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Friday, August 23, 2013

Things I've Learned From Hangin At The Sale Barn

We had some calves we took to the sale barn, last week.
Selling our babies is always bitter sweet.
Thankfully, on this day, we were only selling a few.
We won't sell the spring born babies till later in the fall.

God has blessed us with plenty of rain, for the pastures to have good grass.
Therefore, we took advantage after weaning last years fall calves. 
We placed them into another pasture, allowing them to gain weight from the gift God had given us.
Holding them didn't cost us money.
We didn't need to supplement the calves with much feed.
Just enough to call them up a few times a week, to check their health and growth.

Me being a Rancher Girl, one would think I know the ropes of a sale barn. 
I didn't spend a lot of time, in sale barns, as a kid.
We always sold our cattle as registered stock.
They were normally ran through a registered private cattle sale.
If we did sell some cattle through a sale barn, I didn't ever hang out, with My Daddy, to understand the process.

I really like hangin out at the sale barn, with Flower Boy!
Sale barns have some pretty darn good food!
Their pies are award winning!
It reminds me of time with my Great Granny B.
Oh, the food that woman could cook!

When you pull up, to the sale barn, you can smell breakfast!
When you leave, you can smell dunch!
Dunch is a word The Big Kids made up.
It is the meal eaten when you missed lunch, but are too early for dinner.
(Flower Boy would argue... In his world there is Breakfast, Dinner and Supper.)

Now, I am hungry!

The sale barn we were at, this past week, was one of the larger sales in the north central part of our state.
It's about an hour drive from the ranch.
Well worth the drive!
For the food, the scenery, the cattle quantity and quality.
I get to spend it with Flower Boy.

Trucks and trailers filled the parking lot.
 Everyone hoping for good prices, whether buying or selling.

My day was filled with all sorts of questions about how the sale barn operates.
Flower Boy was good to answer.
I even asked him to write this blog post.
You see what that answer was...

Once the cattle are unloaded, they are sorted into small pens.
 Notice the yellow tags on their hips?
That is a number tag to identify the cattle as they run through the sale ring.
The workers unloading your cattle write your tag numbers on your unload sheet.

There is a walking plank above the cattle pens.
This allows the buyers to look at the cattle, without being in the way of the workers sorting, below.

As the pens fill, the center isle is left open.
As the sale progresses, the cattle are funneled into the center isle and moved, pen by pen, up to the sale ring.
The cattle pens are all under cover with open sides.
This sale happens once per week, year around.
I wouldn't want to be one of these workers!
The workers are mainly kids.
They work hard for their money!

There are signs on all the doors of the sale ring.

The sale ring has HVAC.
On this day, it was cold in the sale ring!
I had to go get my jacket, from the truck.
As for the ventilation, there was no smell of cattle poop.
However, as a Rancher Girl, I love the smell...
To me, it is the smell of money.

The sale ring seating is plush!
There is theater seating!
Cup holders!
Even phones for the buyers!
I would guess all is needed, as we were there most of the day.
I wouldn't have wanted to be sitting on a hard bench that long.

There are 4 people sitting in the auction box.
One to open the entry door, the auctioneer, the clerk and one to open the exit door.
 One man is in the ring with the cattle.
Three monitors above the auction box.

Here is a quick run down of how it goes...
The cattle are on the scales, just out side the entry door.
Their weight comes up on the first monitor.
The entry door opens, with the flip of a lever.
The ring man calls out the starting price, often times, the sellers name and amount of cattle he brought in, that day
The auctioneer starts the bidding.
The clerk places the final bid on the third monitor, logs the cattle tag and buyer.
The exit door opens, with the flip of a lever.
The man operating the exit door relays the pen number to place the cattle, based off the buyer, to the back over a microphone.
All while the center monitor is running the number of cattle brought in, that day, broken down by cows, heifers, steers and bulls.
As one runs through the sale ring, the numbers drop from "checked in" to "sold".

Cattle are sorted by size, color and sex.

There was a pen of black calves, with one "chrome" calf.
Chrome cattle are black cattle with white markings.
We have two chrome babies, in our herd, this year.
 I think they are SO PRETTY!!!
In the world of show cattle, one always wants a calf to have "a little something" that makes the calf stand out, from the others.
It makes the judge look your way.
In the sale ring, chrome calves are "cut out" from the black calves!
They are sold separately!
When a calf is sold separately, they don't bring as much.
This really upset me.
Solid black calves bring the most money, in a sale ring.
Darn good thing, we have mostly solid black cattle!

The ring man also points out cattle that have issues.
Some come through with bad eyes, limping or hurt, broken noses, missing tails or ears and swollen hoofs.
These cattle normally sell cheaper, too.

There was a man that was buying those type of calves.
When I asked Flower Boy why, 
He responded,
"He will take a chance on taking them home, nursing them back to health and sell them for profit."
I got the look...
Don't think I will attempt that until I no longer have a day job.
I'm thinking this type of "nursing" takes much more time and money than we have, right now.

There was a little Hereford heifer that ran through the ring.
Flower Boy and I both wanted her.
She was so stinking cute!
She was small and young.
She would have grown into a beautiful momma cow.
Good thing Flower Boy didn't have a bidder number.
I think she would be in our dog pen, right now!

There are good days to be a buyer and good days to be a seller, at a sale barn.
That day was a good day to be a seller!
Cattle sold at really good prices.
No matter them being sold as singles or in groups.

It was a great day to be a Rancher Girl!

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