Monday, May 31, 2010

Craigslist temptation of the day

Wheels for the driving set . . .

Hangin' in the 'Ham.

Living as I do in Wickersham, it's easy to forget that the rest of the world exists. We have everything here: wilderness adventures, lifetime friendships, homegrown food, endless hours and days of food and fun and family and the never-ending call to improve our one green acre.

When I do venture out, however, its to be reminded that we live in a wonderful region. Working in Bellingham one day per week doesn't serve to refresh my memory correctly; my employer is in an industrial and commercial neighborhood, full of shipping plants and big box stores. A downtown springtime Saturday, however, is another matter.

Even in the rain, Bellingham is beautiful. Gentrification has crept in, but with a unique Northwest-sustainable/hip vibe. The Farmers' Market, pictured above, bustles even in the grey drizzle of our February-in-May (with which we are apparently paying for the May-in-February that we enjoyed this winter!), and the festivities around our annual Ski to Sea race satisfy despite the weather.

We followed the parade with lunch at the never-disappointing Old Town Cafe, courtesy of a birthday gift certificate from my parents-in-law, and then proceeded to a Grow Northwest launch party at Boundary Bay (whose parade entry—the only light horse hitch in the procession—is pictured above). Good times were had by all, and our children remarkably managed to stay awake, happy, and compliant for the entirety of our eight hour outing.

I think we'll do it again.

Ride Report: The M.E.D.U.S.A.

Yesterday FarmWife and I enjoyed the first ride in some time! After nearly a month off on account of some no-good, stupid, inconsequential swelling (which never hurt a bit and which all along caused FarmWife far more worry than it ever caused me), I was positively chipper! I jigged and jogged, offered a canter when asked to trot, and even did a bit of Joyful Sproinging. FarmWife, who is not a brave rider, actually laughed out loud at my Joyful Sproinging. Had I been doing Sour Sproinging, which is a close cousin, she would not have laughed at all but would rather have gotten off and lunged me or some such nonsense. As it was, we had a lovely ride in the arena (er, pasture) and thoroughly enjoyed a good thirty-minute workout with no ill effect.

The ride went south when FarmWife, who has asked me to drag a rope hither and thither and across and around on many an occasion as part of my driving training, brought out a Mule Eating Device of Unparallelled Sadistic Apocolypticism (M.E.D.U.S.A.).

It looked like this. 

Now, knowing as she does that I am a sensible mule, FarmWife expected to commence with dragging exercises immediately. Not knowing, as she didn't, that the MEDUSA was deadly and savage, she had to content herself with something less exciting. The most compliance I could muster was to stand in the middle of the field in my best a googly-eyed Arabian Stallion pose while FarmWife, with the MEDUSA in tow, transcribed neat 20 meter circles around me.

We ended the ride on a good note, I thought . . . trotting a little, with me trying not to gape my mouth open and evade my rubber snaffle and FarmWife trying not to succumb to her common equitation faults. No comment, please . . . she knows that her lower leg has slipped back, and that she needs to keep her eyes up, shoulders back, elbow bent, straight line from elbow to bit, and what-have-you. She knows that I know, but if she knew that I knew that YOU knew, she might be self-conscious and then she wouldn't let me post her pictures anymore, or she would insist on taking dressage lessons with me which might end up being all sorts of work.

Then . . . some thanks! . . . FarmWife committed an almost unforgiveable crime. FarmWife served my dinner, my own delicious single scant flake, in . . . wait for it . . . . the MEDUSA.

Strangely enough, it wasn't so scary when it served as a receptacle for edible delights. In fact, I dove right in, and now I think that the MEDUSA and I are fast friends . . . UNTIL it starts moving!


Do You Think I Could Fit In There When I Die?

FarmWife rather liked the horse-drawn hearse in Saturday's parade. Wanting, as she does, to be cremated, she shall never have any use of it. Perhaps in another eighty-odd years, when I, Fenway Bartholomule, go to the great meadow in the sky, we can squeeze me in the pretty glass box for one last farewell tour of Wickersham?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Quick Update

Update  on the free jenny in Lynden, WA . . . she is still available, according to her owner, as her last potential adoption fell through on the home check. Sounds like her person is determined to find her a good, responsible home! See her here:

If Walking Skeletons Make You Cry . . .

 . . . then don't click without grabbing your tissues!
Photo Gallery of Neglected Equines
More Details from the HSUS

49 emaciated horses, donkeys and mules were seized this weekend from a horse trader in Wayne County, W. VA. I haven't any more details on the story, but the photos are terrible. Readers—please write in with your updates if you have them!

In the meantime, I'm going to stop my foolish braying about getting no more than two scant flakes daily of good orchard grass hay plus limited grazing, occasional treats, and an enriched salt block. I've got it good.

Your concerned friend,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Today's Agenda


Bray heartily. Imbibe one scant flake. Walk eight paces to the manure heap. Defecate. Turn on the forehand. Eleven paces, soft right turn. Fourteen paces. Halt at the gate. Paw. Turn on the haunches. Fourteen paces. Enter shed. Vacuum scraps. Practice prehensile lip exercises. Stand, gazing into space. Blink.


Go into town. See a parade. Eat lunch at a cafe. Attend a magazine release party. Get a free t-shirt. Network, hobnob, mingle, and mix. Return home. Feed the mule . . . one more scant flake. Let him out, if it's dry enough, of his sacrifice paddock. He's praying you will. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Public Notice: Mules May Be Beneficial To Your Health

Mule ownership can have its perks—and who knows? It may extend your life, or at least your appreciation of what years you're allotted. Here, for your edification and enjoyment, are five reasons why a longear a day keeps the doctor away, improves your overall well-being, and justifies the expense and trouble of large-animal husbandry.

1) Mules make you smile and laugh. We are funny, endearing, interactive and amusing characters. Studies show that time spent with a pet can boost endorphins, alter mood, and lower blood pressure.  If this can be said for a two ounce parakeet or an eight pound chihuahua, surely a 900 pound mule can offer these benefits and more!

2) We give you a workout without breaking you down. Like horses and cattle, we mules produce many pounds of useful manure every day. This gives you, the humans, the chance to get up and muck out our accomodations—a healthy move in this sedentary modern life! The musculoskeletal and cardiovascular exercise is sure to add years to your life. Unlike horses and cattle, however, we mules know how to manage our manure and keep a clean heap. This means you'll get your daily dose of light work without the risk of repetitive strain injuries that you might have with a slobbier equine. Tennis elbow—or in this case, Manure Fork Elbow—is less of a risk when your animal makes a strategically placed, well-organized and consolidated heap with ideal accessibility and limited sprawl.

