Suburban girl at the county fair

linn county fair auction

I’ll admit it: I’m pretty much clueless when it comes to all things farm-related. Sure, my uncle raised longhorn cattle (I remember feeding one by hand, Uncle Bugs, who I presume was named because he wasn’t destined for the auction/butcher’s block) and had a room full of rodeo prizes. Visits to that farm when I was living in Oklahoma in elementary school are a fond memory — if I’m guessing ages right, I was less than four years old the first time I “rode” a horse.  And I mucked stalls at a neighbor’s barn for a couple years in middle school. (7/14 Update: this isn’t from the first time I rode, but it is pretty darn cute, huh? That’s me in the middle wearing blue, with brother and cousins.)

Riding Aunt Marion's horse

All that being sad… I was raised in the suburbs, from Edmond, Okla., to St. Louis to Dallas/Fort Worth, and until last week, had never had occasion to visit a dairy farm (more on that later), or a cattle auction until today.  Like I’ve probably said before, as journalists, we sort of have to become experts in whatever it is we’re covering that day.  So I tried, I really did, to sound like I knew at least a little about 4-H and cattle auctions when I was out at the Linn County Fair auction today.  But sure enough, one of the first kids I talked to (Josh Fangman, a Center Point/Urbana graduate, below) asked, “You were raised in the city, weren’t you?” (He at least gave me some credit for the longhorn-raising uncle.)

linn county fair auction

After I had my shot of Josh getting his 1,355-pound Reserve Champion (in rate of gain, which I guess means how quickly he grew..?) ready for the auction, I headed to the arena.  I watched the first lamb go up for auction to figure out where I wanted to be and what was going on — standard practice for any story I work on — before I headed into the arena.  Almost every photographer would tell you that one of the great things about this job is that I get a front-row seat to everything.  Granted, I stay out the way of whatever I’m covering, whether it’s race cars at Hawkeye Downs, football players barreling down the sidelines or cows on the loose from their young owners, but I still get a point of view that most people don’t.  I took advantage of that in the photo below to show the spectators/bidders in the auction, as well as the focus of Jamie Donaldson of Springville on her lamb.

linn county fair auction

It was pretty funny — and impressive — to watch 10-year old Levi Flitsch keep his 1,175-pound steer in line. I can barely keep my cats, or my neighbor’s passive Beagle mix, in line, much less a steer that outweighs me almost 9 times over.

linn county fair auction

When it comes down to it, this is a pretty normal day on the job.  Okay, better than normal.. I love working on stories that introduce me to new subjects, where I get to learn something new.  My only disappointment was that the food vendors were already closed up, and I couldn’t get a deep-fried Twinkie. (Ex-suburbanite I may be, but my years in Texas taught me to appreciate the deep-fried things in life.)



~ by Liz Martin on July 13, 2009.

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