Friday, October 28, 2005

A Night On The Town—At The Livestock Auction Barn!


I was bidder number 52.

Every day it becomes a little more difficult to scratch out a living as a small farmer in rural America. Let's just say there's not a lot working in our favor. And for every farmer who (either by force or by choice) gives up, it isn't only a farm that dies. Entire communities—from the feed dealer to the bank owner—are dependent upon the success of local small farmers. And t mhose of us who do stick it out pretty much all must rely on some sort of off-farm income.

A difficult, honest, and incredibly rewarding way of living is teetering on the brink of extinction.

More below. . .

But there is hope. Last night our local livestock auction barn saw 770 'head' run through its doors during its new monthly Goat & Sheep Auction. That's a very big number for a tiny, family run operation, especially considering we're deep in the heart of cattle country. It also saw some of the highest prices paid for goats in the state.

But last night was about much more than just numbers. It was about laughing with strangers, smiling at friends, and being a part of something that was not happening 'just for fun,' was not a ride at an amusement park, was not a game of Let's Pretend. It was about being surrounded by hard working people who know they will never be rich and who really don't care. People who want nothing more than to be able to keep doing what they're doing. It was real.

Sitting on my wooden perch in the highest row of bleachers, I take a slow, deep breath, blink back a tear, and regard everything and everyone around me. I want each detail of this moment, this now, this real, to somehow be absorbed into my soul.

I am grateful to be here. I am filled with the kind of joy that cannot be explained, only experienced. And I know that, at least for tonight, my little corner of Small Town America is alive and well and kicking and stomping and squealing and baaing. And I can only hope it stays that way.

I arrived at the sale barn early, as much of the 'show' begins well before the auctioneer switches on his microphone. It is crazy yet calm. You can quietly wander among the animals back in the pens, or you can strike up a conversation with a stranger. Everyone is in a good mood. Once the real action starts, though, things are fast, furious, and lots of fun to watch.

At a small animal auction like this one, you never know what might come shooting through the doors and racing into the ring. It could be anything from an extremely pregnant sow to 44 adorable baby goats. All the while, the auctioneer keeps up a running monologue in that lightning-fast language of his, urging the crowd to bid, bid, bid—and he doesn't stop until the very last animal is sold. This is country living at its best.

Are you ready? Then let's go.

























































So was I the high bidder on anything? As a matter of fact I was, and I waited patiently all day and into the evening for my purchases to be delivered. You can meet them here.

© FarmgirlFare.com

8 comments:

  1. Farmgirl,

    This is why I love you! You put words to the feelings I get every time I go to the "cattle barn" as we call it.

    From about the first week Mitch(my fiance)and I met, right up until he got hurt (he is now a paraplegic) going to the sale was one of our favorite things in the world to do. We would go to every single one within driving distance. I always felt a sense of pride in my fellow man. I know what you mean about "real". I am soooo looking forward to him coming home (he's been in a Spinal Rehab Hospital for 7 weeks, but will come home hopefully next week), and the sale is one of our "normal" things I am looking forward to getting back to. Even if we will from now on be sitting in the very front row (with the wheelchair and all) and you know, that's where all the poop flies...LOL!

    Thank you for sharing so eloquently with people who might never have had the experience. Thank you for reminding me of how much I love them, I really needed that tonight.

    And goats!!! Did you buy some? I had no idea the price had gone up. I'd better get me some quick!

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  2. That was absolutely, positively, my next guess. Honest.

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  3. I think you are doing a lot of small farms with you little blog here!

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  4. Hi Alisha,
    I knew there was a reason I wrote about my experience at the auction. It was you. Thank you, and you're most welcome. : )

    Hi Jeff,
    Well of course I absolutely, postively believe you. No question.

    Hi Wendy,
    Thank you. : )

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  5. Thought of you and this post today when I read these from poet Dana Wildsmith ...

    'Out here where we make our living
    on a farm we won't let die,
    work days last as long as I do'

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  6. Oh can I relate to this, the Saturday morning livestock auction is the best part of the weekend for me. I look forward to seeing what's new with each new call to bid. You're right, it's real. Real fellowship among kindred spirits.

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  7. I've been away for a bit ... although I've been talking up your site to folks in Berlin and other far flung haunts ...

    A powerful post this - and to me it isn't really about America or any town for that matter because it's bigger than that, strikes a deeper note that knows no country or language. It speaks of people living true lives, people who know the value of everything that goes into making life possible ... yes, that is worth writing about, worth savoring, worth celebrating.

    Brava!

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  8. BerlinBound has it correct, you Blog reminds me of my roots. We live in Langen, Deutschland (Germany) for those whom know it by that name. Your Blog is truly about the rural experience I grew up a farm boy, but left the farm many years (26 to be exact) married an American from Sacramento, California. We usually stop by and read your website once or twice a week; I am computer engineer to pay the bills and a Bread baker, gardener for the joy of life.

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