3) We grow food, too. See item 2. When composted with straw bedding, our stools are the ideal amendment for a healthy organic vegetable garden! You wanted to eat better? I'll tell you how. Start with plenty of carrots and apples, and don't forget to share!

4) Mules are better than a team-building seminar for improving your interpersonal relationships. We can teach you how to succeed in business and in life: have clear expectations, open communication, and honest and prompt rewards and reinforcements. Respect individual personalities, but maintain sight of your goals. Have patience, persistence, empathy, and a calm, kind, assertive leadership style. Spend more time listening, less time talking. Keep the lines of communication open. Read body language, and know what yours is saying.

5) Mules keep you young. If your passion is climbing on a brilliant, beautiful, half-ton creature and going off into the woods with him, you can't afford to get old. There's too much to live for.


Thursday, May 27, 2010


 . . . continued from previous . . . .
Judy, 90, about a week before her death. Pictured with the author and daughter D.

Elizabeth, center, teaching at the University of Pennsylvania

Before my mothers there were their mothers, and before them, theirs. I was fortunate to know my two wonderful grandmothers, Liz and Judy, before they died in 2007 and 2009, respectively. My oldest daughter was lucky enough to know seven of eight great-grandparents, none of whom are now living.

Elizabeth, my mother's mother, was a talented musician, playing the viola in a chamber group into her last year of life. She had a  magically green thumb, and grew great, abundant organic produce before "organic" came into style. She was an accomplished scientist, a loving parent, an inspiring teacher, and a ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone who knew her.

With a Ph.D. in biochemistry, Granny Liz held positions of influence (Director of Medical Technology at the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, and teacher of Clinical Chemistry) at a time when such appointments were rare for women. She was charismatic, brilliant, loving, and funny. She didn't waste a thing. She told the truth, lived with compassion, and dealt advice with kindness. She gave freely of herself. She never begrudged anyone anything, and never made anyone feel anything but totally welcome in her company. She lived selflessly, and fully, and with love.

Liz died at home of emphysema (second-hand smoke induced) at 91, and I was very lucky to have spent five of the last eight years of her life living near her Massachusetts home and getting to know her closely. She was a woman well worth knowing.

Judith, my father's mom, died of cancer last November. She taught us all something in her last weeks of life—how to go with peace, bravely, and with eyes wide open. She played tennis into her late 80s, joined a ukelele band as an elderly widow, and took up watercolor painting after the death of her artist husband (and with compelling results!). She lived alone, maintaining herself, her home and her friendships until her last days.

When I took my two youngest daughters to see Grandma Judy on her death bed, I expected a somber and wrenching experience. She had gone from "90-but-feels-60" to "90-but-dying" in a matter of weeks due to the effects of fast-spreading cancer. Surgery and radiation treatment had bought her some time, but by the autumn of last year she went back to the doctor complaining of back pain. Her spine was riddled with tumors, and within days of her appointment she was paralyzed, with five vertabrae broken by the growths. She entered hospice care at home, and made arrangements to see her family.

Grandma Judy was all smiles when I arrived from the airport with my toddlers, one of whom she'd not yet met. "I had no idea there'd be another chapter," she had exclaimed upon waking to our arrival after a rough night. No one was sure we'd have made it in time.

There was no tiptoeing around Judy's hospital bed . . . she was chatting, glowing, reveling in old stories and new faces. She had a powerful, serene, and exultant presence. Partially paralyzed and largely immobile, she spent every moment fully enjoying the presence of her three children under one roof for the first extended visit in many decades. She was never caught uttering a word of complaint, nor of self-pity. She was fearless.

Being in Grandma Judy's house during her last week of life felt like being in a place of birth; it reminded me of nothing so much as the calm between early labor and pushing. The hospice nurses, like midwives, taking up their knitting and waiting through the quiet hours. The family, with held breath, looking to the mother for guidance. What do you need? When is it time?

Grandma Judy, Granny Elizabeth and I were all skeptical agnostics, but this had no bearing on the solemnity of their passages. They have had their turn in the stream of time, washing into the water and eventually out of it. Left to sail on without them, I carry something of each of them forward. I only hope my time is as long and as well spent as theirs, and my death as fearless.

What FarmWife Is Singing Today

Today, FarmWife has a busy day of tomato gardening and contract editing ahead. I can't seem to rope her into a long transcribing session, but I was able to hear her singsong nonsense as she made her feeding rounds this morning. I'll quote her, here, for those of you who enjoy such silliness.

To Jasper Jules: ♫ ♪ He's a goat, he's a goat, and he's broader than a boat in the water on the high, high seas . . .  he's a chap who is fat, he is wider than a raft as it sails upon the salty breeeeeeeze . . . .  

To the baby goats, Pigeon and Dove: ♫ ♪ Bird girls, bird girls, cutest in the world girls, every single word I say is truuuuuuuuue . . . sweet girls, neat girls, dancing on your feet girls, there is no one else like yoooooouuuuuuu . . .  

To Missy, Empress of All that the Light Touches: ♫ ♪ Who's a good goat? You're a good goat. Missy McMischief is feeling her oats. Getting in trouble is Missy's MO but we can't help but love her, she's such a good goat.  

To the cloud dog, Paisley: ♫ ♪ Paisel Pie, Paisel Pie. He is such a fluffy guy! Love the way that he flies by, Falcor zoomin' through the sky!  

To me, of course, she is singing words of exultant praise too numerous to list, but carrying a message of love and reverence. You should hear her sometime.

This is how I sing to her:  NneneeeyeeeyeyeesssssssssaahhhhhhhhsSSS

Your friend,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Free Standard Jenny!

Standard Jenny Donkey - $50 (Lynden)

Date: 2010-05-19, 7:59PM PDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

Looking for a home for my Donkey - hopefully one with a friend for her to keep her company. She is not so old, and very sweet but still a bit shy and cautious. Can be stubborn but leans fast. She'll come when I call her, loves carrots, will let me lead her ( if she wants ) and loves neck scratches. I can lift her feet but have not progressed to trimming yet. All my large animals have found new homes as I'm not expecting to be around the farm enough to enjoy them.

Free, but $50 donation to Whatcom Humane Society required. I will check your home before releasing her.


