Two weeks ago, I found myself down in southern Oregon for my first ever appearance at a bull sale and, not just ANY bull sale, it was THE Klamath Falls Bull Sale.
I have always heard so many fun and exciting stories about the Klamath Falls Bull Sale so I jumped at the chance to head down south for work while my boss was at the National Cattlemen’s Convention in Nashville, Tennessee (albeit I was VERY jealous of this). Once there I was caught off guard by the sheer energy that was buzzing around the entire premises.
My co-workers and I rolled in late evening but made it over in time to watch the dog trials and a get a feel for the property. A dog trial team consists of one cowboy, one ranch horse, and one cowdog. They proceed to move the calves in the pen through an elaborate pattern complete with obstacles and are judged accordingly. At least that’s what I determined and I really couldn’t tell you more about it besides the fact that I was VERY impressed with the ability that they all had!
Grading and Sifting
Friday morning we got to watch the grading and sorting of the bulls for the sale. I was honored to get to sit with the veterinarian and Klamath County Cattlemen President Dr. Bloomfield. Watching the animals go through the pen, I was thankful for the opportunity to pick her brains as the animals were moved around the sorters. The first pen, she explained that they were simply making sure that the animals did not express any sort of lameness. In the second pen that they went through they were judged and placed for the rest of the event.
I was very excited about this opportunity to watch them work. Growing up, I had always jackpotted cattle through Ringmaster shows but I hadn’t seen an event like this before. Bulls were typed as either a pen bull or a halter bull. A pen bull referred to a bull that wasn’t handled, bred to be out on the open range. The halter bull was more what I was used too from the Ringmaster shows; they were furry, fitted out, and led into the pen. I was impressed with the calm demeanor of the bulls. During this portion, Dr. Bloomfield cracked a joke about how she was more than happy to watch from the bleachers as a few bulls had already gotten the grounds crew to jump the fence multiple times.
That night, we sat underneath a heater after looking through the vendors which were a unique combination of western attire, farm equipment, ranch equipment and horse equipment, and we watched the team branding. I know a lot about rodeo, I’ll tell you that much, but as of late I have been VERY interested in ranch rodeos!
The team branding was interesting because they started the whole event off with a “calcutta” which is where they auctioned off each of the teams. Whoever purchased the winning team would win the entire pot of what people had paid. Teams were going around $350.00 on average with almost 30 teams in the branding, you already knew that that individual was going to be making a LOT of money!
Teams of four people and two horses, it was a competition to get 4 calves branded to have your time stop or, if you weren’t fast enough, for you to disqualified. It was exciting and fun to watch, it’s the kind of team event that I would love to compete in!
Saturday morning, the large arena was full of competitors competing in working cowhorse and reined cowhorse classes. I couldn’t help but have the sneaking suspicion that the competitors were getting ready for the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurities … my hint was all of the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity jackets that those behind the entry gate were wearing.
Watching the Bull Sale I couldn’t help but feel my blood start pumping! Watching the animals go through, I couldn’t help but feel the rhythm of the “cattle rattle” of the auctioneer as bull after bull went through. I stood next to a gentleman whose family competes in the NPRA (the jacket was the giveaway) and I found myself wishing more than ever that I was further along in my dream goals and that I was there to purchase a bull to improve my herd genetics but, alas, I am just going to have to wait my turn!
There was a small variety of breeds at the sale, centered around Angus (black and red), Limousin, Herefords (my mothers favorite) and LimFlex (cross between Limousin and Angus). Looking into my future I think that I want to have Angus cows and then I can see how the meat market is playing out and go from there. Down the road, I REALLY want to try and breed Chianina cattle BUT I don’t know enough to even know if that is practical but, that’s just my whimsical rambling through my keyboard.
I have spent a lot of time at rodeo’s, as most of you know, but I am very excited for the opportunity to see a different style of rodeo. Ranch rodeo is more true to ranching and the western lifestyle than the pro rodeo arenas that I traveled the country making appearances at last year.
There are pros and cons to both; I think that like men’s and women’s basketball there are many things that you can appreciate and learn from each of these similarly categorized sports. I hope to one day be a competitor in both of these pens and go forward.
Once again, they did a Calcutta of the teams, albeit there were less teams than the branding the night before. At the ranch rodeo they only had three events. They started off with a branding competition. All qualified teams advanced to a “stray gathering” which was REALLY exciting to watch. Two teams competed at the same time during the stray gathering with the faster team knocking out the slower team for the final round which was the ranch bronc riding competition. Ranch bronc riding is similar to saddle bronc riding but more true to the original style of breaking colts in the old west on the ranch.