Travel by Mule

Tennessee Morning Dew

Bernie Harberts, sandwich

Tennessee morning dew. Here, in Gary Brewer’s hay pasture. (outside Russellville, TN)

The last nights have been dewy. Evenings, I stack my saddle, pack saddle and gear in to a pile and cover it with a poncho. By morning, the poncho’s creases have captured tiny lakes of water. My tent is soaked.
But the grass loves it. And the mules count on eating on the hoof. Without the grass, we can’t travel the land. Grain is too heavy to… Continue reading

Mule Runaway

The damn mules. I call them damn mules because recently they pulled a runner on me.

Bernie Harberts, mule

Mules Brick and Cracker: I usually find them where I last picketed them out. Usually…..

Last week I was the guest of Dan and Linda Coffey of Tazewell, TN. I picketed Brick and Cracker out in the Coffey’s pasture. During my stay, they escaped. Thanks to Dan help we tracked them down before they ran home to North Carolina.

Bernie Harberts, Dan Coffey, Geneva Lynch, mule

Geneva Lynch, Dan Coffey and… Continue reading

Butterflies

The mules and I spend our days walking America the Beautiful’s littered-up country roads. All day long, we clomp by thousands of Bud Light cans, Gatorade bottles and then there’s the fast food – KFC boxes, Subway bags and MacDonald’s cups beyond counting.

There are the bright spots though. Hundreds of yellow wings and orange dotted tails. Road-killed tiger tails.

Then there are the butterflies. Hundreds of them. Victims todays always on the go society. Smashed mid-flight against bumpers, windshields… Continue reading

Broken and Forgotten: Route of the First 2 Weeks

Folks stop the mules and me and ask, “where did you come from?”
They never ask, “what did you break? What did you forget?”
I drew you this map to answer all 3 questions.

Bernie Harberts, mule, map

My first 2 weeks on the road. The mules and I set off from our farm outside Lenoir, NC. We’re now in Mosheim, TN. Don’t ask me how many miles that is.

Call this a mixed media trip. While I carry a laptop, phone and camera,… Continue reading

Sleeping Under Tractor Trailers

It’s an odd relationship. Days, I live in fear of getting run down by a tractor trailer. Nights, I’ve slept under them, peaceful as can be. Here’s a few tips if you plan to bunk down under one. Tip Number One: mind the grease.

In the past, I’ve written bucolic posts about waking up in a hay field. Of how meadowlarks warble and the fresh grass smells like hope and I put on my top hat and eat oatmeal in… Continue reading

Tennessee Easter Sunday Lodgings

Bernie Harberts, mule, tophat, allie brewer, yolanda treece

Easter evening with Allie Brewer and Yolanda Treece. Allie was up from Knoxville visiting her parents. Yolanda is known for her incredible voice and vocal performances. (outside Russellville, TN)

Easter Sunday evening I was really starting to wonder where the mules and I would find a pasture for the night. Enter Allie and Yolanda. They were in the front yard visiting. I rode up. Problem solved. Allie’s dad, Gary Brewer, owned the pasture next door. We’d found a place to… Continue reading

Isuzu Mule Anchor

You keep your car from rolling away with your parking brake. But what about your mule? Most days, I spend 6 – 8 hours riding my mules West as I make my way across America. But how do I keep them from wandering away at night?

Bernie Harberts, mule, picket, isuzu

A bucolic scene. The mules hanging around my tent on Rick and Tracey Love’s property. I’d like to think they’d just hang with me. They don’t. Without tethering, they’d soon wander off to the… Continue reading

A Top Hat Full of Easter Eggs

Happy Easter. The mules and I are waiting out a patch of wet weather at Ryan and Pam Crick’s in Mosheim, TN. Because I can’t give you a chocolate bunny, you’ll have to settle for a top hat full of eggs.

Bernie Harberts, mule, picket, isuzu

A top hat full of eggs. They’re a gift of Pam and Ryan Crick. The big one’s a turkey egg, the small ones are bantam eggs. The medium-sized one might be a Sexlink or an Oprhington (because those are… Continue reading

Pink Purse by the Road

Bernie Harberts, mule, road, sign

The mystery of the roadside suitcase and the pink purse. (Hwy 107 outside Greeneville, TN)

Did she break up in a hotel? Did she throw her old life back East out her car window as she stormed off West? Did someone rob her? Did US Air loose her bag? I’ll never know. All the mules and I found was her Samsonite suitcase and pink purse on the side of Highway 107.

Bernie Harberts, mule, road, sign

Brick and Cracker inspect the find.

Bernie Harberts, mule, sign, pink purse

The purse.

Should… Continue reading

Johnny the Chicken Slat Man

It happened in Globe.
The man walked up to mule Brick who was tied to a poplar tree and said, “I thought she was loose.”

“She’s not,” I said, “but thanks for checking.”

Bernie Harberts, mule, chicken slat, johnny, man

The man, the tree and Brick. (Globe, NC)

The man looked tired.
Me: “What do you do for a living?”
Him: “I build chicken slats.”
Me: “What’s that?”
Him: “It’s what chickens lay eggs on and the chickens will always keep laying.”
Me: “Where’s your job?”
Him:… Continue reading

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