Saturday, February 25, 2012

Family Matters

Ok, Its official. I have recovered from the sale. It only took me two weekends and a new pregnancy body pillow...( oh, if you haven't tried one of these, you really ought to.. pregnant or not!) 

As I was looking through all my pictures of the sale it dawned on me and I got all warm and fuzzy inside.  The secret to our sale success time after time, year after year, bull after bull??? Family!  And I'm not just talking about the Hoag Srs and maybe a stray sibling or too, I'm talking about the whole ding dang family and then those that got suckered into our family whether they liked it or not.   Everyone comes together and lends a hand and ultimately, that is what the farming and ranching community is all about. 

My step dad and family police office, Mark always works the parking on the hill with a few neighbors that pitch in to keep him company.  He is a super trooper ( get it? ) and never complains that he has, by far, the WORST and COLDEST job of any of us.  We love him, others fear him, and everyone parks exactly where they're supposed to.  Sweet harmony.

My beautiful Mama, former TWA flight attendant, future grandmother of our little baby and the worlds best mom,  is always there first thing in the morning to serve coffee and eventually the highly anticipated chili lunch.  I know Mrs. Hoag greatly appreciates being relieved from this post so she can keep the relative chaos in order.

Then there is Hoag's older sister and her husband.  She runs the clerking post during the sale while he runs the entrance gate of the sale arena.

Next we have Hoag's friends. This is a prime example of "family" that volunteered one year and we've been fortunate to have come back each year after.  Chuck runs the exit gate of the sale arena and Paul runs the loading chute while the bulls wait to go in the ring.

Coffee? Tea? Chili?

Then there is Hoag, Cowboy John and I ( and the baby of course)  in the back sorting through the bulls and getting them all lined up for the big show.

And then the money makers of the team, ( or money takers to be more exact) Nurse Hoag and Mrs. Hoag take all the tickets from Hoag's older sister and turn them into receipts that then come to me for shipping and loading out and eventually are used as bills of sale.  They have a very very stressful job but luckily they have big pretty smiles that make everyone happy and at ease. 

And that's the team but there are are still even more people who help. Brittanie who took the pictures, my little riding buddy Kaelyn who ran all the tickets from one sister to the next, my little bro who was around for all the pre sale rituals, my big brother who was there to eat all the chili and cookies...  the list really goes on.  These "volunteers" are priceless and we love them so much for being such willing slaves... err helpers.. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oh Hey there!

Well, I think I've recovered from sale week... almost! I'll tell ya, I know it normally is exhausting but this being pregnant AND having sale week is for the birds.  I need to plan this better next time :)

We had an amazing sale and a great turn out.  All the bulls showed up which is nice and the ladies were primped and ready to go hours before showtime.

We open the barn up the night before for anyone who gets in town early and wants a glimpse of the cattle before everyone else.  This year we held a burger dinner but seeing how it was literally 10 degrees, not too many people braved the weather. 

Then it was showtime. Saturday morning started for some around 4am to get all the cattle fed, moved into position, sorted and penned so all the buyers could do their walkabouts before the auction started. 

A little chili made by Mrs. Hoag Sr to get everyone warmed up and in the arena and then the auctioneers get going! Hoag, Cowboy John and I are always in the back moving the cattle from pen to pen, resorting to make sure they go in sale order and that everyone is coming out of the sale ring and filtering to the right place.  We're basically the paddling feet beneath the duck... or something.  (p.s. big thanks to Brittanie for taking all the pics during the sale!)

Hoag Sr. gives the intros and off they go. Lot 1 in the ring, Tommy Barnes, our auctioneer is great at getting all the details of each head in while talking a million miles an hour.  Buyer's bids are being thrown out, caught by our three amazing ring men; Guy Peverly of High Plains Journal, Brett Spader of The Stock Exchange and Tim Lackey of Missouri Beef Cattleman.  They are the true magic of the auction and what keeps everything running.  Before the bidding is even done, lot 1 is out the door and Lot 2 is loaded in the chute to go in next.  All the while, Andrew Sylvester of the Kansas Stockman is on the phone taking bids from the Sale Day Live Bids from people who couldn't make it in.  There is definitely a huge amount of energy in the air and the cattle all feel it. 

And then it's over as quickly as it began. Well actually, its over a lot quicker than all the preparations.  But the end is only the beginning.  THEN, all the buyers load up in their trucks, get in line and then we have to Re-sort through all the cattle to find the individual heads that each person bought.  This is why having them filter into certain areas after their done in the ring is so important.  I usually run about three trucks ahead to get all the paperwork sorted so the guys can have the cattle in the alley and waiting. 

