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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Countdown!

Countdown to barn construction commencement in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . .

FarmWife and FarmHusband have arranged for their girls to play at a friends' house today. My breakfast was enjoyed to the soothing accompaniment of a snapping tape measure, and certain portions of the adjacent driveway have been swept clear and measured. I have an exciting feeling . . . by this time next week, my friends, I could very well have the beginnings of my own snug barn!

Yes, I said the B word—this is no shed we're building! It will have an aisle, a feed room, a tack room, and a run-in stall. I'd say that sounds like a barn, wouldn't you? So what if it will be petite—I'm petite myself, so long as you gauge me vertically and not horizontally!

Thank you all for the wonderful ideas you sent over regarding shed/barn dos and don'ts. I'll have a set of cross-ties, a nameplate, and an insulated water tub thanks to you! Unfortunately, FarmWife nixed the featherbed, shower, and soaker-tub suggestions due to budgetary constraints.

I suppose I'd better get over there and supervise the survey crew.


Ears to you!

FenBar


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stools (and I don't mean for sitting)

This is a photo of me patiently waiting for my opportunity to carry the smallest human around and around and around the yard. The yard, I have been disturbed to learn, is populated with slimy landmines.

It turns out that dog feces are rather a lot more repulsive than mule feces, rendering a circuit of the yard FAR more treacherous than a circuit of the pasture. FarmWife, luckily, is in possession of a shovel, a good eye for poop piles, and a strong stomach.

I waited and waited, then waited some more, until FarmWife came proudly up to announce that she had vanquished ALL the poop.

Then . . . and this is the truly tragic twist . . . I stepped in some. Right up to my precious little coronet band! I got a hoof bath that day, and FarmWife promised to scoop with more vigilance. I certainly hope so!

Ears,
FenBar

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A place strangely like home

This woodblock art print, by Emily Gray Koehler,
is wonderful enough to deserve a place here even though
it's completely unrelated to today's blog post.
FarmWife is a journalist, and one of the wonderful things about that line of work is that she gets to know a great many interesting and inspiring people. Today, she went out into the Cascades to meet a wonderful gardener/farmer/activist, but that is a story for another day (for Dec. 29, actually, and the first 2012 issue of Grow Northwest).

While she was there, her phone began to ring. Or did it? FarmWife heard the familiar bray of her beloved mule and fished about in her purse. She pulled her phone out. She stared at it—black, unmoving. The bray rang out again.

Being a woman of only one ear (well, she has two, but one's just for looks), FarmWife spun about for a moment trying to pinpoint the origin of the sound. It certainly sounded like it was coming from her purse, but then with just one ear she can never quite be sure.

She asked her hostess—the interesting farmer—if there happened to be a mule on the premises. It turned out that the neighbor, in fact, keeps three. One of them sounds quite exactly like me, Fenway Bartholomule! Of course, this means he also sounds exactly like FarmWife's ringtone. Poor confused woman.

The farmer's house was beautiful and bore an uncanny resemblance to the house of FarmWife's dreams, which she has modeled in SketchUp but which she probably won't get around to building for another decade. The barn was wonderful and bore a less uncanny resemblance to . . . well, a wonderful barn. The horses (yes, this farmer keeps equines of her own) were wonderful, as was the Aussie pup. A good time was had by all, and by all I mean FarmWife, her three human daughters, the horses, the Aussie pup, the interesting farmer (we hope), and, presumably, the neighbor's brayful mule.

It's too bad I wasn't there to see these wonderful people who were like-FarmWife-yet-not-FarmWife. I'm sure they would have liked me as much as my family liked them.

Ears to you,

FenBar

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Something's fishy

I kept my eyes peeled all night long and never did see Blitzen and his homies, but then FarmWife showed me this photo:



Apparently, three carrots and two celery sticks materialized, along with a lot of candy canes, on our Christmas tree last night. They were labeled "Missy", "B.G.", "Fenway Bartholomule", "Harriet", and "B".  We ate them with our breakfast (and they were delicious).

I demanded to know whether the house pets had awoken to any edible ornaments, but FarmWife laughed at me. "Santa probably hand delivered theirs," she laughed, "when he was here visiting with them in the night." They ate their biscuits, in other words, straight from the source.

I am 18 now, as of last October, and that is old enough to begin to question these things. Santa is real—don't get me wrong! I just doubt that he would ever condescend to touch his white fur glove against something as yucky as a Milkbone or a Beggin' Strip. The man has been alive for hundreds of years, and I know this from experience: with age comes wisdom, with wisdom comes prudence, and with prudence comes a reluctance to touch things that stink of rotting meat. I believe, I mean to say, that the housepets got no treats.

