Monday, May 31, 2010
Wheels for the driving set . . .
The ride went south when FarmWife, who has asked me to drag a rope hither and thither and across and around on many an occasion as part of my driving training, brought out a Mule Eating Device of Unparallelled Sadistic Apocolypticism (M.E.D.U.S.A.).
It looked like this.
We ended the ride on a good note, I thought . . . trotting a little, with me trying not to gape my mouth open and evade my rubber snaffle and FarmWife trying not to succumb to her common equitation faults. No comment, please . . . she knows that her lower leg has slipped back, and that she needs to keep her eyes up, shoulders back, elbow bent, straight line from elbow to bit, and what-have-you. She knows that I know, but if she knew that I knew that YOU knew, she might be self-conscious and then she wouldn't let me post her pictures anymore, or she would insist on taking dressage lessons with me which might end up being all sorts of work.
Then . . . some thanks! . . . FarmWife committed an almost unforgiveable crime. FarmWife served my dinner, my own delicious single scant flake, in . . . wait for it . . . . the MEDUSA.
Strangely enough, it wasn't so scary when it served as a receptacle for edible delights. In fact, I dove right in, and now I think that the MEDUSA and I are fast friends . . . UNTIL it starts moving!
FarmWife rather liked the horse-drawn hearse in Saturday's parade. Wanting, as she does, to be cremated, she shall never have any use of it. Perhaps in another eighty-odd years, when I, Fenway Bartholomule, go to the great meadow in the sky, we can squeeze me in the pretty glass box for one last farewell tour of Wickersham?
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Photo Gallery of Neglected Equines
More Details from the HSUS
49 emaciated horses, donkeys and mules were seized this weekend from a horse trader in Wayne County, W. VA. I haven't any more details on the story, but the photos are terrible. Readers—please write in with your updates if you have them!
In the meantime, I'm going to stop my foolish braying about getting no more than two scant flakes daily of good orchard grass hay plus limited grazing, occasional treats, and an enriched salt block. I've got it good.
Your concerned friend,
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
1) Mules make you smile and laugh. We are funny, endearing, interactive and amusing characters. Studies show that time spent with a pet can boost endorphins, alter mood, and lower blood pressure. If this can be said for a two ounce parakeet or an eight pound chihuahua, surely a 900 pound mule can offer these benefits and more!
2) We give you a workout without breaking you down. Like horses and cattle, we mules produce many pounds of useful manure every day. This gives you, the humans, the chance to get up and muck out our accomodations—a healthy move in this sedentary modern life! The musculoskeletal and cardiovascular exercise is sure to add years to your life. Unlike horses and cattle, however, we mules know how to manage our manure and keep a clean heap. This means you'll get your daily dose of light work without the risk of repetitive strain injuries that you might have with a slobbier equine. Tennis elbow—or in this case, Manure Fork Elbow—is less of a risk when your animal makes a strategically placed, well-organized and consolidated heap with ideal accessibility and limited sprawl.
3) We grow food, too. See item 2. When composted with straw bedding, our stools are the ideal amendment for a healthy organic vegetable garden! You wanted to eat better? I'll tell you how. Start with plenty of carrots and apples, and don't forget to share!
4) Mules are better than a team-building seminar for improving your interpersonal relationships. We can teach you how to succeed in business and in life: have clear expectations, open communication, and honest and prompt rewards and reinforcements. Respect individual personalities, but maintain sight of your goals. Have patience, persistence, empathy, and a calm, kind, assertive leadership style. Spend more time listening, less time talking. Keep the lines of communication open. Read body language, and know what yours is saying.
5) Mules keep you young. If your passion is climbing on a brilliant, beautiful, half-ton creature and going off into the woods with him, you can't afford to get old. There's too much to live for.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
To Jasper Jules: ♫ ♪ He's a goat, he's a goat, and he's broader than a boat in the water on the high, high seas . . . he's a chap who is fat, he is wider than a raft as it sails upon the salty breeeeeeeze . . . . ♪ ♫
To the baby goats, Pigeon and Dove: ♫ ♪ Bird girls, bird girls, cutest in the world girls, every single word I say is truuuuuuuuue . . . sweet girls, neat girls, dancing on your feet girls, there is no one else like yoooooouuuuuuu . . . ♪ ♫
To Missy, Empress of All that the Light Touches: ♫ ♪ Who's a good goat? You're a good goat. Missy McMischief is feeling her oats. Getting in trouble is Missy's MO but we can't help but love her, she's such a good goat. ♪ ♫
To the cloud dog, Paisley: ♫ ♪ Paisel Pie, Paisel Pie. He is such a fluffy guy! Love the way that he flies by, Falcor zoomin' through the sky! ♪ ♫
To me, of course, she is singing words of exultant praise too numerous to list, but carrying a message of love and reverence. You should hear her sometime.
