“Do I hear 151, amada buda bun 60, 110, 125, 135, 160, buddaa bunna 175, sold,” boomed auctioneer Peter Raffan towards an onlooking crowd of livestock buyers.
Thursday was the final day of livestock auctioning for Valley Auction Ltd. at its landmark Highway 97A location in Spallumcheen.
It was an emotional day for the Raffan family.
“The border closed because of the mad cow disease, and that pretty well took out the small producers we have in the valley,” said Peter’s brother and auctioneer Don Raffan.
“We are down less than a quarter of the cattle we used to sell in 2002.”
“I don’t know how we’re going to do it. After 30 years it’s something you get used to every day,” said Peter.
According to Don, the decision was made in December due to the local farm industries’ declining cattle numbers.
“(We had) over 50,000 head of cattle at one time, we barely handle 11,000 now,” said Don.
The nature of people’s living has also changed.
“Everybody used to farm back in the day, people were full-time farmers,” he said.
But the future holds hope for the auction.
“Estate sales, consignment, machinery and off-site sales will continue,” said Don.
The regular Thursday livestock sales end, however.
It’s a “huge emotional time,” said Don.
Ironically, Don’s son, Brody Raffan, started his first day of auctioneering Thursday.
“He graduated from the same auction school I did, on the same day, June 19. I graduated in ’74 and he did in 2016.”
Brody, 27, is an electrician but also worked for his dad in his spare time, where he said he decided to pursue the career.
“I grew up in this industry… I want to follow in my dad and my grandpa’s footsteps,” he said.
He worked as a ringer (helping the auctioneer catch bids) before getting his certificate from the World Wide College of Auctioneering.
“The most important thing is clarity,” Brody learned.
Although his goal is to get into cattle auctioning, he didn’t appear overly concerned that it was the last day for cattle at Valley Auction.
“This is just the beginning, one door closes and another opens. We’re going to keep selling for many years to come.”
He wants to work his way into other provinces and potentially to the United States.
“The cowboy’s still king in America,” he said.
Valley Auction has supported the Raffan’s livelihood for 53 years.
“Valley Auction has given our family everything we’ve ever had. I’m very proud to be a third-generation auctioneer,” said Brody.
The smell of sawdust and cattle was prominent as the Raffan family lined up to thank customers, staff and friends for the years of service.
Through teary eyes, Don handed Brody an engraved microphone and wished him the best.
Stan Hempton is an auction veteran. He remembers a time before the Raffans owned the auction.
“It’s a shame to see (the livestock) shut down,” the 88-year-old said.
Valley Auction started in the 1950s and was purchased by the Raffans in 1963.
Long-time employee Bob Marshall, originally from Kelowna, said he used to skip school every Thursday in order to accompany his dad to the livestock auction.
Both Don and Peter have won numerous awards for their auctioneering. Don, 62, is in his 43rd year as an auctioneer and Peter, 50, is in his 30th.
Valley Auction holds the record for having two brothers win Canadian, Reserve World, and two international livestock championships.
Valley Auction has amalgamated its livestock services with BC Livestock Producers Co-Operative Association.
Cattle sales will take place at four other locations in the B.C. Interior.