Heeeeeeeey What’ll You Give Me For…..

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It’s been a whirlwind week for me, but I didn’t want to lose track of a certain topic that dates back to when I was still in New Mexico, just over a week ago.

The reason for my trip back home was to help comfort and support my two goddaughters as this was the first year they both raised pigs as part of their 4-H club.

A week ago Friday was the sale day, meaning a livestock auction at the Southern New Mexico State Fair. Unfortunately my girls didn’t score high enough in the judging to make the sale (their pigs were purchased by a friend of the family), but we still attended the auction because the girls were helping their friends to sell their animals.

It had been since I was in college that I’d been to a livestock auction. I used to go fairly regularly, but times marches on.

Over the years, I’d forgotten what a visceral experience it really is.

First, the auction barn is usually a tin building, high ceilings and concrete floors.

Then a generous amount of straw hay is spread across the floor, which gives a certain sweet smell of hay mixed with a crazy amount of dust. I was blowing dust out of my nose all week.

One by one, the animals are led into a small pen by the kid that raised them, and walked around and posed. The kid smiles a huge, though sometimes fake, smile trying to lure potential buyers to spend a little more. (Fake because the kids are usually pretty sad about selling off their animal).

The cows moo, sheep baa, goats bleat and ducks quack as the anticipation is almost too tough to take.

And then, the auctioneer starts up.



The guy on the left is the auctioneer, the guy in the middle is helping him spot bids and the guy on the right is keeping records of the bids.


It’s a droning, pushing, forceful sound. When you first walk in, it’s startling, a cacophony of noise, but over time it becomes like a steady background hum. You have to tune it out, or it becomes overwhelming.

There are guys in the audience helping spot, and every now and again, they’ll holler “HAW!!!” as they get a reluctant bidder to go up in price a bit more.

The two auctioneers we had that evening traded off duties over the course of the sale.

This guy was really solid in his work, and funny too. I mean, he’s got an intensity here, but he’d say in his auctioneer cadence “C’mon Justin, you got some more in you….” or “Hey Dave, I thought you went home…”





He carried this little gavel thing, and would rap the podium real hard when the bidding was done. “SOLD!” *whack*

It was a sound I could feel in my bones.



Then the kid would walk their animal out of the pen, happy to have gotten a good price, sad because that meant the end.

The scene back in the pens behind the barn was a different story. Low light, animals rustling around, and little kids crying.

When the kids sell their animal, they also put together a basket of goodies as a thank you to the buyer. A friend of my younger goddaughter slipped a note in her basket that said “Please don’t kill my goat. He’s really nice. Please keep him as a pet.”

Kinda breaks my heart because I know that goat isn’t going to be anybody’s pet. It’s getting loaded onto the packer truck with all the rest.

A bit of harsh reality for a nine year old.

Next year I think my goddaughters are going to raise either dairy heifers or rabbits. Dairy heifers go back to the dairy to give milk, they don’t go on the packer truck. And with rabbits, the buyer usually gives the rabbit back to the kid.

That’s all a bit easier to take, I suppose.

All in all, I had a good time at the auction. I got to see some good friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I drank some of the auction barn’s free beer. And I got to remember what it means to be an Ag kid in New Mexico.



All photos in this post Copyright 2011, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the right hand column of this page.


The Worries of a Country Kid

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As you read this, I’ll be winging my way over California and Arizona and on my way to New Mexico.

Look up and wave hi if you see me coming by.

I’m headed back to Southern New Mexico for a purpose.

As I’ve told you, I take my job as co-madre very, very seriously. I love the two daughters of my best friend with such intensity that sometimes I forget I didn’t carry them inside my own body.

They matter that much.

My baby girls, now 8 and 11, are part of their local 4-H and this year they took on the project of raising pigs. They worked very hard at this, including helping their dad clear an empty space in their yard and building the pig barn.

Every day they feed and medicate and care for those little oinkers. They text me photos. They tell me how cute they are. Those girls are in love with their little piggies.

This weekend is the final part of the process: an auction at the Southern New Mexico State Fair.

I never raised show animals myself, but most of my friends did. I know from experience that the auction can be really difficult.

Really difficult.

Especially the first time through.

As my friend said, “get ready for big crying.”

And I am. I think.

The Good Man and I will join forces with my best friend and her husband and we’ll hug those kids as hard as we can and try to make it better.

Because in the end, I’ll probably be the one crying the hardest. It hurts when my little ones hurt.

This is the dilemma of a country kid. It’s part of their 4-H training, learning to raise and care for animals, but knowing that these animals are also part of the food chain.

Most people don’t look at a bag of groceries and understand where, exactly the food came from. People think beef just comes in patties like that. Eggs are created in foam containers. Milk is mixed up back in the stockroom.

