Monday, August 14, 2023

The last yard sale we'll ever have

For the past few weeks, Don and I have been consumed with preparing and implementing a massive yard sale.

This sale was, literally, years in the planning. Since we downsized from a 3600 sq. ft. home to a 1400 space (further reduced to 1000 sq ft after Older Daughter took over her suite) – and additionally downsized from a 20-acre homestead to eight acres – the result was a lot of stuff we no longer need or want.

This meant it got stored in the barn. The barn was in horrible shape, disorganized and stuffed with items we had earmarked for a yard sale.

Yet the yard sale kept getting postponed as more important projects took precedence.

But we needed to get the barn cleaned out for a variety of reasons, not least of which we want to build the necessary infrastructure for cows (feed boxes, calf pens, milking stall, etc.), as well as have space for hay storage.

Over the last year, we've gradually created order out of chaos. Don built his "man cave," which is not just a dedicated space to store his tools, but has the added advantage of having a sturdy loft over the top where we can store items we seldom need but don't want to get rid of (such as Christmas decorations).

We also moved a bunch of firewood left behind by the previous owners, and which had dominated one corner of the barn. Moving this wood freed up enough space to use as a landing area for consolidating potential yard sale items. As you can imagine, this space got packed with stuff, and over another year's time, it got even more packed as we gradually sorted items.

As the months went by, those stacks of unsold items became increasingly irksome. We needed the barn space. We had plans for that barn space. In short, it was time to get rid of all those unneeded things.

But – as many of you doubtless know – executing a yard sale is not easy, especially in a rural area. In addition to signage and advertising, we needed to make sure the weather was good, everything was displayed property, and everything was labeled and priced. Groan, what a task.

So we finally picked a weekend and started getting ready. We transported items out of the barn and began piling them in the side yard of the house. This was a slow process and took perhaps two weeks, working between other tasks and projects.

The piles got bigger and bigger as we brought more items out. However we didn't want to start putting things in the driveway (where the sale was being held) until (a) we were certain the weather would cooperate; and (b) we didn't want to attract too much attention in advance of the opening of the sale.

And then the weather changed. Whereas before it had been dry, suddenly we had rain expected. And not just any rain; potentially we had as much as two inches coming in one day!

We were fortunate that the items were all in the side yard. We clustered everything more tightly together and covered them with large tarps.

As it turns out, the weather entirely passed us by. We didn't get a single drop of rain. "I don't think I've ever seen a worse foul-up of a weather prediction than this one," Don remarked.

This weather uncertainty postponed the yard sale for a few more days. Last week, we made a frantic last-gasp effort and got everything out in the driveway. It took days to move, arrange, label, and price everything.

Oh, and clean everything. After two years of sitting in the barn, lots of things were dusty and dirty.

We moved heavy items, such as a number of woodstoves, with the tractor.

We had a corner for free stuff...

...including a box of magazines.

I even had a selection of canning jars I was willing to part with.

We consolidated furniture-related items into one area for a "homey" look.

We had books, records, tapes, CDs, and office supplies in the shadiest corner.

Random items were grouped in various other places.

On Thursday night, as the sun went down, Don and I finally finished pricing everything. We were exhausted. As is typical whenever we did a craft show (we've done dozens), we fretted and anticipated the worst. What if no one showed up? We had contingency plans just in case.

The last thing we did, of course, was put up signage. We made sure it was bright in color, easy to read, and backed with plywood to keep its shape.

But of course, just because we were holding a yard sale didn't mean our other obligations stopped. For example, I work an online job Thursday through Saturday. So on Friday, while I was both minding the yard sale and working, I set up my computer under the woodpile awning, which became my home away from home for two days.

Interestingly, this lady landed on my computer speaker (since I was playing my usual Baroque selection) and just grooved for perhaps an hour or so. No doubt she felt the vibrations of the music. Who knew wasps were classical music fans?

