Or maybe I should have called this "The Story of how I managed to get a mule and not find myself divorced".
Just like any animal-loving, suburban-bound pre-teen girl, I loved horses. They were, like, the best pet any girl could ever have. I dreamed of riding my horse up and down the street, taking it on picnics at the park and other equally impossible romantic scenarios. I had even planned keeping my horse in the tool shed (it seemed like a big shed back then, but probably not even big enough for a pony) and cutting all the lawns in the neighborhood for "hay". A twelve year old has absolutely no concept of "Zoning" or "Restrictions", let alone the logistics of feeding, watering and sheltering such a large animal.
Since it was obvious I wasn't going to have a horse at the house (Dad was sooooo mean!), I settled for the next best thing; riding lessons! Actually, my Dad sprung for me to go to some fancy-pants camp in Northern Wisconsin that offered, among the normal camping activities, a special equestrain class (read: more money) and that's where I first learned to ride.
Years went by and I had a handful of other opportunities to go on trail rides. Paul and I even signed up for riding lessons about ten years ago to brush up on our skills (does this horse make my butt look big???).
My love for horses didn't actually wane, but I suddenly became interested in mules. Not sure how it started. Maybe it was because I had a mule stuffed animal when I was little (come on, who has a stuffed mule as a kid??), or maybe because I'd been reading a lot more homesteading and self-sufficiency books and invariably a mule would pop up.
Or it could be that they are just so darned cute! I mean, come on....look at those big ol' EARS!
Anyhow, years before we even made the move to Krazo Acres, I had been scouring the internet for information on mules. I had stumbled upon a website that I would just drool over, Kelsomules.com, and dream and dream about having a mule for my very own. I fell in love with a mule for sale, named Melman. We were still living in the 'burbs so it's not like there was any way that I could ever get Melman....but I oogled over his picture online any chance I got.
Once we made the move to the country and I accumulated the chickens and goats (ducks somewhere in the middle), I figured it was time to add a long-eared equine to our farm. We had just acquired the exclusive use of a small pole barn, outdoor riding arena and about two acres of pasture. All that was missing was the mule. So I looked through the papers, online horse trader ads and asked around. I drug Paul three hours south to look at a mule as tall as a giraffe, made him drive me to no-mans-land on ten miles of dirt road to see a gaited mule, and I even went to a livestock auction in town (really, really scary). None of the mules were very nice. Not like I expected them to come up to me, wagging their tails and begging for cookies, but we never really clicked.
Several months later I saw an ad in the local paper and made a trip (unbeknownst to Paul) to see her since it was only about a half-hour away. She was in a pasture with about a dozen other horses and wasn't really halter broke. They had to round up several of the other horses and used them to drive her into a corral. I spent some time in there with her and she eventually came up to me and even let me hang off her neck. I haltered her with some help and tried leading her around the pen. She did ok. The owners said they thought they wanted to try breaking a mule, but didn't have the time for her. They also said that she was halter broke (obviously not) and had a saddle on her two or three times (unlikely). I said thank you to the owners for showing her to me and was on my way.
Then I went back again the next day and spent a little more time with her.
And a few days later I had Paul in tow and we negotiated a price for her. They would keep her for up to two weeks while we put a hot wire on the pasture fence and they would also deliver her to us since we didn't have a trailer yet. And I went shopping for mule stuff.
Stay tuned for the next long & boring installment of "The Story of Ms. Melman, Part 2" to be blogcast on Tuesday morning.
I only agreed to chickens. That was it.