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December 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

Bland, Missouri is a small town located in Gasconade County. Back in January or early February 2012 our local postmistress was given 24 hours notice that the local post office would be closed! Wow, that upset a large number of people who came out in full force when a meeting was scheduled with a postal service employee. Thanks to all the phone calls and emails to our Senators and Representatives our post office was not closed; even though both of our rural carriers were moved to a facility in another town.

About a month ago, while still struggling to keep the post office open, a strong windstorm (or maybe even a small tornado) roared through our town and the post office building was destroyed.  Now we are forced to travel an additional 10 miles for all of our postal needs. When a town meeting was called a few days after the building was destroyed, I attended the meeting, but told myself I would NOT volunteer for anything! Well, guess who is one of the committee members working daily to Save Our Post Office? Right now we are traveling to Owensville each day to get our mail and to mail orders, a huge inconvenience for everyone in Bland.

An update on Cole’s running mule, BB. She is feeling much better, and will have the winter months to recuperate. She has lost some weight, actually lost 80 pounds the eight days she was at the University Animal Hospital, and lost more weight after she came home. Her appetite is improving and she is eating well now.

Camri and Ali are busy with school and after school acro and dance practice. I don’t see as much of them as I would like, but will pick them up from school this evening, with doughnuts as a snack. I’m looking forward to the holidays and shopping for the two of them.

We are busy working on the December issue, as well as beginning to get a few responses on emails concerning advertising Kelly has been sending out for the February annual jack issue.

There is still plenty of time to order a Gift Subscription to Mules and More for that special mule person; just call our office or go online to order. We will even send a card for you at no additional charge.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish each of you a Very Merry Christmas.


November 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

Today I took down the hummingbird feeders, washed them and put them away for the winter. At the same time I dug out the thistle feeder, cleaned it out and hung it up for the finches. It seems we went from hot sunny days to a heavy “killin’ frost” all in one days’ time. We haven’t had many of the warm, balmy fall days; our weather just went from hot to having a chill in the air.

At least we are enjoying beautiful fall colors of leaves. I was sure the trees wouldn’t have their usual fall colors since our summer was so dry, but the reds, oranges and golds are outstanding. Joanne Michel and I made a trip to Cross Country Trail Ride at Eminence, Mo. one day last week and it was a beautiful drive.

At Eminence we visited with friends we made while my dad and mom owned the trail ride (prior to 1980). I was amazed at how much these people have aged; guess they felt the same way about me. Policies at the trail ride have changed also, if you plan to go visit be sure and take your checkbook or plenty of cash; I didn’t have either and Joanne had to leave a deposit for me to spend the day, along with her refundable deposit. We were too late to watch the organized rides go out, but we saw a number of people riding in and out the gate to get on the trails.

We spent most of our day visiting with Marilyn Smith, her husband Darrell, along with Gilbert and Janice Allen were out riding. My late husband, Gene bought my mule Star from the Smith’s many, many years ago. It was so nice to catch up on others that are still riding, or attended the rides years ago. I believe Marilyn said she and Darrell would be receiving their 45 year buckles in 2013…wow, what an accomplishment. They have ridden good mules on the rides for a number of years.

It was good to see that Allen Vermillion is still on the “shoeing corner.” He was always so patient (at least when I was around) in shoeing my little black mule, Laverne for several years. Laverne gave me a good ride, but wasn’t the easiest mule to handle on the ground. I’m sure she had some bad experiences with men, as it was so hard for her to have to deal with a man. She did a much better job of staying calm around women.

Cole’s good running mule, BB, has been sick the past couple of weeks. They think it must have been something she ate as all the other mules are fine. She spent several days at the University of Missouri veterinary hospital in Columbia, where I think she was a model patient for a few days. When she got to feeling better I think she gave the vets and students a real challenge. BB is great at what she does…running, but her personality isn’t the sweetest. She and Cole get along great because he has learned her likes and dislikes, and of course they have made a great team at the Clinton, Arkansas chuckwagon races the past five years.

Kelly, our office secretary/bookkeeper is counting days until her baby daughter arrives the last part of November. Sheila Cross, formerly of Iowa and now living about 30 miles from the Mules and More office, will take over Kelly’s duties while she is on maternity leave. 

