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The Mule Goddess

By July 26, 2010How To

Susan, otherwise known (in my Blackberry) as ‘My Shepherd’ has added a mule to her flock.

Do I need to back up a little? Okay, for those of you who don’t know, Susan, one of my very best friends ever, is a shepherd. She followed her passion from big, fancy, network TV job to dirty, muddy, sheep & goat-filled farmer life. But, this isn’t just any farm, it’s the world’s first natural fiber CSA. You buy shares, you invest in the farm and you get wool. It’s brilliant. It is a knitter’s slice of yarn pie.

And so is Susan’s blog. A blog that, on Friday, let us all know that there was a mule on her way. (It’s odd to me that the mule is a girl, in my mind, mules are boys…but it turns out these animals are super goddess-like. Who knew?). Her name is Aberdeen. Was there ever a better name for a she-mule? I don’t think so, either.

When you think mule, I’m guessing you get the same image that I get: unattractive, frumpy, stubborn. Basically, your run of the mill Aunt Bertha with a longer nose and bigger ears.

But then I saw Susan’s mule:

That’s Aberdeen on the left. Erin is feeding her. (I love Erin because, besides just being a great gal who once scaled my house and jimmied open a window because I was locked out (and too chicken to do that myself), one of her favorite snacks is butter and sugar. In a cup. With a spoon. I could do without the sugar, but I totally get it. And admire her greatly.)

My point, about Aberdeen, is…well…look at her! She’s a beautiful little equine. Though, yes, her ears are a little big.

After I saw the picture, and my mind started to turn away from the ugly stereotype, I followed Susan’s lead to an article in The New Yorker by Susan Orlean about, yes, mules. Are you ready for this?

A mule is entirely nonpartisan about the contents of its load. It will carry as much as three hundred pounds, seven hours a day, twenty days straight, without complaint. (Right, we all knew that part, but listen to this:) On the other hand, a mule knows its limits. It is a characteristic of the breed to have an inviolable commitment to self-preservation, which is often misinterpreted as stubbornness. The mule’s commitment to survival is interesting in a Darwinian context, because mules—the hybrid result of breeding a male donkey to a female horse—have mismatched chromosomes and are therefore sterile. Yet mules are probably the most successful and enduring hybrid, with the beefalo coming in a distant second.

Hmmm…a woman that is aggressive and powerful is presumed: bitch.

And a mule that is hell-bent on self-preservation is presumed: stubborn.

An inviolable commitment to self-preservation. INVIOLABLE: Never to be broken, infringed, or dishonored. That sweet little mule is built from the land of  ‘don’t even think of fucking with me’. And that is something that I can respect.

Hell, I know Aberdeen’s up for it all by her independent, strong-ass self, but I’d even offer to carry her bags.

(And by the way, what the hell is a ‘beefalo’? Half bee/Half buffalo? No…that can’t be it.)

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • --Deb says:

    Don’t forget the fact that, even though mules are almost always sterile, Aberdeen is one of the very, very, VERY few mules ever to give birth. She is truly a queen among mules!

  • Erin says:

    Great post. And not just ’cause you said nice things about me. We can all be sweet, and beautiful, and also badass. Like the mule.

  • Jon Katz, of border collie fame, has some mules. Long to have one of my own. I love this piece. Beautiful and lovely tie-in to strong women. But the photo just slays me…

  • Jill Fisher says:

    I am lovin’ this! Of course you would relate to this beautiful, independent, strong-ass mule! She is amazing just like you……..I’m just sayin’!!!

  • Andi says:

    I am starting to get addicted to the Fiber Farm blog, I loved the chicken eating watermelon post last week. Being in the corporate girl and be confident I constantly run into the “assertive woman = bitch” and I hate it. It is so completely unfair and total bullshit, but I see it and live it everyday!

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