A lesson in livestock trade

When I was a girl, I used to go with my father to the cattle market in Leeuwarden. Many cows on long rows thick in the straw. Traders with a cigar on their lip, alpino cap on and a long blue dust jacket on.

I always thought the cattle traders were arguing with each other because things were so heated. They slapped each other’s hands with haggling and then walked away from each other heatedly. Then hours later to have a coffee together again in the cafeteria. 

Argument or play?

Why do they always argue heit? ( daddy in fries)  They don’t argue, that’s all stagecraft. The seller wants the best price for his cow, and the buyer tries to offer less. The seller deliberately bets higher, and together they arrive at the right price by “handshaking.”  But how do you know what the cow is worth? And why one cow costs more than another?

Well, that’s our job, we value a cow by looking at its condition and conformation. We estimate the cow’s value and then start trading. One tries to outmaneuver the other by impressing with grand gestures. That’s why sometimes it looks like arguing, but of course it’s not. Then if we agree on the price then we strike “lucky” and the sale is sealed.

Will it?

As daughters of a cattle-trading family, it was not really in line for us girls (family with 3 daughters) to go into the trade as well. At least not in the cow business. Above all, we did not want a farmer as a friend later on, all three of us firmly exclaimed. Those are just working and always gone. With a grandfather, an uncle, cousins and a father in business  you can guess what was discussed at our coffee table. It was always about trade, whether it was cows, horses or sheep. Piles of money were counted, and we got to count it. In those days, all trade was still done in cash, now fortunately for everyone’s safety through the bank.

And so we took something from it, because all three of us ended up starting out on our own. First gain experience with a boss, and then fend for yourself.

My youngest sister, still works part-time for a healthcare organization but also runs an export business in sheep with her partner.  My middle sister was always crazy about horses and also had the most talent out of the three of us. She and her partner own a horse trading stable.  And me as the oldest? I also work with animals, but made of wood!

The commercial spirit that we never thought would be inherited then turns out to be in it.  Well each in our own way and in our own field. Oh well, all three of us also ran into a one boy with an agricultural background!


Happy weekend

X Esther