Cori has been working really hard on the gift guide section of this issue. This guide will give you a number of ideas for items to give that special mule/donkey person on your Christmas list. So grab a pen and paper to mark the pages of the items you wish to order, and to write hints in the magazine for others sharing your copy of the magazine. Of course a gift subscription to the magazine is always great for that person that is always complaining you don’t get finished with your copy soon enough to suit them.

In the meantime we hope each of you have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

October 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

One thing that can be said for mule riders is that “they are tough”…tough enough to spend two days showing what mules can do to a sparse audience of spectators who braved the wind and rain Labor Day weekend to attend Ozark Mule Days in Missouri.

On a very rainy Friday morning I made my usual trip to the local coffee shop. I knew I would be out of town the next two days and didn’t want the morning crew of senior coffee drinkers to have three full days of news to share when I got back home. Coming out of the restaurant I stepped in a deep hole of rain water and had to change shoes before I ever left town. Thank goodness I had three more dry pair of shoes packed in the car, along with several tubs of merchandise.

Since I failed to reserve a room way back earlier in the year I wasn’t going to attend the Clinton, Ark., chuck wagon races, and opted for the next best thing, an all mule show at Ozark. Along with a fun-filled weekend this was also to be a “working” vacation where I would promote the magazine and offer a few mulish items for sale to those attending.

I arrived at Ozark mid-afternoon to learn it had been raining since the night before and the Friday night show would be cancelled. Of course my first thought was that everyone would probably be heading home…not so with this group of tough mule riders. Virginia Bertz traveled to Ozark after she got off work Friday afternoon to help me in my booth (we also get in some quality visiting this way).

Show managers Les and Susan Clancy suggested a few of us vendors set up in the nice, dry 4-H building Saturday morning. This worked well for us as both exhibitors and spectators stopped by to shop. Saturday morning the show began with it still raining off and on, at times with winds blowing. I didn’t get to see any of the events, but saw the tough mule riders come into the building periodically…they weren’t hard to recognize as they were usually wet, covered in mud, and their mud-caked boots made me cringe. But they were usually laughing and all seemed to be having a great time.

I was amazed at the number of people in attendance, especially Saturday night as I carefully stepped around water puddles to get to my car. There were people sitting in the bleachers with rain gear and umbrellas enjoying the evenings’ performance.

Sunday morning found a large group of people attending the outdoor church service, the rain had stopped but the skies were still cloudy. Sunday’s halter and performance classes were held on a grassy area next to the arena, as by this time I’m not sure anyone would be able to lead a mule into the muddy arena.

Les and Susan and their crew did a great job keeping things organized. I know running a show of this size isn’t an easy job, and having three days of rain certainly didn’t add to making life easier for them. It sure is going to be hard for me to choose between chuckwagon racing and Ozark Mule Days next year!

It’s only 2-1/2 hours from Ozark to Clinton, so of course that area received rain also, starting on Thursday but clearing right before the Friday 1 p.m. races began. Loren, Lenice, Cole and Cori were at the races and Cori gave me a telephone update after each of the mule races daily.

For the fifth year in a row my 21-year old grandson, Cole Basham claimed the National  Championship Mule Race title with his black molly, BB. Of course I would have liked to been sitting on the bluff watching him, but thanks to Tim Cross I do have a video on email, and hopefully the 2012 Chuckwagon video will show at least one of the mule races.

Congratulations Cole, we are all so proud of your accomplishment!

On another note, school has started and I haven’t seen Camri in over two weeks. She is a busy girl as she has acro practice two nights a week, but we’re going to have to figure out some grandparent time for her.

This weekend I’ll be headed to the Boone County Sale at Columbia, Mo. I always enjoy visiting with those attending the sale.

Fall has some great mule events to attend, so be sure to check out the calendar of events. Even if you don’t get out and participate it’s always fun to watch and visit with those “tough mule riders.” They are an awesome group! Thanks for going the extra mile for all of us.

September 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

I have been dragging my feet getting this written this month. Some months I haven’t been anywhere, but that’s not the case this time. I guess I can always blame it on the hot, hot, dry weather.

Like many parts of the country we are extremely hot and dry, and of course August is normally our hottest month. We have had a few little showers but not enough to help the trees, ponds or pastures.

