Today I got to spend the whole day with my old friend, Nostalgia. It would be the last livestock auction to be held at the Templeton Livestock Market. 1947 marked the start of business for T.L.M. as it would become known through out California. The auction takes place every Saturday, usually around noon.
Once a month preceding the livestock sale was the small animal sale, that was the outlet for all matter of livestock. From Lamas to goats, sheep to chickens, pigs to rabbits and any other livestock that has monetary value. Outside puppy’s, kittens and various house birds found new homes.
This special place over the past 67 years was the entry level work experience for teenage kids that wanted to be cowboys ,cattlemen or maybe a livestock buyer. But all that worked behind the scene, in the pens in all kinds of weather and the length of time until the sale was over, which could be 3 AM, they and their work ethic were always better for a T.L.M. experience.
Saturdays for the ‘Auction Yard Junkie’ who reveled to the sound of the Cornell’s (auctioneer) chant, the smell of the livestock pens, the vagaries of the weather, and the always favorite game of: guess if the Cattle Market would be up or down for the week.
T.L.M. Is a cattlemen’s club, a place to mingle with like minded friends. A place for families to gather for the things ranchers do, like rope, gymkhana and then complain about who ever holds the reins of power. I will have to say, it’s usually the Democrats that get the biggest tongue lashing. But folks from both sides of the political spectrum manage to justify why it’s OK to feed at the government trough, filled with different farm subsidies.
1958, its September, Zee and I have just started our career as cattle ranchers and we need cattle to be Cattlemen.
Well, my new neighbor who has been giving me lots of advice on how to survive in the cattle business said, “You need to go to the Templeton Livestock Auction next Saturday”. My friend asked me, “How many do you need?” ” Well I think 100 head would be a good start”, I said. “You head over to the sale, it might take you a couple of weeks to get filled out but they are local cattle so you should get along with them pretty good”.
Saturday arrived and I was at the sale early. I wanted to have time to get an idea of what was in the offering. It wasn’t long before the owner came up to me and said, “Come to buy a few?”
“Yes”, I said, “I’m thinking of 100 head of 400 pound steer calves”. Walt Goodell said, “Go get a buyers number in the office. I’ll be in the ring and when some calves that I think will work for you I’ll wave at you and if you choose you can buy them”. With Adrenalin filling my veins I was about to become a Cattleman as a little bunch of 400 pounds steer calves trotted in. And in a blur of head shaking and dread I heard the auctioneer say, “Sold! To you young fellow what’s your buyers number?” I was in BUSINESS! And 56 years later I’m looking back with no regrets.