  • Location: Lynden
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
image 1749915019-0
PostingID: 1749915019

Who are these rapscallions?

These bloodsucking flies come out of the swamp and eat me bodily, especially along my chest, girth, and underline and in my majestic ears. They seem to love the taste of DMSO, having come on thickly since my treatment began.

Natural fly repellants work for about an hour, and chemical insecticides (pyrethrin-based pour ons, even!) hardly work at all. They are bigger than a black fly, smaller than a deer fly . . . I think.  (Not 100% sure on that point, since I am not a deer.)They are awful. They cluster on me so thickly that when FarmWife wipes my hide with a wet cloth it comes away dotted with a dozen insect corpses. My fly sheet offers some protection, though inadequate, and my poor sensitive skin is riddled with scabs and swellings. If there was an airtight barn into which I might be secreted for the duration of the springtime, we would consider it. As it is, there is only a shed, and it offers little relief. Barnyard sanitation does not seem at fault, as I maintain a clean manure heap and FarmWife removes it to the compost regularly.

Who are these villains, and by what means can they be stopped? We were all about the green products, once, but at this point FarmWife would dip me in bleach and wash me in diesel if it would help me avoid these terrible parasites.

Yours plaintively,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harness Fund Update

On the advice of a friendly reader, I have created this handy graphic for those of you interested in the progress of my harness fund. I'm saving up for a Comfy Fit beta breastcollar-style harness from Chimacum Tack, though tips on alternative synthetic harnesses and/or second-hand sources are welcome. Click THE GIFT for further details, or to help color the mule and make FarmWife's birthday wishes come true!

Art Appreciation

Surely you know by now that I am A) interested in becoming a driving mule, B) resting my swollen hock, and C) able to appreciate fine art. FarmWife reads me picture books from the bookmobile when our back issues of Dressage Today and Mules and More run out, and this week she happened upon a gem without knowing what she was grabbing!

Pennies in a Jar, written by Dori Chaconas, is unique for the quality of its illustrations. Artist Ted Lewin paints beautifully the street horses of World War II America, and while there are no mules in the book I was able to study the detailed and accurate harness and enjoy the beautifully rendered draft animals.

A Google search reveals that Ted Lewin also illustrated the cover of FarmWife's very favorite novel of childhood, Jean Slaughter Doty's The Monday Horses, as well as additional book covers and picture books.

If I had opposable thumbs, I might set myself to painting. It runs in my adopted family; FarmWife's paternal grandparents were both talented visual artists, and she and her husband and children enjoy drawing and painting mules. (Above, see young D's rendering of a cloven-hooved Fenway observing goldfish in a crystal blue stream).

Having no thumbs, I'll leave it to the experts. Ted Lewin, thank you for the work you do. If you need a mule model, let me know!

Your friend,

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Mothers

You may have noticed my dedication: To my husband, who makes me a better person; to my mule, who makes me a better wife; to my mothers, and to my daughters. I have three daughters, and more mothers than that.

My beloved mother—Joan, the real one—worked harder than anyone should have to work to raise me and my half siblings. She was alone for much of my childhood, having been widowed by my brothers' father and divorced from my own by the time I was three. When my quarterlife crisis struck around the time of my third pregnancy, and one psychiatrist after another suggested Prozac for my discontent, Joan reminded me where to find my peace. She bought me my mule. 

My mother and I have always been close. As a teen, I never rebelled, though I do recall a brief phase when she could provoke me to utter mortification by taking silly, large steps in the corridors of the mall. We always have been, and remain, close friends.

My mother-in-law, contrary to common patterns, is the other best woman of their generation. I love her dearly. Only Jane could have managed to raise a son of my husband's caliber, and if I hadn't wanted to marry him for himself I might have married him for his family. They are all of unparalled perfection. Jane is my go-to person when I need a little bit of New England practicality; Joan the one who keeps me dreaming. I need both. 

My father, with whom I am also now very close, gave me a perfect stepmother. Leslie was a trusted family friend on my mom's side—aunt to my closest childhood friend—since long before my father met her, and when she and my dad fell in love sixteen-odd years ago it completed a circle. My friend became a cousin, her cousins became my brothers. There's more to the story—in these complicated cases, there always is—but the end result was wonderful. With Leslie, I feel at home. She works miracles with plants, and in her garden I am a student of the master.

My fourth mother is called Walrus. This stems from a misheard word: lawless. Her son, X, and I had a brief fling (we had broken up, in fact, by the time the pregnancy was revealed) and, of course, never married. I called her "Lawless Mother"—the anti mother-in-law—when she took me in, late in my pregnancy. At the time, X and I weren't speaking, but his parents made some effort to connect. She didn't have his blessing when she invited me into her life, but she did have a grandmotherly stake in my affairs. She found me living in a horsevan with a dog, a cat, and a pair of rats (I'd had trouble finding a pet-friendly apartment) and she convinced me to come home to her tidy abode. Lawless mother—walrus mother—saw me through my transition from childhood to motherhood. I was twenty, and I lived in her guest bedroom for seven months. My dog, cat, and rats came too, which speaks to the tolerance in her character. 

 . . . to be continued . . . 

Trust Restored

Dr. Josef Knipp, FEI "I" judge, as quoted in Dressage Today: "If you go to the barn and the horse doesn't nicker to you . . . why do you want to go to a horse show?"

I, Fenway Bartholomule, would add that a bray beats a nicker, but the idea is the same. This whole thing is about the relationship, isn't it, between us equids and you humans? Enjoy the bond.

Today, I gave FarmWife a little demonstration of my affection to make up for several days of silent treatment. You see, going to see Dr.— scared me more than I would like to admit. I was shaking like a leaf in his torture chamber, and FarmWife was there asking me to hold still and tolerate things that no one should ever be asked to tolerate. I ran through her, shoved her aside, ignored her requests in the general pursuit of self-preservation, and generally acted like an unmulish flibbertygibbet. She could have cried at the sight of my flaring lips and my trembling legs. I really thought I would die.

The next day, and the next, things were not quite right between us. For the first time in the history of forever, I did not stand for halter-free blanketing during Saturday's rainstorm. For the first time in many months, I made a gesture of threat in FarmWife's general direction during Sunday's hoof-picking. For the first time in the history of our relationship, FarmWife saw it necessary to give me some lessons on obedience. We spent some time yesterday rehearsing our roles: me, as subject, bending to the whim of FarmWife, as ruler. She made me yield my haunches, back up in hand, tolerate grooming of my ticklish places, and so on.

