Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Monday, October 5, 2015

Apex

The ranch
Production sale day.

The highlight of the Stringam Ranch year. Black Friday in our ranching world.
The catalogs have been printed, painstakingly hand-addressed (ugh!) and mailed out.
All over the world.
The cattle have been groomed, trimmed, tucked in and kissed good night.
The ranch site has been mowed, scoured, repaired and painted.
Now it sparkles like a new penny in the dawning sun as the crew slowly climbs out of bed.
Some (my parents) might not have seen their bed.
Arrivals start
Breakfast is on the table and Mom is a blur of motion as she tries to do three things at once.

A shout from the barnyard. “They’re here!”
A glance out the window. Sure enough, the first of a long line of vehicles is moving slowly up the ranch drive.
From then on, the day is a series of impressions.
Snapshots.
Greeting and handshaking.
Parking cars and the trickier trucks and trailers.
Handing out catalogues.
Tending the coffee and the all-important donuts.
Making sure the auctioneer staff are comfortable and cared for.
Dusting the bleachers, ready for customer bottoms.
Hearing the shouts and movement from the pens behind the sale barn.
The warm up patter from the auctioneer on the stand as he gathers the chatting, laughing, gesticulating crowd.
An open gate and the first animal, an outstanding heifer, in the ring.
The auctioneer assistant, armed with a cane, moving her about.
Oohs and aahs from the crowd as they thumb their catalogues, looking for this entry.
More chatter from the man with the mike.
Bidding.
The smack of the gavel.
Another open gate and the now-nervous heifer gladly disappearing.
Gates open.
Gates close.
Shouts from the pens as stock is shuffled into catalogue order.
Animals in.
Animals out.
Pounding of the gavel.
Talk and laughter as the auctioneer plays with the crowd.
The final animal, a 2000 pound bull, in the pen.
Final strike of the mallet.
“Mark and Enes Stringam would like to thank all of you for making this day special!” the auctioneer says. “And to invite you to come and enjoy a nice home-grown beef dinner on them!” A grin. “It should be good, it’s out of the neighbour’s bull!”
Much laughter. The crowd is well aware of the almost fanatic fence maintenance required by the ranch owner.
And the unlikely possibility of anything four-legged crawling through with mischief/romance in mind.
Everyone moving down the hill toward the long tables set out in front of the ranch house.
Tables groaning with mountains of Stringam beef, salads, rolls, and every other good thing.
A buzz of contented ‘people noise’ as food is consumed.
Sounds of vehicles as buyers take turns backing up to the loading chutes.
Visiting. Laughter.
The crowd slowly dwindling, along with the sunlight.
Finally, peace.
The mercury-vapour barnyard lamp shining on the faces of a family of exhausted people, collapsed in chairs in front of the house.

And in other news:
I'm famous! Well . . . almost . . .
This picture appeared in a neighbouring city's newspaper! And I didn't know until someone posted it to Facebook.
How exciting is that?!

8 comments:

  1. I can only imagine the amount of work required to have a successful sale ... must have taken a day or two to recover from that - hah, understatement.

    Ooooh, fame and fortune! You are a very young-looking grandma, by the way!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So much work. In getting the stock ready, in holding the sale - and in catering for all those (lighter walleted one hopes) people as well.
    You are picking up much more than your fifteen minutes of fame - and yes, jenny_o is right. You look waaaaay to young to be a grandmama.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Busy, busy day, but extremely satisfying for all concerned. I must get to Amazon and buy your books, my 2-and-a-bit years old great nephew is in need of Christmas gifts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never been to a livestock auction, but it sounds like a fun experience, especially when written in your talented words! Congrats on the fame and fortune - well deserved :)!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Diane you look about 16 in that picture.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What Delores said. :-)

    Loved the post. Made me miss my grandparents/the farm.

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've just been to Amazon and discovered that with the exchange rate, plus shipping, 3 books will cost me about $75!!
    I'm very sorry, but I cancelled my order. I'll shop locally for E's Christmas books.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can't imagine something like that(the cattle auction) boy would I have liked to have seen that!

    ReplyDelete

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