Last Tuesday (March 11, 2014) cowboy hats and over boots converged on Watford City in the heart of the western North Dakota oil boom. Pete was determined to capture this sight in pictures after being told by a nice reservation receptionist at one of the new motels in town that a bull sale will never 'work' in oil county.
As they flocked to the Watford City Livestock Scale Association to look through our 2014 offering of Angus bulls, and then to Outlaws' Convention Center for lunch and to participate in our video auction it got me reflecting. It stirred more emotion than I thought the day would and I pondered what the day REALLY meant.
Our Angus cow herd has been very good to us. We challenge those girls and most of the time they rise to the occasion. This day had been 25 plus years in the making and it was possible because a junior high age 4-Her had befriended his neighbors, owners of one of the most respected maternal Angus herds in the country. They providing him an amazing opportunity after witnessing his willingness to help out, to be present and to be curious. McCumber Angus allowed Pete the opportunity to select a heifer from their replacement pen back in 1985, the point where this day REALLY began.
Pete did an exceptional job formulating a 'project' plan for this inaugural event and spearheading the execution of it with help from a team of friends, family and neighbors. Over the past year people would ask how plans for the sale were coming and if we felt 'good' about moving to a sale. If you can remember back to your own marriage engagement period and wedding planning process, well it was a lot like that. There were sleepless nights. There were tears. There was stress. There was love and support. There was yelling and arguing. There were lots and lots of phone calls looking for advice, support and participation. There was a need to cuss the weather and to thank everyone for their behind the scenes contributions. And then just days before the sale the continuous polar vortexes that plagued the high plains since November moved north. Some thawing occurred and the possibility of a seasonal change showed.
The morning of the sale was an anxious one. Will people show up? Will they like the bulls? Will they see value in the bulls for their cattle operations? Will they remember that Watford City is on CST (I'm just saying that LOTS of people missed our wedding thinking that Watford was on MT)?
I remember the day I picked our local veterinary up from the Am-trak station in Williston back in the spring of 2012. It was Dr. Pederson's first time to North Dakota and McKenzie County. Our long time provider to the greater McKenzie County area's four legged critters, Dr. Nelson was retiring and we needed a practitioner. What I remember more vividly than anything else was telling Dr. Pederson about the ranchers of the area. I explained that we were a tight knit group who helped each other out and looked out for each other's interests. There was an unspoken code of ethics in this ranching community where you respected your neighbors and you didn't covet their things. Business was done with a hand shake and your word was your reputation and without your reputation you had nothing. These were salt of the earth folks who respected money (for they knew how difficult it was to make a living off the land out here) and were frugal with it, but who valued their relationships above the almighty dollar.
After Dr. Pederson got to Watford City and started practicing in June of 2012 he commented to me many times on how I nailed that description of our ranching community that day. He has gone on to expand on my observation and add (my paraphrased version of his comments) how faith, family and commitment to others centered our ranching community. He could see through their actions and words how much they appreciated the lifestyle they live and the people they live it with. I couldn't agree more.
TRULY, our local and regional ranching community is one of the greatest communities I have ever known. I am very, very proud to be a member of it. When you are humbled by your company in that way, the support that was shown to us on March 11, 2014 is beyond anything that I can put into words. Below are pictures from the day of the sale. For those of you that were there that day either online or in person, I offer you the most humble "thank you". For those of you that were not, we hope you can join us next year.
If you are interested in the results of the sale:
CLICK HERE for 2014 Best Value in the Badlands Sale results
|The bulls sacked out at the scale enjoying the sun and warm weather (with the recently constructed and just opened Comfort Inn & Suites in the background).|
|Cattlemen and friends enjoying the warm sun and conversation at the Watford City Livestock Scale Association Yard.|
|Part of the sale day (and pre-sale day) crew - l to r: Kaley Schmidt (Brad's fiancé), Brad Hagen, Zac Hall (Hall Stock Farm) and Kim (Hovet) Murphy.|
|A pen of 2-year old bulls on sale day.|
|The lunch crowd at Outlaws' Convention Center. The Outlaws 'gang' did a great job with our ranch raised beef meal and the entire event... ALL while starting up their Williston location that same week!|
Outlaws Bar and Grill - Watford City and Williston locations
|The auction block - Pete, Roger Jacobs (auctioneer), Lee Murphy (brother-in-law and sale clerk). Not pictured (off to the right) was Logan Hoffman representing DVAuction services.|
|The south side of the 'sale barn'.|
|The north side of the 'sale barn'.|
|The back of the 'sale barn'.|
Of the 78 bulls that sold last Tuesday (76 through the sale and 2 afterwards), 54 of them will stay in McKenzie county with the remainder going to Bottineau, McHenry, McLean, Ward, Mountrail, Dunn, Williams, Divide, Billings, Stark and Adams counties in North Dakota and McCone county, Montana. Four west river North Dakota ranches purchased in volume of 5 or more head. There were many debts of gratitude felt that day with the volume buyers' support being right up there along with our long time, repeat supporters who in the past found our program in spite of our low key marketing efforts.
At the end of the day just before climbing into bed my phone chimed with a text from my one and only sibling, my sister Kim. It read "Great sale today! Dad would have been so proud to be there." That pretty much sums it up...
Our debt of gratitude transcends generations, is founded in relationships and could not be more heart felt right now without words to express it.