This is how I sing to her: ♪ ♫NneneeeyeeeyeyeesssssssssaahhhhhhhhsSSS
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Standard Jenny Donkey - $50 (Lynden)
Date: 2010-05-19, 7:59PM PDT
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org [Errors when replying to ads?]
Free, but $50 donation to Whatcom Humane Society required. I will check your home before releasing her.
- Location: Lynden
- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Natural fly repellants work for about an hour, and chemical insecticides (pyrethrin-based pour ons, even!) hardly work at all. They are bigger than a black fly, smaller than a deer fly . . . I think. (Not 100% sure on that point, since I am not a deer.)They are awful. They cluster on me so thickly that when FarmWife wipes my hide with a wet cloth it comes away dotted with a dozen insect corpses. My fly sheet offers some protection, though inadequate, and my poor sensitive skin is riddled with scabs and swellings. If there was an airtight barn into which I might be secreted for the duration of the springtime, we would consider it. As it is, there is only a shed, and it offers little relief. Barnyard sanitation does not seem at fault, as I maintain a clean manure heap and FarmWife removes it to the compost regularly.
Who are these villains, and by what means can they be stopped? We were all about the green products, once, but at this point FarmWife would dip me in bleach and wash me in diesel if it would help me avoid these terrible parasites.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Pennies in a Jar, written by Dori Chaconas, is unique for the quality of its illustrations. Artist Ted Lewin paints beautifully the street horses of World War II America, and while there are no mules in the book I was able to study the detailed and accurate harness and enjoy the beautifully rendered draft animals.
A Google search reveals that Ted Lewin also illustrated the cover of FarmWife's very favorite novel of childhood, Jean Slaughter Doty's The Monday Horses, as well as additional book covers and picture books.
If I had opposable thumbs, I might set myself to painting. It runs in my adopted family; FarmWife's paternal grandparents were both talented visual artists, and she and her husband and children enjoy drawing and painting mules. (Above, see young D's rendering of a cloven-hooved Fenway observing goldfish in a crystal blue stream).
Having no thumbs, I'll leave it to the experts. Ted Lewin, thank you for the work you do. If you need a mule model, let me know!
Monday, May 24, 2010
I, Fenway Bartholomule, would add that a bray beats a nicker, but the idea is the same. This whole thing is about the relationship, isn't it, between us equids and you humans? Enjoy the bond.
Today, I gave FarmWife a little demonstration of my affection to make up for several days of silent treatment. You see, going to see Dr.— scared me more than I would like to admit. I was shaking like a leaf in his torture chamber, and FarmWife was there asking me to hold still and tolerate things that no one should ever be asked to tolerate. I ran through her, shoved her aside, ignored her requests in the general pursuit of self-preservation, and generally acted like an unmulish flibbertygibbet. She could have cried at the sight of my flaring lips and my trembling legs. I really thought I would die.
The next day, and the next, things were not quite right between us. For the first time in the history of forever, I did not stand for halter-free blanketing during Saturday's rainstorm. For the first time in many months, I made a gesture of threat in FarmWife's general direction during Sunday's hoof-picking. For the first time in the history of our relationship, FarmWife saw it necessary to give me some lessons on obedience. We spent some time yesterday rehearsing our roles: me, as subject, bending to the whim of FarmWife, as ruler. She made me yield my haunches, back up in hand, tolerate grooming of my ticklish places, and so on.
Today, we trust one another again. She can do what she wants with me. As a demonstration of this, I remained in repose as she approached with breakfast. In a bold move, unprecedented in the known history of Fenway, I allowed my human to come to me while I rested. I let her crouch beside me, stroke my ears, hold my head. I breathed in the smell of her, and she of me, and I told her I was sorry. She said she was sorry too, but that she hoped I would trust her to perform Spring Cleaning 2011.
I'll think about it.
(Photo: the weanling human with Oliver, Citizen # 15 1/2, enjoying a quiet moment not unlike that enjoyed by me and FarmWife this morning.)