Loren has moved all of his mules away, and Star has the run of the entire farm now. Most days she gets fed twice a day, and always gets fed in the mornings. She spends a lot of her time standing under a shade tree, or in the barn away from the pesky horse flies.

Cori and Camri, Cole and Brianna and I were among those attending the mule show held at the Boone County Fair this year. There was a nice variety of classes, with a lot of game classes for the kids. Everyone seemed to have a good time, even though the temperature outdoors was in the high 90’s. The show was held inside and offered good seating and much cooler temperatures for the spectators.

Camri especially had a good time as she and Shedaisy were able to participate in classes competing against several other youth her age. Brianna did a nice job showing and competing with Cole’s running mule BB, even placing second in the egg and spoon class, not the easiest thing to do on a mule that normally doesn’t compete unless it’s at a full run.

Cori told me recently I needed to take a trip, as I was getting cranky. So, Joann Edwards and I took a “senior” bus trip to one of the casinos in St. Louis. We spent the day playing the penny slots, that most of the time cost me 30 cents per play. Joann had a good day and came home with a little extra spending money; I left most of the cash I took along. We enjoyed a fabulous buffet at noon, played a few more games, and then our bus driver picked us up at the door. A nice day away from the office, but of course I met friends that used to attend Cross Country Trail Rides when my folks owned it years ago, and gave them the most recent copy of Mules and More when we got back to our vehicles.

Loren, Cole, Lenice and Cori are starting to make plans to head to the National Championship Chuckwagon Races in Clinton, Ark, while I will be heading to Ozark Mule Days for Labor Day weekend. I will be having a booth at Ozark, while Cori will be promoting the magazine at Clinton.

School will be starting right away. We will sure miss Camri in the office, and I’m sure Loren will miss his riding partner. I picked Camri up at Loren’s today, she and Papa Loren had spent the morning riding. As he was taking the bands off Shedaisy’s mane, Camri was busy taking the braids out of Shedaisy’s tail….it’s a little girl thing I suppose. Once school starts Camri will be headed back to acro practice a couple days of week, and that cuts into her riding time.

We hope to see you at some of the mule and donkey events listed in the calendar of events, it’s a great way to enjoy your animals and time with others that share the same interests.

August 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

The calendar indicates a day in June is the “longest day of the year,” well I disagree. My longest day of the year was yesterday, July 4. I made my usual trip to the coffee shop for an hours’ visit with other “seniors,” then once back home I found myself alone for the day, with nothing to do but work in the office or once again make the trip to the basement to pack merchandise for my annual booth at Shelbyville, Tenn. It seems all my family members and friends had other plans for the holiday, and of course everyone assumed the office would be closed so the phone didn’t ring. Wow, talk about a long day. I was glad to see Thursday arrive with Cori back at her computer and the phone ringing again.

While sitting at the computer I decided to see if there was any activity on my favorite website about the Eagles nest above the fish hatchery near Decorah, Iowa, only to learn D12, one of the American bald Eagles born this year, had died an hour earlier. According to a Des Moines newspaper the Eaglet was found the morning of July 1 at the base of a power pole near the nest. Bob Anderson of the Raptor Resource Project commented the Eaglet was probably electrocuted. Alliant Energy has now installed insulation shields on several poles near the nest hoping to prevent future problems.

I began watching this site earlier this year before the Eagles hatched and in March three Eaglets were born. The one who died was the first to hatch. This is the first known death of the 14 Eagles born in the Decorah nest. Both the other two D13 and D14 were seen a couple of days later and both were fine. This site was watched by well over 10,000,000 viewers.

On a more upbeat note our family (along with Cole’s girlfriend Brianna) attended two mule shows on a recent very hot (104 degree) Saturday. I would like to thank the exhibitors who came out to compete at Cuba and Salem. The first-time mule show sponsored by the Cuba Saddle Club drew a nice group of mules. Even though it was extremely hot the mules performed well, there were a good number of gymkhana participants, and I believe 10 in the western pleasure class. Camri was the only 10 and under youth, but she had a great time showing Shedaisy. They did drop the dress code due to the heat. After the show was over we headed to Salem where there were a few mule classes added at a Mid-Mo. Horse Show. Cole was the only one in the running classes, and there were a couple others in the western pleasure class. Thanks to the show managers for giving the mules an opportunity to show.

