Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marana Stock Auction

Cattleman's Breakfast at the Stockyard Cafe - our neighbors invited us to experience the true Arizona. It smelled a little of cows and mostly of clean hay and straw - this is not one of the feed lots where cattle is fattened before it is slaughtered and stands for weeks in its own muck (I know why I don't eat beef).

Here in Marana the local ranchers buy heifers for breeding, roping calfs, bucking bulls, and cows to turn out on the range to breed more roping calfs, bucking bulls.... Of course, the flat, fertile Avra Valley along the Santa Cruz River is also home to herds of heavy, healthy Black Angus cattle.

 The cattle in the holding pens before the auction could have provided the German Brothers Heck with all the genetic material they needed in their misguided attempt to recreate the extinct 'Auerochs', ancestor of most modern breeds of cattle.

There were cattle descending from French  Spanish, English, German, Indian, and African breeds, even some that seemed to have the brooding profile of the American Bison. They were mostly munching peacefully at long troughs.

 A few cowboys where milling around,  skillfully maneuvering their horses while opening and closing the hundreds of gates to move groups of cattle quietly from corral to corral  into a narrow, rotating  system of wall and gates that led across the scales and  into the auctioning arena.

 Inside rows of seats rising towards the back reminded me of a university auditorium (they didn't look comfortable enough for a movie theater). By the time the auction began, most of the seats were taken, and mostly by ranching people. Not many tourists here.

 The auctioneer kept up a continuous  flow of repetitive syllables, interspersing it with few understandable words. Still, after a while I was absorbing the information about the shown animals as well as the bidding steps without being able to consciously understand anything. It turned out that some of my American-born companions understood even less.

I had told my colleagues at the entomology department that I couldn't come to work today because I was buying a donkey for our planned bug-collecting trips into the Rincon Mountains.  I did actually find two very nice looking donkeys at the auction. But, to Randy's and our neighbors' relief, they turned out to be the resident mascots and not for sale.

So Cody, hop right back into the car. You don't have to make room - this time

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