Mad Jack Hanks: The art of buying and selling cattle
When I first took over that large ranch in Texas that I so often refer to, one of my requirements, as I saw it was to become a capable cattle buyer and seller.
The biggest challenge I faced was to clean up a “Bangs” infested ranch with 1,100 momma cows. That took some time. In the process I began to replace those cows with steers who are not candidates for brucellosis. I could have hired professional order buyers to buy cattle for the ranch but being the conservative that I am, I wanted to do as much buying as possible and then let an order buyer or two fill in when my schedule wouldn’t allow me to be in the sale barn.
Before I actually raised my card to bid on any cattle I spent an afternoon in the auction barn just watching and listening as to make myself not to appear too foolish when my time came. Gentle readers, I have to tell ya I was a little bit nervous that first time I picked up a buyer’s card and found me a comfortable place to sit where the auctioneer could easily spot me. Most everyone knew who I was by then. Yep, I was the new kid on the block who was green as grass when it came to bidding against professionals and one who had NEVER bought any cattle at auction before other than a couple of “chronic” feedlot steers at the Tulia, Texas auction barn.
I felt as if all eyes were on me all afternoon. I knew the “big boys” would run me up as high as they could, if they could. They couldn’t. Nope, they found out that even though I worked for folks that had deep pockets, I valued my position and would be as honorable as possible while in that position. The first few times “the boys” ran up the price I just unloaded on them and let them have their high priced steers. You could just see that “OOOOPPS,” we miss judged this young man.
Fall was the time of the year when I sat in those sale barns across north central Texas buying cattle three times a week. I knew in a matter of a few weeks who was buying what, when to bid and when to stop bidding. I have to tell ya after a couple of years I became rather proficient as a buyer of livestock. I not only bought cattle, I bought horses, saddles and all types of tack for the ranch. There were those times that I did embarrass myself on occasion when I missed the weight of an animal by 14 miles.
The sale barns I went to didn’t have the weight of the cattle coming into the ring except for the Fort Worth Livestock sale. I got to where I could judge cattle weights fairly accurate most all the time. There were those buyers who dreaded to see me walk into the sale barn especially if I was wanting the same type of cattle that they had orders for. I have had guys come over and sit beside me if there was a place and ask me to give them a break. They had a job to do and a family to take care of as if I didn’t. I really tried not to run over anyone there with my check book. I, on occasion, would just simply stop bidding early and let this guy or that guy have the cattle. I didn’t want to burn any bridges.
Every fall, without fail, my mind often fades back to those long afternoons and late nights of sale barn corn dogs, hamburgers, and coffee, too much coffee and sometimes a long drive back home. Those were good times for me and my family and I darn sure got a good education in the “art of the deal”. Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, and don’t scratch yer nose in the sale barn unless ya want to buy that fence jumpin’, barren cow! I’ll c. y’all, all y’all. ❖
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