03 365D 30,340M 3.9%F 1,184F. When the gavel fell, Margo was purchased by a syndicate in care of Brigeen Farms of Turner, Maine. The contending bidder was Hilltop Hanover Farm of Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Margo’s Valiant daughter, a summer yearling named Marigold, sold for $56,000 to a syndicate in care of Dennis Fortin of Silver Ridge Farm in Swanton, Vt.

Night and Morning

Barrie recalled being roommates with Cooner while working the dispersal.

“I was young and naïve and Cooner was outgoing and had some experience with life on the road,” Barrie said. “We were quite the opposites in personality.”

Barrie related a story of one of Cooner’s jokes, playing on his gullibility.  

“One night after supper, I had fallen asleep in the motel room. I woke up to Cooner asking if I was ready. I wasn’t, and Cooner said he had been trying to wake me up,” Barrie said. “I jumped up, brushed my teeth and got ready to go out to the farm. Cooner told me I should call the other guys and tell them to get ready. I called Bobby Goodine, and he said they were ready and I had better call Gushee, which I did. Gushee’s reply was, ‘What do you mean am I ready? It’s quarter after ten at night!’ He then told me to tell Cooner to go pound sand!”

Barrie continued the story, smiling at the memory.

“When I got off the phone, Cooner was just laughing his head off, and said ‘Look…I’m sitting her drinking a beer…I figured you would know it was still night time!’ Barrie said laughing. “I told him, ‘They warned me you were a wild guy, so I figured you woke up in the morning and had a beer!”


The Ice Machine

Barrie recalled another morning getting ready to leave for the farm, when Cooner explained to him how hotel housekeeping works.

“Cooner said to me, ‘You know what we have here? Maids, and they do whatever you tell them to do. I’m going to put some beer in this cooler and leave the maid a note to put ice in it. Then tonight, we will have cold beer,’” Barrie said. “When we got back to the room, Cooner started hollering, ‘Look at this cooler! She hardly put any ice in here!’ She also left Cooner a note, telling him the ice machine was down the hall on the left!”

The scene repeated the next day, with Cooner leaving another note. Barrie recalled her response was to put even less ice in the cooler. The last day they were staying at the motel, Cooner left one last note.

“He asked me what I thought of that note. I told him it wasn’t bad, but that he should at least use please at the beginning of it,” Barrie said.

When the Audet Dispersal wrapped up, the crew moved on to Augusta, N.J., for the Ideal Sale.

“While we were there, Dave Younger called. He was hot and wanted to talk to Doug Seidel,” Barrie recalled. “After Doug hung up the phone, he came back shaking his head, motioning like his ears were burning. Bobby Goodine asked what Younger wanted, and Seidel just shook his head and said that Younger was pretty hot and called to say that Cooner better cool his jets.”

Barrie continued, explaining the aftermath of Cooner’s note-writing.

“When Mable Hancock paid the bill at the Middlebury Inn, along with the invoice, they included the note that Cooner had left for the maid. They also sent another note saying that Dave Younger and his crew were no longer welcome at the Middlebury Inn,” Barrie said. “Several years later, Cooner was hired to judge a show in Vermont. He called me and said, ‘Guess where I’m staying? The Middlebury Inn! I’m going to have to call Younger and tell him it’s just as good as it’s ever been!’”

Three sales back to back

“We went from Audets to Ideal and then Boerderij Farm in Millerton, N.Y.,” Barrie commented. “Having three sales back-to-back was quite a run.”

Barrie explained that the Ideal Farm in New Jersey was a traditional-type farm, with two men who milked the cows and wore white uniforms and white hats.  While they used to have Guernseys, they were dispersing their Holstein herd in that sale, with one Guernsey calf that Cooner purchased.

Barrie recalled that at the Boerderij Farm sale Jack Stookey of Indiana bought a cow.

“I rode along with Gushee to drop her off and then we headed back to New York and started helping with classification at Dreamstreet,” Barrie said of the ending of the three-sale excursion.


This was orginally written for the NY Holstein News 
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