The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

The Wisdom Of Barnyard Bruke: "The Legacy of Calve'n and auctions!"

Greetings to everyone in western Illinois,

Calve'n season has begun already for some folk and the weather for that activity hasn't been all that bad the last few days (at least through Sunday, January 30). I have already heard of a calf end'n up in a garage for a night and one or two end'n down in the household basement. A good cattleman will do anything to save a calf. It's just his nature. I've even seen newborn calves in a bath tub of warm water to give em some energy from a below zero entry into life!

I saw one of the local fellers the other day walk'n from the barn to the house with his jacket off and one sleeve rolled up. I stopped in to say hello and quite frankly was curious as to what he was a do'n. Closer inspection spotted his arm as have'n been extended to his shoulder into the business end of a cow deliver'n a calf.

Apparently cow inspection earlier in the night found the cow struggle'n to deliver her calf. The cowpoke (in the literal sense) waited a few hours and decided to help her out. All are do'n well and the calf was suck'n. I've seen some mean ones in years past, in terms of difficult deliveries. It was especially true when big bulls were unwisely put on small pelvic cows. If'n that bull somehow got to a heifer it often spelled trouble, sometimes for both heifer and calf, with cowman try'n to help them out.

Years ago before commercial colostrum (first milk, with special antibodies) was available we would have to milk the mother stock cow. It was rather tricky because Angus cows were not generally will'n to be milked. The secret was to get her head tied off into a stanchion or post and tie at least one back leg stretched backwards to its fullest. She would then lose her balance if'n she tried to kick.

Then take one of ma's comforters and place completely over the cows head so's she couldn't see. Next rub the calf alongside the cows belly and start milk'n. It isn't always as easy as it sounds but it'll work even with the wildest meanest cow if'n you are determined enough. Any reserve colostrum milk was put in the freezer for the next calf.

I've had over the years a few real dumb calves that wouldn't suck. Also have had a few cows with frozen teats result'n in difficulty in give'n milk for a while. In both cases it results in milk'n the cow for several days. After the first days milk'n the cow can become difficult to catch.

Sometimes cows won't claim a calf. Force'n her to change her mind and become a good mama is tricky at best. Some use commercial sprays, others use persistence to try to convince the cow to accept her calf.

Anyways, if ya didn't love work'n cows it would seem a mighty mean way of make'n a live'n. As it is, every live calf saved makes a feller feel mighty good inside.

Last week I wrote on a farm real estate auction. Farm close'n out auctions and household auctions can be especially enterest'n as well.

What are you going to bid for it? What are you going to give me? Twenty, twenty, twenty five, thirty-who'll start the bidding at fifteen.

The sonorous tones of the auctioneer draw people like flies to honey. The auctioneer's purpose is to build a sense of urgency into the minds of the bidders. As you look into folks faces you can read their minds: "Is there something I want to buy?" Is there a bargain out there for me?" "Look at all this stuff on all those hayracks that Bill and and Isabell had, where did it all come from and where did they keep it all". I wonder how much Steve will bid for this?" "Why is the bid so high on that item, especially when it's the only thing I really came for?" "There must be something I don't know about, maybe I'll just put in one more bid or two."

Many attendees at an auction are there for a social event attended by friends, neighbors, and relatives. The local church or service club often in the past served food as a fundraiser.

With many folk hold'n day jobs off the farm the meals become more difficult for volunteer people result'n in commercial food and folk often with a trailer, serve'n the grub.

In the winter sales, churches and service clubs would serve in a garage or outbuild'n with a kerosene heater to warm the air a bit.

When farms were consolidate'n and small sized farmers retired, in the 1980's and before, there could be found some real bargains. Dure-n the winter months around these parts a farm auction could be attended every day dure'n the week. Sometimes two or three happened on the same day throughout the several county area. Seldom was there ever a Sunday auction. That was church day! My how things have sadly changed.

As I look back over the many auctioneers I have knowed, I think of all types. A few were "Blue Sky" auctioneers. The bidder was work'n against the "Colonel" pull'n bids out'a the "Blue Sky". Once in a while the bidder would figure it out and hang the auctioneer with the item. You'd see that item on his next auction. Auctioneers or Colonels they were called, used to wear western type hats. Nowadays they often wear caps or nothin' on their head at all. At least you never see them in short britches with their hat on backward.

It used to be the clerk at the auction wrote down the successful bidders name on a sheet with the items price. Later you would look on that tablet sheet to settle up with the successful bidding feller. Now a days a more sophisticated system of clerk'n is used.

Bidders now register before bidd'n their name, address, phone number, identification etc. and receive a number. Special NCR clerking sheets with a heavy copy that can be separated by item is used and kept in a box under the number of the bidder.

Some auctioneers have used video cameras and computers. Even auctions have been brought into the modern world!

One thing that never changes is the unpredictability of the weather. The auction days can vary from smothering hot to extremely cold depend'n on the time of year. It can get so cold that ink pens won't work reliably and lead pencils are used.

Some bidders loudly call out their bids, some wink or wiggle a finger, and there is every imaginable signal in between. Some folk have a bad habit of talk'n with their hands. In so doing they have received a bid whilst visiting with the neighbor "about that sow that got out last week".

Some fellers will run the bid up on others for onaryness or they want to show others they can do it. There are bidders that get carried away by the excitement of bidding and pay way more than intended.

I remember Everett Bell in the late 70's buy'n a "Pattee" 40 acres for $4,000 per acre and it turned out he bought the wrong 40 acres he intended to buy. He was an honorable man and even though that was the highest price ever paid for land a that time, he kept his bid. Within two years it wasn't worth $1800 per acre.

There are those who purchase an item for such a good bargain that they have an intense look of excitement and you know they feel they have purchased something of perceived value to them.

At one auction a person from out of state wanted an item so badly he sent two different people to buy the item at whatever the cost. Those people got their signals mixed up, bid against each other and the item brought many times more than it should have.

At one land auction "Reece Turley" secretly had "Bud Adair" do his bidd'n for him on the "Pike Anderson" farm. People in those days the early (70's) held off on bid'n in respect for Bud" and "Reece" received a bargain for a little over $400 per acre. That farm, up north, is now owned by the Carolyn Avery Trust and would command many times that sale price.

Well, enough of this remminsce'n I'd best get about my winter chores. I've got many more auction memories but, I'll save them for another time.

Keep on Smile'n

Catch ya Later

Barnyard Bruke