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I have had some setbacks lately, sure; a trip to Dr.—, banishment from the gardens and orchard for having eaten the plum trees and the raspberry canes, revokation of access to the precipitous slopes that I love to summit. At the end of the day, though, I am still a mule, and being a mule is a darn good thing. Here's why:
1. Mules are attractive, smart, and strong. Who doesn't want to be all those things? It's easy to like myself, with all those qualities, and good self-esteem is a key to a happy life.
2. Mules have a reputation for excellence and a documented natural superiority. This makes it easy to make friends, since everyone hopes it will rub off a little.
3. Mules have a great capacity for feeling, and we are great at expressing this with our lovely singing voices. This makes it easy to keep friends, since everyone likes feeling appreciated.
4. Mules find many things delicious. Where fussy horses might like only certain grasses and certain grains, mules like many vegetative culinary delights. Unlike the goats, who sample so many cuisines as to be indiscriminate, Mules eat only the most toothsome morsels of the many delectable plants in our pastoral realms. The mule's world is alive with fabulous flavors.
5. Mules are excellent judges of character. This usually keeps us out of trouble, so long as we heed our internal voices and not the voices of our human masters, who often lack a mulish perception.
6. Mules are excellent judges of footing. See 5, above. FarmWife still cannot understand the myriad dangers that threaten during the transition from the gravel verge to the asphalt lane, and I've told her again and again that it's bound to end badly.
7. Mules have lovely feet. This saves us the trouble of therapeutic farriery, most of the time, and also makes us intrepid trail partners for our happy humans.
8. Mules have just enough tail to make a useful fly switch without having enough tail to present a grooming challenge. Have you ever wondered how those poor Vanners feel with their butts weighed down like that?
9. Mules are strong, enduring, and heat tolerant. This will come in very handy during the long, hot hours of grazing that I anticipate suffering this summer.
10. Mules have big brown eyes, big furry ears, and big capacious nostrils. This makes us better than most people at sensing things, which contributes to our natural superiority, but it also makes us handsome, which contributes to our likability. Sort of a two-in-one deal.
11. Mules form lifelong friendships, and we never forget. This makes us excellent penpals and long-distance boyfriends, although come to think of it I HAVE forgotten when Katie Scarlett's birthday falls. I should look into rectifying that.
12. Mules, with a few feral exceptions, were bred by humans, for humans, and to the tastes of humans. When a mule finds a good one—human, that is—then all is right in the world. A Bond forms, which exceeds anything else. Next to delicious grasses, there is nothing in this world to compare to that partnership between a mule and his human.*
*Except maybe apple'n'oat treats, but then humans make those, too.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Tomorrow I am going to pull myself together and put on a brave face—perhaps write One Dozen Reasons Why it is Excellent to be a Mule—but today I am going to cry into my trough. Pity Party, My Place, Now. You're all invited.
image from http://vi.sualize.us/view/chayenne/aedd22f0ed310ef5d842e0b42d1b1f0c/
(We will have original photography again tomorrow . . . in the meantime, please accept the stock images and our apologies while we sort out some internet connectivity problems!)
Friday, May 21, 2010
www.searchtempest.com is a great resource for worldwide Craigslist searches.
Ears to you,
"Dr.— is a very nice man," she says. "You'll like him," she says. "He's going to help you."
Thursday, May 20, 2010
"I received my first issue of Dressage Today and am pleased. I would like to see lots of space devoted to helping those of us who desperately need it. We love seeing the stars in their shadbellies do Prix St. Georges on their huge warmbloods. Then, filled with thoughts of grandeur, we go down to the barn and pull out our cherished Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred crosses, trek into the field and ride endless 20- to 23-meter eggs. Our beloved mounts crank their tails, hang on the inside rein and call to the goats in the next field. We spend months and years with a bizarre array of trainers and end up poor and frustrated. We want to hear about real problems and how to work through them." —Brenda Duenas.
Editor's response— "We hear you and hope that you'll continue to address your real problems to us so that we can provide the answers you need. Our goal is to serve the entire dressage community, whether that means saluting the stars or applauding those riders who determinedly work to turn those eggs into true circles."
Readers, my back issues dry up at around 1997. Tell me—did Dressage Today meet it's goal of applauding the 23-meter egg crowd as well as saluting the one-tempis set? Have they remained a magazine for the entire dressage community?