This issue has photos and information about the 15th annual Jake Clark’s Mule Days in Wyoming. Check out the sale results…the mule industry is still going strong. Thanks to Jake and Kay for promoting the good quality mules, and thanks to all those involved in the industry. It takes good jacks, good mares, and good trainers to produce the quality of mules needed to meet the needs of the public.

July 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

School is out, and once again we have young help in the office most days. Camri is back with us for the summer. Her social schedule is still pretty busy with dance and acro practice, but that will be over soon and then it’s time to get on Shedaisy and enjoy some trail riding. This past weekend our family was entertained with a dance recital on Saturday evening. This was a very impressive event with dance routines from pre-schoolers through the talented teenagers. Costumes were beautiful and the entire evening provided professional entertainment. Sunday afternoon found family members gathered again to watch two hours of acro, of which Camri and Ali were involved.

Camri has her last acro meet in St. Louis this Saturday (June 9). Since my last column Camri and her partner Kylee walked away with State Championship titles with their routine. That was a nice weekend for me as I spent Friday night with friends Ron and Virginia Bertz in Higginsville, then Virginia and I went to the meet at Kearney the next day to help cheer for Camri and Kylee. Virginia is the lady that has traveled with me to the Great Celebration Show in Shelbyville for a number of years.

Joann Edwards and I enjoyed one day at the Rock Bottom Chuckwagon Races in Arkansas. It was a hot Saturday afternoon, but the races kept us entertained and we were in good company with a group of mule riders. There was a large crowd of racers and spectators. We missed getting to watch Cole compete in the mule race, but he had gone to Iowa for Brianna’s 18th birthday celebration. He and BB should be ready for the Championship Chuckwagon Races in Clinton, AR this fall.

Our area of Missouri is beginning to see some mule shows scheduled. This is exciting news for people in this area that enjoy showing, or just watching the mule events. Cuba, Mo. saddle club is sponsoring a show June 30, and Marsha Coleman has been working hard getting a show together in conjunction with the Boone County Fair at Columbia on July 28. Cindy Roberts has been corresponding with NASMA and Mules and More trying to get a show scheduled in the St. Louis area. It sure will be nice to be able to travel to some events close to home. Also, we are seeing more chuckwagon races advertised in the magazine. These always provide fun and exciting entertainment.

This month’s issue contains stories about Bishop, Calif. Mule Days. This is an event every mule and/or donkey enthusiast should have on their “bucket list.” Cori and I both have had the pleasure of attending this show, and it is certainly worth the trip. It is just hard to see it all, as they have so many events scheduled. Of course, the parade itself is worth the trip, with so many beautiful mule and donkey entries.

Check out our advertisers and the Calendar of Events, there is bound to be an event in your area where you can take your mule or donkey, or just go and enjoy the companionship of fellow enthusiasts. Be sure and stop by our booth while at Shelbyville…this is our 21st year to attend, and we’re always glad to see you.

June 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

Not much “mulish” going on my world. Star gets her morning feeding of Equine Senior and always has a few nickers going on under her breath as I make my way to the barn. I never get there fast enough to please her. She never wanders too far from the barn as she gets out and picks grass. The mules in the south pasture are fat and slick. With all the nice rain we have been getting the pasture looks great and they are certainly enjoying the grass.

Turkey hunting is a big deal here in our part of the country, and this year I was able to watch a big gobbler strutting around in the pasture. The first time I spotted him he had a few hens with him, the next time he spent an hour near the house just strutting around, with no hens in sight. I have seen a hen walking up or down the drive-way, or picking in the pasture a few times. I’m sure she has a nest nearby.

I have also enjoyed watching deer coming up to the salt block early mornings and late in the evenings. They have no fear of my little housedog who insists on setting on the front porch barking at them.

A couple of recent weekends found our family and friends traveling to watch Camri and her partner competing in acro. It is amazing to watch the progress they have made since their first meet. They have a couple more meets coming up before summer break. School for Camri will be out May 17 and I’m sure she will have a busy summer riding Shedaizy, swimming and just hanging out in the office. Of course there are photos, and even a video on both the Mules and More and Pair A Dice Mule blogs.

