Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Mules › STUCK in the SNOW
- February 15, 2010 at 1:00 am #41423
I built a new little work sled for my mules and decided to hook them up for their maiden voyage in the snow. I bought them in Alabama last spring and the whole winter time and deep snow thing has kind of been a shock for them. Then stupid me didn’t think the snow was as deep as it was and we got stuck. Both Mules lunged and pulled as hard as they could but they were in snow up to there bellies and the sled was plowing snow. Then my right hand mule got her rear legs up under her and the collar was pulling her back and she was unable to get up. They both just stopped then, no thrashing or nothing there they were. I unhooked them and when I told her to get up she just about knocked me over. I think she was still planning on pulling the sled out but I threw in the towel for the day. I was counting my blessings I didn’t get either one of them hurt. After seeing how hard they pulled today and how determined the right hand mule was to get through the tough pull I don’t think I’ll be selling them anytime soon. Poor Alabama mules welcome to winter in Minnesota. The guy who owns the place is 83 and he was watching me out the window, he was all excited when I came in and said boy that Ruby was really gettin with it wasn’t she. Then he told me they were worth twice as much for not thrashing around and getting excited when they were in trouble. So I was a little proud. It was only about a two hundred yard sleigh ride but I was very satisfied with the experience, besides getting stuck that is.February 15, 2010 at 1:49 am #57950MatthewParticipant
I was always told a mule would never do any thing to hurt themselves if they got a leg stuck in a gate or fence they would stand thare, ware a horse would panic and hurt themselves.February 15, 2010 at 8:41 am #57953jacParticipant
Hi Matthew.. Yes I was told that by grandpaw too. He encountered mules in WW1 and had a lifelong admiration for them. Mules are very rare over here, or at least mules over 14 hands seem to be. I have seriously concidered creating Clyde mules but mammoth jacks are super rare. Grandpaw always said they wouldnt take colic, very seldom needed shoes thrived on less and didnt suffer as many illnesses as horses !! Also he reconed that the “stubborn” title was coz of their strong sense of self preservation and it was prob the teamster perhaps asking them to do too much or go someplace dangerous that made them appear stubborn .. I was at the National stallion show and met the mule that opened the memorial in London to the horses, mules and all animals that died in war. Its very moving when you hear what those animals did.. Great fotos and the mules are a credit to you.
JohnFebruary 15, 2010 at 11:40 am #57949Donn HewesKeymaster
Those are nice looking mules. Are your mules bare foot? I work my horses and mules bare foot all winter, but you do have to be extra careful to avoid any ice. a little work with a snow shovel and they will pull that right out of there. If you had some place you really wanted to go, a method I have used for seriously deep snow drifts is to drive the team back and forth through it before I hook them to the sled. That may get them through. One picture of them standing and walking makes their heads look close to together; is their spacing good? Pictures can be really deceptive.
Animals that stay calm in a pinch are worth a lot, but they also reflect a calm handler. Nice job.February 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm #57948JeanParticipant
Here is an article that was in last weeks New Yorker magazine. She has also had an article in the Smithsonian in the last couple of months about mules.February 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm #57947J-LParticipant
That’s a pretty little team of mules. I like my mules for the same reason you mention. They (most of them) will wait for you to get them out of a bind like that, without getting hurt or tearing up your equipment. I’ve had mine stuck a few times in big drifts or bare spots, bogs, whatever. They usually look back at me like “Way to go dummy, now get me out of this mess.”
I have one black mule that will lay down until I go up to her head and talk to her, then she’ll get back to her feet and let me help her out. You can’t get her to do it with a whip, or cussing. Funny animals, some times they’re more like a dog or a little kid.
The method that Donn describes is how I break a trail in the deep snow. Usually when I go into a new stackyard or whatever, I have to break a trail like that so I can get the bobsled in and out. It works better than just baling into it hooked to your sled.
Thanks for the pictures. Nice mules.February 16, 2010 at 1:59 am #57951
Neither of them are shod I don’t really do enough with them in the winter to were I would need shoes. As far as there heads being too close together they seem to like to drive with their heads close together there’s rarely any tension on the inside lines. This is my first team of mules before I had a team of belgians and then a team of paint draft crosses. Then after I had sold those I was looking for a new team and these came up for sale while I was on a wagon train and I thought what the hell we’ll give mules a try, so far I’ve enjoyed them. I agree with them being more like a dog. I had really only thought that snow was about a foot and a half deep but right where the sled is sitting when it got stuck its about four footFebruary 17, 2010 at 3:22 am #57952
I dug out the sled today with a tractor and got out the tape measure, from the bottom of my runner to the grass was 4 ft 9in.
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