I believe if you can get to know people who own and care for mules and donkeys you will in time come to appreciate the people and love the animals too. That’s what happened to me, and over the years I have formed friendships with both.
Some years ago, I was invited to attend Mule Days at Leatherwood in Ferguson NC. It’s a beautiful place in western Wilkes County where nature seems to be at peace with human interaction. It’s the kind of place where deer, wild turkeys, and other friendly animals are not always on heightened alert.
The relaxing streams are home to an array of fish, and they may also be happy, but I think the fisherman are even more so. It’s the kind of place where stress levels drop as nature administers its therapy.
When I first visited Mule Days, I was amazed at all I did not know about these fantastic animals. Mules are smart and surer-footed than their equine companions the horse. Donkeys while often small can be mammoth in stature and personality.
Like people, the personalities of mules and donkeys differ and offer up a variety of expressions and behaviors that once you get to know them you will find it difficult to not think about them. I enjoy having dogs in my life, however for the most part donkeys do not feel the same way.
Mule Days appears to bring out the best in everyone, and even the donkeys and dogs seem to get along just fine. Maybe it’s the mountain air. Ben Snipes of Lancaster SC brought his dog “Tater” who is a Catahoula Cur. Also known as a “Catahoula Hog Dog” and is the state dog of Louisiana. They are smart and energetic. One interesting trait of this hunting bread is the “cracked glass” or “marbled glass” eyes which have blue or blue-white in the color mix.
Shannon Huffman leads the Mule Days at Leatherwood gathering and has a friendly mule by the name of “Seven” and a donkey named “Madalina” that attended the event. Both are perfect ambassadors.
Morgan Jones is the 2018 Mule Days Queen and represents the event well. Her love of mules and the people who care for them was evident. It was great to see Bernie Harberts and his mule Polly. I first met them some years ago when they had just finished a cross-county trip and were planning a trip from Canada to Mexico. That trip is now completed along with a documentary of the journey. “The Lost Sea Expedition” premiered on Rocky Mountain PBS and is now available on Amazon Prime.
It is a fantastic story that was filmed by Bernie with the gear he carried in the small wagon pulled by Polly. This is a fine story of A Man and A Mule and how they made a journey that inspires everyone who watches it unfold.
When you consider that it was the two of them and the people they met along the way it’s a remarkable story. From what I have witnessed about many of the “Mule People” They have high drive and passion and are willing to do more than many in the pursuit of a great adventure.
Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote, “Some kinds of animal’s burrow in the ground; others do not. Some animals are nocturnal, as the owl and the bat; others use the hours of daylight. There are tame animals and wild animals. Man, and the mule are always tame…”