A monthly column of mule facts, lore and other mulish bits of interest, by the author of The Natural Superiority of Mules, John Hauer, Backcountry Mules, Moab, Utah
We Have Heard Or Read About Mules…*The Bible speaks of the stubbornness of people at least seven times. Not once does it state or imply that mules are stubborn.
*History, written or painted or photographed, neglects to mention that right behind the heroic military leader, the intrepid explorer and legendary cowboy, was a mule doing a job, his shoulder to the collar, hauling a supply wagon or a canon, being ridden by an intrepid mountain man, or packing the supplies that made these undertakings possible. Fateful and tough, the mule contributed greatly, but did not share in the glory.
*In his diaries George Orwell reported the high price of mules in Arabia is “due to their being ridden by rich men, the mule being in fact the badge of wealth.”
*In 1846 at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, mules sold for $40 per head, a horse could be had for $25.
*If a mule gets his way once, he will remember it a long, long time. For a mule one experience constitutes a fact.
*A mule’s temperature has to be two degrees higher before they sweat; their hair absorbs the water and puts it back into the skin.
*Every evening the mules in my string compare the notes they’ve taken during the day, create a game plan, with alternate plays, and execute that plan the moment they see me the next morning depending on my body language!
*Back in the olden days a picture of a farmer plowing with an old mule warmed many a heart. That was America at its best, and truly the family farmer and his mule were special.
*Those that know them best are well aware that “mules need a job.”
*In the 1700s, Columbus introduced mules to the new world by shipping them to America on his second voyage.
*The gestation of a horse foal is 11 months, the gestation of a donkey foal is 12 to 13 months, and the gestation of a mule foal is 11 to 12 months.
*There are a few naturally bred wild mules roaming around on BLM land in the west.
*The mule can handle both heat and cold better than the horse. In the presence of immediate danger, the donkey has a tendency to fight first, run second, and the horse has a tendency to run first, fight second. The mule has both influences available to act upon. Mules often think it over for a while before reacting, and then they may decide that doing nothing is the best choice.
*When a mule gets in a “tangled situation,” which could be dangerous he will usually not let fear take over. He can switch into a logic mode and figure out a solution, rather than trying to fight his way out.