Once a month or so, we hook up our flat trailer and head to our local hay supplier to get a month’s worth of round bales. All summer we’ve been greeted in our supplier’s hay yard by the sweetest little mule we’ve ever met. Jazzy would come and greet us and if our windows were open, would stick her whole head in the truck to say hi. She let us pet her all over, never biting, and if we allowed her, she enjoyed hanging out with the humans while the hay was being loaded and the fat was being chewed. Jazzy, her owner explained, was bottle-fed, raised by humans and made to feel like one of their herd. But Jazzy’s owner didn’t want her anymore and was talking about sending her to the sale barn where she’d probably fetch $25 and end up who knows where. Jazzy’s owner liked her well enough but didn’t really need her. Animals to him are livestock, meant to be bought and sold at will. I respect that, even though to us these animals are pets at worst and members of the family at best. Given the poor market for equines in Tennessee due to oversupply and under demand, we think we knew where Jazzy was headed.
Ever since moving to Tennessee, Pops (Mikki’s dad) has talked about getting his own mule or donkey/burro. After months of scratching her behind the ears and telling her how pretty she is, Pops decided he wanted this mule. A few days ago, she was loaded into our horse trailer for the short trip to our barn. Little 500 pound Jazzy was dwarfed but our seemingly huge trailer, the size of which was selected to fit 1300 pound Valentine. I wasn’t there when it happened but I’m told she didn’t want to get into the trailer. It was a new, scary experience for her but she made it without any serious issues.
Jazzy has been with us for a few days now and things are mostly fine. She’s adapting. Herd introduction was a little challenging and I’ll discuss that in another post.
So what are we going to do with a mule? In short, nothing. We don’t plan to ride her or work her. We’ve learned by observing her over the past months that she enjoys eating weeds along with hay. I think we can accommodate that. She won’t eat much and might be effective in keeping the coyotes out of our pasture. But to us, she’s a pet and a member of our family herd.