Northern Tier 2010

July 24, 2010

County Fair Cattle Pricing

Filed under: Montana, Section 03 — Henry Scott @ 9:00 pm

The wind is incredibly fickle, and it was not on our side today. I’m still riding with Seth, and despite riding for almost seven hours, we only made it to Saco, MT — about 77 miles. But, there were no storms today, and we had a good time visiting the Dodson Fair. It was close to lunchtime, so I had funnel cake, fry bread, ribs and a snow cone. That tied me over until we had lunch in Malta, where we met a very friendly family with a daughter about to start school at Bethel.

At the fair we were fascinated by the cattle auction. Young boys and girls would parade their cattle, and the auctioneer would call out progressively higher per-pound prices — typically around $1.35 for these 1,300 pound animals, if I recall correctly.

Seth commented on how big of a deal each additional nickel must be for these kids, so when some locals started talking to us (somehow people can always tell we’re from out of town), we asked what qualities make some animals worth more, per pound, than others. As far as we knew, the only data they have is the total weight and what they can discern from watching the cattle walk in a short loop. I thought perhaps there was something in the gait which could indicate overall health, but I was wrong. The answer, we were told: it depends on whose parents, or grandparents, are buying.

From there we made our way to Saco, with a long, tiring, pass through the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge. It mainly provides habit for water fowl, but there were signs prohibiting big-game hunting, so presumably large mammals take refuge there as well.

It was pretty and only took us about a mile out of our way, but it meant about 13 miles of riding on rough gravel and dirt roads. Normally I love such routes, but adding such an extra challenge near the end of long day was a bit much. My legs feel injury-free, but they’re definitely getting fatigued. Anyway, this was an experience that will be a better memory than how it felt at the time.

We’ve been traveling through Native American lands and learning about the Assiniboine, Blackfeet and Gros Ventre tribes; a portion of our ride was in the Fort Belknap reservation. A great aspect of bicycle touring is the ease with which one can read every informational exhibit along the way.

We’re again camping for free in a small city park. The only downside is that it is right by the very active train line I’ve mentioned previously. A bonus, however, is that it is right across the street from several bars that serve food. We were initially saddened to find we reached town after the grocery store closed, but instead we gorged ourselves on a very large and very good pizza.



  1. Glad you are still riding with that cute guy! haha. You knew I would comment about that. 🙂

    Comment by Lauren — July 26, 2010 @ 3:16 am

  2. Henry,
    I’m late catching up with you (Jerry H. reminded me of your blog),
    but have read through the entire trip, and am envious.
    I’ll look forward to hearing more in August.

    Comment by Ken Sauer — July 26, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

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