Your curious friend,
Illustrations by Sandy Rabinowitz
Now I, Fenway Bartholomule, have a reputation for daring, for good sense, for chivalry and dashing good looks. I do not have a reputation for tooting my horn. (In fact, I lack a horn at all and I think that if I had one I would struggle mightily with it on account of the thickness of my prehensile lip.)
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
You see, I have committed the crime of disallowing my human access to part of my anatomy. I know that as her beloved charge, her precious ward, I owe FarmWife the privilege of touching me where ever she sees fit to touch me, and in whatever manner she chooses. But . . . but. This is a big but. A part of my manly bits is irritated by the presence of some buildup, and nothing short of horse tranquilizer's gonna make me let her fix it. It would be ten seconds work, but those could very well be the worst ten seconds of my life. Not going to happen.
FarmWife has been working up to cleaning my sheath for 14 months. When I met her, I wouldn't allow her to touch my belly or my hind legs without threatening to kick, and now she is allowed to go so far as to feel and identify my terrible affliction but not so far as to ameliorate it.
Now, there are things to be weighed. On the one hand, FarmWife has the option of taking me to the vet. It would cost money (always in short supply here at Bent Barrow Farm) and would require a trailer ride (no biggy, I love the open road), but would mean getting my sheath cleaned under the tranquil comfort of heavy sedation. I think it would be more tolerable that way. It would also mean that Doctor Ratchet could have a look at my teeth and at my hock, of which the former might benefit from routine maintenance and of which the latter might aid in my return to the noble work of trail riding.
On the other hand, FarmWife could snub me to a stout tree, tie up a leg, and make me stand for it. It would be free. It would be quick. My forgiveness could be begged with toothsome morsels.
FarmWife has already tried the bribery- and reward-based systems of reinforcing good behavior, but in the fashion of men the world over I am more focused on the feelings of my p#^!$ (edited for young audiences) than the feelings of any other part of my anatomy—brain and mouth included. Edible, delectable, scrumptious snacks be damned. That's my thing you're messing with.
I am not going to be able to use my rational brain for this one, folks. I—the honorable Sir Fenway Bartholomule, keeper of the muleness and messenger of sensibility—cannot submit to the humiliating touch of even a gentle hand. It is beyond my abilities.
Wish me luck, dear readers. I have a dark day ahead.
Yours in trembling apprehension,
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Jasper Jules has kindly stepped up to provide alternate conveyance in this time of my incapacitation, having pulled the larval humans down to our friend Dirty Mama's and back yesterday and volunteering for further effort today. Unfortunately, it will take some time for him to develop even the moderate level cardiovascular fitness that I had attained with my twice-weekly hill rides! He must be exercised, and often, if he is to take the children on further adventures.
FarmWife sings to Jasper, too, as they go: "Jasper Jules, he's no fool, but he'd look silly in a swimming pool! Jasper Jules, actin' cool, showin' all the people how he works like a mule!"
As for me, I stand for cold hosing, abstain from high-impact activities, and endure the reduced-calorie fare that is the lot of the slow-to-metabolize. It is not forever.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Check page 19 for FarmWife's mule photo, which made it into the premier issue of Grow Northwest (a magazine on food and farming in the Pacific Northwest). If you are a clever detective you will be able to find a feature article by my dear human as well.
Everyone but me seems to understand the art of luxuriating. My friend Pants the Mule does it. The dog does it. The minimule does it. The goats and the little tigers do it (and how!). Now, with my swollen hock and a couple of weeks of forced R & R ahead, I think it's high time I learned to do it to.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
An update, because a fan asked:
I am feeling fit as a fiddle, but my hock is looking and feeling as fat as a whale and as tight as a drum. FarmWife is as worried as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Today's supposed to be a day of family fun and grazing in the sun here at Bent Barrow Farm. And then there's this—I am still fat. My hock is still swollen. FarmWife is still worried, but the housemule is still softer than velvet and I'm still a glorious sight to behold. I say she should just cheer up and get over it. I'll be fine!
We'll have a post of substance tomorrow, but until then, I remain
your devoted friend,
Friday, May 14, 2010
Day six with my new thoroughpin, though I'm still sound as can be and rarin' to go. We have the vet's blessing to resume work, but FarmWife says we're taking another week off. Looks like it's comfrey compresses and a bit of lounging about for yours truly! Look for me to be fighting fit in time for the birthday trail ride on the first weekend in June, though. Wouldn't miss it.
