|A mule surveying his realm|
This has been quite a year at Bent Barrow Farm. We saw our youngest human off on the school bus for the very first time, welcomed Miss Arrietty G. Teaspoon (our heart and soul), and moved into my double-sized, much-improved little barn (Christmas Present 2011). We lost B.G., one of the World's Best Goats, to irreversible orthopedic disease. We lost Pickle, one of the World's Best Ducks, to a hungry raptor. We gained Kevin, the cockatiel, who is like a feathered, sonorous bundle of sunshine.
My outdoor poultry are out of hand, even with the lost duck. 14 hens are too many for one little farmlet, and FarmWife is trying to give some away to excellent non-soup-pot homes. One rascally Andalusian bird has taken to laying her eggs like boobie traps upon meager precipices, and FarmWife has twice been rained upon by a sticky shower of exploding orbs. It's really only funny the first time. FarmWife has renewed a forsaken vow of veganism after a regrettable lapse of a few years, so she's not very interested in the eggs for their own sake. Luckily, my human Granny has offered a retirement home to a couple of our oldest hens.
My chihuahua, Clover, is on a strict diet and has transformed from a 13 pound sausage of a dog into a beautiful 11 pound gazelle. She looks amazing. My Australian shepherd, Paisley, has had just a handful of seizures in the last calendar year and has overcome much of his epilepsy-related anxiety that he had been experiencing before his medications were balanced. He turned 11 last week and, according to the vet, has the heart of a young athlete. He may live forever, to the pleasure of all around him and to the dismay of FarmWife's vacuum cleaner. (FarmWife's note to self: no more fluffy white dogs.)
My cats are much the same as they were a year ago: sleek, serene, and haughty. They, of all Bent Barrow's residents, may have been the very healthiest of late. In fact, I cannot recall a time when either of them visited the vet this decade but for routine vaccinations.
My rabbits have been living a barnyard existence since spring 2012, and it suits them. After flunking them both out of house rabbit life (too many holes in the sheetrock, the couches, the baseboards, etcera), FarmWife weighed the options of indoor cages with supervised play time versus an outside paddock and attached stall. She chose the latter, knowing it would allow them more freedom of movement, and it is working like magic! Their enclosure is predator-proof, covered on top, bottom, and sides, and big enough for some serious hopping. They are sleek, fat, happy, and social, and FarmWife finds them both to be thriving. We make a very cute fivesome—the goat, the rabbits, Arrietty and me—when we graze together all in a row. We are our own peaceable kingdom.
The human habitation is closer to a state of good repair than it was at this time last year, thanks in part to a nice coat of fresh paint. The North and East sides are fresh, anyway, while the South and West sides await the same treatment this summer. The new paint is brown (in tribute, perhaps, to yours truly?), which is a tremendous improvement over the pukey mint green that was applied in 1985. FarmWife says that one of these days, after the house is painted and reroofed, she is going to get it a bronze plaque. It shall read, "The Noah Wickersham House. 1900." You east coasters may not realize it, but that's old for a house in Washington State. We're proud of its history.
My human fillies are thriving in kindergarten, second, and seventh grades, respectively, and seem to be evolving into people of Great Muleness. One is determined to be a marine biologist, another a pianist and veterinarian, and the third a carpenter and ballet teacher.
FarmWife and her husband are going on 10 years together this spring, and it's only fitting to note on this Valentine's Eve that they are more perfect together than ever. FarmWife loves her husband deeply, constantly, and more each day. She might even love him as much as I love Miss Teaspoon—and that's saying something.
As for me, I'm working on getting myself to the vet hospital for bloodwork and a dental exam. Something's off about me: I'm eating twice as many calories and looking half as plump, I'm sullen and footsore, and my breath smells funny. Recently, FarmWife noticed that water streams from my nostrils when I drink! Despite a clean bill of health during a veterinary exam a few weeks ago, FarmWife and I have agreed that something is still amiss.
I will keep you updated, and I ask you not to worry: as a citizen of Bent Barrow Farm, I am in good hands.
Ears to you,