Today, we trust one another again. She can do what she wants with me. As a demonstration of this, I remained in repose as she approached with breakfast. In a bold move, unprecedented in the known history of Fenway, I allowed my human to come to me while I rested. I let her crouch beside me, stroke my ears, hold my head. I breathed in the smell of her, and she of me, and I told her I was sorry. She said she was sorry too, but that she hoped I would trust her to perform Spring Cleaning 2011.

I'll think about it.

Your friend,

(Photo: the weanling human with Oliver, Citizen # 15 1/2, enjoying a quiet moment not unlike that enjoyed by me and FarmWife this morning.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

(Photo: this was the view from the kitchen sink before I was banished from the gardens for eating the plum trees. Their loss. Now there is no fun at all in washing dishes.)

I have had some setbacks lately, sure; a trip to Dr.—, banishment from the gardens and orchard for having eaten the plum trees and the raspberry canes, revokation of access to the precipitous slopes that I love to summit. At the end of the day, though, I am still a mule, and being a mule is a darn good thing. Here's why:

1. Mules are attractive, smart, and strong. Who doesn't want to be all those things? It's easy to like myself, with all those qualities, and good self-esteem is a key to a happy life.

2. Mules have a reputation for excellence and a documented natural superiority. This makes it easy to make friends, since everyone hopes it will rub off a little.

3. Mules have a great capacity for feeling, and we are great at expressing this with our lovely singing voices. This makes it easy to keep friends, since everyone likes feeling appreciated.

4. Mules find many things delicious. Where fussy horses might like only certain grasses and certain grains, mules like many vegetative culinary delights. Unlike the goats, who sample so many cuisines as to be indiscriminate, Mules eat only the most toothsome morsels of the many delectable plants in our pastoral realms. The mule's world is alive with fabulous flavors.

5. Mules are excellent judges of character. This usually keeps us out of trouble, so long as we heed our internal voices and not the voices of our human masters, who often lack a mulish perception.

6. Mules are excellent judges of footing. See 5, above. FarmWife still cannot understand the myriad dangers that threaten during the transition from the gravel verge to the asphalt lane, and I've told her again and again that it's bound to end badly.

7. Mules have lovely feet. This saves us the trouble of therapeutic farriery, most of the time, and also makes us intrepid trail partners for our happy humans.

8. Mules have just enough tail to make a useful fly switch without having enough tail to present a grooming challenge. Have you ever wondered how those poor Vanners feel with their butts weighed down like that?

9. Mules are strong, enduring, and heat tolerant. This will come in very handy during the long, hot hours of grazing that I anticipate suffering this summer.

10. Mules have big brown eyes, big furry ears, and big capacious nostrils. This makes us better than most people at sensing things, which contributes to our natural superiority, but it also makes us handsome, which contributes to our likability. Sort of a two-in-one deal.

11. Mules form lifelong friendships, and we never forget. This makes us excellent penpals and long-distance boyfriends, although come to think of it I HAVE forgotten when Katie Scarlett's birthday falls. I should look into rectifying that.

12. Mules, with a few feral exceptions, were bred by humans, for humans, and to the tastes of humans. When a mule finds a good one—human, that is—then all is right in the world. A Bond forms, which exceeds anything else. Next to delicious grasses, there is nothing in this world to compare to that partnership between a mule and his human.*

*Except maybe apple'n'oat treats, but then humans make those, too.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Not the happiest of times.

First it was raining at a time when it ought to have been sunny, and then my winky started to hurt. Then my hock got big and FarmWife refused to believe that it was all her imagination. Then I got put on a diet, and taken to Dr.—, who tortured me to within an inch of my life AND messed with my winky, which by the way feels fabulous today (thanks for asking). Now I am not allowed to summit precipitous slopes for at least two more weeks, and FarmWife has had to slather my hock with disgusting medicine. This medicine transpires through my hock and straight to my mouth, where it infuses my breath with the odor of rotten garlic and dead things. Meanwhile, FarmWife has left me and gone to work, where she spends Saturdays sitting inside earning money. Unfortunately, it is only a small amount of money and not nearly enough to pay for the assassination of Dr.— which she probably would not be in support of anyway.She actually likes that guy.

Tomorrow I am going to pull myself together and put on a brave face—perhaps write One Dozen Reasons Why it is Excellent to be a Mule—but today I am going to cry into my trough. Pity Party, My Place, Now. You're all invited.

Yours dejectedly,

image from

(We will have original photography again tomorrow . . . in the meantime, please accept the stock images and our apologies while we sort out some internet connectivity problems!)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mules in Need

Please post to my facebook fanpage or email me at with news of free, cheap, homeless or slaughter-bound mules and donkeys. I will try to keep a current list here (see tab above), but of course no mule on earth could keep tabs on them all. Your help is welcome and brayfully encouraged. is a great resource for worldwide Craigslist searches.

Ears to you,


"Dr.— is a very nice man," she says. "You'll like him," she says. "He's going to help you."

Dr.— stabbed me. He drugged me. He washed my mouth out with soap. He stuck things up my butt, messed about with my willy, and called me fat. 

For all the the respect and love that I have for FarmWife, I must say this: She is a TERRIBLE judge of character.

Your groggy friend,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On a Serious Note: Dressage for Commoners

R&R for the ol' hock means plenty of leisure time, and in this family leisure means reading. Just this afternoon, FarmWife was reading me some back issues of Dressage Today—formerly the official publication of the U.S.D.F.—and she found this letter to the editor, published in their third issue, November of 1994. (Incidentally, I was one month old at the time!) I thought we should share it with you, my readers. After all, there are plenty of you out there who travel the long road from fenssage to dressage, and I think this will speak to your hearts.

"I received my first issue of Dressage Today and am pleased. I would like to see lots of space devoted to helping those of us who desperately need it. We love seeing the stars in their shadbellies do Prix St. Georges on their huge warmbloods. Then, filled with thoughts of grandeur, we go down to the barn and pull out our cherished Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred crosses, trek into the field and ride endless 20- to 23-meter eggs. Our beloved mounts crank their tails, hang on the inside rein and call to the goats in the next field. We spend months and years with a bizarre array of trainers and end up poor and frustrated. We want to hear about real problems and how to work through them." —Brenda Duenas.

Editor's response— "We hear you and hope that you'll continue to address your real problems to us so that we can provide the answers you need. Our goal is to serve the entire dressage community, whether that means saluting the stars or applauding those riders who determinedly work to turn those eggs into true circles."