***FENBAR BACK WITH BREAKING NEWS! MY THOROUGHPIN HAS REDUCED BY 75% SINCE BREAKFAST TIME! WE'LL BE BACK ON THE TRAIL IN NO TIME!***
I just hope Rob D. there keeps his hands off my Katie.
Your enamored friend,
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Hey there! Little Pigeon, the first baby goat, is going on a very special field trip. There is a small part of me that is jealous, because she is going to hang out at a preschool with human children and I have always wanted to go hang out at a preschool with human children. There is a bigger part of me that realizes that giving three dozen pony rides would be a little bit more work than giving one or two pony rides as is my usual habit.
I will come back tomorrow with photos from Pigeon's outing, but today I will leave you this: photographic proof that I, too, am fun for preschoolers.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
When you have a new and visually abnormal symptom, but when you're sound and comfortable, there can arise a situation where your human finds you less ready for a ride than, in truth, you are. There may come a day when you feel fit and eager, but when your human wants to cold-hose and hand-walk you. For the sound mount with the new cosmetic blemish, such as me with my thoroughpin, I offer these five strategies:
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Unfortunately for yours truly, the trails are privately owned by the Trillium corporation, which is suffering some financial difficulties as of late. What was verbal permission, obtained in 2008, has turned to no permission at all as the land has been posted with No Trespassing signs at every inroad. Much of it goes on the auction block on June 4th as part of a timber land package.
Seeing as my "get rich quick on the internet" scheme doesn't seem to have fruited yet, I won't be offering up the 1 million dollar opening bid. I do, however, have an even better idea.
All we need is one very mulish and wealthy reader to jump on board with me, and we will have the makings of a wonderful adventure!
Here's the proposal:
Wickersham Equestrian Center and Convention Place.
It will feature trails (already present), camping (there are some lovely spots), an indoor arena/barn/trail course/stadium jumping arena/dressage court (at a modest extra cost), a cross country course, driving trails (already present, pending some modest accessibility changes), big rig parking, and a big "ears to you" from Wickersham's very favorite welcomer . . . me, Fenway Bartholomule. Together, we can host wonderful three-day events, dressage shows, driving trials, mule symposiums, clinics, benefit rides, mule auctions . . . you name it! It could become the nation's hottest mule destination since Bishop, California. It could become the world's biggest horse attraction next to WEG and Rolex!
Southern Whatcom county needs a public arena and XC schooling course, and I need more trail access security. It's a perfect, win-win situation.
So, wealthy donor: you just need a couple million dollars, plus a couple more for development . . . some kick-ass liability insurance, a skilled team of architects, engineers, and builders, a good facility manager, and a few years of dedicated service from all of them. In exchange for your contributions, I offer my services as your PR person and official Greeter.
"Fenway Bartholomule welcomes you to the Wickersham Equestrian Center and Convention Place. Please enjoy your stay!" Has a ring to it, doesn't it?
Eagerly awaiting your reply,
Monday, May 10, 2010
FarmWife: My pooooor Baaaaaby!!
Me: Now, that's a bit much. I'll live.
FarmWife: You'll be safer if you wear this.
Me: This?! This tattered old bathrobe? This rag that, by the way, used to belong to your 16.3 hand draft cross?
FarmWife: More coverage.
Me: It looks silly.
FarmWife: Bugs hate light blue.
Me: I see the bugs in the sky, FarmWife. Remind me what color the sky is?
FarmWife: Oh stop. You look wonderful.
At least I get to wear my cool flymask, too. It makes up for the dorky pajamas.
I had hoped to offer you stunning photos of rugged places, daring tales of physical triumph, and swashbucking adventures retold in colorful detail after my Sunday ride with FarmWife. Instead, I will tell you a secret:
I am physically imperfect.
Not by much—I am an Adonis, beautiful in my masculine strength and chiseled beauty—but by just enough to prove that I am of this Earth.
We took it easy on Sunday, because I had a touch of swelling in my off hock. By a touch, I mean an amount that would never have been visible to any but the most attentive of humans—a swelling of about the same size as the pile of sugar that FarmWife has in her morning coffee.
FarmWife calls it thoroughpin. I'm sound on it, it comes and goes, it never pains me and it's never tender to the touch nor upon flexion. Just a soft little pouch of malleable imperfection that sometimes gives cause for rest.