Loren and Lenice, along with several other couples will be headed toward Jake Clark Days the first part of June. They spend several days riding in the mountains before ending up at Jake Clarks for the annual auction. As usual, Loren has a couple of very nice mules consigned.

I want to say congratulations to Loren’s wife, Lenice, on her recent new position as principal at the Maries R-2 Elementary School in Belle. She will be closer to home now, and this is a position she has worked toward, going to school while holding down a full-time position, as well as being a wife, mother and grandmother. During the summer months she usually submits a few informative articles to Mules and More. She is also considered our staff photographer as she does a great job taking photos at the mule events she and Loren travel to. 

The Calendar of Events page has a great listing of mule and donkey events all across the country, so take time to support some of these events, while enjoying the friendship of fellow mule and donkey enthusiasts.


May 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

Weather seems to be the main topic at the coffee shop these days. Last week we broke records with temperatures in the 90 degree range; this week the weatherman is calling for frost a couple of mornings with rain and thunderstorms for four days. There is an old saying here in Missouri “that if you don’t like the weather just wait around, it’ll soon change”. How very true. The mules aren’t sure how to handle the temperature changes either, one time you look out and they are rolling around trying to get rid of their long, shaggy winter coats, the next time you look out they are trying to soak up as much sunshine as possible!

I spent the three day Easter weekend at the All American Mule and Donkey Congress in Tulsa, OK with Loren, Lenice, Cole, Camri, Cori and Cole’s girlfriend Brianna. I made the mistake of packing on one of the warm 90 degree days I mentioned, and didn’t have enough warm clothes for the cool weekend. It finally warmed up to a comfortable stage (for me at least) on Sunday afternoon. I’m sure the exhibitors enjoyed the cooler weather with their long sleeves, vests and chaps, but the mules that had been body-clipped probably would prefer just a little more sunshine.

There was a good turnout of exhibitors for the show. Of course our highlight was watching 6-year-old Camri run the barrel and pole patterns on Shadaisy in walk-trot classes. Shedaizy came out of retirement last fall for Camri; she had been Cole’s running mule for several years until an injury forced her to retire from the arena. She and Camri get along great on the trail and placed third in the barrels and poles at Tulsa. There were eight entries in 10 and under Walk-Trot Barrels, and seven entries in Walk-Trot Pole Bending. Youth in these classes are allowed to ride either a mule or donkey. Cori and Cole hauled first-time entries, Pair of Dice’s Hell On Heels, and Betty to this show, along with their usual mounts, Hoosier Daddy and BB. I’m sure by the time this issue comes out Cori will have a large number of show photos on I know the Pair A Dice Mule blog already has photos posted.

Elisa Iger of Woodbine, MD is the NASMA youth director and she did a great job helping the youth enjoy Easter Sunday by having an Easter egg hunt, as well as games and a dog show. If you missed watching the youth show their dogs you missed an entertaining show; these kids (and one adult) did a great job with their dogs, and everyone went home with a prize.          

It was sure great to get to visit with everyone after a long winter with very little physical contact with our mule and donkey friends. My next big mule and donkey adventure isn’t until July when I will once again be setting up a booth at the Mule and Donkey Show in Shelbyville, TN. This will be our 21st year to have a Mules and More booth at this show. Be sure and stop by for a visit and check out our merchandise for mule and donkey lovers.
 April 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

Okay, February was a short month and I am extremely behind on everything, including getting my column to Cori. In looking over last months’ issue I noticed I reported my surgery was to be February 16….this actually took place January 17! It’s now the first part of March and recovery wise I’m not much farther along than I was last month. Along with all the problems I incurred earlier, I now have developed fluid buildup in my leg and foot. This makes therapy hard to deal with, and at times I show very little progress. Of course, I’m not the most patient person, and after all this time I feel I should be pretty much “pain free”, but that’s certainly not the case. I have another appointment with my surgeon coming up; hopefully he will have some words of wisdom as to how we can accomplish getting me to the point of less pain.

I have therapy scheduled for three mornings a week, and along with spending an hour or so at the coffee shop I haven’t been spending much time at my desk.

