On the eve of our departure for Rio de Janeiro to attend my son Duncan’s wedding, I’m recalling what I was doing a month ago. You remember Duncan who had the Dali adventures with me in Spain? He married Mariana DeSalles three years ago and now her splendid, cosmopolitan family is giving them the full Brazilian family/social wedding. She is a smart and beautiful woman who is studying art/industrial design in Denver. This should be fun. We’re staying at Ipanema.
So where was I a month ago? I was at a cattle and sheep auction in the small village of Dowra in County Leitrum, Ireland. Nothing fancy there. The village sits in a beautiful valley at the north end of Lock Allan which is part of the River Shannon system–the longest navigable river system (including many, many lakes) in Europe. It’s so small it’s only a six pub place.
The sales barns appear to be ancient and there are two sales going on simultaneously. It was great to be there with my brother Jon, a Colorado rancher, and my friend Enda Dolen who also has “beasties”. Those guys knew what to look for in the livestock, what to listen for in the auctioneer’s chant and how to judge the prices. I just enjoyed the experience.
The cattle were sold individually, but the sheep were sold in lots of ten. No buying a single darling lamb for the granddaughter. Take the lot.
What an interesting and timeless scene. The look of the farmers has not changed much in the last couple of centuries. The old tweed jackets, soft caps and ruddy complexions are enhanced by the musical conversations and amusing comments. No one’s attention is ever very far from the bidding, however. This is a social occasion, but also serious business. The cattle handlers keep the animals moving down the chute, into the small ring in front of the cement stands, around the ring a couple of times and out back for loading.
The farmers standing around with shit several inches up their Wellingtons are remarkably like the art dealers standing around the edges of art auctions I attend. They also are standing in about four inches of bull shit.