We walked down yonder road, hoping that my hock would go down with light exercise. It didn't, so we refrained from mulish exertion. We continued with "light work," FarmWife dismounting that we might practice ground driving and enjoy a lower-impact outing.
We were accompanied by a grinning and high-tech hound dog for most of our walk. He joined us early-on in the logging tract and stayed at our side for some time before wandering away. He was tricked-out with several radio collars and three forms of ID, and had a most pleasant demeanor. He offered, I must say, the finest canine companionship I have enjoyed these many months. The sort of trail dog that sticks with you without being under foot, except for the fact that he must not have stuck with his hunting master, being as he was at the side of a stranger mule and human. Who knows at what stage of which hunt he was mislaid, but there was a happy ending.
FarmWife memorized the phone number on the lonesome hound before he parted from our company, and then ground-drove me home, causing neighbors to marvel as she passed in her imaginary carriage. (They might have granted her her made-up vehicle if they new the prices of real ones!). Upon arriving at Bent Barrow Farm, she called the dog owner. He reported, happily, that his dog had turned up at a residence and was secure pending pickup.
I will let you know how our next adventure goes. Until then, I remain—
Sunday, May 9, 2010
I, Fenway Bartholomule, just returned from a lovely trail ride with FarmWife. We don't have time to write much now, as she is due for some midday Motherhood celebrations, but I just wanted to bray you a brief hello. (hello!)
I will tell you all about our outing tomorrow, but for now I will mention the Eagle.
We have a great deal of wildlife in Wickersham, and bald eagles are no novelty here. They are things that eat chickens.
They are also darned big birds. If eagles were horses, they'd be shires. If they were dogs, they'd be mastiffs. If they were rats, they'd be those South African pouched rats that people potty-train and keep as novelty pets. Huge.
Today, a bald eagle swooped so low over the delicious and tantalizing ears of Yours Truly that I feared for their safety. If I had been a rodent—even a pouched rat—I would have been plucked bodily from the grasp of the Earth.
I am glad I am not a rodent.
Friday, May 7, 2010
2. The sun is shining! I have access to the grassy delights of my paddock for the first time in a week. I have had a most splendiferous roll and have nibbled many a tasty morsel already this morning. No longer do the goats taunt me with their unfettered access to my favorite hideaways—now, we graze together.
3. It's Friday. This means a trail ride looms large in my immediate future! We shall explore the beautiful and rugged places, and FarmWife will sing to me of her love whilst I carry her into the cool and shaded forest. I will bring back pictures.
Now, numbers 2 and 3 are mixed blessings for blog readers, because a sunny, trail-ridish weekend in Wickersham means no computer time for yours truly. We'll be back on Monday with many happy reports. In the meantime, contemplate this important breaking news:
Amigo the Arab to be an honorary mule of the first order. Amigo was given a 2% chance of survival when he was found at his barn in January with a three-foot tree limb embedded in his side. With broken ribs and a collapsed lung, Amigo surprised his veterinarians and loving keepers by keeping his feet under him (for the most part), his kind spirit intact, and his health on the mend. Mulelike stoicism? Check. Mulelike beauty? Check. Mulelike endurance? Check. Mulelike self-preservation? Check. Only a mule could have sought help from his humans and loaded himself in the trailer under such dire circumstances, and none but a mule could endure three months of hospitalization with nary an unkind gesture. Let's give it up for His Honorary Muleness Galapagos Amigo, who is back at home—still healing, and showing more mulish resilience with every passing day!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
For soulful eyes and tuneful bray—
for strength to go and sense to stay—
for more work done per ounce of hay—
for this we thank the mule.
For shouldering a heavy load
or brightening the weary road—
for friendship and affection showed—
for this we thank the mule.
His earnest voice and noble air,
his fleetness, given by a mare,
his cleverness without compare—
for this we thank the mule.
The strength of yonder handsome jack
passed to his sons' and daughters' backs.
No person happiness shall lack
who truly loves a mule.
His greeting in the morning dew
rings out when loved beast welcomes you.
There's no mistaking trust so true!
There's no friend like a mule.
No feeling have I ever had
which matches that for my brown lad.
No mother mare nor donkey dad
can beat Bartholomule.
The best of both down to his core,
his heart is gold, his hoofsteps sure.
He's all I ever dreamed and more—
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Wind. Rain. Sun. Rain. Wind. Rain. Hail. Sun. Sleet. Rain. Wind. Rain. Sun. Rain. Hail.