Clover—I will make it up to you. I will drop from my mouth a sliver of carrot, and you shall have it for your own.

Ears to you (and good cheer, too!)

Fenway Bartholomule



Saturday, December 24, 2011

The tree

Clover has appeared with a report on the state of the human dining room, wherein there sits a noble fir.

Beneath the tree, she reports having seen several dozen wrapped parcels, one big box of canned cat food, and a diagram of a very attractive mule shed.

Beside the tree, she noted the presence of a big ol' sack of black oil sunflower seeds and a giant round dog bed.

Upon the tree, she spied a great multitude of decor items, including thingamajiggies of wood, glass, paper, plastic, and porcelain and strings of mouse-sized lamps.

As for incredible edibles, Clover says the seeds are labeled for Missy, B.G., and the chickens but that Santa is due tonight. We both recall that he always leaves candy canes and carrots on the tree.

I am going to stand by my manger, watch for a new star in the sky, and keep my eyes peeled for airborne ungulates tonight.

Muley Christmas,
FenBar

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'm getting a shed for Christmas!

Here is my current shed, a 16x16-ft. space filled with cluttered goat housing and labyrinthine corridors. My hay and tack live 150 feet away on the house porch. I get groomed and tacked up in the rain next to the mailbox. Behind my shed, witness the woodshop which you'll also see in the sketches below.


Here is a very basic rendering of my future shed, which will feature a 16x16-ft. addition consisting of a 6 foot aisle/goat avenue, a 6x10-ft. tack room, and a 10x10-ft. feed room. The interior walls will be added in another phase, so they are not shown here. The metal gates are simply for example's sake . . . honestly, I'm not sure how we'll divide up the space. Perhaps with marble columns.*

Keep in mind that we live on just one acre, and that our budget is small. (Tiny). If you have constructive criticism to offer, please offer it within those constraints. I'm really excited, and I welcome your tips on how to make the most of this great new space!

Ears,
FenBar


*If you think the marble is a good idea, here's my paypal button:


View from the East, showing the old shed at right and the new addition on the left. 

View from the south, showing the new shed roof and clear roofing over the aisle. 

View from the Southwest, showing the gate leading into the new shed. 


My thoughts on Christmas

http://www.wxicof.com/Gifts/Donkeygifts/dxmasboxedcards/xbcards.htm

I love getting gifts, I love giving gifts, I love decorating, I love cooking, and I love singing traditional songs. While I do think that Christmas has become too commercial and too drawn out (the marketing starts at Halloween now? Really?), I do love what it stands for. I love the whole season.

For Christians, the day stands for the birth of Christ. While I don't believe in Christ as God the Son, nor as a man who died for our sins in order to buy us eternal salvation, I do believe that Jesus existed as an historic figure deserving respect and emulation. Factual accounts of his life lead me to believe that he was a social worker, a volunteer, and a charitable man. A doer of good deeds, a teacher and healer, and a revolutionary. A radical, progressive humanist. A passionate activist. I can get behind all that! While Dec. 25 was not necessarily his birthday, its as good a day as any to celebrate Jesus and the spirit of generosity, kindness, compassion, and pacifism we'd like to assume he represented.

For ancient Pagans, Christmas was something else entirely. Its proximity to Solstice is not accidental, and I still love the Pagan traditions of bringing light to the darkest time, of bringing green growth in from the dead winter, and of celebrating warmth and abundance with yuletide carols and bountiful feasts. I like having something warm, bright, and exciting to look forward to in the darkest week of the year, and I'm very comfortable attaching Solstice and Christmas together in my own mind. I celebrate them both, at once. For me, Christmas is a joyful hybrid holiday representing the best of both Pagan and Christian sentiment. The fact that it stretches from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, at least, is fine with me.

In the tongue-in-cheek Pastafarian tradition, "Holiday" can be celebrated whenever, however, and for however long one wants. I don't mind celebrating Holiday from Thanksgiving to New Year's, and I don't mind calling it the Christmas season, and I don't mind praying for peace on Earth and goodwill towards men. I don't have to be a Christian to see the beauty in these traditions, and I'm grateful for this opportunity to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice and an open door

Winter, I greet you. You are welcome here! I've given it some thought, and I've decided that you and I can try this thing again.

