INTERESTING ENCOUNTER AT THE SALE BARN
By Steve Moreland, September 8, 2018
This past Thursday, Brock and I sold 22 open yearling heifers at the Valentine sale barn. They had been ultra-sound tested the week before, and with Labor Day being last week, it was Tuesday before I could consign them for the Thursday sale. Since they wouldn’t sell until fairly late in the day, we didn’t get them hauled to town until after noon on the day of the sale. We each drove a pickup pulling a stock trailer, with 14 heifers on a 24’ trailer and the other eight on a 16’ bumper hitch trailer.
Brock had some errands to run downtown, and his wife Chelsie and their two youngest kids were also along. I had a late dinner at the sale barn café, and then went in to watch the sale. There were at least 3500 head of top quality Sandhills feeder cattle consigned for the sale, so it was a several hour long occasion.
My habit at any function is to try to sit in the back row. This is always my desired spot in church, because you can observe any trends taking place and act accordingly. At an auction, this gives opportunity to look down and see who is bidding against you. As usual, I hung onto the handrail to negotiate the stairs, and headed for the top row of seats. One man was sitting on that row next to the railing, and my wife’s cousin John Ravenscroft was sitting by himself several seats farther along. I crossed over the first man, and went to sit by John. We enjoyed a nice visit as the sale progressed.
With closer observation, the first man I had crossed over looked quite out of place. There is the old saying, “like a duck out of water,” and this man qualified. He was neatly dressed in a white shirt and black pants with a multitude of pockets down the side. He appeared to be of medium build, around 40 years of age, sported a short beard, and a very expressionless face. Just guessing, he was probably a religious zealot, tired of passing out pamphlets, enjoying a short rest. With his non-expressive facial features, maybe he was a professional poker player. He had the “poker-face” part down pat. Could this man be a friend of one of the auctioneers, just along for the ride? As the afternoon hours passed by, the person didn’t appear to have moved a bit. Maybe he was a dummy placed on the seat for the appearance of a bigger crowd at the sale barn.
Our heifers finally sold. 21 of the 22 sold in one draft. They weighed 982 pounds and brought $135.75 per cwt. One lone heifer, smaller than the rest, came into the ring and weighed 825 pounds. She sold for $122.00 per cwt. We were happy with the sale.
Brock and Chelsie had already left. As I got up to head out the door, I paused beside the man that looked like a mannequin, and commented, “Are you buying or selling today?” In broken English, with a quite foreign accent, he said, “I am from Germany, and am in the United States by myself on vacation.” With further conversation, he said, “This is very interesting. We have nothing like this in Germany.” He went on to say that he had flown into Denver, rented a vehicle, and was seeing the sights. He had traveled some country roads, and loved the wide expanse of open prairie and the Sandhills. He said he had realized there was a cattle auction in progress, and decided to spend an afternoon of his vacation watching the happenings. He wondered how much longer the sale would last. I showed him my sale order sheet, mentioned that our cattle had just sold, and pointed out there was still about half a page to go. My estimate was that the sale would last at least another hour and maybe longer.
We shook hands and he remained seated. I went out of the sale barn, walked across the parking lot, and got into my pickup with the trailer hooked behind. The German vacationer was making his exit by then, and he was about to get into a nice shiny new silver-colored Ford F150 pickup with Colorado license plates. I drove my outfit over to where he was, and rolled down the window. “This is one of the rigs we hauled our cattle to town in,” I explained. After complementing him on the pickup he was driving, he rationalized his reason for having this as a rental vehicle. He said, “In Germany, there are only small cars. I wanted to see how it felt to drive one like this.” I congratulated him on making a wise decision. We shook hands once again and parted ways. You know, I have to admire and give credit to a guy like this who jumps completely out of his personal comfort zone and “goes for the gusto!” More power to him.