The call came just as I was walking out of my office to pick up the girls from school.
“The neighbor called,” was the first thing Curtis said. “One of the mules is loose and in the other neighbor’s garden. When are you heading home?”
Trust me, those are not the words I wanted to hear. Country boy was 2 hours away. Mule wrangling – and fixing however he/they got out was up to me and the girls.
I drove to the schools half contemplating announcing my dilemma to the other parents assembled to pick up kids to see if any of them had more experience with horses/mules that me.
Seriously, my experience with the mules is feeding occasional treats, dodging piles of you-know-what, mucking out a trailer before the big trips, and holding on for dear life those rare times I got into a saddle.
Did I mention that I broke my nose within 8 seconds of getting into a saddle once?
Clearly, catching and haltering a mule is well outside of my range of experience.
Curtis assured me that the most important thing would be to repair however the mule (or – our worst case scenario – mules) got out. If it were only one loose, he said not to worry too much. If all three got out, he said we’d be in for trouble.
I got the girls; we scrambled home. There was a truck in my driveway…
Angry neighbor wondering who the @^%$^@ owned the mule that ate their late fall veggies?
Driver with news of awful roadside collision with large animal?
Political candidate who picked a bad time to canvas a neighborhood?
Actually, it was my guardian angel – the same older gentleman who helped the night of the big flood. He and his wife saw Donny “talking” (that suave guy) the white horse next door to them and then saw him hanging out in their garden. They had tried getting him back into the pasture, but he resisted their attempts. They left a note for me but decided that they’d wait until the school got out to see if I’d be there with the girls.
Best of all, they agreed to help us fix the fence and corral Donny.
It took a half bag of carrots, a whole bale of hay, a long rope held by two very brave little girls acting like fence posts, two adults trying to block the back and side sections of a large corn field, and one city girl wearing black slacks, white shirt and hot pick sweater – and polka-dotted rubber boots – running, blocking, stalking and coaxing to get a stubborn mule back into the pasture but we did it. Donny rejoined Spike and Ike in the pasture.
To celebrate, the mules feasted on the giant round bale I pushed into the pasture.
To celebrate, the girls and I feasted McDonald’s before the meeting we needed to be at an hour later.
Thankfully, the people at the meeting know me pretty well so the fact that I had hay all over my sweater and in my hair didn’t distract them too much.
I don’t know if I’m cut out for this country life…