I know we've had our ups and downs. There was that muddy mess you made in my paddock last year, and that trail ride you ruined with your icy leavings. There was that time, before I met FarmWife, when you rotted my coat away with your unrelenting rain. Still, I think I understand you now. I think I'm more prepared to embrace you, foibles and all. We can be wary allies, you and I.

You cannot chill me with your cutting wind: I am blanketed, and on top of that I am told that I shall have a new shed for Christmas (or in January, at least). You cannot suck my hoofies into your mud—my gravel will thwart your nefarious plans! You cannot dehydrate me with your icy beverage barriers: FarmWife will break them. She will bring me bathtub water. You will see.

For every one of your sneaky tricks, Winter, FarmWife has an answer. Just watch.

FenBar

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The twelve days of Christmas

They're not here yet, but I'm getting ready for them. A little positive thinking can get a mule anywhere, right? Here, then, is my projection for next week: 

On the first day of Christmas, FarmWife will give me a magical carrot-cake tree.  
On the second day of Christmas, FarmWife will give me two turtle bars and a magical carrot-cake tree. 
On the third day of Christmas, FarmWife will give me three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the fourth day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the fifth day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the sixth days of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me six donkeys braying, five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the seventh day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me seven oat-bowls brimming, six donkeys braying, five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the eighth day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me eight mares a-flirting, seven oat-bowls brimming, six donkeys braying, five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the ninth day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me nine scones with frosting, eight mares a-flirting, seven oat-bowls brimming, six donkeys braying, five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the tenth day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me ten bales of grass hay, nine scones with frosting, eight mares a-flirting, seven oat-bowls brimming, six donkeys braying, five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me eleven stalls for sleeping, ten bales of grass hay, nine scones with frosting, eight mares a-flirting, seven oat-bowls brimming, six donkeys braying, five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, FarmWife will give to me twelve tons of sweet feed, eleven stalls for sleeping, ten bales of grass hay, nine scones with frosting, eight mares a-flirting, seven oat-bowls brimming, six donkeys braying, five golden fields, four coffee cakes, three French crépes, two turtle bars, and a magical carrot-cake tree.


Twelve tons of sweet feed: FarmWife says I'd die of it. I say I'd die happy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Caroling 2011

Caroling 2011 was a festive and mulish event, though our cheerful and assorted group only managed to knock at about ten doors before we went, winded goats and all, back to the farm for cookies and nog.

This year's rental reindeer/co-host was the diminutive Jack Jack. My first guess was that he was a Newfoundland dog, my second that he was some sort of goat with a metabolic issue. FarmWife assured me that no, he was a reindeer after all.

Reindeer
Animatronic ottomans? Hard to say. 

Two Newfies? Look again! 

Your splendid host—me, Fenway Bartholomule


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Live. Love. Bray.

I've been a Celebrity Mule Blogger for two years now. They have been good years: I've been healthy, hearty, and hale. I've made new friends and kept the old. I've learned. I've grown (if not taller, then at least wiser). I've come to love you all.

My first post was viewed by four people. I can't be sure, but I'm guessing they were FarmWife, FarmWife's mother, FarmWife's mother-in-law, and one of my loyal Susans (I have three). Since then, I've had about 165,000 online visits from over a dozen countries. I feel that I know you all.

You've shared your tales of love, life, and loss with me. You've warmed my capacious and noble heart with your stories.

Some of you have brought the Muleness into your own homes under my example, and I've rejoiced to see your new longeared companions bringing joy into your lives. Some of you have had mules since before I was a twinkle in my donkey father's eye, and some of your are just starting to comprehend our potential. Some of you have horses, donkeys, or goats instead. Even THEY have Muleness, because Muleness grows when it's noticed and appreciated.

You can find Muleness all around you when you seek it: It's there, at the magical meeting place between boldness and caution, between affection and reserve, between passion and patience. It's the qualities of fine judgement, good character, and kind action. It's in YOU.

Below, I'd like to share some of the many, many photos you've shared with me. I am grateful for these and the dozens more that I go back to, time and again, when I think of all my friends.

Grateful ears to you,
Fenway Bartholomule
















Thursday, December 15, 2011

Goat wrangling

FarmWife could have been a neurosurgeon, so skilled is she at removing the small, bad things from amidst a teeming mass of life. Mucking out the paddock is a delicate dance, a to-and-fro of sharp instruments and tender bodies. The goats don't understand human body language: a deflecting elbow is interpreted as "attention, hooray!" and a body-block as "Jiu-Jitsu! My favorite!" They relish the opportunity to eat the labels off of clothing, eat the finish off of tool handles, and strip the edges of the wheelbarrow like tender bark.

