Sunday, June 19, 2011

A story with sad bits and happy bits

You remember Harriet and B, the housemules, don't you? They are not quite right as mules go (no hooves, poor tails, deformed faces and hips) but they are good, shiny animals. They have good taste in food (hay, not kibble) and generally meet with my approval.

Here was the thing that was worrisome about Harriet and B last year: they had no herd manners. They were not friends. They would have fought, and fought to the death, if they could have. They were Enemies with a capital E, and this was terrible news. Not only did it mean half the space, half the freedom, and half the FarmWife time for each housemule, but it meant no nose bonks or wither nibbles for the two of them. They were missing out.

Here's the very good news, though—this spring, the housemules made up. Here is the miraculous manner in which it happened:

Harriet, who has access to an outdoor yard through a little hole in the wall, made the fateful mistake of sleeping outdoors on a chilly spring night. Maybe it would be better said that FarmWife, underestimating the potential for low temperatures, made the fateful mistake of failing to lock the bunny in for the night.  In the morning, Harriet was hypothermic and injured. Her frostbitten hooves—er, paws—were the worst thing. She was not well.

TLC, medical attention, and warmth brought Harriet back to her lively self soon enough, but her paws were tender for several weeks. FarmWife, being the opportunistic woman that she is, used this time to subject Harriet to something awful—the tormenting presence of the smaller, weaker, more vulnerable B. Harriet, being too damaged to gallop, was unable to attack. The housemules struck a wary truce.

By the time Harriet was well, she had become so used to the presence of B that she even began to look forward to her visits. She began to greet the little one with nuzzles and licks.

They are good friends now. Harriet has healed 100%, FarmWife has learned not to trust a housemule to seek shelter from the cold,  and both housemules have a 24/7 friend. The two share a paddock in warm weather and a comfortable stall in cold.

The moral of this story? "To make enemies into friends, chill the bigger one until hypothermia sets in."

No, no. That doesn't sound right.

"If you want to change your herd dynamics, wait until your aggressor is ill and then take advantage of her weakened state."

Oh, that doesn't sound right either.

How about, "out of hardship arises friendship."



  1. Appreciative thanks once again, Fenway, for a very nice story about your family and friends...and a good life lesson.

  2. Fenway, I love your perspective on things. Mules (house and paddock) rule!


Thanks in Advance for Your Mulish Opinion!