On My Mind: You can learn a lot from the classifieds


In Farm and Dairy’s Classified Advertising section — we used to call them Want Ads — there are always many intriguing headings. I enjoy reading the Dogs and Dog Supplies, Horses and Ponies, Hay and Grain, Miscellaneous and Wanted To Buy.

Not that I’m looking to buy anything — I already have too much stuff — it is just interesting to see what is out there. And now that your digestion has recovered from all that fair food and your feet have forgiven you for the abuse on all that blacktop, you might be interested in an ad under the heading of Donkeys.

It read in part: Two baby Jacks, 35 adult miniature jennies, adult jennies.
Thanks to a 2001 magazine, Mules and More, Inc. of Bland, Mo., retrieved from a mechanic’s waiting room, I learned a lot. I telephoned to make sure they were still in business after all the nightmare weather in that state and was assured they very much were and have been for 21 years. We can now educate you in the correct definitions.


Did you know that George Washington founded the American mule, a contribution that is still cited today as among the most important in American agriculture. The American Mammoth Jackstraw mule was at Mount Vernon 200 years ago and was the type of donkey Washington bred, having imported from Europe several male (jack) and female (jennet) donkeys in order to develop a strong work mule.

American Mammoth Jackstock donkeys are the tallest breed of donkeys, standing 17 hands, and are the tallest members of the ass family.

Today there is a big hoo-rah over the use of the word “ass.” It is often bleeped out on television and unfortunately we only hear it in such unflattering expressions as KMA or labeling someone an ass, meaning stupid.

Mules fare no better, as someone is said to be as stubborn as a mule.

So on to the definitions of these lovable, long-eared, — equus asinus — workers and friends who helped build America. I have only known one, the late Hezekiah was the worker-pet of the late Everett Hartley.

Hezzie was indeed lovable and very smart. Over the years many fairgoers loved to watch as he and a partner worked at the steam-powered — in this case mule-powered — threshing machine.


Herewith: Donkey, world-wide nickname for the ass family; Jack, Jackass Jack Ass, the male of the ass family; Jennet or Jenny, the female of the ass family; Burro, small animals of the ass family from Mexican and Spanish stock; Mammoth Jack or Jennet, large animals; Mule, a cross between a male ass and a female horse; Hinny, a cross between a stallion (horse) and female ass (jennet).

Now you have some scintillating conversation for dinner guests!

* * *

There was, and is still, a song with lyrics ” … the leaves of brown came tumbling down, that September in the rain … ” I hum the melody as I watch the mulberries’ little brown leaves skitter across the driveway while the sycamore’s huge ones are anchored in the grass by the pouring rain. When the really strong autumn winds blow, they’ll end up in the front yard and elsewhere.

Already there is a golden bough in the birch tree and there are actually berries on the aged juniper. My mother dug a little one up in New Hampshire — against the law but she didn’t care! — and planted it here. It is almost as tall as the sycamore. Should I try to make some bathtub gin from those berries? I don’t think so.

Goldenrod is everywhere, taking the place of the bountiful crop of Queen Anne’s lace. Take a magnifying glass to really see the intricate tiny flowers that comprise these two beautiful “weeds.”

What a strange summer

So far this area has been spared the fierce storms that are all around us. I have yet to hear a locust. The nighttime chorus of crickets and katydids is absent. There is not much variety at the bird feeders .


Winnie is not having a good summer. Somehow she injured a muscle in her right hind leg and is frustrated that she can’t jump onto the bed, only the couch. Consequently, I’m sleeping on the couch because she would try to join me on “our” bed and could hurt herself seriously. She is taking pills, doesn’t appear to be in pain and is her usual cheerful self. Bingo joins us, of course, and the couch is more than a little crowded.

I recently heard on NPR that Michael Vick — that strangler of dogs, that torturer of dogs, that promoter of dog fighting, free after two years in prison — is being paid $100 million for 10 years in the NFL. He says he is a changed man and has become the darling of the Humane Society of the United States. All contributions to animal welfare organizations, shelters rescue groups etc. should go to your local ones definitely not to HSUS. (These are my opinions, except for the documented facts.)

A reader from New Springfield — Ginny Tarka — sent me a copy of an article she received from her brother. It puts me in stitches each time I read it.

It was written by an 85-year-old lady from Bedford, Pa., whose recounting of the antics of her late Appaloosa, Cheyenne, who lived to be 41, despite his addictions to food and alcohol.

As Ruth S. Loughney-Mook tells of his adventures, all directed toward food and beer, soda pop, bubblegum, even birdseed, he made Toby’s adventures look like kindergarten stuff. He also loved to eat poison IVY

His best friend was a pig named Ned, who was raised by Ruth, from a baby pig to 1,200 pounds, and the odd couple strolled together in the woods.

I’m sending a copy of the entire article to the Farm and Dairy staff.

(Don’t you just love the commercial for colon cleansing in which the product is passed around at a wedding reception! C’mon, fellas.)


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  1. Hi janie, there are some eorrors in your post about the American Mammoth Jackstock (it is “Jackstock” not “Jackstraw”) and the word “mule” should not follow the word “Jackstraw” in your sentence about Mount Vernon. Burros are not a smaller version of the larger donkeys…”burro” is just the Spanish word for “donkey”..they are not a separate species. George Washington did not breed the first mules in America…they had been bred since the 1500’s….what the General did do, with his acquisition of a Spanish jack from King Carlos III and a Maltese jack from Lafayette, is improve and promote quality mule production in the new United States….the AMJ very, very rarely gets to 17hh – if they get over 16hh, they tend to break down physically. The usual height for a jack of heritage bloodlines will be about 15.2-15.3hh. If you should like any further information, feel free to get in touch! Deb and the longears


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