Smells of the Cattle Auction

May 7, 2019

I stood next to my father. Must have been near eight years old. The auction yard was filled with cows just waiting to be sold.

I heard one cowboy say,”Phew!” That caught my eye for sure. He said, “I spose there’s nothin worse than smellin cow manure!”

The smell was nothing new to me, a normal farm boy’s way. But his words got my nose working extra sensitive that day.

My father said, “Let’s grab a bite. The sale will soon begin.” Each café stool was set so low. The counter hit my chin.

The scent of frying burgers, topped with onions, filled the air. The smell of fresh brewed coffee and tobacco smoke hung there.

My father gobbled down his food. I’d never ate so fast. Then we climbed the stairs and there we were, the auction sale at last.

I’d heard him talk a hundred times about the auction ring. But I don’t recall him mentioning the smells the auctions bring.

The first thing that I noticed was the smell of lodgepole pine. The floor was covered with the shavings. Smelled like turpentine.

The benches sat up high, so we could look down at the sale. One farmer’s wife brought chicken. Got a whiff with each inhale.

Then came a smell so thick and strong, it dang near made me choke. The smell was overpowering from clouds of cigar smoke.

There ain’t no doubt you’d pick up on the cigar smoke, just fine. It didn’t take a nose that was as sensitive as mine.

But smoking at the cattle auction has become the past. For me the smell’s nostalgic. Guess it wasn’t meant to last.

Today when I smell cigar smoke, psyche calls it Pavlov’s Dog. ’Cus my mind reflects to auction day; ingrained in my brain’s log.

Bryce Angell has lived around horses all his entire life and is a registered nurse in Idaho Falls.