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Hot Wire Broke
Thursday 10th of March 2011 08:45 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

"These beauties are hot wire broke."

It sounded to me like they had a future in stealing cars.

When you go to a foreign country, it's always good to have a translator. You wouldn't think you'd need a translator at a cattle sale just a county away. But I did.

Randy provided translation services free of charge at Pratt Livestock Inc. I provided his free comic relief since I asked question after question.

By the way, "hot wire broke" means the cattle have been on wheat or rye pasture and are used to the electric fence. In farm wife terms, it means that there's a possibility you won't be called into cattle chasing mode on a daily basis.

There's definitely a lingo and a rhythm to the proceedings at the sale barn. There's a kind of dance between the auction ring and the cattle buyers in the stands.

Besides a translator, I guess I needed a sign language interpreter, too. There were as many different methods for bidding as there were cattle buyers. It was done with anything from a slight nod to a tap on a card to an emphatic nod of the head.

But you don't even have to be in Pratt to bid on the cattle. Technology has come to the sale barn: A series of cameras lets off-site bidders in on the action, too. When I was a little girl, I remember lines of phones around the upper perimeter of the auditorium. These days, the buyers use their own cell phones to keep in touch with the people who are ultimately paying the bills - whether that's a feedlot or a private buyer who is looking to add to his own cow herd.

It was definitely a male-dominated room, though there were "21 ladies done like you want things done and brought to town for the first time."

Translation: The 21 heifers looked like quality cattle and were raised at a family farm.

"These heifers are green."

Translation: Well, they looked brown to me, but Randy explained that the auctioneer meant they'd been on wheat or rye and were ready to gain bulk at the feed bunk.

There were a few gentlemen, too, though these particular gentlemen didn't wear cowboy hats and seed caps. These "gentlemen" were bulls, not to be confused with steers.

All in all, 6,000 head of cattle moved through the ring last Thursday. Today's another sale day at Pratt Livestock. But they'll have to do it without me this week.

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