I have been called many things in my life, but never pesky. I am very good at reading human signals, whether they indicate "come hither" or "go." The goats, however, have been called "pesky," "obnoxious," and "crazy."

None of this is to say that FarmWife doesn't like her sporting cleanup sessions. I rather think that, had she been born in another culture, she might have been called "Dances with Goats."

The Bent Barrow of Bent Barrow Farm (pre-bending).


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

At least SOMEONE'S riding me!

FarmWife has slacked off a bit on her "ride the mule whenever possible" pledge. In fact, she's been so busy with work, family, and life that we've hardly gotten out at all! Still, I get tacked up and ridden at least a couple of times a week. Little R, you see, has inherited something of her mother's passion for the equestrian life.

The young equestrian with her muddy charge.

See that smile? You have me to thank! 
A few choice quotes:

"Fenway is the handsomest and best mewel in all the world."

"Fenway is just a big loveable lumpkin."

"Mama? Do you think Oona and Sierra would mind if Fenway was also my best friend?"

"Mr. Barfolomewel is the best on the whole planet Earf."

"Why can't Fenway come in? I want to cuddle him in my bed."

And that, girls and boys, is how you make a mule feel loved.

Ears,
FenBar


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Presents

I don't really need much of anything—I've got my health, I've got a blanket that mostly fits, I've got my paddock and my shed and my Christmas bells.

FarmWife says that Clover is getting one of these for Christmas, which gets her into something of a bind: if Clover's getting a Christmas present, then so must Paisley, Missy, B.G., Desmond, Townes, Harriet, B, Chanticleer, the hens, and of course me, Fenway Bartholomule.

Last year I got a nice soft finishing brush and a new salt block. The salt block is 75% intact today.

FarmWife says she would love to buy me a monogrammed Rambo Newmarket fleece cooler, a new set of hoof boots, and a Rambo quarter horse turnout blanket, but she's thinks a more practical gift might be a subscription for these:


https://www.spalding-labs.com/Horses/Default.aspx

As for me, I don't know why she thinks I might like a bunch of icky bugs for Christmas. I've asked, instead, for these:

Merry Christmas!

I'm just about positive we can't top last year's Christmas gift for these girls of ours, but we expect a merry holiday anyway. Clover, the Christmas chihuahua, turned out to be the BEST dog for our family! I'm so glad the Alternative Humane Society staff saw fit to place her with us, despite (or perhaps because of) our bustling, big family. 

To say I was surprised to be given a chance at Clover is an understatement. After all, walking in to the adoptathon on Dec. 17 and saying I had 1) preschoolers, 2) a history of giving up my last two dogs because they had been poor fits for my family, 3) no small-dog experience, and 4) every intention of presenting the pup as a Christmas present, I was expecting to spend some time convincing staff that I actually hadn't lost my mind. Instead, they handed me a wiggling black pup (she was about 10 months old at the time) and said, "you want this one."  

"I have three little girls. The youngest is three. Are you sure?"  I really had a hard time believing they were going to entrust this darling, fragile puppy to me and my children.

"She will LOVE them," the director told me. And she does! There could not be a better dog for our family, except perhaps Paisley. He's perfect, too. 

I feel so lucky to have these two great dogs in my home right now. I haven't felt this settled with my dog family since Mirri died (December 15, 2004). My years of longing have ended. 





Monday, December 12, 2011

Everything but the Horse

Book review (warning: spoilers ahead).

Everything but the Horse is a picture book by Holly Hobbie. FarmWife read it in the library—a big mistake, because in libraries one is supposed to be quiet.

FarmWife got to the surprise ending and her voice burst out in violent protest. "Oh, that's sick!" she said. "How cruel!" FarmWife was deeply offended by the ending, and hopes you never read it to your own children. It might break their hearts.

The book gets wonderful reviews on Amazon, strangely enough. Others apparently like the premise of a young horse-lover, well equipped with barn, paddock, and nearby trails, who is finally given not a horse but a bicycle. Who, after agonizing months spent wishing, is given hope with these words: "Your birthday present is in the barn."

What kind of sick parent does that? I can understand how some families might feel unprepared to care for a horse, but don't hide the bike in the barn. Don't lead your daughters on. Don't be cruel.

The happy little protagonist, riding her bike into the sunset (she named it "Beauty"), should have stood up for herself. "It's nice," she should have said, "but it's not what I expected."

