August 14, 2018



A few years ago Nelson stole a colt. Nelson was our mule. He’s a small mule. Like a Shetland pony. We’d had him about 20 years. I thought he was a mule colt when I bought him. I don’t know a lot about mules. He wasn’t a colt. He was a small mule. A kicking mule. We named after the kicker for the Vikings.
For 20 years Nelson has guarded the bucking mares. He kept coyotes, wolves, bear, and gypsies away from the mares. He fought wild stallions, goblins, and werewolves. And he always followed the pickup when you wanted to move the mares.
Then one year he went crazy. He stole a new colt from a mare. Nelson would run that mare off and the colt had no choice but to follow the mule. The mare was frantic. So was Shirley. After a little work we got him split away and ran him and the bred mares to the other end of the pasture. Leaving the mare and new colt alone. Good.
The next morning Nelson had the colt again. I called in the reserves. Will roped the mule and we hauled him home. I had a worthless mule in the trailer. What could I do? What should I do? You hate to shoot a mule who has been no good for 20 years. And there was no horse sale coming up.
Then Larry drove in the yard. He lived on the hill east of the ranch. He don’t get out a lot. He heard that mule braying in the trailer. And he mentioned he used to have a mule. I asked if he wanted another one. He thought about it and said he couldn’t afford a good mule. I wasn’t going to let a lack of capital interfere with our negotiations. I bragged a little more about Nelson. Larry wondered how old the mule was. I guaranteed him to be at least five.
Now, I wasn’t lying. He was at least five. And he looked good for a small mule. I told Larry if he was short of capital, maybe we could trade. He said he didn’t have anything to trade. All he had was two kids and a few pigs. Pigs! I wouldn’t trade a good mule for a kid, but a butcher hog, that’s something different. In the blink of an eye the deal was done. Nelson was traded for a butcher hog. Delivered. Not the butcher hog. Nelson was delivered.
I drove up on the hill and Larry led Nelson from the trailer, mentioning that “Nelson would make a good pony for his little boy.”
I hated to tell him that Nelson would make a good pony for a grown man who wasn’t going anywhere and liked to be kicked, but who am I to criticize another man’s mule.
The last I saw of Nelson, Larry was trying to lead him into a little barn that didn’t look safe for chickens. And Nelson wasn’t liking it. I pretended I didn’t see them.
 And that’s that. Oh yeah. The butcher hog isn’t born yet. But then again, I don’t care.
I swore I’d never own another mule. I made it for a lot of years. No mules. Then a few months ago, at happy hour, a friend said he wanted a miniature mule. For his wife. I knew of one. I knew of several. By the time happy hour ended we owned five mini-mules and a mini-donkey. They seemed cheap at the time.
Larry, if you are still alive and reading this, I promise these mules are young. I am selling them for $1,500 or best offer. Hurry! Only four mules and one donkey left. I did sell one. I didn’t get paid, but that isn’t important right now.