Cattle call every Friday at Arends
For more than 70 years, there has been a livestock sale at the Arends Sale Yard in Blue Earth every Friday.
“My father, Lester, started the business in 1938,” current owner John Arends says. “I started here in 1973 and bought the business in 1982.”
Every Friday livestock operators from around the area bring in cattle and sheep for sale in the auction.
“They start bringing them in on Thursday night sometimes, but mainly it is done on Friday mornings,” Arends says.
The auction starts at noon, and lasts as long as there are animals to sell – usually until 4-4:30 p.m.
On an average Friday, they will sell 300 cattle and 75 sheep.
“Most of the buyers of the market cattle are from four different area packing houses,” Arends says. Local livestock operators are buying feeder cattle to take home and raise, he adds.
“We deal on cattle daily, but the auction sale is only on Fridays,” Arends explains.
They sell to the buyers, collect the money and pay the sellers, keeping a commission. John and Jim Wagner are the two auctioneers.
“We also have 6 to 8 guys out back who work the livestock and get them ready to bring into the auction arena,” he says.
Then there is Norman “Bub” Jahnke, who is the ‘weighmaster.’ He makes the official weigh-in of the livestock, an important job, since the livestock is sold by the hundredweight.
Working with animalsthat weigh up to a couple of thousand pounds can have its dangers. Arends has suffered several injuries.
The latest one was just this past winter, when he was gored by a bull.
“He beat me up pretty good – it hurt like heck,” Arends recalls. “It was the night before the sale and that bull was in a pen and causing problems, with a cow.”
Arends went in to break it up and get the bull moved.
“Guess what? It didn’t work,” he says with a chuckle. He went to the local hospital and then was airlifted to Rochester where he spent a few days. They stitched up the wound in his leg, and watched for infection.
Another time he got kicked in the head which damaged an eye socket and his jaw.
“You just have to be careful all the time,” he says. “Because that one time you are not, well its like driving down the same road every day safely, but that one day you don’t pay attention and have an accident.”
Arends says his wife, Cande, says he is too ornery to ever be hurt long.
Livestock sales are not the only business going on at Arends Sale Barn.
“Our lunch counter is pretty popular,” Arends says.
Like the auction sales, the lunch counter is only open on Fridays.
“We started it to have food available for the livestock buyers and sellers, but others like it too,” Arends says. “I think we have 25-30 townspeople here each week.”
The little cafe is run by Audrey Brod and her crew, and is well-known for all of its homemade specials, including the pies.
“I make everything from scratch, and the customers love it,” says Brod. She knows some of her regulars so well they don’t even order, she just automatically knows what to serve them.
Arends says livestock auction barns like his are getting to be fewer and fewer.
“There are just fewer farms with livestock anymore,” he says. “Its worse in this area, where the land is too good for livestock – its easier and more profitable to raise crops and make it that way.”
But after 70 years, this sale barn is going to keep on having an auction every week – on Friday at noon.