Another bowl of chili.  And then we're off to sort, feed, water and bed all the cattle that will be getting picked up throughout the week.  We usually end up loading cattle out for buyers for at least a week or two after the sale.

And that's it! 8 Months until the fall heifer sale which will just be our females for the association.  I'll look forward to our predictable and wonderful fall weather.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sale Week Rituals - part uno

It's almost here! The biggest day of the year, the be all to end all, the reason for our existence!  Well.. that may be a little much. But it is, most certainly, what we work for all year round.  I'll be taking you through a few of the presale rituals we have and what/who all it takes to get this thing rolling.  My posts will not be timely, they will not be daily, and I can't promise my grammar will be correct.  We are talking some pretty long days here folks but it ALWAYS pays off. 

Every second Saturday in February we have our annual production sale where our best yearling bull calves and our best heifers and a few pairs make their big debut in the ring and happily go home with the highest bidder.  It takes over a week to get ready for this big shenanigan and almost always, without fail, it always gets super muddy right before the big day. 

You saw last month how we trimmed, photographed and videoed all our cattle that would be in the sale.  Well since then, they've just been hanging out in what was a nice dry lot and what is now a big sloppy mess thanks to all the rain.  ( yes I said rain, yes it is February, yes we are all freaked out but this unseasonably warm weather but were moving on)  So, one big thing we have to do is get rid of all that mud!

So, time to rinse and repeat.. .literally.  We bring in all the bulls and get them all cozied into the pens.  Then, one by one, we run them through the wash rack where they get soaked, brushed, soaped, brushed and rinsed.  From there, they go across the aisle where they get their blow outs to make sure they are totally dry and clean.  The boys love the day at the spa!

From there, we will turn the bulls out into the horses beloved South Pasture where they will hopefully stay clean, dry and mud free for the next three days.  It's an all day thing to wash and dry 50 bulls.  Well, really, its a two day thing but we're all so stubborn that we decided one long long day was better than two just long days so were pulling a 14 hour shift to get it all done. 

Luckily the girls have better manners and they stay much cleaner so we don't have to mess with them. 

Today was the bulls, tomorrow is the barn, we're on the home stretch people, I can smell it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kids today...

The new labor laws being implemented by President Obama and his crew are threatening the very foundation of what makes agriculture what it is today and has been over the hundreds of years past. 

Under the new law, children under the age of 16 are no longer allowed to work on or around machinery, with or around livestock over 1 yr old or with or around silos and de-tassling equipment. 

This new law may seem like a good idea on the surface but let me break it down for you a little bit. 

Lets say you live in... oh, Eskridge, KS - Population 600 people.  There are about 12 businesses in the downtown area including a gas station, post office, bar that's open 2 days a week if you call and a hippy store.  Now, lets say you're a teenager who lives outside this town and you're 15 and you need a summer job to save for college. You have a farmers permit license but that restricts you to the dirt roads and to the feed store. You know you're parents aren't going to be able to afford to send you to school so you're only option is to work, work, work and the only thing you know how to do is what you've been doing for your parents for free for the last 10 years of your life.  Your neighbor owns an operating cattle ranch and he needs help rounding up his herds and working them once or twice a month, fixing fence in those pastures, delivering round bales to certain pastures and haying his one brome pasture.  For $10 an hour, the jobs all yours, sun up to sun down. 

No can do.  Under the new law, this teenager  And the neighbor are out of luck.  The only ranch he can work on in his parents and chances are, if he's looking for money, his parents aren't able to pay him for his time.   Teens under the age of 16 can't even get on a horse to round up cattle.  What is it that this law is going to accomplish??  Destroying the foundation of America, that's what. 

How will we teach our kids a good work ethic.  How will we teach our kids where their food comes from, how to respect the animals? That real hard work has nothing to do with a desk and everything to do with shear determination and sweat.  

I understand where the initial thought came from.  Ranching is one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in America... so what happens when we stop teaching our children how to respect the animals and their free will, how to properly drive a tractor and respect its limitations, how to deal with the weather and what steps need to be taken in order to protect the crops and creatures?  More accidents, more deaths, more restrictions. 

Not to mention, when we take these jobs away from our summer and after school teens who are these ranchers and farmers left to hire?  Illegal immigrants, people willing to do the job for half the pay who will be taking the money and skills away from the future workers of this Nation.


Talk back, Stand up for the Agriculture kids of this Nation and their futures! Email and tell the secretary of the dept of labor exactly what you think about this new law.