Wednesday, February 11, 2009
All Bull All The Time
Most residents at Greenbush Manor have TVs. There is free cable, one of the perks of our facility. One resident wanted an extra channel that covers farm news and views. The maintenance man had to hook up a special antenna just for this channel. As I walk past this resident's room in the afternoons, I hear the drone of an auctioneer. There's something enticing about his spiel, like that of a carney barker, and I sometimes wander in to watch. On the screen there will be a bull trotting around a large corral. The bull always looks too small, but 700 lbs is the weight they sell them at. It takes just a couple of minutes to sell a bull. They start the bidding close to what they want and it quickly escalates to what they're going to get. There's no "going once...going twice." The auctioneer is no more than deep, rapid voice swallowing air. The bull is oblivious. He explores his corral. Back and forth he goes, rarely standing still. I thought we were seeing the bull in real time, but then noticed him looking through the bars at the same crony in the next pen, or examining the same lump of manure in a repeating loop. I realized the bulls are filmed earlier and shown during the auction. The seller can reject a bid he thinks too low; we are not privy to those dealings. There's a phone number in the corner, but all the buyers have had to register and have their accounts pre-approved. The buyer receives a 2% discount for the contents of the bull's stomach which will be gone by the time his truck arrives. For the next few years the bull will stay busy breeding cows, but once his ardor flags, he will return to a pen like this for a final scene like that of a victim in a horror movie. That will go unrecorded.