Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Trip to the Stockyard

Yesterday we took a load of lambs to the stockyard. (more on that one some other time) Staunton Union Stockyards is one of those places that time forgot.

You can almost feel the history in the building.

It’s as if you can hear the sales calls from days gone by as you wander down the labyrinth of fences and gates to the inner workings of the yard. No high-tech computers here, they still use the same old scale and a black ink pen that they were using back in 1936 when records show that they were incorporated.
The men who run the stockyard are still referred to as “the boys”, despite the fact that they are old enough to be my father.

I like going to the stockyard. I like that feeling of connectivity with the other farmers in the area. Although, in some ways, I feel like an interloper when I walk in…this is definitely a man’s world.

Yesterday’s trip was somewhat different, as one of “the boys” talked to me about sheep and rain and all the things you talk over in rural America.

Once a year, this place gets transformed. Every May, the 4H and FFA Market Animal Show and Sale takes over for 2 days. The kids from the surrounding area that raise steers, hogs and lambs come to compete and sell their animals. It is an amazing event. While I am one of the least patriotic folks around, it is a stirring sight to see that big American flag draped across the entry and watch as cowboy hats and ball caps are doffed as the pledge is said and the opening prayer prayed. After the big sale, it is business as usual for the stockyard.

Every Tuesday and Friday, without fail, there is a sale at the yard. Friday is the bigger sale, with cattle coming through and being shipped out to lots in the west.

Yes, there is a sense of history here. This unassuming place provides a necessary link in the food chain, a sense of history, and a nice paycheck for those who utilize it.

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