Out On The Mudline

Going To Auction Dad’s Favorite Sport

By W. P. Sissell

The Auction

I will not try to count the number of times my Dad has come by and said, “Put the tractor in the shed, son, for we’re going to the auction this afternoon.” Dad loved an auction.

It really made no difference what was being sold he loved the bidding. Just before I went into the service he bought, as I remember, 34 head of mostly white face cattle, 17 heifers and 17 bulls. I remember the number very well for he had rhyme and reason to his split purchase because Philip Grady Mitchell and I had the dubious pleasure of dehorning all that needed such and castrating all the males.

It was in this operation that I was first introduced to the flank throw in which the loop of a rope (lasso) goes around the neck of the animal, then a half-hitch made just behind the forelegs and a second half-hitch in front of the hind legs. When that flank half-hitch is tightened the animal is almost completely paralyzed. Philip Grady (Billy Boy) and I took care of the entire operation before noon.

The Reason

Dad’s reasoning for the split purchase was as follows: The cattle were bought at the close of the harvest season when most of the livestock (the exception was the dairy herd) were turned loose in the fields for gleaning the leavings. This gleaning extended very close to the early grass of spring with little additional feed. By the time the grass of the following summer was going strong everyone wanted more cattle to take care of the summer grass. This was the prime market for those 17 steers and to market they went. The proceeds were very nearly enough to pay the purchase price of the 34 head of the original purchase.

Those cattle were purchased at the livestock auction in the south end of town (Water Valley) where the gins were located.

 Those seventeen heifers were the beginning of our getting out of the dairy business and into the beef cattle business.

Today

Some of you may have noticed that we are doing fencing along Highways 6-278.  Actually, my son is moving the west most fence back to our line. In the interim MDOT has looked at the situation again and we are holding up to see if they can get the cooperation of the phone company so they can slope the bank for regular mowing.

Today, although we have an auction in Panola County, Como, we, my son, my grandson and myself, are scheduled to go to the auction in Pontotoc. My son evidently inherited the love of the auction from my dad. He wrote tickets at the Pontotoc sale for several years and favors it over others although we have bought cattle at many.

Auction Stories

Yes, there are many that I could tell. I’m sure that my favorite took place at the Oxford sale. Mitch Stribling had accompanied me on a Saturday to the Taylor place. We finished, whatever the job was, before noon and Dad wanted us to go to the sale with him. Any of you who remember Mitch know that he mostly stood around and listened but seldom got into a conversation unless you made him. For those of you who do not remember—the sale barn was located in some of the buildings of the old Oxford CCC camp located where Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi (Oxford) is today.

Dad and I were basically just there to see how cattle were selling for we had some that were about ready for market. We found a fairly high up seat. In a few minutes Mr. Brown (Ross

Brown, an Oxford friend) joined us. Several others that we did not know did the same—especially one older gentleman and his wife. We were listening and conversing until suddenly they turned a young half-Jersey bull into the ring.

That young bull charged the chain fence, broke through, went to the top of the stands across from us and started around the top—toward where we had been seated (Mr. Brown, my Dad, myself and the older gentleman who had been seated next to me were up in the open ceiling joists). The older gentleman’s wife couldn’t reach the joists. Dad and I helped the man pull his wife to safety just as the bull made it to our side. Later, as we left, Mitch asked about what went on inside saying that a man jumped out a window and landed on the ground beside him—dazing him for a minute or two.

Do have a great week. We woke this morning to the sound of thunder and rain. When I checked my gauge it showed .97 inches and by the time we got to the kitchen it showed an inch. Maybe we’ll just stay home today.

You can reach me almost all the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879

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