Those among you who pay close attention will remember the excitement with which I anticipated my weekend trail ride, which was to have been a serene and scenic tour of the northwestern flank of Lyman Hill. It turned out not to be so.
The peculiarity of my Wickersham trails is that they are all, to a one, accessible by and only by logging roads. Logging roads in themselves offer no problem, especially since the acquisition of my lovely EasyBoots (for even the toughest of mule hooves, you see, can be made tender by 3 inch monster gravel from hell). It is the traffic on logging roads that usually gives us pause, and this was to be a day when such was the case.
Our ride began with the usual routine: meeting at the gate, a taste of something yummy from the FarmWife's pocket; heading to the trailer; another taste of something yummy; standing tied, being groomed, donning tack, offering hooves for cleaning and clothing; another taste of something yummy. One nice difference this weekend was that I officially commenced with the annual Spring Shed on Saturday, which meant that instead of coming out looking like this after fifteen minutes of currying,
Luckily for FarmWife, the weather is still cool enough to justify the use of her favorite brown sweatshirt, which she will wear for our daily grooming sessions these next six weeks.
In any case, I was groomed and tacked up, less three ounces of hair, and away we went. Unfortunately, the Lyman Hill access road, which we shall refer to as Logging Road A (LRA), was clogged with vehicular traffic. LRA has the unique property of being sided by a deep ravine on the left and a sheer cliff on the right, and although I am confident in my ability to make it up the sheer cliff in a moment of extreme need, FarmWife opted out of putting my Summiting skills to the test. We proceeded down the paved road of Innis Creek, despite my conviction that vehicular traffic, blind curves, plummeting ravines and vertical rock faces present far less threat than the white and yellow Lines of Death.
Anderson Montain's access, or Logging Road B, had been plastered with shiny new No Trespassing signs a week ago, so rather than hitting LRB, we proceeded a quarter mile down the main road to Logging Road C. Unfortunately, the very same signs appeared to thwart our progress!! I tried my best to convince the FarmWife that famous celebrity bloggers and their courteous riders were certainly not subject to the same anti-trespass laws as the general public, but was overruled by her sense of civil duty. We continued, therefore, to Logging Road D. LRD had a closed and locked gate, and one so thoroughly well defended that even an expert Surmounter such as myself could not find safe passage to either side. We returned to the paved road, momentarily thwarted.
This is not the end of the story. Oh, no! I, Fenway Bartholomule, am a "Trail Mule." Riding the trails is my job, my reason for being. It is the justification of my presence at Bent Barrow Farm, even if everyone knows that 95% of the fun of having me is in merely enjoying my company.
Since Trails were not an option on this fateful Saturday, FarmWife made the executive decision to give me a new job title. She promoted me to "Housesitting Mule," which meant that instead of hauling the FarmWife around the countryside for an hour and a half, I spent 30 minutes tied by my halter to a stout post in the yard of our dear friends, the Chicken People, who had awayed for the weekend.
This was a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that I was an unthwartably Good Mule. Not only did I stand still as a statue in the regal Napping Stance for that full period, but I did so with the majestic air of a true Working Mule. Standing, fully tacked, with my halter over my pelham bridle, I reminded myself of nothing more than a respected member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I think I would have served very well in that organization, had I been born in another place. It's only a shame that I speak not a word of Canadian.
FarmWife was able to feed and water five dozen hens, look after a bustling throng of Saanen goats not unlike my own little herd, evacuate a trio of merry dogs from their house to the yard and back again, and generally bustle about in the manner of a Very Useful Housesitter, and we returned home satisfied after a job well done. It was not a wasted day, and I was not anything less than a Very Good Mule after all.