A day at the mart


I missed posting on the blog the last two weeks, this is because of all the farming activities we have been tied up with. This farming craic can be pretty intense, let me tell you. On the upside, apart from all that I have learned and experienced, I now have enough blog material for a good few weeks.

The best news is that we finally sold our bullocks and just in time. The last two day’s they were at the farm they were making a right nuisance of themselves. They broke out a good few times and we had to go hunting for them in all kinds of terrain. It was an easy decision for all to decide it was time to bring them to the next cattle mart in Ennis.

We got up at day break, to make sure we would have plenty of time for any eventualities, both on the farm and in the mart, we got them smoothly into the trailer and could take it handy as the mart was almost empty when we got there. In the almost empty car park we were hailed by the hay and straw salesmen, wishing us good luck at the auction. Now came the part where a bit of knowledge and experience comes handy.


Unloading the bullocks at the mart.

How do you sell the bullocks? One by one? All of them together. In separate groups? Which ones go together? Because in the end it is about getting the best possible price at the auction.

Kevin decided they would be sold in two groups and handed me tags for two and three. He went off to get a few things and I was left to pair them up, never mind that they pretty much look all the same to me. Lucky me, the early start gave the lads in the mart plenty of time to kindly help me and the girls out. The two angus bullocks were paired, and the three mixed breeds left where grouped for the auction.

We wandered around the empty mart making sure we knew where our bullocks had been penned, then it was time to go home as we would later receive a text letting us know their placement in the auction and approximate time of the sale.

The text came through within a couple of hours and we headed back in excitement. By now the mart was packed, both the car park and cattle pens. There were two rings doing non-stop auctions, one ring for milk cows and one for bullocks. There were a good few groups of cattle to be auctioned out before ours, so we took the opportunity to have a good solid lunch in the restaurant canteen in place.


Early morning Ennis cattle mart


Full mart in the afternoon

There were a couple of things about the whole procedure that made an impression on me. The obvious one and most expected, was the fact that there were hardly any women at the auctions. The few women I saw were accompanying their husbands or partners, they were in the restaurant and in the offices, and there were no women working with the cattle on the floor.

Another thing that truly astounded me was that all eyes were on the auctions, the cattle being sold, the weight and the sale. There were no bored farmers passing time looking at their smart phones, in fact there were few smart phones to be seen and during the 3-4 hours we spent there I hardly saw anyone using a mobile phone at all and it felt like stepping back in time.

In the mart, you get the distinct impression that this is the way things have been done for a long long time, it is an Ireland of old. If you ever get the chance to experience it I would tell you to go for it, unless you grew up in a farming environment this is another world altogether. I can tell you for sure you will feel lost as it’s not easy to figure out.

To be honest it is hard to understand the process of how the bids are being done. The cattle auction ring is surrounded by farmers, there are no show of hands and as a spectator is difficult to see who is bidding. If you pay very close attention, you will every so often see someone flick a finger and the price goes up. I was duly impressed by the skill of the auctioneer, that not only continuously belts out the current price, encourages buyers by name, knows who is bidding for what and can also say something sales worthy of each group of cattle being auctioned, but does this endlessly for hours.

Our bullocks may had looked big and lumbering in our fields, but in the mart they looked small compared to the truly large breeds. At 450 and 410 kg, they didn’t do bad compared to the 600+ kg of the other breeds. They were also a rare breed in the mart that day, while we were there we saw no other Angus cattle being sold. I still don’t know if it was a good or a bad thing.


A warning for the unwary.

As they were finally ushered off, we saw the last of Blackie, Brownie, Calypso, Sparrow and Hercules. Our proud girls could go to the office and sign them away, get praised by a lovely lady there and be promised that the cheque would be in the post by next week.

You might think we had a party with the sale, which was substantial enough, but alas no…the money is going directly to pay for the three cows in calf we have bought. But that is another story.