you might remember how back in march i was concerned about my donkeys while they were being boarded. the mule man assured me that they were getting great care and putting on weight, and that they had just lost weight due to the excitement of being with a herd and the extra exercise from having more land. well, i finally was able to make arrangements to get them picked up and brought home when mule man, after being "friends" for more than ten years, decided to get nasty with me.

it's a long story - aren't they always? i bought a mule from him sometime in the late 1990s. she was a gaited saddle mule, a beautiful mule. but i was still working at a law firm and didn't have as much time as i needed, and he convinced me to let her stay there for some additional saddle work. as time passed, it didn't seem like she was a great mule for me - she was still too green and i wasn't as great a rider as when i was a kid. when he called me wanting to sell her, and give me instead two grand canyon mules in return, i went out to meet them. these mules were older but so easy to deal with and ride. their names were elderberry and blueberry. i felt kind of pushed into it, but figured it might be best so i said ok.

a week or two after we made this trade, blueberry dropped dead (or so he said). but elderberry continued to live out on his farm. that was at least five years ago. a number of times i told him that i needed to either bring elderberry home or he should find her another home, but he always said she was really just fine and no problem and she had more room there, blah blah blah. i hardly knew this mule and found that i didn't really want her, but was busy and mule man seemed so accommodating that i just went along with the arrangement he seemed to want. i wondered if it was a some kind of scam (he is, after all, a mule trader) but i thought better of it. in the meantime, i did endless free legal work for him related to various mule disputes, but he always had a good story.

so at the end of last year when i got in a bind, mule man agreed to board my donkeys temporarily for a tidy sum. he had bugged me for years to take them so he could breed to modestine, my spotted mammoth jenny. i didn't want to send them away, but didn't have much choice (also a very long story). i paid him what he asked, and then paid him more later just because he said he needed it. but when i made arrangements to pick up my girls, mule man suddenly demanded back board for at least three years of mule care. i said that wasn't the agreement, but that we could try to work something out. but he quickly became as mean as a snake, saying that he had bent over backwards to help me, and all kinds of other meanness, and that he needed money and now or else he would not give me back my donkeys.

it was a very nasty series of phone calls, and this with a man who i regarded as something like an uncle. a few threats and days later, i have my donkeys, who look like shit, a very old mule, and a broken friendship, if it ever was. i didn't pay him though, and somehow i still feel guilty about it.


  1. Hi Jere, I'm glad you got your donkeys home...that is the best place for them. Sounds like a real ordeal. I would have snatched up those pocket size kittens too and brought them home too. Sorry for your grievance with the mule guy. It's awful to have a relationship fall apart like that.

  2. thanks for the support, denise - it was awful. the kittens were oh-so-tempting but they were still nursing and i also didn't want to get a bill for the kittens along with everything else. plus, the dogs rule the roost now that my old kitty passed, and i wasn't sure how new little ones would fare. i miss having kitties though - this year is the first in 16 that i haven't had at least one.

  3. The way you write "mule trader" - is that like an old time equivalent of a used car salesman or something? Anyway, it's too bad he turned out to be such a jerk. You need to find yourself a better half-ass trader.

  4. yeah, the mule trader is sort of an iconic figure in the Old South. no more asses for me - just the ones i already know and love.