Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mild mannered mules

Mules have a reputation dating back hundreds of years.  Whether deserved or not, "stubborn as a mule" is part of English language legend and lexicon.  Who among us hasn't used this time-worn phrase at least once in our lives?

The internet offers up a plump menu of mule quotes.  Here is Harry Truman's famous mule quote: “My favorite animal is the mule. He has more horse sense than a horse. He knows when to stop eating -- and he knows when to stop working.”

What's always been interesting to us about mules is that they can work really hard up to a point...and then suddenly stop working, just as Truman noted.  By and large mules define more of the genuine "work ethic" than they define stubbornness."  Dictionary dot com put it into perspective (bolded type) with this definition of "stubborn as a mule,"Extremely obstinate, as in He's stubborn as a mule about wearing a suit and tie . This simile evokes the proverbial stubbornness of mules, whose use as draft animals was once so common that the reputation for obstinacy can hardly be as warranted as the term indicates. [Early 1800s]."

If anything, we'd prefer this quote about mules as more indicative of their true selves:  "If hard work were really a virtue, then mules would be saints."

And so it was that along came the annual Idaho Falls July 4th Parade.  Wes and I bicycled over to roam the parage staging area, gawking at the various costumes, tiaras and....MULES!  Yes, believ it or not, The Cariboo-Targhee National Forest had the sheer undaunted courage to place a mule pack string into a public parade!

Wes and I marveled at the muleskinners' as they warmed up in a parking lot in front of the Post Office, putting the mules through their paces and adjusting the infamous diamond hitch knots before the siren calls of the parade began.  Wes and I looked at each other with raised eyes.  How in the world could a mule string make it through miles of public cacophony without staging a Mule Revolt?  That surely had to be one Muy Macho pair of muleskinners!

Well, off they went with nary a care in the world just like is was Old Hat to a bunch of seasoned mules.  As chance would have it, the lead muleskinner made them strut their stuff right in front of our viewpoints of the parade.  Wes and I marveled as the precision timing of the mild mannered mules.  For anyone who knew even a smidgen about the celebrated unpredictability of mules, it was a true Mule Marvel to watch then turned a perfect circle and then march right back out of their group pirouette in a straight line.

Frankly, we didn't think we'd ever see anything like this from a mule string and we thought some of our LBRs might enjoy the photographic proof.

In closing, we'd like to recall one of Clint Eastwood's signature quotes from his early Bad Guy movies--"A Fistful of Dollars: "You see my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughing at him. Now if you apologize like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it...(music builds up and 5 shots are fired)" 


The Goatherder said...

Well I guess Idaho knows it's mules. From Wikipedia:

"In 2003, researchers at University of Idaho and Utah State University produced the first mule clone as part of Project Idaho.[19] The research team includes Gordon Woods, UI professor of animal and veterinary science, Kenneth L. White, USU professor of animal science, and Dirk Vanderwall, UI assistant professor of animal and veterinary science. The baby mule, Idaho Gem, was born May 4. It is the first clone of a hybrid animal. Veterinary examinations of the foal and its surrogate mother showed them to be in good health soon after birth. The foal's DNA comes from a fetal cell culture first established in 1998 at the University of Idaho."

John Parsons said...

Goatherder's comment reminds us of another quote on mules we found this morning:

Three Places You Don't Want to Be: The front side of a goat, the back side of a mule and any side of a fool."

Also, GH's research helps us better understand many of our fellow Idahoans--they are possibly just cloned mules!