It’s the Pitts
July 14, 2008
Being put in a position of authority is ego expanding but it also exposes a person to insult and injury. Just ask a politician, editor or a bull grader.
In the cattle business one of the highest positions of honor that a rancher can hope to achieve is to be asked to be a bull grader at one of the many sales that take place throughout the west. To be chosen as a bull grader means that you are a respected judge of the bovine body and a leader among men. It also means that the sale management hopes that you will hang around after your grading duties are over and buy a few bulls in the sale. Grading bulls doesn’t pay anything, usually just a steak dinner, but it sure elevates a person’s feelings about himself. That is, until a consignor disagrees with your appraisal of their bull. Then it can get really nasty.
Adolf had been trying for years to breed a bull in his small herd that would be good enough to make the grade at his county all breed bull sale. Alas, every year it was the same result: Adolf’s bull went home in the same trailer that it arrived in.
It was an annual rite of Fall: Adolf loaded up his bull and hauled him to the sale yard for the big sale only to have the panel of commercial cattlemen score his bull so low that the bull was ineligible to sell. Adolf was not asking much; he didn’t want a plaque, a blue ribbon or a trophy. Not even a high seller. He would have been as happy as a fly in a pie selling a bull for $1,000, just as long as his bull made the sale and Adolf got to see his name in the bull sale catalog.
Despite the yearly disappointment Adolf was just like a steer … he kept trying. Such was his determination that he embarked upon an artificial insemination program to upgrade the quality of his bulls. Surely this would be the year he got a bull into the county all breed sale.
But it was not to be yet again. After the graders appraised the offering Adolf’s bull was not to be found in the sale order. Not even on the last page. Adolf looked like a motherless calf but the sadness quickly turned to rage as he appraised the other bulls that made the sale. Surely his bull was just as good as they were. Madder than a rained on rooster, Adolf approached John, the sale manager and demanded to know, “What was wrong with my bull this year?”
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Like all good sale managers John passed the buck and suggested that Adolf take the matter up with the graders, after all, it wasn’t John’s fault the bull graders had so wrongly sifted poor Adolf’s bull. The bull sure looked like fine stock to him. “There are the graders,” said John.” Why don’t you ask them what was wrong with your good bull.”
Adolf was clearly on the prod as he approached the graders. Without any howdie-doos Adolf lit into them. “I want you fellows to know that my bull is the product of artificial insemination and he is sired by one of the great bulls of the breed. I had two half brothers of this bull at home and one of them I sold for $1,200 and the other for $1,100. Despite the fact that I probably could have sold this bull back at the ranch I saved him for this sale and then you big-feeling idiots have the nerve to sift him and thereby deprive the ranchers in this area of the benefit of the excellent genetics in my program,” said Adolf proudly.
To this remark one of the graders replied in a condescending tone, “Adolf let me try to explain. My fellow bull grader here, George, was one of three children in his family. His two brothers were the smartest and most beautiful children you have ever seen. But George here, well, as you can see he is not all that pleasing to look at, if you know what I mean.”
Before the bull grader could continue Adolf interrupted. “No you don’t understand. This is different. I have all the records. I know who the sire of my bull is.”