Monday, April 14, 2008

Silencing the Stockyard

When I was about ten and Isaac was about eight, we had the very memorable experience of visiting the St. Paul Stockyard (St. Paul, MN) for a morning round of cattle auctioneering. Any cattle auction is a sight to behold, but the St. Paul stockyard was so impressive because of the sheer volume of cattle that were auctioned off in any given day.

I have three distinct recollections from my day in the St. Paul Stockyard. I was extremely impressed that the auctioneer could tell when a man (yes, I think this was a man's world) had bid on a cow; most of the buyers just winked at the auctioneer and didn't even raise a hand. Secondly, I remember empathizing with the cows. Most of the cows were old and getting sold for fast-food beef; needless to say, the cows were pretty dismal looking. Lastly, I wondered how anyone could discern the garbled language of the auctioneer. The only word I could make out was "Sold!"

Today's New York Times reported that the St. Paul Stockyard has seen its last auction because of the growth of suburbia. If you have never seen a cattle auction before, be sure to check out this informative multimedia clip.