About the coffee shop, Judy’s Place where friends and I have been meeting for the last few years, once again closed its doors. At least this time we have a new restaurant in town, so we have moved our meeting place (some of us even got to take our “favorite” coffee cups with us). Like a lot of senior citizens I’m acquainted with we don’t like change, and it is taking some time to adjust to the new arrangement.

Camri, Cori and Cole have been able to get in a little ride time, trying to get their mules conditioned for the upcoming All American Congress in Tulsa, OK. Along with riding Camri has been practicing for upcoming Acro meets here in Missouri. Her first meet was last week in the St. Louis area, and she had a large cheering section. She did a great job with her routine and came home was a first place award with her partner in the 11 and under division. She has another meet coming up March 25 and I hope to be able to attend that one also.

Even though it’s only the first part of March the Easter lilies and forsythia are already blooming, and the pasture is getting green. I have been seeing and hearing a few geese flying back north (a good sign of spring), and my old Catahoula Suey came home today from her winter home at Larry and Becky’s.

She has slimmed down a little again and seemed to be glad to get back in the office, although she is forced to spend most of the daylight hours outdoors. I do let her sleep in the garage on a pile of pillows at night. Another good sign of spring is the number of calls we receive from people that have been wintering in warmer climates and that are changing their addresses to “back home”.

Daylight savings time starts again soon and then we, along with the critters, will have to adjust our eating and sleeping schedules. Obviously the people (or person) coming up with this idea didn’t have mules and dogs that they had to train for new time schedules.  

We are planning on heading to Tulsa to the show and hope to see many of you there. Until then be sure and take advantage of the beautiful spring weather by heading down the trail with your favorite mule or donkey.

March 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

In my column last month I mentioned I would be having total knee replacement February 16. Since this is the third time I have experienced this type surgery I felt it would be a “piece of cake.” Well, I certainly didn’t figure on all the complications that could happen. The surgery went off great, but the day before I was to come home I developed blood clots; my recovery seemed to go downhill following that. I finally was released from the hospital and admitted to a local nursing home where I received excellent care and therapy, and also could be closer to my family.

I’m now taking outpatient therapy for the next six to seven weeks, and counting down the days until I am allowed to drive. I am so thankful for family and friends who see that I get to the places I want (and need) to go. I have even made a couple of trips to the coffee shop.

Cori and Kelly have been keeping busy in the office, and I was so glad to be able to get to my desk, even if it is only to catch up on proof reading and bookwork.

We have received numerous calls and emails complimenting us on the 21st annual Jack Issue. Now it’s on to spring to see what these jacks are producing across the country. We welcome photos of the new arrivals each spring.

I really missed Camri and Ali while I was in the hospital, Camri was so glad to see me when I got to the nursing home. She drew me pictures and either brought or sent a memento if she couldn’t make it by for a visit. She is extremely busy getting ready for acro competition in early March, and this week she has “cheer camp” at school, and will cheer at an upcoming ballgame. She is a busy 6-year-old.

Cori will be headed to Columbia, Mo. to the Boone County Mule Sale this weekend, and her dad Loren will be conducting a couple of clinics at the Oklahoma Horse Fair 2012 in Duncan. As usual, I hate to miss any of the mule events.

I would like to thank you for your visits, phone calls, cards and emails, each expression of care and concern means so much during this struggle to recover. Hopefully by show season I’ll be walking without a limp and free of pain.

The mule hair should be flying soon, especially with the nice weather we have been enjoying here in Missouri. The trees and flowers are already budding, but I’m sure March weather will set them back. Think Spring!


February 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

Another new year is ahead of us, and at our Monday morning coffee gathering we were discussing what 2012 might bring. We discuss religion, politics and normal day-to-day life for our small group. We are all pretty much in agreement that we don’t see things getting much better or easier for our “senior group”. Of course one of our big concerns is that of the future for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As we look to the future we can only have a positive and upbeat attitude about so many things we no longer have control over.

