With Gas Costs Rising, Farmers Take to Mules
The local price for a gallon of gas is $3.87, so Tennessee farmer Danny Raymond is running his farm implements on mule power. Courtesy of Southern Standard
The Bryant Park Project, May 27, 2008 · Two Tennessee farmers have found an old-fashioned solution to the problem of high prices at the gas pump: They've hitched their farming equipment to two mules named Dolly and Molly. T.R. Raymond and his son Danny say it's a lot cheaper to fuel their mules than to fuel their tractors.
The Raymonds, who live in McMinnville, say they're not alone. "There's a lot of mule power around here," T.R. Raymond says. "When you get to where you can't afford the gas, you hook the mules up."
Their farm measures 40 acres, with 17 head of horses and about 20 cows.
To make the switch from gasoline to mule power, Danny Raymond had to teach the animals to pull the equipment. "It's time-consuming," he says. "They were a little nervous at first, but they adjusted real well."
Modern equipment doesn't translate automatically to older methods. The weights have to be shifted so that each animal pulls equally, for example. But the savings have been immediate. Gas in the area has been selling for $3.87 a gallon.
The mules don't ask nearly so much. "They just eat hay and a little sweet feed, a little shell corn," T.R. Raymond says. "You gotta rub around on them and talk to them, stay acquainted with them, where they know you."
With their return to mule power, the Raymonds figure they're saying at least $60 a day.