February 21, 2012


Good morning.

Boy, I could have used River on Saturday. River is our nephew. He just won a state wrestling championship over the weekend. You see, I was at a bull sale. You remember that guy I said was too big to fight and too dumb to argue with? Well, he was there. And he had sent Shirley a note apologizing for his behavior the night he and I had an animated discussion. So, I meet him in the alley at a bull sale. I stick my hand out and thank him for the note. He ignores my hand and says, “I apologized to your wife, not you.” And walks on by. If I’d  had River with me...… Congratulations, River Voight! Oh yeah, did I mention he’s one of the top ropers and steer wrestlers in the country, too!
I’m nervous. The bull sale season is starting. For those of you that are town folks, you probably haven’t noticed this. But your country cousins notice it. Every paper or ag magazine you pick up has bull sales advertised. I guess you could go to a bull sale every day from now until the end of May without traveling too far. If your health could stand it.
Now, you’re probably wondering why you have to go to bull sales every year. Shouldn’t you be able to buy a bull, or a bunch of bulls, and be done for several years? Well, bulls are like men. They should be replaced more often cause they wear out (Shirley made me say that).
Bulls get old fast. Or crippled. Or you look for new genetics. So every year, you are replacing part of your bull battery. At least, that is the ranchers’ excuse. Sometimes we fail to mention that bull sales are social events. The seller usually has free lunch, free drinks, and happy hour. Progressive ranchers have this before the sale. Conservative producers have this afterward. And guys with really high sales, have it all the time.
With practice, you can become an excellent bull-buying customer.  But like everything, it does take practice. You study the carcass data of the progeny. You study birth weight, 205-day weight, yearling ratio, milk epds, and scrotal measurements. All stuff you learned at NDSU.
But over the years, you’ve learned more. You learn which producer serves steaks and which has hotdish. You learn who pours coffee and who pours Crown Royal. You learn who wants you to leave when the sale is over, and who expects you to be there when the last dog howls. Like I said, it takes practice.
Visiting with a guy yesterday. Todd. He was at a bull sale over the weekend. And he saw a friend that had come a couple of hundred miles for the sale. There were two of them. I guess, from up around Crosby. So Todd went over to visit. And Todd knows bulls. Crosby said he and his neighbor each needed a bull. So Todd is sitting there visiting and in comes a bull that is just awful good for the money. And Todd mentions that if these guys are looking for bulls, this looks like a pretty good deal.
“Oh, no,” the Crosby guy says. “We aren’t going to buy one today. Last week another neighbor who needed a bull was travelling with us and he bought one. Now his wife won’t let him come along. We’ve got at least two more months of sales before we’re going to buy one and have to stay home!”
Now, I know that I could like a guy like that.
Gotta run. Shirley’s out doing chores, and I’ve got to clean up for the sale.