Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Sale

If you’re quiet, you can hear the sounds of spring in cow country: birds singing, cows calling calves to mealtime, and auctioneers selling bulls and replacement heifers.

In general, the cattle market is quite vulnerable to volatile factors such as weather here and abroad, grain markets here and abroad, prices of fuel and fertilizer, foreign demand for beef, numbers of cattle in feedlots, and public perception of beef nutrition and safety (itself subject to a torrent of information which is often distorted or false).

That’s the big picture. The worth of an individual animal is also dependent on the seller’s reputation for quality and integrity, the animal’s phenotype (quality as determined by appearance and ultrasound), genotype (genetic potential), actual performance, as well as a buyer’s needs, preferences, and depth of pocketbook.

If I were a cow, I’d be chased into a sale ring and weighed on a scale for all to see. And after folks took a look at my scars, limp, bad back, and multiple brands, there would be more snickers and jokes than bids. Probably the only one bidding would be the slaughter buyer, the man that buys what no one else wants—for cheap. (Where else do you think those burgers on the dollar menu come from?)

But, just before the auctioneer would give up and wave me out, a bearded guy sitting on the back row bleachers would tip his white Stetson. Everyone would turn and gawk at him, as the auctioneer resumed the bidding.

“I’ve got 65, who’ll give me seventy?”

The guy in the white hat would stand up and pull his checkbook out of his Carhart pocket. With a commanding voice and a twinkle in his eye, he’d say, Is seventy centillion enough? Then he’d write the check with a pen that positively glittered and ink as crimson as blood.

For once in his life, the auctioneer would be nearly speechless. “Are you crazy?" he’d finally sputter. “That cow ain’t--”

The buyer’s eyes would darken. He’d clear his throat. “Don’t talk about my cow like that! I just gave everything I had for her.”

If anyone could manage to tear their gaze away from the eyes of the man in the white hat, they’d see that the check was already in the hands of the clerk. Her face would be pale and her hands shaking as she stared at the signature on the check: Jesus Christ.

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you…. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” –1 PETER 1:18-19 (NLT)

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