For some it was just business. For others the final feeder pig auction at the Sioux City stockyards was one last chance to linger in the sale barn and joke with old friends.
The whole auction was over in 15 minutes: the 126 pigs sold in four lots to three buyers. The historical moment was over. The pigs, weighing between 45 and 62 pounds, went for $45.50 to $55.50 apiece.
Unlike the last calf and last sheep auctions, where the last head auctioned brought a wildly inflated price, the pigs went at market rates. About 30 men had come to see it, sitting mostly singly, scattered throughout the seating area. They left quietly when it was over.
Dan Tindall, an Akron, Iowa, farmer, loaded his 32 head of 65-pound pigs into a trailer and got ready to leave one last time. The auction was just part of the hog business for him. From now on, he said, he will probably buy his feeder pigs privately or through ads in the newspaper. He doesn't want to buy them in Sioux Falls and incur the expense of blood tests for pseudo rabies that would be required to cross the state line.
Bob Jessen wasn't buying or selling -- but he had done that at the stockyards for decades as a commission man and owner of Sioux City Livestock Commission Co. Jessen said he was surprised the stockyards had been able to keep going this long. "Eleven years ago was about the end of it, when I retired," he said, noting the year was 1991.
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But Jessen lingered after the last lot of pigs left the sale ring. Wayne Lempercht stayed, too. Also a hog commission man, he said, he'll work full-time at his restaurant and bowling alley in Ponca, Neb., now. Pete Statema, a hog and cattle farmer in Ireton, Iowa, stayed and talked with Lempercht, Jessen, Vince Hofling, a commission man with Scott Commission Co. and stockyards manager Roger Gaswint, who had just called the final auction.
"I've got a story about the Rock Valley (Iowa) hay sale -- you wanna hear it?" Statema baited Gaswint, who sells his hay at the annual auction. And Statema teased Hofling, calling him a Dutchman; Hofling is of German descent and, of course, Statema knew that.
"I've got a little farm. I'm gonna throw the towel in," Hofling said of his 40-year career as a commission man. Then he, too, left the sale barn.
Dr. Jim Lubsen, stockyards veterinarian since 1959, walked through the seating area on his way to do the final paperwork.
Gaswint said he will do marketing and be an order-buyer from his rural Sioux City home for Central Livestock Association at the Sioux Falls stockyards. That will come after calling the April 8 auction in which all the gates, feeders, trucks and other remnants of the Sioux City stockyards are sold. "Everything that's salable, we'll sell. They're gonna push us fast," he said of the Dial Realty Corp., the Omaha firm that is developing the stockyards into a retail center anchored by a Home Depot home improvement store.
Hogs will be sold for the final time in a private contract sale today and possibly on Thursday.