Charolais Cattle Auction

I’ve been re-reading James Herriot’s book, All Creatures Great and Small. It’s a semi-autobiographical work based on his experiences as a country veterinarian in England from 1940 on. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel cozy and happy and optimistic about life, as he warmheartedly recounts his interactions with farmers, rural folk, and their animals.

the Charolais race

We have a friend here in France who is a country vet, specializing in cattle. Today he and his wife took a group of us to visit a cattle auction where he serves as one of the vets who inspect the cattle before they are sold. It was incredibly efficiently run, with all sorts of modern, tech-y systems in place…but I still felt like I was entering James Herriot’s stories! All the farmers wore these long, black jackets, had tall rubber boots, and carried wooden sticks to keep the cattle in line. Their faces, mannerisms, and clothing perfectly fit my American imagination of a classic European farmer…and for some reason it’s always satisfying to experience things here that fit what they’re “supposed” to be like in my mind. Just how I’m sure a French person would be so tickled to go to America and see a cowboy!

the auctioning is very discreet; they have little buttons hidden under their desks to signal their bidding

strutting her stuff on the auction floor

see? doesn’t the man on the left look so perfectly like an old European farmer? if he were wearing a beret it would be even better.

One Comment on “Charolais Cattle Auction

  1. I love this. (You knew I would!) This is the kind of thing I love to visit when I go overseas.

    My first time in Scotland I was standing in a field near Huntly (hometown of George Macdonald) taking photos and the farmer stopped by. When he learned I was from Pennsylvania, he said, “Aye, we buy semen from Obie Snider Farms in Pennsylvania. Do ye ken 'im?” As a matter of fact, I grew up only 13 miles from Obie Snider's farm. So funny. SO Pennsylvania–standing in a Scottish field discussing cow semen…

    And my cousins raised Charolais. We thought they were cool b/c, being a beef breed, they didn't have to be milked twice daily like ours… 😉

    Thanks for this fun post. Love Herriot. Love and miss you more!