The sun is shining brightly today, but it is extremely cold. December was a mild month here in Missouri, and the forecast is for 60 degree temperatures coming up for the weekend. Of course, I am missing the warm days in sunny Arizona and get a weekly weather update for Arizona from my friends, Mary and George Stambaugh. I have such pleasant memories of my three months in Apache Junction, Ariz., last year and all the fun activities I was able to take in while there. Maybe next year…

I decided to stay in Missouri this winter and have total replacement of my right knee. This surgery is now scheduled for January 17, and by the time you receive this issue I should be well on my way to recovery. All of us that have had knee replacement know how confining this surgery can be (except Marsha Coleman that is, who actually was back in the saddle at the end of six weeks!). I have had my left knee replaced twice, so this isn’t a new adventure for me, and not one I’m looking forward to. My goal is to be able to attend Camri’s first acro competition the first part of March.

Christmas here was great, as usual. Camri and Ali actually were the center of attention for me; it was great to watch them open their gifts from Santa. I can only wonder at six years old if Santa will be in the picture for Camri in 2012. It seems she is so grown up, and questions so many things, that I’m sure by this December “Santa’s” existence might be questionable.

Cole’s girlfriend, Brianna of Iowa spent the holidays with us. Of course, Cole introduced her to the sport of wild hog hunting. She is very personable and outgoing, and is a good match for Cole; she doesn’t own a mule, but she doesn’t object to riding mules, but so far she is still a “horse person.” I’m sending her a subscription to Mules and More, maybe that will win her over completely to the wonderful world of mules.

As I write this our 22nd Annual Jack Issue is coming together. Several jack owners have dropped their advertising due to the economy, or having got out of the donkey business. We hate to lose them, but the issue still provides you with a wide variety of jacks standing across the country. Thanks to all of the advertisers for supporting the industry.

January 2012 Over The Back Fence
by Sue Cole, Senior Editor of Mules and More

Camri (above)
Ali and Camri (below) Photos by Sara McDaniel
It’s December and Missouri is looking and feeling like winter. We had a couple of days of flurries that has left the ground white and roads extremely slick. I do not like the cold and even stayed home all day one of those days, which is not like me at all. Usually I make a trip to town at least once a day, of course the coffee shop was closed that day so that might have been a good excuse to have Cori pick up the mail as she came to work so I didn’t need to get out.

Our family recently lost two good old mules. We are dedicating this issue to Blazin’ Blue, he spent the past 15 years with the Basham kids and his death has been a sad event for all of us. At the same time we put down Becky. This little sorrel mule actually was my late husband Gene’s personal mule.  I’m not sure of her exact age, but she was in her upper 20’s and was in a lot of pain, suffering from arthritis in her knees. I rode her several times after Gene passed away, but she and I never did have that ‘special click’ that you can have with a mule. The past few years I had loaned her to someone to use for coon hunting, but after Becky was diagnosed with arthritis he brought her home and she hung out in the pasture with Star. When the weather turned cooler she appeared to be in a lot of pain and spent several hours a day lying around. It was a hard decision to part with her. The good old mules are very special in our lives, and both she and Blazin’ Blue will be missed.

We have started working on the annual Jack Issue, along with putting the January issue together. I enjoy seeing all the photos of the donkeys and mules featured in the different ads. This has always been one of my favorite issues to put together during the year.

By the time this issue goes in the mail we will have celebrated another Christmas. It’s so much fun each year finding Christmas gifts for family and friends, and this year we have another little girl to buy for, along with Camri. Cori’s boyfriend has a 4-year-old daughter, Ali. Unlike Carmi she’s not a mule rider (yet). My oldest son Larry and his wife Becky have volunteered to host Christmas Eve dinner at their house this year, this sounds like a great idea to me as I am having problem with my ‘bad’ knee and have an appointment coming up next week to schedule knee replacement surgery around mid-January. The plan is to schedule this right after the Jack Issue goes to the printers. I’m certainly not looking forward to the surgery, but I would like to get this over with so I can enjoy the summer mule and donkey events.

The news from the postal service indicates some major changes, and I read this week where periodicals (magazines such as Mules and More) will start experiencing a longer delivery time, as much as two to nine days longer. Some months the magazines get delivered in a timely fashion, and some months like November the issues weren’t even delivered to some areas before the December issue went in the mail. I have no answer for this problem, but do hope you will understand we do mail on schedule, and try our best to get the issue to you in a timely fashion. We’ll try to keep you updated on the new postal service scheduling.

Our staff would like to wish each of you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!