FenBar




Sunday, December 11, 2011

The power of the sneer


From my horse mother I inherited the power to make my nostril large. Very large. Large enough to inhale great breaths of desert wind, to fuel the sprint of my hotblooded forebears, to power the raging furnace of my athlete's heart.

From my donkey father I inherited the power to make my other nostril small. Very small. Small enough to hide in tufted whiskers, to recede into a face so full of age-old wisdom that it might blend, disappearing, into the rocky cliffs of some ancestral homeland.

I use this power to sneer. It is best done when dinner is late, or when FarmWife says, "goodbye, Fenny," or when she asks me to try on my Santa Hat for another costume fitting.

Note the persuasive and resounding "ick" which I am able to wordlessly convey with this gesture.

Ears,
FenBar

Friday, December 9, 2011

Footing

Dear friends,

My footing is maaaaahvelous this year! Our neighborhood tractor guy did a simply splendiferous job of spreading my gravel in an even, sloped fashion. The drainage is wonderful, the mud is nonexistent, and the hoofies are feeling truly terrific.

My paddock was not always so comfortable, and when FarmWife bought me she was woefully unprepared for my mud-making prowess. This is a photo of me after a mere 24 hours in my new habitation at Bent Barrow Farm:

You will note that I was well on my way to muddifying the premises even after such a brief stay, but I was accustomed to mud. My pony mule friend, who was purchased from the same place at the same time, was accustomed to mud as well. We had lived in such deep mud that it had been hard to see these:  

(Now, out of respect for my old owners I'd like to avoid a lot of chitchat about those feet. This pony mule was thrown in to the deal when FarmWife bought me, and we all appreciate my old owner's willingness to part with her. She's quite sound today.)

What I do want some chitchat about is footing: for me, in slick-clay, gray-day Washington, gravel has been the only affordable option. You might remember that I was off for two days with a stone bruise the first week it was delivered, but I am pleased to report that it has packed down beautifully and that I am sound and happy on my gravel footing today. I get turned out on grass for a few hours each day (24 hours during dry spells), so I can gambol on a springy carpet of grass from time to time. It's a good, balanced solution. 

What do you do to prevent mud? 

Ears,
Fen

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This is my middle filly (in the front row, wearing purple).
She played Lady Guinevere in her school's production of "King Arthur's Quest".
To her right, you see valiant Sir Lancelot,
played by our dear friend Raphael from Wickersham.

Photo by FarmWife, age 32. 

Here, you see me and FarmWife attempting to insert ourselves into the Nativity.
 I didn't fit between the ass and the lamb, so I stood front and center.
Note the three wise men, who are said to have brought gifts but who, upon closer inspection,
were revealed to carry neither frankincense nor myrrh.

Note, also, that I was festive in my harness bells. I was practicing for our caroling party on the 18th.

Photo by R. Jones, age four. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Foliage

Karry and Dempsey with driver Scott Harmon
delivering the White House Christmas tree. 
Word has come down from the housepets: FarmWife and the humans have a noble fir in their living room. Neither the dogs nor I know why they have it. It's dead (though it doesn't look it—they have it propped up in water like a great big flower). It's covered in toys and lights and strings of cranberries, which would be delicious if they weren't made of painted wood. It's ten feet high.

FarmWife says she will put it in the paddock after she is done having it in the house, which struck me as strange until she reminded me that goats will eat ANYTHING. The tree is organic. FarmWife says this is one of the many advantages of living in Whatcom County—here, you can get a certified organic Christmas tree of any size and shape for a flat fee of $25. (www.mistymeadowsfarm.com)

FarmWife used to have a plastic tree, which didn't look nearly so delicious. Then, after moving to Wickersham, she came around to this perspective: trees, like vegetables, can provide a farmer's livelihood. They keep the land in agricultural use. She'd rather see families growing, cutting, selling, and replanting Christmas trees than selling to developers.

I sort of wish she had used her $25 to support her local carrot farmer.

Ears,
Fen

Monday, December 5, 2011

Did I ever tell you?

Did I ever tell you how FarmWife went to the National Sporting Library and Museum in Virginia last month, and how she was at the Chronicle of the Horse headquarters, and how she got her picture taken next to the Civil War horse sculpture out front, and how she saw all sorts of fancy-schmansy horse/donkey/mule art?

Yeah. I'm jealous too.

FenBar


Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Maintenance Blues


Forgive me if I've said this before, but I am the best mule for FarmWife. There is not another mule in the world better than me! I know it, and more importantly, she knows it.

