Pine Hill Mules

Farm:            Pine Hill Mules

                       Bob & Leona Crichton

Location:      8 Mountain View Road

                      Berwick, Maine  03901


Phone:           207-698-7747

Cell Phone:     603-781-5370



Services:        -Mule-led wagon rides for all    


                       -Assistance with acquiring and

                                   transporting mules

                       -Conducting educational talks    

                                   and demonstrations

What Makes Pine Hill Mules So Unique:

    Years ago Maine historian and author Neil

Rolde wrote a book entitled, “So You Think

You Know Maine?”  Bob Crichton would be

a great candidate to write a book that could

be titled “So You Think You Know Mules?”

    Bob is a walking encyclopedia on everything there is to know about mules.  He has been passionate about owning mules and promoting their use for many years. When you enter the Crichtons’ living room  you will see a shelf filled with all the trophies and awards that Bob has received for his work

with mules.

   Even though so much of Maine can be classified as rural, not everyone has had the opportunity to observe mules and learn about

them.  Bob Crichton was chosen to be profiled

because his work with mules truly is quite unique.  There are only a handful of farmers

in Maine who are working with mules.

    Mules are the offspring of a male donkey

and a female horse.  Bob explained that mules

combine the better qualities of a donkey and

a horse.  The excellent food conversion of

mules makes raising them quite economical.

Their food consumption is one-third of that of

a horse of comparable size.

    Did you know that mules can live up to

forty-five or fifty years?  A connoisseur

of mule history, Crichton can regale you with

one interesting fact after another about how mules have played a prominent role in various venues throughout civilization.  Because of their ability to work long hours, their tremendous strength, and their minimal requirements for feed, mules have proven to be valuable work animals.

    Mules and donkeys  held a significant role in European culture.  A mule attached to a two-wheel cart proved very maneuverable in the narrow streets.  The bride’s family would often give a donkey as a wedding gift as a gesture of good faith.  Mules helped prepare the land, raise the crops, and transport the crops into town where they could be sold.  In the settling of the West in our country mules were vital to the building of the roads and the railroads.  During World War II, mules were heavily used in Southeast Asia to help carry out tactical operations.

    Ask Bob Crichton about the strong points of

owning a mule and he will explain all about

their wide chest that helps to provide stability

and which proves useful in pulling up to one-third of what they weigh.  They can withstand heat, unlike horses. which do not have the same toleration levels.  The mule, according to Bob, “has energy beyond doubt.”  Bob compared a pair of oxen as “so slow that you could have lunch while oxen are working!”

    Crichton openly admits that his interest in

mules might be termed “somewhat obsessive,”

but he is not so enamored that he does not recognize and admit some of the liabilities

that go along with owning a mule.  When it

comes to crossing a stream or some source of

water, mules will often hesitate.  They have a natural instinct of self-preservation, and if they were following a group of horses that had crossed a stream, they would stop and wait  until the stirred water had cleared to see if passing through was safe.  Mules are gifted with extremely keen eyesight. They would never cross over a manhole on the road.  They also have a propensity to chew and damage wood and trees.  (Note the photo of the mule next to the barn on the right side of this page!) 

  Bob’s introduction to mules came about when his son took a real interest in mules many years ago.  They bought a single mule in Rochester, New Hampshire, and the rest is history.  The mules that they began to acquire helped with the logging that they performed to harvest wood to build their barn.

    Bob estimated that he has cared for over

twenty teams of mules over the years.  He

explained that he has always treated his animals right.  He has never hitched them up for a job that they could not handle.  He explained that he is stern with his animals but they are always given the best of care.

    He served as President of the Draft Horse, Pony, and Mule Association of the state of Maine for five years as well as president of the New Hampshire club.  Currently he is an active member of the Abenaki Draft Horse Association, the Vermont Draft Horse Association, the Yankee Draft Horse Association out of Massachusetts, and the Farmers Draft Horse, Pony, and Mule

Association of Maine.  At the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Bob hitched eight mules

together as a team.  It is believed that this

was the first time such a large team was ever

hitched in the state of Maine.

    Bob does not sell mule equipment nor does he breed mules.  He buys them from the midwest and from Pennsylvania.  His net-   working with mule enthusiasts spreads across the country.  He has worked with the Amish community and with a colleague in Tennessee.  He has attended the National Conference of  Mule Owners in Tennessee on two occasions.

    Being raised on Westwinds Farm in Somersworth, New Hampshire, provided Bob with a great background on the significance of sustainability.  The farm had a fresh tomato

operation that involved the growing and care

of 10,000 trellis-grown tomato plants!  On many days, when the tomatoes ripened, one

hundred bushels of tomatoes would be picked

in a single day.  The farm produced 1,200 to 1,500 bushels of potatoes in a season.

They had a small vegetable operation and a

cold storage facility that could handle a ton-and-a-half of squash.  With two hogs pastured, two steer, and seven cows, Bob learned a

great deal about working with animals and

growing food. 

    Completing course work in construction,

Bob worked in the building trade for ten years.

A thirty-year career in teaching building construction in Newmarket, and then Somersworth, New Hampshire followed.

    Bob may have retired from teaching in the

school system but he hasn’t slowed down.

He serves as Selectman of Berwick.  He also

served as a Commissioner of the Somersworth

Housing Authority and is a new Director of the Acton Fair.  He is also a Director of the

State of Maine Fair Association.

    If you visit Pine Tree Mules in Berwick, you will be greeted by four mules -29-year-old Ben, 35-year-old Lily, 20-year-old Titus, and Maude, who is in her forties. There are many days when Bob and his mules are out on the road since they are the highlight of several municipal events, holiday parades, business celebrations, and special occasions such as weddings, funerals, birthdays, and family reunions, etc.

    Bob has been married to Leona Crichton for 51 years.  They raised their children and are

currently enjoying their three grandchildren.

Bob is highly respected for his generosity to

several charitable causes.  He is asked to speak throughout New England and he thoroughly enjoys sharing his knowledge of mules.

    When asked about his love for farming and the future role of agriculture in Maine, Bob’s

comment “If we get away from some of the basics in life, we’re going to starve to death” is a powerful observation that should not be forgotten.






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