Livestock sale rakes in bucks for juniors

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Melrose Future Farmers of America student Lainey Widner guides Chrome, her 226 pound Cross hog, around the display arena Friday at the Junior Livestock Auction at the Curry County Fair.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

You name an animal after a feeling, it’s hard to sell it off no matter the price. You name an animal after what color it is, parting ways becomes a little easier.

A pair of veteran sellers experienced the spectrum of animal sales Friday night at the Curry County Junior Livestock sale.

The signature event of the Curry County Fair, the sale netted more than $254,000 between the 112 animals featured. Sales chairman Chris Thomas said the total was in line with recent sales.

The show started just after 6:45 p.m., as buyers settled in on the floor of the Curry County Special Events center and raised their hands for Tommy Williams’ sales efforts.

“Anybody, anybody got $5,000?” was the call from Williams on Chelsea Hinrich’s grand champion steer to open the show. Somebody did, and then some, as Williams later boasted, “I sold that steer for $5,250.”

With the market value of Hinrich’s 1,223-pound steer at $960.06, that’s a 446 percent profit for Hinrich.

The profit percentages were even greater for others, including Laiken Crist’s lamb, a blackface named Lucky.

Crist, a 2009 graduate of Texico High about to major in agricultural biology at New Mexico State University, said it was easy to tell Lucky from the other lambs in the pen.

“He’s just like a puppy,” said Crist, who admitted sadness in losing Lucky. “He comes when you call him. He knows his name and everything.”

Letting go wasn’t too difficult for Lainey Widner of Melrose. She got $4,000 for Chrome, a swine named for its color.

“I got used to it pretty quick because I started doing this when I was 8,” Widner said. She has been showing for nine years, and is packing for a Sunday trip to New Mexico State University. She intends to major in agricultural biology to fulfill scholarship requirements, but is weighing changing later to pursue a career in physical therapy.

Widner said her little sister, Landry, was having a more difficult time parting with her dairy heifer, which went to the Clovis Buyer’s Club for $3,000.

Numerous businesses take part to show community support, while the club is a conglomerate of public and private donors. Judy Gilbert of the CBC said the club usually gets $20,000 to $35,000 most years from people contributing a few hundred dollars. Donors either don’t have enough money to buy an animal going solo, or they don’t want to make their name public.

Wherever the money comes from, Gilbert said, it gets used.

“We buy as many animals as we possibly can. The money we don’t spend, we take it to Roswell to the show next week. If we still have money left, we go to Albuquerque. We spend every dime on these kids.”

The kids usually introduce themselves to buyers and promote their animals, and often give.

About 10 members of the CBC shared the gifts, including a mixture of ribbon candy, salt water taffy and chocolate peanut clusters from the Widner family.

In exchange for the kind words, the token baskets and the work required to raise the animal, the sellers make huge profits which go for various expenses — including school funds or investments in future animals.

Crist said the money shows there are rewards to a life of agriculture.

“It’s definitely a good motivation to have,” Crist said. “Hopefully, it will encouage these kids so later on they can come up and make the sale.”