Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Mike the Mule

In the closing minutes of a recent meeting, a client of Sankey Creative remarked, “I enjoy reading your blog. I don’t know how you keep finding things to write about.” I told the gentleman that finding the uninterrupted time to sit down and write has always been the challenge, rather than finding things to write about. Somehow, stories or topics just always seem to...come out of nowhere. 

That was last Thursday. 

On Friday afternoon, the kids and I returned home from Ohio with a load of feed. Cody met us at the truck and said, “You’re not going to believe this. The strangest thing. I look out to the pasture and all the cows are stirred up, something really has their attention. And across the pasture goes a white horse!”

“What?!” I asked him. “Where did it come from? Where did it go?” Cody didn’t have solid answers for either of those questions. The white horse seemed to appear from nowhere, then disappear again. 

An hour later all four of us were working outside when Cody yelled, “Lindsay! Look at the woods! There it is!” And sure enough (Cody hadn’t been drinking in the middle of the afternoon), out of the woods emerged a large white horse. 

This is not the horse that emerged from our woods.
This is a result from Googling, "White horse woods"
The cows were stirred yet again, so we needed to take action by calling neighbors. The first neighbor just laughed and said it wasn’t theirs. The second neighbor just laughed and said yes, in fact, he was missing Mike the Mule. In our defense, we hadn’t been close enough to the majestic animal to determine it was actually a mule, not a horse. 

In the same minute that we determined where he belonged, Mike the Mule took off running north, then he cut across our yard. Then he did something really stupid: He stepped onto Highway 35. 

Here is probably where I should describe where we live. We live just west of the crest of a hill on a terribly busy highway. You can look west out of our drive and see ½ a mile, but looking east only grants you about 75 yards. That isn’t a long distance when trying to pull out onto a road where people may be going 60+ mph. Much to our dismay, we don’t have a dog because of this location. I’ve scraped enough barn cats off the highway with a scoop shovel to know that I don’t have the intestinal fortitude to own a family dog. 

So, when Mike the Mule stepped onto Highway 35, my heart sank for multiple reasons. Cyrus was on my hip and Caroline was by my side and they both thought it was pretty awesome that a magical white horse appeared out of nowhere and wanted to play with their cows. I had a bad feeling they were about to see something no child should. Then, my animal adoring husband decides to step out on to 35 and try to stop traffic at the crest of the hill so Mike the Mule doesn’t turn into Rex the Roadkill right in front of our farm. 

You have to understand Cody and horses. Having grown up on a Kansas ranch, horses are quite special to him. His parents still have his childhood horse, Socks, on the ranch and Caroline visits Socks and friends when we travel west. When Cody saw a horse(/mule) in danger, he stopped at nothing to try to get it out of harm’s way. 

So there I was. Baby on the hip, toddler on hanging on to my leg crying for her daddy, a white mule trotting a straight line down the double yellow of 35 and low and behold, a Red Gold semi barreling up from the other direction. 

“This is not going to end well,” I told the kids. “We’re going to the house.” 

Of course, I couldn’t, because while Mike did seem special, I also cared about the well-being of Cody, who had suddenly turned into Walker Texas Ranger right in front of our very eyes. He was going to save the world. And by the world, I mean Mike the Mule. 

Of course, my mind kept clicking back to how I was going to call my in-laws in Kansas and explain to them that Cody got into a tangle with a Tahoe because he was trying to save a random mule from getting clipped in front of Caroline’s concerned, and always curious, eyes. 

Quite luckily for all parties involved, I never had to make that phone call. 

A black suburban, silver Fusion and beige Buick all barreled over the crest of the hill but avoided Mike and Cody. The Red Gold truck slowed his ascent up the hill and pulled over the shoulder with his flashers on. Mike the Mule made a very smart decision and took a left through our double red gates and went back onto our property. Cody closed and latched the gate behind him.

Mike’s owner came a short time later with a halter and lead rope. Cody got Mike haltered and lead him back up our ditch to a pen where he would be safe until the owner returned with a stock trailer. 

While filling milk cups for bed, Caroline looked out our south window which overlooks the pens. “Look! Daddy got me a white horse!” she yelled out. I broke her heart by reminding her that was Mike the Mule and he’d (hopefully) be gone before she woke up the next morning. And he was. 

Every day since, we’ve traveled St. Road 1 and seen Mike the Mule out grazing where he is supposed to be. Caroline looks for him each time and she’s grown quite fond of the rogue rascal. I, too, look for Mike at every opportunity. Not because I necessarily like him, but because I want to ensure he stays where he belongs and doesn’t become the reason for a long-distance phone call back to Kansas.