Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Today is a very important day for Willie Tom. He is the gentleman to the left. The reason it is important is today he is putting his select group of cattle up for auction.
Willie Tom has raised this group for a year. He has bulls and cows up for bid. He has been nervous this morning. We were joking over breakfast on how the day would end for him. If he did well, he would be smiling from ear to ear. If he did bad, Bill and I would be finding another way home. We wouldn't want to be in the same car with him if he was in a bad mood. Willie Tom said he wouldn't say how well he did, just in case his wife had any ideas on how to spend the extra cash.
Willie Tom had taken his cattle very early with his son William. He came back to change and take us to the auction. I have never been to a cattle auction and was very excited to attend.
I had no clue what to expect. Would it be like Christie's? Does everyone have a paddle? Would the cows be displayed on a stage? I'm a city girl what do I know.
As we are waiting to leave, Willie Tom starts telling us what not to do. I love rules so I listen very carefully. He says the one thing you do not do is to make signs that catch the auctioneers line of vision,
unless you want to take some cattle home to America. This answers my question on how the people bid. It was signals.
Bill teased that maybe we can help raise the price by bidding. Good grief! My luck we would be the owners of a cow. What am I going to do with a cow? I wouldn't take it to a butcher and I can't bring it with me on the plane. It would have to stay were it came from on Willie Tom's farm. I think it is a way for Bill to keep coming to Ireland every year and check on our new cow.
Another beautiful day in Ireland. We get out the car and you can hear the cows. You can also smell them. The parking lot was full.
We walk into the cattle mart. Willie Tom directed us to find a seat and went off to do his mingling. It is a social event for the men. He looks for to this and shoot the breeze.
It is very rustic. The seats are benches made of wood. They run the length of the room on two of the walls. There are five rows on each side. The third wall is for the auctioneer and his helpers.
The auctioneer is drinking coffee. One of the helpers is on the computer. He puts up information of the bull that is being auction off at the time. A third helper escorts the bull to the arena and then escorts him out.
A bull is brought into this area in the middle of the room. It is fenced all around so the bull can't wander off. Another bull is brought onto a weight platform in a holding pen adjacent to the auction room. This lets the bidders to know how much the bull weighs. The bidding starts.
The auctioneer starts with the trademark speech. The bids go up and I am trying valiantly to see who is bidding. It takes me quite a few rounds of bulls to figure some of the signs the men used to make the bids. One man used his wink. Another used the twirling of his hands. Another used a nod of the head. There were still more I couldn't catch them all.
It went very quickly. It was very exciting.
I looked around and saw men of all ages. Some were there to see how well their cattle sold for and others were there to buy. Some were there to do both. It was so packed in there that there were men standing near the pens where the bulls where held.
This activity has been untouched by time. The process is still the same as when Bill's great grandfather went to the cattle mart. The only thing that was different was an addition of a computer and a big screen. It is nice to see not everything has to change with time. You get to see and be a part of something that has been around for centuries.
I took only a few pictures when I slowly realized I was the only woman there. I was the only woman there with a big, cute, girly hat. A little too obvious a little to easy to pick out in a crowd. I quickly put my camera down and waited for them to tell me when it was time to go.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the cattle mart, even if I was out of place. I learned a lot. I also did not win a cow.
We caught up with Willie Tom at the end of the day. He had a very big smile on his face. He did very well.
First timer Abbie