Bull sale season is coming to a close. It ends just as fast as it comes. I kind of have a love hate relationship with Bull Sale season. I love it when I get a chance to go, but I hate it when I get left behind. And unfortunately, with all of my other OTHER responsibilities, it happens more than I'd like. But I usually try to send a child or two if that's the case (hahaha... hehehe...). My mother-in-law and I were having a great conversation the other night, talking about all the pros and woes of being a rancher's wife during Bull Sale Season. I'm sure that we aren't the only ones that have noticed the ups and downs that come Bull Sale Season. In fact, I'm sure that we have it easy compared the wives of the ranchers PUTTING ON the sale.
I've actually had the pleasure of both sides of the sale- the selling and the buying. Growing up I loved the prep work of a sale. Trimming everything, photographing them all, sprucing up the sale barn, staying home from school on sale day... Yep, it was a kids dream. But I'm sure as the wife to a rancher, my mom didn't think it was quite so awesome. When I imagine her at that time of the year, one word comes to mind- STRESSED!
Even though I am on the buying side of the bull sale now, I still love it. There is such an energy at a cattle auction! The combination of the noisy crowd, the feisty bulls, the auctioneer's ramble, and the anticipation of when to put in your bid gives the air a little extra zing. You can't help but love it, right?!
While the debate of whether Bull Sale Season is an actual thing is still being decided, I have unofficially dubbed March, plus or minus a few weeks, as such. If you were to come look at our bull-sale-calendar, you might mistake it for a bingo card for as many days as have been scribbled on. In fact you might even think we were going for Black Out! And while there may be so many to go to, you can be sure that every one will be different and every one will be good.
The obvious upside to having so many days out to a bull sale is that I get a free pass on fixing lunch for those days. While we can always expect the sale to be great, we KNOW the meal will be even greater! In fact, it may be so good and we come home so full, that I might not even have to make dinner (actually that's never happened, but every time I'm hopeful!). Is it bad to admit that I have even asked for a recipe or two after watching my family down their lunch? I figure its a great compliment!
Once you get to the sale and have a chance to look around, you realize that ranchers can actually dress up and they are a pretty darn good looking crowd. You spend so much time seeing them in shirts torn up from the barbed wire or pants covered in what looks like tractor oil and grease (and maybe even something else you can't even recognize!), or boots smeared in mud and manure and stinking even worse than they look, that you forget how good looking a rancher can be. And I think they will take any chance to get out of their grubby clothes too! Maybe that's why we hit up so many sales.... Hmmm....
I've decided that there is an art to bidding. You don't want to jump in too soon, because that just might take the price right out of your budget. But you don't want to get in the action too late because then you might be out altogether before you even got in. Unless you can manage the sneak attack and steal the show with a last second bid. Then there is the whole other ballgame of bidding online. That one really makes me nervous... What if the connection goes out all of the sudden or what if it takes a second longer to register the bid or what if .... something else could go wrong, I'm sure!
Whatever way you bid, you gotta have a game plan!
Usually we go to a sale with a budget in mind and a number of how many bulls we need to buy. I always figure that once we spend the money or we get all the bulls we need, we will head home. But the truth of the matter is, a bull sale is a rancher's social hour. Believe it or not, ranchers to like to gab! They all hurry up to buy their bulls and then hustle over to the cookie table to chat away the rest of the sale.
At the heart of every bull sale is their bull magazine. You can ALWAYS know it is Bull Sale Season by the stack of magazines on the desk. I wonder if the mail man gets tired of filling the mail box up with them? We've seen a few ranches that REALLY want you to come, so they send 2 or 3 magazines to be sure you get a good look at what they've got. It makes things easier for The Rancher when there are more, though. He can leave one on the kitchen table to read while he eats, one on the night stand to have his final look before he goes to sleep, and one in the bathroom where he does his best thinking. For some ranches, they send out the whole sale lineup. They figure then you can come to the sale knowing exactly what you want to go home with. For other ranches it is more like a ranch-and-family-year book. They try pulling at your heart strings a bit with those sweet smiling grandbabies. Then there are the ranches that just send their own type of save-the-date card and figure its gonna save them a lot of work if you just grab the magazine as you walk through the bulls.
But without those magazines, a rancher would be lost keeping everyone and everything straight. Besides the fancy names and photos, they are full of the info any rancher needs to get a good buy. Its those EPDs. If anyone ever thought that rancher wasn't an educated guy, he should try his hand at EPDs... I'm slowing starting to gather what scores are good birth weights, weaning weights, milking and futures. I have no idea how they figured them, but I believe them.
Well, Bull Sale Season... its been real, its been fun, and no we are done. Its just a little more than a month away until the real fun starts and we see just how good of a buy we made! Until next year... (Maybe the season will be official then and we can have an opening day celebration!)
PS- I think the life of a bull is rough... Seriously, who else has a job of pleasure that only has to work a few months of the year and then is literally put out to pasture for the rest of the year?! And to have pasture like we did last spring... Yum...