The terrain at Crazy Oaks is so rough that it is clear we will never be able to keep it without some kind of animal, goats or cows, so we start trying to decide what we want. I would like black and white to accessorize with Jose, the dog. I found an article about Florida Cracker cows, a kind of longhorn looking cows but with shorter horns. I found out they have also been called Pineywoods, Swamp or Scrub cows. Well, around here they are called Corriente from the Spanish meaning common. The rodeo cowboys use them to practice roping, for team roping and steer wrestling. There are ranches that breed full-blood Corrientes to sale to rodeos and for roping practice. The website for the North America Corriente Association is www.corrientecattle.org.
So we started looking for Corrientes. We went to cattle sale barns, loud, noisy, smelly places. Behind a big room are pens and pens of cows but the auction takes place in the big room much like a theatre. People sit and watch as cows are herded through a series of pens, first in to one to wait for the actual auction pen, then the auction pen, and out of the auction pen to be weighed before the sale is even final. At least one but sometimes two persons stand in each pen to keep the cows moving quickly. The auctioneer, at least one watcher to help keep up with who is bidding and a person who keeps track of all the numbers on the cattle, the winning bid, and the papers that follow each cow all sit in a window that looks out over the pens. Now don’t think for a minute that this auction sells these cows one at a time, because they are sold some times one at a time, sometimes five at a time. Sometimes they are sold for so much a pound and sometimes at a full price for the cow and all this is up to you, the bidder, to figure out as the cattle whoosh through the auction at a rate that can make you dizzy.
Most of the Corrientes we saw at the auctions had the tips of their horns clipped and I did not like that, after all these cows maybe to keep the grass down, but they also have to look good. So we watched and noticed that one person bought most of them. After talking to him we discovered that he was buying them for a packing plant. All these cows had been used up and were being sold for slaughter. There was a really cute young longhorn that another man bought and when I asked him what he was looking for he told me anything “fresh” for his son who was a roper. Fresh means that they haven’t been used for either a rodeo or practice. We learned that we did not want any cows with clipped horns and we wanted to be careful that they had not been used for rodeos or practice roping and steer wrestling.
Finally we found a man at one of the sales that had a herd of Corrientes and longhorns some of them black and white. He would let us take out pick of heifers. We went to his place and picked our 9 heifers and a black and white bull with really pretty black and white horns. He brought them over and we put them in my parents’ meadow because our fence wasn’t finished.
Big Hunk the bull
Some of the girls- see the Spring Creek cemetery and school house behind them.