My girls know better. My girls are savvy and strong. They know the land and how to create sustenance from it. They join the long line of proud agricultural New Mexicans.

And so they’ll cry a little and grow up a little and learn a lot.

Or, hell, they might both grow up to be vegetarians after this experience. Who knows?

Wish me luck! I’m going in!





Photo by Gareth Weeks and used royalty free from stock.xchng.


New Additions to Our Family

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So, out of nowhere about a month ago, I decided I wanted to get a new pet.

I’ve no idea where this impulse came from. It just did. Considering that we can’t have any more fuzzy pets in the rental place where we live, it became clear that I had to go small.

Like fish sized.

Hmm. Trouble is, the only fish I’ve ever owned in my life was a goldfish from the New Mexico State Fair.

That one lived quite a while, by the by.

So this quest required some research. I looked for a fish that was easy to get set up and easy to care for. The answer was simple, a betta.

I spent hours going through the pages on bettatalk.com and I learned a lot. I made lists. I fretted. I thought about it a lot. And then yesterday, the waiting was over.

The Good Man and I went to the pet store.

And we came home with not one but two new fish friends!

Without further ado, may I introduce you to:

Margaret The Fish

Margaret The Fish

She is actually The Good Man’s fish. When we set out on our journey, we were just going to get one fish. But once we got to the store, The Good Man was so charmed by this inquisitive little girl, she had to come home with us.

I’m charmed by her too, actually.

So heck, easy solution. We decided to get two fishes and let them live in their own tanks side-by-side.

It’s a good solution.

Margaret is a pretty little fish and she’s happy to have interaction and already recognizes us. She’s not eating a whole lot yet so we’re hoping she’s still just a little shocky from the move and will be feeling right soon.

So now that you’ve met Margaret…please meet:

Frank The Fish

Frank The Fish

So named because of his vibrant blue eyes. He has all of the looks and none of the charm of Sinatra.

As you can see in his photo, Frank is a bit of a stalker. He stares at Margaret.

A lot.

In a creepy mouth breathing way.

He’d totally send her inappropriate messages on Facebook if he was a human. Instead he just stares. A lot.

Margaret mostly ignores him.

So we’ve got them set up in their respective tanks and they are doing (*coff-coff*) swimmingly.

As for the existing member of our pet family….

Well, the word indignant comes to mind.

The feline is sort of not amused by these new items taking our attention.

Thankfully, she doesn’t try to attack them. She just watches, shrugs, and walks away.

I suppose all will settle down in the house soon.

And The Good Man and I are learning a lot about how to care for these new friends.

I never thought I’d be a fish person, but here I am, all enamored of my fish.

Tis a crazy, wonderful, mixed up life.

As the world keeps tilting and turning

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And there is nothing you or I can do about it.

Today heralds the incoming month of September.

Labor Day, the “official” end of summer, is nigh.

And, if you are perceptive, over the next days, you can sense a change in the atmosphere. The earth has moved in her orbit a tiny bit, and the angle of the rays from the sun are a little less direct, a bit less overhead, more muted.

The days get moment by moment shorter.

When the breeze blows by on a warm day, you catch the faintest bit of chill in the air. Almost imperceptible, but it is there.

And Fall starts to move in, unpack its red and gold and yellow hued bags, and set up residence.

September is the month of still summer warm days but cooler nights. Of State Fairs and rodeos and roasting chiles. In the Bay Area, the crab fishermen start patching nets and negotiating rates, getting ready for the Fall harvest.

An extra blanket may find its way onto my bed. The Feline will sleep a little closer to her humans.

There is talk of Halloween in the air. “What are you going to be” and bags of miniature chocolate bars for sale.

Soon pumpkins will be lit with candles and ghouls will rule the night.

But today, oh today. Today is still baseball and flip flops and cinnamon flavored churros. In small towns, talk of “will that steer take the blue ribbon this year” and kids are back in school and the public pools grow quieter.

The day is still warm and I still grip, and grip *hard*, to the last, butter slippery straws of summer.

What’s Next!?!?

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Seems the New Mexico State Fair Expo New Mexico has gone and gotten a little Puritanical this year.

Sure, you can still getcher corn dogs and gaze at prizewinning rabbits.

But you *cannot* get a peep at The World’s Smallest Woman OR Angel Snake Girl.

Nope, Fair Expo management shut down those two attractions, saying “We don’t really condone that kind of thing at the fair.”

I’m sure they were concerned that your average everyday Fair Expo freaks on the Midway would feel the heat of competition. Cuz the regular ol’ normal people freaks on the Midway are where the real oddities begin…

Source: ABQjournal