It is my pleasure to greet you this afternoon from the sunlit slope of my own dear paddock, which measures 21 feet by 400 feet and sits in one corner of four wooded acres of particular beauty. I gaze down from my lofty realm upon a grassy lawn, still green despite the travails of the long, dark Solstice season, and see below me a charming barn ideal in location and proportion for both yours truly and my darling Arrietty.
I, Fenway Bartholomule, am sound, round, and happily blanketed against the battery of winter rain. My mood has improved considerably since Christmas Eve, at which time I was permitted entry for the first time into my new barn. In December, I was grinding my teeth and weaving in my free moments. This month, I spend them dozing, strolling, and grooming my Arrietty's withers with my powerful but gentle incisors. Life is good.
My little barn provides a roof over my head, and what it lacks in trim, paint, gutters, or interior walls it more than makes up for in beauty and comfort. Construction is on hold until the next influx of money, but I couldn't be more happy with it in the meantime! By spring, it will be painted red and buttoned up nicely.
Miss Arrietty is recently afflicted with a locking stifle, for which problem FarmWife will be enlisting the aid of a skilled barefoot hoof trimmer. We do not doubt that Miss Arrietty can overcome this challenge, solutions to which may range from a shortened toe to a restrictive diet. Egads, one hopes it does not come to THAT.
The houseweasels (AKA dogs), Clover and Russell, are enjoying the layout of our new property—specifically, the lawn encircling the entire house. It is the perfect track for their daily zoomies—good for the maintenance of happy hearts, both literally and figuratively. With the amount of running they do, their cardiovascular fitness must be second to none. I am still a little bit jealous of how they get to sleep under FarmWife's covers while yours truly does not, but I try to be a man about it.
Desmond, the more regal of our two housetigers, hardly deigns to set paw outdoors anymore. At the tender young age of 10 he has already decided that he is too mature for things like weather, or dirt, or unfiltered sunbeams. He spends most of his time lounging about on the rug or the furniture with his eyes half-slitted in a look of worldly contemplation. He remains, like me, a specimen of stunning physical excellence.
Townes, our second housetiger, is in need of a vet visit due to what may be a recurrence of his chronic herpes or what may be something worse. He seems to have developed conjunctivitis in his left eye today, and has a sudden painful swelling on the same side of his face. I do not dare hypothesize—but FarmWife, who ALWAYS ventures a diagnosis in such cases, suspects an abscess in the vicinity of his molars or jaw. Tomorrow, he meets his new veterinarian for the first time since moving this summer. His urinary health remains fragile, and his lifelong condition of impaired neurological function combined with his current acute discomfort makes him look like a sad sack indeed!
Our little rats, Lily, Tippy, and Marion, are delighting everyone with their tender little fingers and slender little tails and darling little ears and shiny little eyes and glossy little coats and teeny little tongues and tickly little whiskers and . . . . you get the idea. They are adored. If you could meet them, you would adore them too. I do not wish to invite a dialog on the merits of barn rats, but merely to invite you welcome these three as members of our glad little family.
The minimules, AKA rabbits, could not be happier. They are in marvelous health, and enjoy the company of both one another and the humans immensely. Their new quarters are arguably more comfortable than their old quarters in Wickersham, seeing as the ceiling of their outside run is now tall enough for human entry (without stooping). Harriet remains the softest animal this side of the Mississippi, and Beyonce the cutest (present company, plus Arrietty, excluded).
The humans are well. The small ones are now in 9th, 4th, and 2nd grades, respectively! I'm told that R. is learning to do organic vegetable gardening as part of her 2nd grade curriculum, which I find to be very exciting. I wonder when the carrot unit is due to begin? Will she have to turn in a final project? Will I get to eat it after it's been graded? She and her sister D. are studying the art of taekwondo, which I presume to mean that they will be able to defend my paddock against invasion with their skilled execution of knife hand strikes and spinning side kicks. Mulenappers beware!
|Photo courtesy Armstrongs Taekwondo|
FarmWife is gainfully employed in managing communications for an environmental & social justice non-profit, and her office is a 100 acre conference/retreat center where she and her colleagues convene and support leaders in their work of enacting positive change. FarmHusband is gainfully employed in building giant steel oceangoing vessels, and his office is a shipyard spanning four city blocks. One could not hope for a wider range of professional skills in a married couple. They are both very busy, which means I get more hay than attention . . . but one cannot complain.
When FarmWife is not at work, she is usually caring for her family—and when she is not caring for her family, she is usually doing vegan/animal rights education and advocacy. She has also developed the inscrutable habit of exercising daily, to which she attributes her ability to actually work all day and still have energy for home and hobbies. Can you even imagine? She has discovered that there is some pleasure in daily physical exertion, and so each evening she jumps around the living room and hefts steel objects into the air for half an hour. I watch through the window, trying to wrap my head around it.
Each evening, inspired by her efforts, I exert myself by rolling once on the left—then rising—then rolling once on the right. Then, with visions of breakfast dancing in my head, I enjoy the restoration of sleep.
I bray for your happiness and good health.
Ears to you,
Chief Mule of Mossflower Wood