Mule Skinner’s Call (1860)

By Pete Tucker

Ninety logs on the river
Ready for a float.
Another dray o’ logs is comin’
Part of the daily rote.

Mule’s got’r taught in the traces
Bo’s ready with his pole.
Skinner grits his teeth and braces
Trenton is his goal, “Gid up.”

Mules’ worst moment
Is startin’ the dreaded yank.
Logs ain’t movin’
Mules are gettin’ kinda rank, “Gid up.”

The Skinner’s only order,
ules know full well.
They better start pullin’,
Better pull like Hell, “Gid up!”

Twenty three miles down the river
‘Til Trenton comes to view.
Before they get to movin’
The Skinner wads a chew, “Gid up.”

Mules shakin’ their hames
Dust puffin’ from their backs.
Skinner just put’em in harness
In their cobwebbed shacks.

Cantankerous objection
When they’re first about to draw.
Their caustic brays echo
Loud as any crow’s caw.

One log butts another
Which moves it half an inch.
It’s all the Skinner wanted,
Won’t even need a winch, “Gid up.”

Ain’t like the float is sailin’.
No, not just yet.
But the mules are fiercely tuggin’.
On that you better bet.

The float gets  movin’
Inches at first.
Nothing gets it going
Like mules coerced, “Gid up.”

The Delaware has a spot
Where the water gets white.
The logs start to rushin’
But the Skinner’s bound ‘em tight.

They made good time
With the river up a bit.
Bo poled the float again.
The Skinner just spit,  “Gid up.”

They waved to a fisherman
Bent, with nose in his creel.
Then the moment anticipated,
Through haze, churned the wheel.

Who may have thought,
The sawmill a welcome sight?
The mules needed no rein.
At the mill they did alight.

Skinner unhitched the bounty
To the miller’s delight.
The miller would saw tomorrow.
He’d sleep well tonight.

And so would the Skinner,
In the morning he’d return.
But, the day’s work was finished.
The world could now adjourn.