Cash Owens caught the bug for auctioneering at a Montana horse auction when he was 8 years old. On the way back home to his family's Minnesota farm, he and a friend in the backseat of the pickup started calling auctions on everything they passed by: grazing cattle, cars, fenceposts, ranches, you name it. "I'll tell you, I was never so happy to get out of that pickup truck!" recalled Cash's dad, Dan, to a national television reporter.
That's right. Cash, now 12, has become a pint-sized sensation in the auction world through national and international interviews, and thousands of hits on YouTube. Last winter, he appeared on Steve Harvey's TV show, "Little Big Shots," after the show's producers saw him call an auction on YouTube.
Despite his young age and the surrounding media attention, auctioneering is no lark for Cash. He's become a pro, working sales at the family's Blue Earth Stockyard sale barn. After working a charity auction in Denver when he was 10, Cash received a scholarship to the famed World Wide College of Auctioneering, in Mason City, Iowa, where he graduated from a one-week course.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
"They taught us how to do the tongue twisters and how to do the numbers in order to jump around the ring from one bid to another," Cash explained. "They really emphasized that you don't ever want to leave out someone in the crowd because they've offered a lower bid."
Cash works his crowd with smooth polish and a quick spiel, interjected with the bid prices and an occasional hiccup for air.
His mother, Leah, who does the books for the sale barn, said, "Some customers get a kick out of watching him, and to others, he's just another auctioneer."
When he isn't working the mic, Cash, along with his brothers, Cole (17), Cody (13), Chase (8), and sister Cheyenne (15), works the ring and herds livestock in the yard. The family arranged with school officials to excuse the kids from class to work some of the big weekday sales. The stockyards offer them real-world experience, Leah pointed out. "They interact with customers and understand how a business runs. That's hands-on experience they can't learn from a book."
At home at the Circle B Cattle Company, near Truman, Minnesota, a fourth-generation family farm, Cash and the others have their chores to do.
The Owens graze 200 to 600 head of cattle at a time, and the kids also take care of the horses, goats, pigs and chickens. "They know that we have expectations," Leah said. "When they leave home, we want them to have morals, skills and a work ethic."
"They have their own livestock, so that's teaching by example," Dan added. "We buy the feed if they take care of their animals. Their real job right now is to be students."
If Cash and the others have a hobby, it's rodeo. He and Cody placed in the top of the rankings of the Minnesota Junior High Rodeo competition for 2016 and have gone onto the national junior-high competition in Tennessee -- Cash in bull riding and bareback bronc riding; Cody in bull riding, ribbon roping and saddle bronc riding. When the boys finish their chores for the day, they can be found in the backyard practicing their roping skills.
Cash explained there is no paid allowance around the Circle B Cattle Company: "We get food on the table and a roof over our heads. Brushing teeth and mowing lawn is just part of life."
But the best part of life for him is calling an auction. Cash said, "I really like watching the bids come in and joking around with the crowd." And what is this sixth-grader's favorite subject in school? "Language," he said. Of course.
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