Reprinted from the Brayer, April 2012
The Bold and the Brayful
A column by Fenway Bartholomule
Spring: a maddening chorus of frogs has overtaken Wickersham. It's loud enough to drown out even the approaching freight trains. The hills are bursting into green, delicious life. The goats are bagging up, the yard is full of chicks, and FarmWife dreams of hitting the trails.
Unlike last spring, and the one before it, FarmWife dreams in nostalgic, worried tones. Her dream, this time, is indefinitely deferred.
Last spring, I was coming off of a winter of rest following a steroid injection into my hock, and I was in light work. Our summer plans for long distance rides and overnight packing trips were deferred, and we stuck to light exercise. The spring before, my thoroughpin acted up for the first time, swelling from the size of a tea bag to the size of a softball over the course of about a month. I had the summer of 2010 off completely.
I spent this winter on complete rest (she last rode me before Halloween), and FarmWife took up jogging (not as much fun) and shifted her dreaming towards a less ambitious equestrian goal: a packing trip, sans riders, where I'd go along in the role of companion and tent-toter. It turns out I'm not sound enough even for that.
FarmWife and my veterinarian have changed their focus, this spring, from trying to get me riding-sound to trying to keep me pasture-sound. That means I get to stay home, stay slim, and load up on MSM and glucosamine-laced snacks. FarmWife says that keeping my weight down is key, but I am forbidden from exercising even a bit: turnout in my one acre field is all the freedom I get.
I am 18 years old this year, and FarmWife hopes to keep me around for another 50 years. That means we have to take care of this leg, because we all know the old adage: “no leg, no mule.”
FarmWife has been paying a little less attention to my blog this month, but she has an excuse. She's job hunting, because an unsound mule needs more veterinary attention than a sound one and because her long-range goal of having me PLUS a mount requires cold, hard cash. She's window-shopping, cruising the classifieds for my someday future pasture buddy, even though she's not in a position to buy just yet. And she's grieving, a little.
FarmWife set out a couple of months ago to write a book about her life. This is how it was to begin:
“This was going to be a story about a place. It was going to be about one small, green acre, but also about the world around Bent Barrow Farm: the half-logged hills and the noisy wetlands, the slow-moving trains and the meandering trails down which my mule, Fenway, takes me. And then this looked in danger of becoming a story about Fenway, but also about how I am now that I know him, and who I am now that I live here. Maybe, after all, it is going to be a story about happiness.”
Happiness is a powerful thing: when you've got it, it feeds itself. It's contagious. It spreads like wildfire, within and outside you. Once lost, that's a hard feeling to get back.
FarmWife will get her happiness back. I'll bray to her, morning noon and night. I'll bury my noble head upon her chest. I'll lower my ears, knowing that a good rub of the old auricles is good for the rubber AND the rubbee. I'll catch her eye with mine, and I'll remind her: I am still your very best friend.