I grew up on a working farm. It is still a working farm. My brother and my Dad came up with a plan about when to sell the yearling calves before my Dad passed. It was time to sell. I went with my brother, sort of as a pilgrimage to a place that I really haven't been to since I was a kid. And, I went because my brother could use some help. I also went because it would have pleased my Dad. But, selfishly, I went because it is like stepping into a different world.
The local livestock auction is north of here, only about 45 minutes. The sights and the sounds of the place are hard to forget.
Maybe I'm a bit nostalgic, because when I was a kid, it was always a big day to take off of school, and go to market.
First comes the loading. This usually happens the night before. Loading animals onto trailers and trucks that they don't want to be on can be difficult at the least, and always dangerous. A 600 lb. pig usually gets his way vs. a 50 lb. kid.
We passed an Amish school house on the way there. All of the children were out playing, the girls in fresh purple dresses, and the boys in straw hats.
Once you've gotten to the auction, the Amish take over. And they make it look easy. They unload your trailer into a barn that seems to be a maze of chutes and gates, all numbered. There are animals everywhere. This particular auction barn specializes in pigs, cattle and the occasional goat. Somehow there is this need to check to make sure that your animals are in the stall that the Amish told you that they'd be in. Not that you really doubt the Amish, you just want to look around, and checking on your animals is your excuse. So, you fumble your way through the labyrinth of gates. Here's a tip: However you found the gate, that's how you leave the gate. So, if it's open, leave it open, if it's closed, leave it closed. There is a system that you are completely unaware of, the Amish who run this place know it like the back of their hand.
There are lots of animals mooing, braying and whatnot. The Amish are shouting "Hep!", and snapping whips. I've rarely seen them hit an animal, it's mostly for the sound, to get an animal moving. If you happen to be in a chute while a big bull is coming through, you'll completely understand the "Enter at Your Own Risk" signs that are everywhere. The correct thing to do is scramble up the gate or stall or whatever you are near. Height is your friend.
The animals are all run through a rink like this one. They are sold by the pound, in lots, or by choice. As with all auctions, you really have to pay attention. The guys who do this all of the time make it look like they are barely paying attention.
I did not take the above two photos-I got them online. There are signs in the barn that warn that photos are forbidden. The Amish do not like having their picture taken. And that is putting it mildly. My Dad once told me that they believed that a picture could capture their soul. I'm not sure if that's the reason or not. I just know that they feel strongly about it.
This is the actual barn barn that I visited. This is the main entrance, and I was sure to secretly take this photo from the truck. I made sure no one was in the picture. I just had to show you what was posted on the barn door. Not and advertisement for the next auction, not any kind of self promotion, just this: