At 10:50 p.m. on Saturday, Frenchy Bernard of Ellerbe received an addition to his farm.
Just as expected, his miniature horse Buttercup, who had paired with his miniature donkey Poncho, gave birth to a miniature mule. Lefty was about 22 pounds when born, and 26 inches tall.
Bernard and his friend, who wished not to be named, briefly went into Ellerbe that evening.
“And when we got back she was sitting on the porch and she called them to give them snacks but they didn’t show up,” said Bernard. “So she went to go find them and she said, ‘bring me a light!’ and the little baby had just been born. She wrapped him up and he fell asleep on her.”
Bernard said Lefty was walking within five minutes of being born.
“He’s strong,” said Bernard, relieved to finally have the baby there. “Boy, he had me worried, that little guy. He’s her first baby.”
Buttercup carried the baby for 11 months and three weeks. Bernard said males take an average of two weeks longer than females, which he has learned from experience. Bernard raised a variety of livestock, but mostly Texas Longhorn cattle, on the ranch that belonged to Andre the Giant, Bernard’s closest friend.
As predicted, Buttercup waited until the heat settled in the evening to have her baby. Bernard suspected that might happen.
“With cows it’s either a full moon or a bad storm,” he said. “No clue why.”
Having worked so long with large livestock, Lefty is Bernard’s smallest ever.
As Bernard approached the pasture on Monday, he explained that Poncho was being kept separate from the new mother and baby pair. Not because Poncho threatens the baby’s safety, but because Buttercup is defensive and bites at Poncho when he comes close. Buttercup came running when she saw Bernard approach with crackers, and her baby stayed close by her side.
“That poor little donkey there walks back and forth, back and forth,” he said. “In about two weeks I’ll put them back together.”
Bernard said he is excited about the miniature mule, and looks forward to working with him and getting him used to being touched and being lead by a halter. Lefty has stripes on his legs and the cross-stripes of a Jerusalem donkey, just like Poncho. Lefty’s hooves are no bigger than a silver dollar, but he will grow into his frame quickly. According to Bernard, his legs will stay the same length while his torso will get bigger. Lefty’s legs are nearly as long as Poncho’s.
Bernard said he may try to raise another miniature mule in the future, since Lefty turned out so well.
— Staff writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.