Readers, my back issues dry up at around 1997. Tell me—did Dressage Today meet it's goal of applauding the 23-meter egg crowd as well as saluting the one-tempis set? Have they remained a magazine for the entire dressage community?

Your curious friend,

Illustrations by Sandy Rabinowitz

A Wakeup Call, and Leaving the Office

"Can't we just have ONE DAY without sibling rivalry?," I begged. "Just ONE?" It was eight am, I was at the computer composing my mule's thoughts for the day. My quarreling children, awake just one hour, were already driving me batty. 

"Then can we have one day—" my five year-old asked, "just one—without computer work?" 

My heart broke a little bit. She was right. I owed it to her to unplug. 

I love writing—blogging, especially, and getting feedback from readers who connect. Knowing that my thoughts, profound or mundane though they might be, can inform. enlighten, amuse, or inspire. Feeling powerful, talented, well-liked, and understood. 

It's an addictive feeling.

I started as an offshoot from my mule's facebook page, which has blossomed from nothing at all to a busy forum for 500+ longears lovers in a matter of a few months. I've had a blast with it. 

I started to placate family members who felt they'd had enough of listening to my mule. I wanted to tell them my story, and I've been surprised by the path it's taken. It was supposed to be an episodic blog, a book in daily posts, on the subject of life in Wickersham and its little moments. It's turned out to be something rather introspective. Therapeutic. Rewarding beyond my expectations. 

I started when my ads on the other two blogs accumulated $20 odd dollars in revenue over the course of five days. In the 30-odd days since, they've accumulated nothing at all, but the fun of posting a pet of the day and a photo here and there of my beautiful Fairy Rabbit is reward enough. I'm ditching adsense, but not without retaining the goal of writing, somehow, for profit. 

I (and my animals) will keep blogging, and at this volume. I'm going to cut back my facebook presence, though. After all, Fenway's truest fans will find him wherever he brays. Puddle Run is a twice-a-week commitment, and well worth it for me. It keeps me writing, and writing keeps me thinking. 

Fairy Rabbit takes five minutes, three days a week. Fans can expect Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday updates—short and sweet, like my Harry. 

And for the other 23+ hours of every day, I am going to get off this computer and live. Life, after all, is what I blog about.

Your grateful author,

Farm Rules for Humans, According to FarmWife

Now I, Fenway Bartholomule, have a reputation for daring, for good sense, for chivalry and dashing good looks. I do not have a reputation for tooting my horn. (In fact, I lack a horn at all and I think that if I had one I would struggle mightily with it on account of the thickness of my prehensile lip.)

Nonetheless, I cannot stifle a wee slip of a grin at this list of Farm Rules, according to FarmWife:

10. Don't play fetch with the dog.
9. Don't go in the road without a parent (WAP)
8. Don't feed the mule WAP. (FenBar in: let's strike that one.)
7. Wear appropriate footwear in the barnyard.
6. Don't let the chickens in the garden.
5. Don't put anything mysterious in your mouth WAP.
4. Don't go into the paddock WAP.
3. Always wear a helmet when riding.
2. Be kind to the animals and each other.
1. Revere the mule.

For explanation on rule 10, our clouddog has a limb deformity and some arthritis. 
For explanation on rule 5, raspberries and sugar snap peas don't count as mysterious but belladonna berries and rhubarb leaves do. 
Rule 8 has been struck from the record and requires no explanation. 
Rule 1 is understood. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fenway in a Pickle.

I'm a bit stuck today.

You see, I have committed the crime of disallowing my human access to part of my anatomy. I know that as her beloved charge, her precious ward, I owe FarmWife the privilege of touching me where ever she sees fit to touch me, and in whatever manner she chooses. But . . . but. This is a big but. A part of my manly bits is irritated by the presence of some buildup, and nothing short of horse tranquilizer's gonna make me let her fix it. It would be ten seconds work, but those could very well be the worst ten seconds of my life. Not going to happen.

FarmWife has been working up to cleaning my sheath for 14 months. When I met her, I wouldn't allow her to touch my belly or my hind legs without threatening to kick, and now she is allowed to go so far as to feel and identify my terrible affliction but not so far as to ameliorate it.

Now, there are things to be weighed. On the one hand, FarmWife has the option of taking me to the vet. It would cost money (always in short supply here at Bent Barrow Farm) and would require a trailer ride (no biggy, I love the open road), but would mean getting my sheath cleaned under the tranquil comfort of heavy sedation. I think it would be more tolerable that way. It would also mean that Doctor Ratchet could have a look at my teeth and at my hock, of which the former might benefit from routine maintenance and of which the latter might aid in my return to the noble work of trail riding.

On the other hand, FarmWife could snub me to a stout tree, tie up a leg, and make me stand for it. It would be free. It would be quick. My forgiveness could be begged with toothsome morsels.

FarmWife has already tried the bribery- and reward-based systems of reinforcing good behavior, but in the fashion of men the world over I am more focused on the feelings of my p#^!$ (edited for young audiences) than the feelings of any other part of my anatomy—brain and mouth included. Edible, delectable, scrumptious snacks be damned. That's my thing you're messing with.

I am not going to be able to use my rational brain for this one, folks. I—the honorable Sir Fenway Bartholomule, keeper of the muleness and messenger of sensibility—cannot submit to the humiliating touch of even a gentle hand. It is beyond my abilities.

Wish me luck, dear readers. I have a dark day ahead.

Yours in trembling apprehension,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Raining, Pouring, Fat Goat Snoring.

Well, we have wet weather today. I suppose the grasses can use it, as can the vegetative delectables of all descriptions, but FarmWife is not too happy on account of having planned a walk with the goat.

Jasper Jules has kindly stepped up to provide alternate conveyance in this time of my incapacitation, having pulled the larval humans down to our friend Dirty Mama's and back yesterday and volunteering for further effort today. Unfortunately, it will take some time for him to develop even the moderate level cardiovascular fitness that I had attained with my twice-weekly hill rides! He must be exercised, and often, if he is to take the children on further adventures.

FarmWife sings to Jasper, too, as they go: "Jasper Jules, he's no fool, but he'd look silly in a swimming pool! Jasper Jules, actin' cool, showin' all the people how he works like a mule!"

As for me, I stand for cold hosing, abstain from high-impact activities, and endure the reduced-calorie fare that is the lot of the slow-to-metabolize. It is not forever.

