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Raising mules

Living the Country Life Radio Program with Betsy Freese

Personality counts

Listen to this radio show (MP3 download) or read below.

Radio interview source: Steve Edwards, mule owner and trainer

In the Pennsylvania countryside near where I grew up, the Amish used mules in the field, and the animals worked hard. They're durable, versatile creatures that people also use for riding, driving, and packing. Because a mule has a donkey father and a horse mother, you can spot one by the long ears and short mane.

Mule expert and rancher Steve Edwards says if you're thinking about getting one, look at the mule's disposition before anything else.

"I like a disposition that says, 'Hi how are ya?,'" Edwards says. "Puts his head down, wants to be petted and scratched on, when you walk up to the gate they want to beat you to the gate. Just one of those kinds of mules that just wants to be around people instead of one that would prefer to be around other animals."

Mules will test you to see what they can get away with. But with some patience and kindness, they'll learn to trust and obey you. Mules also have a good memory, so if you cause them any pain, they'll remember it and hold a grudge.

Horses, sheep, goats, and cattle enjoy having a mule around. However, if there are young calves in the pasture, keep the mules in another location. They tend to mother up to the babies, keeping the cow away. This can kill the calves.

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