MULE. A mule is a cross between a male donkey and a female horse. The male mule is called a jack and the female is a jennet or a jenny. A smaller cross, the hinny, is from a male horse and a female donkey. Both mules and hinnies are nearly always sterile.
In the formative years of the United States, the attributes of mules, horses, and oxen were the subject of much debate. Mules traveled at 2½ miles per hour. Oxen were slower, at 2 m.p.h. The faster speed could save a week or more over that of oxen when going long distances. However, a pair of oxen cost $40 to $160, and mules from $200 up to $400 for a pair. Oxen could graze along the trail, but mules had to be fed grain to supplement the grazing. Grain had to be taken on the wagons; therefore, less paying freight could be hauled. Speed and distance were the main parts of the equation.
Mules could go twenty-four hours without water when they had a light load of under 300 pounds. The standard army mule load was about 150 pounds. A mule was used to pack loads on its back, pull wagons, or be ridden. Mules had more stamina and were more sure-footed than horses and were resistant to disease. Oxen could be slaughtered and eaten when meat was low and wild game impossible to find.
George Washington used his influence to get embargoes removed so mules could be imported from France and Spain. He much preferred mules over horses as work animals. Washington spoke disparagingly of horses when he pronounced, "Horses eat too much, work too little, and die too young." Washington's support of mules and his mule-breeding program was well known. At Mount Vernon, Washington's plantation, many individuals came to observe the mules and later went into the mule business.
Mules were important to the settling of Missouri. The overgrowth of trees and brush had to be cleared enough to make trails and roads, logs had to be cut for houses, and land for fields needed to be reclaimed. Mules were the perfect work animals for these jobs. By the 1871 census, Missouri was ranked as the state with the most mules, 110,000. Nearly half of Missouri farmers either used mules on their farms or bred them as a business. The mule has been the official state animal of Missouri since 1995.
Marcy, Randolph B. The Prairie Traveler: The Best-Selling Handbook for America's Pioneers. Old Saybrook, Conn.: Apple-wood Books, Globe Pequot Press, 1994. Originally published in 1859.
Stamm, Mike. The Mule Alternative: The Saddle Mule in the American West. Battle Mountain, Nev.: Medicine Wolf Press, 1992.
mule1 / myoōl/ • n. 1. the offspring of a donkey and a horse (strictly, a male donkey and a female horse), typically sterile and used as a beast of burden. Compare with hinny1 . ∎ a person compared to a mule, esp. in being stubborn or obstinate. ∎ inf. a courier for illegal drugs. ∎ a small tractor or locomotive, typically one that is electrically powered. 2. a hybrid plant or animal, esp. a sterile one. ∎ any of several standard crossbred varieties of sheep. 3. (also spinning mule) a kind of spinning machine producing yarn on spindles, invented by Samuel Crompton (1753–1827) in 1779. 4. a coin with the obverse and reverse of designs not originally intended to be used together. mule2 • n. a slipper or light shoe without a back.
MULE (Heb. פֶּרֶד), the offspring of a he-ass and a mare. Although a Jew is prohibited from producing such hybrids, their use is permitted (Tosef., Kil. 5:6 cites an individual view prohibiting it). Since there were different strains of horses and asses in Ereẓ Israel, the mules were also of different strains. The mule is a powerful, submissive animal, particularly suitable for riding and transporting goods in the mountainous regions of Ereẓ Israel, and hence was commonly used. Nor was riding on it regarded as inferior to riding on a horse; Solomon, on the occasion of his proclamation as king, was made to ride "upon King David's mule" (i Kings 1:38), while Absalom met his death while riding on a mule (ii Sam. 18:9). Ezekiel (27:14) speaks in praise of the mules of Togarmah (Turkey?). The Talmud mentions white mules as being dangerous and some sages were indignant with Judah ha-Nasi for harboring them (ul. 7b). That the mule is sometimes dangerous, is sterile, and the female barren was regarded as proof that man is prohibited from interfering with the work of creation. Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel maintained that the first to cross a horse with an ass in order to produce a mule, thereby committing an unworthy act, was "Anah who discovered the yemim" (Gen. 36: 24), which he explained as meaning mules. On the other hand, R. Yose held that on the termination of the first Sabbath after the Creation one of the two things which Adam did was "to cross two animals, and from them came forth the mule." He contended that thereby Adam performed an action "of a kind similar to that of Heaven," that is, he created something new, to become, as it were, a partner with the Creator in the work of creation (Pes. 54a; cf. tj, Ber. 8:6, 12b). Some also crossbred a stallion and a she-ass, and the Talmud gives the characteristics of the two types of mule: if its ears are short, it is the offspring of a mare and a he-ass, if large, of a she-ass and a stallion (tj, Kil. 7:3, 31c).
Lewysohn, Zool, 144–6, nos. 168, 169; S. Lieberman, Tosefta ki-Feshutah, 1 (1955), 99; F.S. Bodenheimer, Animal and Man in Bible Lands (1960), passim; J. Feliks, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 128–9. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 266.
mule (in zoology)
mule, hybrid offspring of a male donkey (see ass) and a female horse, bred as a work animal. The name is also sometimes applied to the hinny, the offspring of a male horse and female donkey; hinnies are considered inferior to mules. The mule has many donkey characteristics—long ears, a tufted tail, slender legs, small hooves, and a loud bray—but it resembles a horse in size and strength. Most mules weigh from 1,100 to 1,400 lb (500–640 kg). They lack the speed of horses, but are more surefooted and have great powers of endurance. Like donkeys, they are of a cautious and temperamental disposition and require expert handling to perform well. Both sexes are sterile. Mules have been bred as pack and draft animals since prehistoric times, and are still used throughout the world, particularly in regions where mechanized farm equipment is uncommon. They have been widely used in the United States, where they were first bred by George Washington, but are now found mainly in the southeastern states. Mules were used extensively for military transport before the advent of mechanization. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Perissodactyla, family Equidae.
Since the 1980s, mule has also been the informal name for a person (typically a young woman in need of money) recruited by a drug trafficker to carry drugs through airports and other customs points.
mule (in manufacturing)
mule, in manufacturing: see spinning.