I did it. I purchased my first heifer at a real auction with real ranchers all around me. Believe me, it wasn’t pretty, but somehow I ended up with the 7-month-old Miniature Hereford that I had come there to purchase.
I never knew a cattle auction could be so engaging. For the first two weeks, I sat through the auction with two different local ranchers who patiently answered all of my questions about cattle. What do I need to look for in a cow? How can I tell how old it is? What is a steer? (Shouldn’t have asked that one!) What is the difference between a heifer and a cow. (A heifer is a young female who has never had a calf and a cow is a female who has already had at least one calf.) What is the auctioneer saying? How can you tell when the animal has been sold? How in the world can anyone figure out who bought what? And more.
The third week, we went to the auction to pick up a donkey we purchased for $35 against all of the other rancher’s advice! In fact, the first week we went to the auction, when we mentioned we wanted a donkey to ward off coyotes, two men standing within earshot immediately offered us a free donkey. (That probably should have been a hint right there!) While we were picking up our new donkey, Gypsy, we realized that there was a Miniature Hereford heifer going through the auction. We have been looking into that breed, writing to different breeders, and actually talking to a rancher about a herd he was selling. The registered Herefords were going for anywhere from $2,000-4,000 each so we quickly realized we were going to have to go a different route.
At our local auction, they sell an average of 250 cows per hour. About 15 seconds is the average time for each purchase. We sat through the auction for over three hours waiting for #784 to walk through the pen. I jumped about 10 different times when other young Herefords ran into the pen for auction. My stomach was feeling sick by the time she finally came through the chute.
Of course, I was as cool as a cucumber when she came through the chute. (Insert sarcastic laugh.) I immediately raised my hand when she ran out and, thank goodness, the rancher sitting next to me let the auctioneer know I meant the one that had just run out and NOT the one that everyone was currently still bidding on! How embarrassing. I had jumped the gun and entered into the other bidding war going on over the previous heifer!! Anyhow….with the Helpful Rancher by my side, I got a GREAT deal on this little beauty. Her name is Annabelle.
Before the Hereford ran through, a tiny Charolais ran through and no one bought it, so the Helpful Rancher immediately told me to go to the front desk and tell them I wanted to purchase that one since he knew I was getting another cow that day, too. He told me that they will need one another for companionship on the farm and that the Charolais was a good breed for us. The man who brought us the donkey told us he would load and deliver the two heifers we had purchased at the auction.
The whole experience was really fun and exciting. Not only did we purchase our first two heifers at the auction, but we got to know many people in the local farming community in the process. These people are willing to help in any way possible. I have been overwhelmed by the hospitality in our new little town.
Our family and friends know that The Outdoorsman and I both love animals and have a propensity to hoard them at our home. Thank goodness, we now have the space and the REASON for hoarding animals. We actually are required to have a certain number of animals on our farm in order to maintain the agricultural exemption that is currently in place. We have until April to collect our animals which means we are going to be forced to purchase more fluffy cows. Can you believe how fortunate I am? I am being forced to hoard cute cows in order to save money. This is a dream come true!
Stay tuned for more fluffy cow adventures.