Earlier this summer a workman from the neighboring farm left a gate open and two mules and a mare crossed onto our property.
I got up that morning and looked out across the prairie and spied three huge equine forms with their heads down, and they were grazing.
I called the farmer and found he was fishing in Alaska, but his wife said she’d send out a nearby ranch hand, Julio Mondragon, to help catch the mules and move them back to the other farm.
Several days passed before Julio arrived. In the meantime, I kept my donkeys in their paddock, since I did not know how the mules and the horse might react to the small donkeys. Horses sometimes do fine with donkeys, but other times they can get aggressive. It all depends on the horse and the mule, and I did not know anything about my visitors.
What struck me is how the mules seemed fascinated by the little donkeys, and they spent hours near the fence watching Ziggy and Chippo. The donkeys were interested in the mules too, but they were afraid of the big animals. When the mules were nearby they would often approach the fence where the mules towered, but if the mule moved the donkeys would spin and run away in fear. The advance-retreat scenario played out again and again.
Julio arrived on day three, and he brought his stallion to draw in the mare, and then he planned on lassoing her and leading her to the trailer. If he could do that then the mules would follow and also get into the trailer to be near the mare.
Unfortunately Julio’s plan did not work and although he got close enough to lasso the mare, he missed, and she took off. After that Julio chased the mare and the mules around the farm for forty minutes looking for another opportunity, but they could never get close enough to her again. And then she and the mules disappeared.
Julio and his friends put the stallion in the trailer and they took off on the four-wheeler to look for the missing animals. It seems all the chasing badly spooked the mare, and she went back to the gate in the deep woods, along Kickin’ Mule Creek, where she and her buddies first entered our farm. Julio found her and the mules there; His friends opened that gate and Julio herded the mules and the mare back onto to the Pohlen farm. So, it ended well and without the stallion’s help.
I let my donkeys out to graze, and they ran around the house like two big dogs welcoming their owners’ home after a long absence. Those three days were the longest they had been cooped up in their paddock and stall, and they were so happy to have their farm back with its open lands and varied fodder.