More predictably, I watched a number of spiders living in the wood, catching meals.

Friday morning dawned, and we held our breath. Would anyone show up? Was the signage effective?

We shouldn't have worried. Friday was steady and productive, with customers arriving at an easy pace and eager to see what we had available.

Throughout the day, of course, we became a captive audience for those who felt compelled to share the story of their Great Aunt Martha's gall bladder operation.

And yet for every anecdote about gall bladders, we had the chance to meet lots of local people who were fascinating and pleasant, and came away with a stack of connections for everything from a possible Jersey heifer for sale to a shared interest in Renaissance Faires. We were also gratified to hear several compliments about our signage.

As was expected, sales were less brisk on Saturday and Sunday, but still nothing to sneeze at.

So here it is, Monday morning. The yard sale – at last! – is finally over. Don now has the time to concentrate on other projects. My task this week will be to divide the remaining unsold items into several piles: Things we will sell separately through the local Facebook Marketplace; items to donate to a local charity thrift store; pieces we'll give to friends and neighbors; and stuff we'll just throw away. A very few items we'll keep, in the spirit of "If it sells, great; if it doesn't sell, we'll use it for such-and-such."

At any rate, a large section of the barn is now cleaned out. That was the whole purpose.

This will be the last yard sale we'll ever have. In fact, a neighbor asked if she could purchase our signage for when she holds a yard sale of her own. Purchase the signage? Heck no! Just take it. It's yours. We'll never need it again.


  1. You know you should never say never again.

  2. Off topic, when you say cows are you doing milk and beef?

    1. Yes and yes. Primarily we're interested in a couple of Jersey cow/calf pairs, and we'll probably get a feeder calf for beef as well.

      - Patrice

    2. That’s awesome! By any chance would you be willing to post an article on how you do that on a small parcel? I’m interested in a few Dexters but only have around 12 acres. With about 5 fenced, been told I can’t do it.

  3. Well that's fantastic. So glad it went well; I just got through a two day estate sale myself. (I hired a local couple to help and they were a GREAT help, but this was an urban area.) I can agree that it is a huge relief to just offload stuff and make room.

  4. Patrice, you forgot to mention your “new (to us) home.” ;)

  5. AAAHHHHH.... never say never.
    four years ago i had what i swore was our last ever yard sale. it was a hassle, but very profitable.
    next week i am planning my second last ever yard sale. not going to be less of a hassle, and hopefully just as profitable.

  6. I'm not surprised at the wasp grooving with the music. I think a lot of creatures like good vibrations. Much of our universe involves vibrations. Recently I used the vibrations from a weedeater to oust a huge rattler from under the deck. He rattled the whole time until he was out of the way, then I turned it off. They can't hear but they hate weedeaters and lawnmowers because of the (unpleasant?) vibrations.

  7. I’m ready to toss 1/2 our stuff. I’m so tired of it. And places like Salvation Army are getting pickier about what they’ll accept around here. Guess they don’t want junk either. Lol

    1. When I have items that I don't want to end up in a landfill, I post them on

      This is a great way to find a home for things that someone else might need but a donation store might not want.

  8. I am glad you freed up room. My yard sale signs were just an I am glad you did not bother with date, time starting and road and such. Those tiny signs some people put up cannot be read. The one thing I do think about your signs, not that you asked, is the multiple colors. When there are several sales, I like to follow one color. Once in the country, I ended up at the wrong sale because I mistook a brightly colored sign for the way to a different yard sale. I hate going to a sale with no prices and no one to ask!

  9. Helped my son clean out clothes that his ex left behind. Knew a particular ministry (thrift store, food source and help people with emergencies such as their house burned down. or flooded). Took them a lot of stuff and had to unload out back and help take it inside. They were stuffed with stuff but didn't want to turn down. It was good stuff and I hope someone got use out of it..
    I want to have a yard sale but, like Patrice, I am in a rural area and it will be something.
    kathy in MS