Your friend,

Monday, May 17, 2010

When I Grow Up

When I was eight, I wanted to be a rider and a mother when I grew up. I wanted a little farm, a trusted mount (a 17.1 hand black stallion, please), a trio of  children. I wanted a handsome and athletic husband (not to kiss, though—ick!), a pair of cats, and a trusted dog at my side. I wanted a bunny, a garden, and a tame, vegetarian peregrine falcon. I loved writing, riding, drawing, singing. I loved animals.

When I was 18, I wanted to be a rider, an artist, an environmental scientist. I declared myself a pre-art major.

When I was 19, I wanted to be a rider, a kayaker, and an anthropologist. I took science classes.

When I was 20, I wanted to be a rider, an animal rights activist, and a magazine writer. I studied journalism, got pregnant, and sold my horse. I looked down my nose at ovolactovegetarians.

When I was 23 I graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in English, and with regrets for not having taken a minor in government. I wanted to be a lawyer, and wanted to marry Mat and raise my daughter M without it getting in the way of an animal law career. I fell off the vegan wagon. I ate ice cream.

When I was 24 I turned down a full scholarship to a great law school. I got married. I had a second child. I moved home to Whidbey. I bought a horse.

I've been trying ever since to decide what I want to be when I grow up, and it hasn't been easy. I have swung from seeing my life as a serious of missed opportunities and false starts to seeing it as a trajectory towards happiness . . . a meandering path to exactly where I wanted to be all along.

I'm still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'm 30 years old—turning 31 in a couple of weeks—and I am not sure if I should study nursing. Not sure if I need to. Not sure if I can afford to. Not sure if I can afford not to. Not sure if I can ever make writing pay, and not sure if I'm closing a door by thinking so.

But what I am sure of is this:  I love writing, riding, drawing, singing. I love animals. I want to be a rider and a mother. I want a little farm, a trusted mount (a 14.1 hand brown mule, please), a trio of children, a handsome and athletic husband (to kiss and everything), a pair of cats, a trusted dog. A bunny, a garden, and a tame, vegetarian herd of dairy goats. Not sure about that falcon anymore, but then people change as they grow.

Dreams evolve.

Life unfolds.

(Photos above: riding Sophie at age 8ish; doing homework with Echo Bunny at age 9ish.
Photos below: riding Fenway at age 30, holding Harriet at age 30.)
Mules in the News!

Check page 19 for FarmWife's mule photo, which made it into the premier issue of Grow Northwest (a magazine on food and farming in the Pacific Northwest). If you are a clever detective you will be able to find a feature article by my dear human as well.

Sympathy and the Art of Lounging in the Sun

Everyone but me seems to understand the art of luxuriating. My friend Pants the Mule does it. The dog does it. The minimule does it. The goats and the little tigers do it (and how!). Now, with my swollen hock and a couple of weeks of forced R & R ahead, I think it's high time I learned to do it to.

Now, it's not that I don't lie down. I do. I lie down eight times a day to roll, and about once a month I stay down for a little sun bath. When FarmWife looks out the kitchen window and sees me in indulgent repose, she typically grabs the camera and sneaks out to the pasture. I am up long before she reaches me. 

There are two things FarmWife has been desperate to capture on film—these are the sight of my pet cowbird (I have a cowbird, she's my own, she's with me most of the time from late spring to midsummer. Her husband walks on the ground beside us while she rides) and my sunbaths. My pet cowbird is hard to catch because I bray joyfully at the sight of FarmWife. My cowbird doesn't care for my singing voice, and usually flies away to quieter pastures after such a vocalization. My sunbaths are difficult to catch because they are rare and fleeting.

Now, under the advice of Dunewood O'Neil and in the proud tradition of Beasley the Wonderhorse, I am going to milk this hock injury for all it's worth. This has got to include some groaning, some apathetic sprawling, and some delay in standing at the approach of FarmWife. Also some hobbling about, but this level of theatric hysteria is beyond my skill level. I am a blogger, not an actor. I may be indulging in some exaggerated lounging, but I am above feigning a limp. I am FenBar, and I have never taken a lame step. 
Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I allowed FarmWife to approach me during a gravity-bound moment. It didn't hurt my pride, and it didn't take as much effort as will as one would have thought. It was actually just fine.

This napping-in-the-sun business could grow on a fellow! I think I'm going to try it again. Fetch hither a fruity drink with a little umbrella, please!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Extravaganza of Idioms

Image courtesy 4-H Horse Council. "How to Wrap a Hock." Disclaimer: my hock is not thus wrapped.

An update, because a fan asked:

I am feeling fit as a fiddle, but my hock is looking and feeling as fat as a whale and as tight as a drum. FarmWife is as worried as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Today's supposed to be a day of family fun and grazing in the sun here at Bent Barrow Farm. And then there's this—I am still fat. My hock is still swollen. FarmWife is still worried, but the housemule is still softer than velvet and I'm still a glorious sight to behold. I say she should just cheer up and get over it. I'll be fine!

We'll have a post of substance tomorrow, but until then, I remain

your devoted friend,

Friday, May 14, 2010

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

Day six with my new thoroughpin, though I'm still sound as can be and rarin' to go. We have the vet's blessing to resume work, but FarmWife says we're taking another week off. Looks like it's comfrey compresses and a bit of lounging about for yours truly! Look for me to be fighting fit in time for the birthday trail ride on the first weekend in June, though. Wouldn't miss it.




Celebrity Crush

These links to a rising star in the mule world, Grace, were drawn to my attention by a nice COTH reader who thought I might be looking to make a "celebrity connection," if you will. (Wink, wink . . . and yes, mules CAN wink and we DO.) Now, I am loyal to Katie Scarlett 100%. I am a guy with a good girlfriend, and I am good to her. I send her e-cards. I write her songs.

That said . . . this Amazing Grace chick is HOT. I can like Grace the way a human man might like Zooey Deschanel. From afar, with admiration. Oh, and there's Pants. She's the Friend Ladymule. We pal around, but Katie holds my heart.

So, Katie, my darling, bear with me here. I'm still all yours. 

Here's Grace on the today show, where she demonstrates her slobbery kissing technique. Katie's got more of the sensuous lips thing going for her, but Grace gets points for a bold approach! 

Here's an article about Grace starring alongside Robert Duvall. Apparently, the man was impressed with her intelligence, character, and talent. That's mules for you! 

I just hope Rob D. there keeps his hands off my Katie.

