Man of many mules
By Per Kvalsten
Marvin Winkels started with one Percheron mare.
From that horse came many offspring. His interest evolved to mules, and today Winkels sells mules not only in Minnesota and Iowa, but in Wisconsin, Colorado, Montana, Kansas, Missouri and even to our gentle neighbors to the north in Canada.
The rural LeRoy farmer’s interest in mules started about 20 years ago. He noticed people working with mules and was very impressed. This isn’t the first time he has been around the animals. His father farmed with horses near McIntire, Iowa, until 1946 before switching to modern equipment like tractors.
In the last 13 years, Winkels sold mules to happy customers from all over.
For Winkels the biggest draw to using and selling mules is their strength and stamina.
"I went on a sleigh ride with two little mules pulling," Winkels said with a smile. "They never got tired, they were ready to go again."
Winkels mentioned numerous advantages to having mules instead of horses, which include, among other reasons: mules are smarter, quick learners, use less feed, and generally live longer.
Winkels currently has six mules in the area. Four are on his farm and the other two are across the road at his son’s place.
His business mainly comes from word of mouth. People hear about his exceptional mules and their interest grows.
The mules are very important to the farmer, not only to sell but to be able to continue to farm in any economic climate.
"When times get tough, I can farm with mules." Winkels said.
Last fall he farmed a shade over an acre of corn with his mules. That land produced more than 200 bushels for Winkels. He once again this year will raise corn. He has a full line of plows and planters that can be pulled by the hard-working animals.
Winkels also offers mule-driven funeral and wedding coaches to rent. They both were built with his hands and are in pristine condition. Last year, his funeral coach was used four times. The coaches are used in area parades as well.
It’s easy to see how much Winkels cares about the mules he raises. For more than a decade, he has worked hard and given his heart to these animals, something his customers can see right away.
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