Over 300 mules of all kinds found new homes Wednesday, Jan. 4, at the annual Mule Sale held at the Russellville Stockyard. The sale, which was founded and is hosted by Barry Higgins and Linden Carter, brings out buyers from all over the United States, 17 states to be exact. There were buyers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Georgia, and Louisiana, to name a few.
“We had representation from both the Royal Carriage Company out of New Orleans, La. and the Palmetto Carriage Company out of Charleston, S.C.,” said Carter. “These companies purchased thousands of dollars worth of mules at the sale. If you’ve ever taken a carriage tour in these cities, you most likely are being pulled by a mule sold from here.”
Higgins and Carter began their partnership almost a decade ago. Higgins, a successful Logan County cattle dealer, admits he doesn’t know as much about mules as Carter does, who has been in the mule business for over 30 years.
“I’ve always loved the animal,” said Carter, who is in his 60s. “When I was a boy growing up on the farm, I loved the mule.”
Carter has traveled all over the United States hauling mules. When he first met Higgins he asked him if he would be interested in having a yearly sale at his stockyard. Higgins and his father Howard have owned and operated the Russellville Stockyard for 35 years.
“I thought it would be interesting and fun,” said Higgins of the sale. Higgins is used to selling cattle and horses. He was curious if a mule sale would garnish as much interest, which it has.
“This sale is now one of the biggest in the nation,” said Carter. “We have met so many people from so many places. It has been a great adventure.”
To set the stage, over 300 mules are kept in stalls at the Russelville Stockyard waiting for their turn in the arena, which is surrounded by buyers and sellers. The Russellville Stockyard was immaculate and the organization of the sale was spot on. Each mule was herded in front of the crowd for approximately five minutes until the auctioneer slammed his gavel granting the winning bid. These mules went for between $1,000-$4,500 each. Bobby Blackford of Blackford Auction and Reality served as auctioneer for the event.
“We assure the animals that come through our stockyard are treated with the utmost respect,” said Higgins. There is even a sign posted in the area the animals stay that says “No hitting the animals.”
“I think an animal is human like. I treat all my animals as I would myself,” said Higgins. “Those who work for me or come into my stockyard know if I ever catch anyone mistreating an animal, they are fired or asked to leave.”
The annual Higgins-Carter Mule Sale brought in over $500,000 this year.
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. The size of a mule and work to which it is put depend largely on the breeding of the mule’s female parent (dam). Mules can be lightweight, medium weight, or when produced from draft horse mares, of moderately heavy weight. Mules are more patient, hardy and long-lived than horses. The mule is valued because, while it has the size and ground-covering ability of its dam, it is stronger than a horse of similar size and inherits the endurance and disposition of the donkey sire.
According to Higgins the mules that were auctioned Wednesday were used for work in the fields. A lot of the buyers were from the Amish community and farmers.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.