Your enamored friend,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today's afternoon blogging hour was substituted by a breakdown on the highway and an AAA call. We made it home—two hungry, cranky children, one groggy, tired goatling, and me.

Baby Pigeon was redisbudded today after having had a hornbud regrow, and I think the stop was hardest on her. She's back with Mama now and glad of the chance for a nap! As for D and R? Thrilled to have ridden in a tow truck.

Look for real content on Monday . . . sooner if I get to it!



Hey there! Little Pigeon, the first baby goat, is going on a very special field trip. There is a small part of me that is jealous, because she is going to hang out at a preschool with human children and I have always wanted to go hang out at a preschool with human children. There is a bigger part of me that realizes that giving three dozen pony rides would be a little bit more work than giving one or two pony rides as is my usual habit.
I will come back tomorrow with photos from Pigeon's outing, but today I will leave you this: photographic proof that I, too, am fun for preschoolers.

There are a couple of reasons why I, Fenway Bartholomule, am a superior mount for pony rides. The first and most obvious reason is that I am beautiful. My physical appearance lends to the thrill of the ride, creating memories that last a lifetime. What little girl does not dream of a beautiful steed? What boy does not dream of his own mighty charger? I make dreams come true.

I am also reliable. My reliability as a child's mount hinges on two qualities: my obedience to FarmWife's spoken commands and my sensible F.E.A.R.R. response to startling apparitions. Since I rarely spook and since, when I do, it is with frozen feet and a focused gaze, I can be trusted not to do any unseating of my rider in the case of the Unexpected. 

As far as my behavior under normal circumstances—the spook-free Fenway that you know and love—I am predictable then, too. When it comes to directing my actions, my little rider can have the conceit of full control. I were to take a notion to, for instance, meander towards a tastier but unauthorized grass patch, I might be stopped in my tracks by the merest look from FarmWife. My little rider could utter a weak "whoa" and see immediate results, were the nearby FarmWife to make a simultaneous gesture of the same meaning. Neat trick, thinks Kiddo. And voila! A lifetime love of riding is born. Thanks to me, Fenway Bartholomule.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Top Five Ways to Demonstrate Rideability

When you have a new and visually abnormal symptom, but when you're sound and comfortable, there can arise a situation where your human finds you less ready for a ride than, in truth, you are. There may come a day when you feel fit and eager, but when your human wants to cold-hose and hand-walk you. For the sound mount with the new cosmetic blemish, such as me with my thoroughpin, I offer these five strategies:

1. Gamboling and cavorting. This can involve galloping, if you are a horse of cheetah-like quickness, or trantering, if you are a mule who likes to err on the gentle side of things. It should involve things like propping and turning, leaping and jumping, and fast acceleration and braking, so as to demonstrate by hard use the suitability of your joints to their purpose.

2. Baleful braying. A plaintive cry at other-than-feeding-time will convey to your human the message that you want her company for more than just meal service and nursing . . . that you miss the companionable adventures you ought to have been having. Bray loudly, and bray often. When she walks away after a nice grooming and some flyspray, bray like your heart is breaking. She will see the hole in your heart where a ride should have been.

3. Shining. Few humans can resist the urge to tack up a rippling, glistening panther like me, Fenway Bartholomule, in my incoming summer coat. When your human arrives to groom you and to palpate your injury, stand firm for her examination and be unflinchingly glossy. 

4. Being plump. There is a place in the human mind for thoughts such as these: "His fitness will suffer with too much time off. He's getting fat on air and cutting back on exercise will just make it worse. Joint strain isn't helped by extra pounds." If you're really eager to get back to work, steal the goats' hay, graze at every opportunity, and think fatty thoughts. 

5. Compromising. If you cannot convince your human to take you trotting on the gravel roads or to take you cantering on the pipeline trail, and when she will not be swayed to let you summit precipitous slopes, be willing to meet in the middle. Ground-driving is my favorite compromise activity, because it is new enough to be intellectually stimulating without being physically strenuous. It's no endurance ride, but it beats hanging about like an invalid! 

Now, having suffered the humiliation of an ice wrap for half an hour this morning, I'm ready to negotiate. I'm off for a bit of frolicking, followed by an hour or two of being chubby. In the meantime, FarmWife has been on the phone with her very reasonable vet who assures her that I am probably going to be fine. 


Fenway Bartholomule

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Real Estate

There's trails in them thar hills.

Unfortunately for yours truly, the trails are privately owned by the Trillium corporation, which is suffering some financial difficulties as of late. What was verbal permission, obtained in 2008, has turned to no permission at all as the land has been posted with No Trespassing signs at every inroad. Much of it goes on the auction block on June 4th as part of a  timber land package.

Seeing as my "get rich quick on the internet" scheme doesn't seem to have fruited yet, I won't be offering up the 1 million dollar opening bid. I do, however, have an even better idea.
All we need is one very mulish and wealthy reader to jump on board with me, and we will have the makings of a wonderful adventure!

Here's the proposal:

Wickersham Equestrian Center and Convention Place.

It will feature trails (already present), camping (there are some lovely spots), an indoor arena/barn/trail course/stadium jumping arena/dressage court (at a modest extra cost), a cross country course, driving trails (already present, pending some modest accessibility changes), big rig parking, and a big "ears to you" from Wickersham's very favorite welcomer . . . me, Fenway Bartholomule. Together, we can host wonderful three-day events, dressage shows, driving trials, mule symposiums, clinics, benefit rides, mule auctions . . . you name it! It could become the nation's hottest mule destination since Bishop, California. It could become the world's biggest horse attraction next to WEG and Rolex!

Southern Whatcom county needs a public arena and XC schooling course, and I need more trail access security. It's a perfect, win-win situation.

So, wealthy donor: you just need a couple million dollars, plus a couple more for development . . . some kick-ass liability insurance, a skilled team of architects, engineers, and builders, a good facility manager, and a few years of dedicated service from all of them. In exchange for your contributions, I offer my services as your PR person and official Greeter.

"Fenway Bartholomule welcomes you to the Wickersham Equestrian Center and Convention Place. Please enjoy your stay!" Has a ring to it, doesn't it?

Eagerly awaiting your reply,

Monday, May 10, 2010

A conversation

Me: I've got bug bites on my chest.

FarmWife: My pooooor Baaaaaby!!

Me: Now, that's a bit much. I'll live.

FarmWife: You'll be safer if you wear this.

Me: This?! This tattered old bathrobe? This rag that, by the way, used to belong to your 16.3 hand draft cross?

