The Troika

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When I was riding along the Charles Goodnight Trail in southern Colorado searching for Wild Willie's Fort, I came across the highly unusual sight of a man plowing his field using three mules. They were a beautiful team, perfectly matched in size and build except one was white, one brown and the other jet black. Not only were the colors unusual, I'd never seen a team of three mules or horses before. The only place I'd ever seen a hookup of three of anything was in photos from Eastern Europe, more specifically the Ukraine. Seeing an actual Troika was so unusual that I just had to talk with him.

I leaned my bike against the fence and walked out to where he would come by as he turned the soil. He stopped and we made small talk about the weather and his beautiful mules until I finally got around to my question, "I couldn't help but notice your unusual hookup. Why are you plowing with three mules?" He looked at me a few seconds, kicked a freshly turned clod as he pondered his answer and finally replied, "The other one died."

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Copyright 2001 by Jim Foreman