Fifteen years ago, FarmWife had a special horse named Duracell. Special as in "this horse is going places" special and special as in short-bus special. Both.

Dor was crazy, wonderful, and talented. He had baggage galore and had to be ridden with a feather touch, but he could jump the moon. He had shelly feet. He was constantly dinging himself up. He only stayed sound in square-toed shoes with pads and outside trailers, which cost a friggin' fortune. He regularly suffered from hives, colic, and various weepy rashes. He was tall, athletic, fast, and fit. He was prone to nosebleeds. He was a worry wart. FarmWife, her mom, her farrier, and her vet did all they could to keep that horse sound. He was worth it, but when FarmWife and her mom finally sold him into an upper-level eventing home, they were relieved. He had taken a lot of work. His new owner could afford a slew of specialists for him, and he shone in his new career.

Today, FarmWife defines her perfect athlete thus: Sound. Sane. Sturdy. Sweet.

If I needed shoes to stay sound or if I needed supplements or therapy to stay healthy, FarmWife would find a way. She loves me for who I am, but she appreciates me for how I am. How easy. How simple. How fun. I am, knock-on-wood, a deliciously low-maintenance mule.

May your equines be sound, sane, sturdy and sweet too!

Ears,
Fenway

Friday, December 2, 2011

Second Annual Caroling Party


You are cordially invited to attend 


Fenway Bartholomule's 
Second Annual Muletide Caroling Party

in Wickersham, Washington
on the afternoon of Sunday,
December 18th at 1 PM. 


Bring hats, mittens, scarves, your most festive seasonal outfit, and a snack or drink to share after the caroling if you so desire. This will be an outdoor activity. I'll be decked out in sleigh bells, garlands, and a fuzzy red hat! Dino, last year's co-host (a.k.a. the Rental Reindeer) is sending a small emissary in the form of Jack Jack, the world's cutest mini. Additional well-behaved and leashed pets are invited. 

My FarmWife will provide copies of a few common Christmas carols, but after last year she realized we'd better practice in advance. Come bray with us on the afternoon of Sunday, December 11th at 4 pm for a rehearsal at our home. This will be an indoor activity, and I'll sit it out. I am already an expert singer. 

If you have a favorite carol, please email a copy of the lyrics to FarmWife poste haste! Otherwise, she's going to stick to common, upbeat tunes. The slow, ranging ones were a bit disastrous last year, and this is coming from a guy who sounds like a cross between a peacock and a dying woman. 

Muletide greetings to you and yours! 

FenBar

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Truly Taupe

I love paint samples. I could spend hours holding Svelte Sage against Urban Putty, comparing Macadamia with Sea Salt, and nestling Dromedary Camel into Quietude.

I wonder, sometimes, if it stems from my childhood. When I was eight, my mom married a housepainter. I used to hold his colorwheel sample books, riveted at one end, and fan them for endless hours. I still remember the joyful discovery of one beautiful combination after another, and the way my favorite blue-gray looked against ten of its most complimentary peers.

When I worked, more recently, in the prepress department of a commercial printer, I'd sometimes spend my lunch hour in the breakroom comparing CMYK and spot color samples. It was somehow lacking—perhaps because "2583 M" is so much less romantic than Aubergine.


A Sherwin-Williams employee, seeing the difficulty I was having in choosing a blue, recently offered to loan me his colorwheel, a fanning rainbow, to bring home with me. I was thrilled by his offer, but I declined, choosing Open Seas on the spot. Had I borrowed the wheel, I would have enjoyed it. I might have enjoyed it so much that I'd have had trouble resolving to give it back. 


On another related topic, I can't recommend Sherwin-Williams' Harmony paint base highly enough. It has very little odor and no VOCs, and is the only interior paint that I can use without falling ill. I've used it in every room in my house save one, and that one's getting painted this weekend. Painted in Open Seas and Truly Taupe. 



Freedom!

FarmWife FINALLY fixed my fence yesterday, and I enjoyed a good five minutes of cantering about once I was turned out in the pasture again. A week of paddock time and a bit of hand grazing doesn't quite cut it for a fine robust fellow like me, Fenway Bartholomule!

Pardon the neighbor's trailer(s) in the background. They aren't the prettiest things in our neighborhood.

See my video below. Unfortunately, FarmWife's camera cuts off after about a minute and you missed the beautiful singing that I did a little later in my romp.

If you've never seen a mule canter and bray simultaneously, you've never lived.


video