FarmWife: More coverage.

Me: It looks silly.

FarmWife: Bugs hate light blue.

Me: I see the bugs in the sky, FarmWife. Remind me what color the sky is?

FarmWife: Oh stop. You look wonderful.

At least I get to wear my cool flymask, too. It makes up for the dorky pajamas.


My long-suffering husband enjoys my company, and my being completely fullfilled in life, motherhood, and farmwifery has led to growing joy in our relationship. I am happier now than I was a few years ago, and my children and husband have been glad to see me on this side of a long sulk. I couldn't love them more, and I feel appreciated like never before.

One dangerous side-effect of joyfulness, at least to the innocent bystander, however—the predisposition to bursting into song.

I've always liked to sing, and still carry fond memories from middle- and high school choir classes. Nonsense songs of love and thanks to my mule, sung while I ride, silly songs of fun and adventure for my children, sung while we play, and beautiful songs of soaring majesty for the hell of it, sung in the privacy of my car, are symptoms of my joy. It is not a bad thing, but . . . But. There are only so many times a man can listen to his wife sing, "If I Only Had a Brain" before he goes a little batty. There is only so much patience that a man can muster for hearing "Mahna Mahna" for the five-hundredth time.

Mat, bless him, has never said he'd rather I didn't sing. He's never accused me of embarrassing him in public, and he's never claimed I've anything but a lovely voice. He has, on occasion, said things like, "it must be hard, having that song in your head all the time." Things like, "still singing this one? At least it's a good song." When I sing "Bohemian Rhapsody"while washing dishes, with my girly attempts at falsetto and all, he holds his tongue. When he does comment, it's usually kind: "It's nice to hear you singing."

A Modest Ride

Dear Readers,

I had hoped to offer you stunning photos of rugged places, daring tales of physical triumph, and swashbucking adventures retold in colorful detail after my Sunday ride with FarmWife. Instead, I will tell you a secret:

I am physically imperfect.

Not by much—I am an Adonis, beautiful in my masculine strength and chiseled beauty—but by just enough to prove that I am of this Earth.

We took it easy on Sunday, because I had a touch of swelling in my off hock. By a touch, I mean an amount that would never have been visible to any but the most attentive of humans—a swelling of about the same size as the pile of sugar that FarmWife has in her morning coffee.

FarmWife calls it thoroughpin. I'm sound on it, it comes and goes, it never pains me and it's never tender to the touch nor upon flexion. Just a soft little pouch of malleable imperfection that sometimes gives cause for rest.

We walked down yonder road, hoping that my hock would go down with light exercise. It didn't, so we refrained from mulish exertion. We continued with "light work," FarmWife dismounting that we might practice ground driving and enjoy a lower-impact outing.

We were accompanied by a grinning and high-tech hound dog for most of our walk. He joined us early-on in the logging tract and stayed at our side for some time before wandering away. He was tricked-out with several radio collars and three forms of ID, and had a most pleasant demeanor. He offered, I must say, the finest canine companionship I have enjoyed these many months. The sort of trail dog that sticks with you without being under foot, except for the fact that he must not have stuck with his hunting master, being as he was at the side of a stranger mule and human. Who knows at what stage of which hunt he was mislaid, but there was a happy ending.

FarmWife memorized the phone number on the lonesome hound before he parted from our company, and then ground-drove me home, causing neighbors to marvel as she passed in her imaginary carriage. (They might have granted her her made-up vehicle if they new the prices of real ones!). Upon arriving at Bent Barrow Farm, she called the dog owner. He reported, happily, that his dog had turned up at a residence and was secure pending pickup.

I will let you know how our next adventure goes. Until then, I remain—

your friend,

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Trail Notes, or the Bird that Almost Ate my Ears.

(Photo courtesy the city of Orange Beach.)

I, Fenway Bartholomule, just returned from a lovely trail ride with FarmWife. We don't have time to write much now, as she is due for some midday Motherhood celebrations, but I just wanted to bray you a brief hello.       (hello!)

I will tell you all about our outing tomorrow, but for now I will mention the Eagle.

We have a great deal of wildlife in Wickersham, and bald eagles are no novelty here. They are things that eat chickens.

They are also darned big birds. If eagles were horses, they'd be shires. If they were dogs, they'd be mastiffs. If they were rats, they'd be those South African pouched rats that people potty-train and keep as novelty pets. Huge.

Today, a bald eagle swooped so low over the delicious and tantalizing ears of Yours Truly that I feared for their safety. If I had been a rodent—even a pouched rat—I would have been plucked bodily from the grasp of the Earth.

I am glad I am not a rodent.


Friday, May 7, 2010

On Food, Weather, and an Honorary Mule

1. Today my weekly bale arrived, succulent and divine as ever. New, delicious, tremendous hay, despite the technical difficulties that the hay-disgorging Volvo had been experiencing (as mentioned on facebook). Hallelujah! I was not meant to be a forager, living as I do behind a fence. It's take-out for me.

2. The sun is shining! I have access to the grassy delights of my paddock for the first time in a week. I have had a most splendiferous roll and have nibbled many a tasty morsel already this morning. No longer do the goats taunt me with their unfettered access to my favorite hideaways—now, we graze together.

3. It's Friday. This means a trail ride looms large in my immediate future! We shall explore the beautiful and rugged places, and FarmWife will sing to me of her love whilst I carry her into the cool and shaded forest. I will bring back pictures.

Now, numbers 2 and 3 are mixed blessings for blog readers, because a sunny, trail-ridish weekend in Wickersham means no computer time for yours truly. We'll be back on Monday with many happy reports. In the meantime, contemplate this important breaking news:

I, Fenway Bartholomule, hereby pronounce Amigo the Arab to be an honorary mule of the first order. Amigo was given a 2% chance of survival when he was found at his barn in January with a three-foot tree limb embedded in his side. With broken ribs and a collapsed lung, Amigo surprised his veterinarians and loving keepers by keeping his feet under him (for the most part), his kind spirit intact, and his health on the mend. Mulelike stoicism? Check. Mulelike beauty? Check. Mulelike endurance? Check. Mulelike self-preservation? Check. Only a mule could have sought help from his humans and loaded himself in the trailer under such dire circumstances, and none but a mule could endure three months of hospitalization with nary an unkind gesture. Let's give it up for His Honorary Muleness Galapagos Amigo, who is back at home—still healing, and showing more mulish resilience with every passing day!

Your friend,