Brian and Libby loaded seven goats into the stock-trailer before Aaron and I joined them for the forty-five minute drive to the livestock auction. Brian used his newly acquired shepherd's crook to catch the animals.
The digital numbers on the bank sign in Clare blinked ten degrees yesterday afternoon, but it felt much colder at the stockyard, even with the extra socks, skirts and scarves I'd layered on before we left the house. Sheep, goats, swine and cattle are sold every Monday afternoon at the Clare County Livestock Auction. Yesterday seven of Brian's goats were among the first of the line of animals prodded along the sawdust walkways into the ring. Most of Brian's goats are expecting kids this spring, and Brian needed to cull the "no-good-goats" from his herd. He acquired the two oldest goats, a Nubian and a Nubian-Alpine, when the owner included them in a tractor deal. The remaining five goats were born on our farm in 2007 and 2008.
Not much has changed in the livestock barns in the past fifty years. The two-story frame building contains an upstairs eatery, simply known as "Restaurant," where patrons can purchase a piece of pie or a cup of coffee.
The goats recognized our voices when we stopped beside their pen. Our goats are even-tempered and friendly and didn't seem to be distressed by their unusual surroundings.
Animals sold in the auction are sold by the hundred weight. The animals are weighed before they enter the ring and bidders pledge the amount they will pay based on weight. If a goat weighed 90 lbs. and sold for $45/hundred weight, the buyer would pay $40.50.