January 30, 2019


Good Morning,

To a rancher, this is a great time of year. The mailbox is filled with catalogs for bull sales. You know how your mailbox fills up around Christmas with catalogs from every place you ever dropped a dollar, or in the spring as the ground starts to thaw a little, the seed catalogs come out with the garden supplies. Well, this time of year is like that for a rancher. You peruse papers to see what the sales are averaging across the nation. You compare the breed averages and market statistics. It takes some calculation to see what your banker says you can spend on bulls.
An auctioneer friend of mine, who I swear has stuck me a time or two when bidding on bulls explained to me the other day the difference between an old auctioneer and a young auctioneer. “An old auctioneer, upon receiving a catalog, turns to the last page to see how many bulls are on the sale. A young auctioneer turns to the first page to see how big of print his name is in.” I look to see if there is lunch and a social.
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 rancher’s 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 epd’s, 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 came a couple 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 traveling 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.