It's been a while since we talked, but in that time the demographics of Bent Barrow Farm have radically shifted. This summer, a weasel struck (nine hens dead in 72 hours), then we found other homes for all but our oldest remaining chickens. Our barnyard fowl population is now down from nineteen to three (Chanticleer, Daphne, and Feather). Those three are moving to Granny Joan's house this fall. Daphne and Chanticleer were originally hers before they moved here 7 years ago and she says she would be glad to take them back. It is just as well: the humans need more room to grow delicious apples, pears, carrots, and similar delectable edibles for me, Fenway Bartholomule.
Here's the permanent cast:
Me, Fenway Bartholomule. I am the king and benign overlord of Bent Barrow Farm. I am in charge of eating the grasses, braying the news of the day, and standing vigilant against suspicious atmospheric apparitions*. (*I am afraid of rainbows).
My darling, Miss Arrietty G. Teaspoon. She is the Director of Adorability, Chief Eyelash Batter, and Head of Hug Distribution.
My goat, Missy (Empress of All the Light Touches). She is more like an Empress Dowager. She's old, she's frail, she's weak, she's wobbly, but let me tell you . . . she can still tip a wheelbarrow full of manure before you can say, "don't you dare!"
My clouddog, Paisley. Paisley is 12 years old. Paisley has been unlucky of late. He would have a lot of life left in him if it weren't for an unfortunate pair of afflictions—he has epilepsy, which is mostly controlled by medications. He has a missing ulna in one front leg, which isn't too bad because the other three work OK. The challenge is that sometimes his epilepsy meds make him weak behind, which leaves him one leg to stand on. It is a delicate balance, literally and figuratively. Let's just say he is doing OK today. (Actually, we can say whatever we want: he's congenitally deaf and can't hear us. He knows some ASL.)
My weaseldog, Clover. Clover is an 11 pound chihuahua trapped in a 13 pound body. No amount of dieting seems to help. She is magnificent in every other way, and used to go trail riding with us back when I was sound of limb. She would scout ahead for us, except during eagle season. Then, she'd ride in the saddle with FarmWife.
My housetiger, Desmond. Desmond doesn't come outside to boast about the interior of the human abode anymore. The humans decided to limit their freedom after one too many dead shrews and one too many scraps with the neighborhood toms. As I recall, Desmond is a regal panther in a tabby suit.
My other housetiger, Townes. Townes is just like Desmond except with a frailer body and a better sense of humor. Townes was found in the middle of a busy highway at age 6 weeks and has always been Not Quite Right. He wobbles like a drunken hula dancer, but that doesn't stop him from living life to the fullest. He has no idea he's different.
My minimule, Harriet. Harriet is a Rex/Californian cross. They say she is a rabbit but I know better. With ears like that and a strong appetite for hay, she MUST be an equine of some sort. She has very big kickers. She is the velvetiest in our family.
My mini lop rabbit, B. B came into the family to be Harriet's friend. They were mortal enemies for the first year, but it's all been worked out. B is a marvelous and magical animal. One miraculous thing about B is that she is 70% fur and 20% loose skin. When you squeeze her, you find that she's hardly made of anything at all.
My house falcon, Kevin. FarmWife says Kevin is a cockatiel (and a vegetarian, and left handed) but I know better. With that keen gaze and sharp beak, I'm just sure that he could eat me alive if I didn't outweigh him by 4500:1.
Kevin's mail order bride, Keiko. Keiko came home last week from the Humane Society of Skagit Valley. Kevin is expected to fall head over heels for this shy and diminutive creature, because his love affair with FarmWife has been frustrating for him. You see, for one thing, FarmWife's already married. For another, she works a lot. No one wants a lonely house falcon, and so it was decided that Kevin needed a friend of his own species. I will let you know if Kevin's and Keiko's polite acquaintanceship blossoms into a full blown romance.
FarmHusband. His team is in the world series. He is good at building barns, throwing hay, and rubbing ears. FarmWife thinks he's handsome.
The weanling humans. These girls love me. They are 13, 6, and 9. If you look through the archives, you will see that they are avid equestriennes and very good huggers.
FarmWife. She's my human. We're very good friends. I used to lug her around over hill and over dale, but with her schedule being as busy as it is and my hock being just sound enough for light use, we've decided to keep all of our feet on the ground. I rather think she is the nicest woman any mule ever had for a friend.