Used cow dealer (Best of)

Lee Pitts

I’ve got a question for you. Knowing what you know about me from reading my column for all these many years, would you feel safe in buying a cow from me?

I didn’t think so. But, surprisingly, my neighbors would… and often do. In fact, through the years my neighbors have bought several cows from me and from this experience I have formulated my number one rule of used cow trading: NEVER, EVER SELL A USED COW TO YOUR NEIGHBOR!

I’m always hanging around auctions and this, coupled with an itchy bidding finger, means I am always overstocked. I usually buy off-season cows or the cows nobody else wants during the dry time of year. Then I repackage them, mark them up 20% over blue book and when it rains and everyone gets grass fever I put them out front in my used cow lot next to the highway. The quality of the offering is such that the phone calls pour in. Just last year I got a call. My neighbors usually show up in tandem, kick the tires and then offer me 20% less than what I paid for the cows in the first place. I don’t ever make any money trading used cows but it gives me a certain prestige in our community; a reputation similar to being a used car dealer.

It’s not all glamour though. Last week I went shopping with my wife and my neighbor yells to me across the parking lot, “One of our Pitts’ cows prolapsed yesterday!” Five years ago I sold these neighbors some bred cows. They have since weaned calves off that cumulatively have brought 10 times more than what they paid for the cows. And they still have the cows! This year’s calf that belongs to the prolapsed cow will probably bring 150% more than what they paid for the cow in the first place. That’s better than what Bernie Madoff promised. And unlike him, I would never steal from my friends. But my neighbors were mad at me because the cow prolapsed and they had to voice their displeasure in a way that half the town was made aware of my shortcomings.

The hardest time of the year for a used cow dealer is when I go help all my neighbors preg check their cows. The usual procedure is that the vet inserts his arm, gets a frown on his face, and says in a loud voice, “Open.” Then one of my neighbors says, “It must be a Pitts cow.” I am supposed to hide my head in shame. Then the vet, instead of just drawing a circle on the rump indicating her openness, writes “P I T T S” on the side of the cow. He does this, I think, because he’s still a little peeved at me about the cows I once sold him. If ever a Pitts cow is safe the vet whispers it.

It is truly remarkable to me how all the open Pitts cows have multiplied because everywhere I go any cow that is open is referred to as a Pitts Cow! They multiplied faster than the Octomom. Any cow that breaks the headgate is a Pitts cow, despite her brand, as are all the cancer eyes, fence breakers and wild ones. It’s totally amazing how spending just 20 minutes in my used cow lot can have such a bad influence. (With this high cow market they should be grateful that the cows are open.)

Making matters worse, it’s not just cows. The vet called one of my neighbor’s cows safe only three months but my neighbor said that was impossible. So he said, “It must have been a Pitts bull.”

The next cow with a Pitts brand was safe five months but she had a little cancer eye on the one eye that remained. My neighbor asked if he should keep her or sell her. I replied that I wouldn’t take any chances and I’d sell her now. Then another neighbor piped up and said, “The only reason Pitts wants you to sell her is that he knows she’s got a big calf in her and he’ll show up at the sale and buy her back for butcher price and then sell her to one of us next fall.”

I’m hurt that someone would say or think that about me. I’m not that despicable and never would have thought of such a thing. But now that you mention it…