Posted 06-26-2004 at 07:29:27
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That auction we were looking for. We went to L Cross in Okeechobee last night. We got there late, didn't realize how far it was, or how long it would take to get there. The auction was in full swing. Getting out of the truck we heard roaring laughter. It didn't take long to figure out why. We went in and found some seats. There was an older man and two teenaged boys in the auction ring handling the animals. They were on goats at the moment, and were shuffling them through with dizzying speed. Animals were still being bid on as they were being ushered out. You had to really pay attention to keep up with the action, as the auctioneer, from his perch high above the auction ring, pointed out to one bidder.
"Now, Krissy...your husband Rick just bid sixty dollars on that fine billy goat, are you bidding against him?"
Krissy sat down with a red face, her husband removed her bidding card from her hand and with a dramatic flourish, sailed it across the room, and the audience burst out laughing again.
The next animal in the ring was a beautiful pinto mare. She was green broke, and clearly antsy at being the center of attention. No one was willing to pay the minimum bid. Not that she wasn't worth it. As the young man went to lead her out, the rope that operated the swinging barn door somehow managed to end up under the mares neck, instantly stopping her progress. It could have been a very nasty incident. The auctioneer called out...
"Whoa dummy, whoa dummy, WHOA!" Clearly addressing the young handler.
Both the handler and the horse handled it in stride.The mare barely had time to react before the boy had her free of the rope and was quieting her. He grinned sheepishly, accepting responsibility for the incident and everybody breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Next came a Palomino pony. A gorgeous little creature.
"Who's selling this fine pony?" The auctioneer queried. A man stood up behind us and raised his hand.
"All right sir, what's her story?"
"Well, she's never been ridden. We've had her for three years, and the folks we got her from never worked with her either. But as you can see, she's in fine health."
"How old is she?"
"I'm not sure." The seller shrugged. "She's just kind of been serving as a lawn mower. She needs to be broken and trained, but I didn't have the nerve to try. It'll take a braver man than me. She's got spunk all right."
"All right folks, you heard it. Here's an unbroken pony of questionable age. What am I bid for her? Starting at three hundred..."
The auctioneer had reversed all the way back to a hundred dollars and still no one had bid on the pony. He frowned, and then...
"Cutter," he said, "get on that there pony."
Cutter, the young boy who had just had the mishap with the mare, hesitated for less than a second and then grabbed a handful of mane, threw his leg across the ponies back and mounted her. The pony danced in a circle, whinnying in protest, as everyone held their breath. Cutter grabbed the lead rope and using it as a makeshift rein, had that pony turning left and right and backing up like a well-seasoned horse in less than a minute. It was clear to anybody watching that this boy had cut his teeth on a saddlle horn.
"There folks. She was broke and just didn't know it. Now..." the auctioneer tipped back his Stetson, "what am I bid?"
The pony sold for five hundred and sixty dollars.
Next came a sway-backed old gelding who had clearly seen better days.
"All right...who's telling the story on this old gentleman?"
A woman stood up in front of us.
"He's twenty..." she began.
"Skinny?! Well honey, we can all see he's skinny..."
"NO... TWENTY!" Almost the entire audience chimed in on that one.
"Oh...TWENTY! Okay, go on!"
"Anybody can ride him."
"Well, no offense darlin', but it looks like everybody already has."
Another roar of laughter.
"All kidding aside folks," he went on, "here's a fine mannerly old feller who would make an excellent starter horse for a child. He's been everywhere, seen everything and probably wouldn't spook at a dammed thing. Who wants to give this old boy a home?"
The bidding stalled at eighty dollars, an acceptable price for an horse that is to be slaughtered, and the woman shook her head.
"I just can't do it."
"That's all right sweetheart. We know. Take him back to his stall boys. Allright! We're gonna break for ten minutes or so to sell some chickens in the poultry area and then we'll be back to sell the hogs and the rest of the goats. We've also got some cattle so ya'll don't go anywhere."
There was nowhere we wanted to go except home. We had already seen everything we wanted to see. We had gone to the back and looked at the holding quarters, of which there were plenty. We had seen the horses that had just left the ring before they'd ever been led out. They came from large hay filled stalls with feed and water buckets attached to the walls. We had seen the goats in similar pens. We had seen the pigs, none of whom were stacked like cord wood, and had seen the big tubs of clean water that had been put there for them, and the fans that circled overhead, helping to dispel the heat. We had seen enough.
We found our auction. A place to sell and maybe even buy.
The show in the auction ring was well worth the drive. It was a relaxed, casual atmosphere, lots of cutting up and laughing. The handlers, good at what they were doing, soothed and calmed the animals as they came through. Apart from the incident with the mare and the rope, there were no accidents. No animals fell, or were pushed or prodded or kicked.
I know we have no control over any of our animals destinies and they may be treated like hell after they leave the auction barn, but one things for certain, we will send them off in the best manner we possibly can.