April 4, 2024

There are two ways to get a miniature mule


            My wish list baffles most folks.

            I have never wanted a convertible, a motorcycle or an airplane.

            But for the past three years, I have wanted a miniature mule. No, not a donkey. I have five of those, plus a big red mule with black stockings. So, how do you get a miniature mule?

            There are two ways:

§  You breed a miniature donkey—a jack—with a mare miniature horse. And then you wait 11 to 14 months for a miniature mule to be born. That was my plan 36 months ago. Larry Walker loaned me Kickapoo, his miniature mare, to spend time with Otis, our miniature jack. The plan was for Larry to get the first miniature mule, and I’d get the second. So far, nada for both of us.

§  You buy two miniature mules, one for Larry and one for me. But where? Enter Robert McCurley. He walked into The Oglethorpe Echo to advertise two miniature mules for sale. I could hear him from my office, so I poked my head into the lobby. Our office manager started laughing. Tanya knew who was going to buy those tiny mare mules.

            She was right.

            One trip to Robert’s pasture, and I was smitten. We shook hands, and he delivered the 2-year-olds two days later. They’re in a separate stall, but the llamas, donkeys, Kickapoo, and Maggie, the big mule, are keeping their eyes on the new arrivals. Ditto for the three barn cats. They perch on a high stack of hay bales to watch the what’s-going-to-happen-next circus.

            Until Robert’s son put halters on them, the mules had never been touched by human hands. In a word, the pair is wild. The closest that I’ve been to them is 3 feet.

            Sunday afternoon, I tried something different.

            I took a bucket of sweet feed into the stall and put it on the ground. A few feet away, I turned a 5-gallon bucket upside down and sat on it. For the next hour, I read a book and watched them out of the corner of my eye. And they watched me. I thought they might get curious and come over for a sniff. But if I moved, they made a mad dash—kicking up orange dust—around the 24-foot-square stall. So much for that theory.

            After watching a few YouTube videos, I had a better idea. I’d call friends who actually knew what to do. I’m not about to let these four-legged ladies outsmart me. Stay tuned.

            Oh, what are their names?

I haven’t decided yet. Thelma and Louise have been suggested, as well as Polly and Esther. Ummm, I’m going to let Larry participate in the naming rights.

            So, when did I get fascinated with mules? As a boy, I marveled at Coca-Cola baron Robert W. Woodruff’s quail-wagon mules on his Ichauway Plantation in Baker County. I decided then that one day I’d have a pair of big draft mules. I had to wait about 40 years.

In the early 1990s, I announced to my wife that I was giving her a ruby and a rose for Valentine’s Day. We were at our Lake Hartwell farm. Pam smiled and asked, “Where are they?” I pointed out the kitchen window and said, “There they are—your Ruby and Rose, the prettiest mules you’ll ever see.”

            And with that, she quipped, “Now we have three jackasses on this farm—the two in the pasture and the one who brought them here.”

            Yeah, I baffle her, too.