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On the Edge of Common Sense: County fair buyout

Contributed by Baxter Black Published on 23 September 2016

“Roy, can you show us the scar? It’s gotta be a big one!”

“What scar?”

“Where they took your conscience out!”

“Aw Kendall, yer full of it. What would an order buyer know about a conscience anyway?”

“I was just down to the fair office. I noticed that you put a floor bid on all the kids’ show steers. I’ve never seen anything so low. It’s shameful! Little kids came up to me with tears in their eyes. It broke my heart."

"And you’re the owner of one of the biggest auction markets in the state.”

“I’ll have you know that I was the first one to price them, and it was left open for two hours if anyone wanted to up it. Besides, they’re kids. It’s good experience for ’em.”

“There were adults crying, too, Roy. Grown men, weeping silently.”


“Now I’d be willing to buy ’em from you at 25 cents a hundredweight above your floor price. I’d hate to see you accused of making exorbitant profits from the sweat and toil of innocent farm kids."

"There are child labor laws now, Roy. But I’m only thinkin’ of you, Roy. You tossing and turning, unable to sleep knowing that you literally took the food from their trembling mouths.”

“You’re crazy if you think I’m gonna give ’em to you at a quarter above. I’ve floored the cattle for the last 10 years here at the fair. I have a reputation to maintain. I’m only doin’ it for the kids.”

“The little waifs gathered around me, Roy. Like birds in the winter. They looked up at me with big sorrowful eyes and asked me, ‘Mister, what are cattle really worth?’ It was all I could do to keep from breakin’ down right in front of them.”

“A quarter above! I might take 2 dollars above if I don’t have to hold ’em.”

“Roy, Roy, Roy, I’m only offerin’ to take ’em off your hands for your own good. It might give you a little peace of mind. You’re not the kind of man who robs the blind man’s cup or picks the tip off the next table. Remember, it is more blessed to give to a regular customer than to keep it all for yourself.”

“2 dollars.”

“Roy, that’s 50 cents above the market. Think of the children. You’ll be haunted by nightmares of gaunt, homeless 4-H kids endlessly marching in a circle leading fat steers. Little kids with shattered dreams of college or a new bike. Pee Wees dragging chains through your troubled dreams whispering your name ... Scrooge, Scrooge, Scrooge ...”

“Buck seventy-five.”

“Roy, for the sake of the children and your own sense of decency, let me lift the burden from your heart to mine. Let me bear the guilt. Let your scar begin to heal.”

“Buck fifty.”

“Sold. I’ll have a truck here Sunday morning.”  end mark