My World Wednesday

Do you have a mule in your family history? No, no, I don’t mean that as a nice way of saying your stubborn Uncle Harry. I’m talking about a real mule, a long ear. If your family lived on a farm, there was no doubt a mule or two.

Jack, Kate, Dave and Joe are pictured above. They were the mules my father-in-law’s family used. I can’t help wondering if the mules were named after real people. I think it might be more an insult than a tribute to have a mule named after you.

The next picture shows haying with mules. That’s my FIL and his brother on top of the hay. Guessing from their ages, the picture must have been taken in the late ‘30s. Today my Amish neighbors still use mules in this same fashion.

Why am I talking about mules? Blame my brother. He has a mule named Trooper. He doesn’t use him for farming but for riding. Almost every weekend, the two of them go on a trail ride with other mule lovers. In the photos, his group was on a three-day ride in an area near Gettysburg. Doesn’t it look relaxing?

I learned some really interesting things about mules. They are big on self-preservation. They won’t keep going when they are tired and they eat and drink only what they need. When spooked, they don’t run wildly like horses; they run a few yards, stop and look back to see if the danger is still there.

A mule is a hybrid, the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Each mule has his own unique whinny/heehaw. They are sure-footed, carefully placing their feet in rocky terrain and they can actually see their back feet. They can even run backwards.

As for their reputation for being stubborn, from the stories my brother told, it sounds as though they are. When they were used for farming, most farmers took a dinner break around noon. The mules would always stop at the same hour, without wearing watches, and they would not budge. It didn’t matter if the farmer wanted to keep working because rain was on the way. The mules were the bosses.

My brother offered to take me for a ride on Trooper. And he was serious. I think I’ll just stay on the ground. He's an awfully beautiful animal though.

Trooper and my Brother