We are having this sort of a day in Wickersham.
The humans are huddled inside against the elements, the goats are sheltering inside their shack, and I am longing for the freedom that I once enjoyed—the freedom to trot or tranter, unrestrained, across the sprawling breadth of my 3/4 acre pasture. The freedom to nose amidst the weedy roots for an as yet-unplucked morsel of delicious grass. The freedom to cavort alongside the neighbor's steer, and watch the heft and bovininity with which he gestures in reciprocal motion.
These freedoms will come again, but today I am cursed to the small confines of my sacrifice paddock. I am locked away from paradise because of my hooves . . . hooves of penetrating hardness, of solidity and unyielding strength. They are, next to my tremendous wit and generally good character, my greatest strength, but they are also like little jack-hammers on wet soil. They pulverize the tender skin of mother earth and leave her battered and bloody–er, muddy.
Such is the life of a grazing animal in the Pacific Northwest—we who were made by the great Spaghetti Monster to roam the dry prairie and to populate the arid steppes. Here, I live like a frog, croaking out my lonesome song from between the cattails.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Something on the order of 70 sextillion (7 x 10^22) stars populate our observable universe, more perhaps than there are grains of sand on the Earth. Think, for a moment, of our importance in the grand scheme of things: Earth wheels in space, a blue-green orb in the vastness of our solar system. Scaled down, our majestic planet is but a peppercorn in a 1000-yard model of our system: a little dot to the bowling-ball sized sun, with the pinhead of pluto (sad demoted planetoid) invisible on the fringes. The Andromeda Galaxy appears to be hurtling towards the Milky Way at 130 kilometers per second, while the galaxies in the Local Group charge, with us in tow, at 600 kilometers per second (1.34 million miles per hour) towards the constellation Hydra. These are just our closest neighbors.
Think, and the earth disappears. We are nothing. We are not important. (By the way, I ate the raspberry bushes and the fruit trees and lost my orchard-grazing priveleges—just thought you should know. Not important. Forget about it.)
Now, with that trivial matter out of the way—we must never think about it again!—I am here to tell you about my friends.
It has been said, fairly perhaps, that horse bloggers are a self-important bunch. I am not a horse blogger, so I do not take offense. What we are, though, is a community of interconnected, mutually-admiring authors who all have the noble distinction of being equine. It is an exclusive club. I can understand how we, in general terms, can come off a bit nose-in-the air if you will. After all, most of us have faces which are up high, and longish, with the nose being a pronounced feature of relatively impressive size. We would look like that to you.
My friends and I are splendid. We really are an amazing bunch. I will talk about them all in detail some time, but today I will just tell you that Beasley the Wonderhorse with his mint juleps and toll-booth antics is not self-important so much as simply important. Pants The Mule is the talk of Great Britain and would have me running to her side in a moment if it were not for the giant puddle between us. Henry The Mule is the cutest thing since, well, since Young Fenway and there is nothing he can say or do to prevent the, "awwwww!" that erupts at the sight of him. Sheaffer the Donkey is a small fellow with big ideas, and he is remarkably good at putting things in perspective. John Henry is like a father to us all, and Willem like a Godfather. A demigod. A saint. And Katie Scarlett . . . ah, sweet Katie. She may not blog but she sustains the fire of my heart, and in her perfection demands mention. My darling.
Now, we may be diverse in size, location, job and species, but we share something—the undying love and respect of our humans. To them, we are the center of the universe, no matter at what scale we contemplate it. We give them our time and our company, and they give us a moment at the computer, the privilege of accessing this world wide web and sharing the love. If some part of the joy that I bring FarmWife can spread, can catch to another horsewoman at another computer somewhere . . . then her transcription services will have been warranted, and I will have done something useful from the confines of my paddock.
When a heroic creature of majestic strength and towering wit is confined to a rainy-day paddock the size of two school buses, it is hard not to turn inward. To focus more on the importance of one's self than on the speed with which Andromeda flies towards us, or on the importance of those equine bloggers who've come before or who will surely follow. That's ok, though, and I hope you'll forgive me. I love my friends, but I love me more. I love myself because I love FarmWife, and she loves me, and so it should be.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Today we have this: rain. A cold rain. I am wearing my blanket, despite it having been washed and dried and put up for the season a full two weeks ago. I'm sure it would have something to say about being reactivated if it were talking object! (Probably, "yippee, yay, hooray! Fenway, I missed you.")