Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Squealing with glee

FarmWife is having one of her "life is beautiful" days. Do you ever get one of those? A day when you look around you and have trouble believing that you ever got so lucky?

It started at feeding time. I didn't want hay, I wanted FarmWife! I snuggled with her, nicker-whuffled at her, and called longingly when she turned to go. She turned back to me. "I love you. You're the BEST." She said it with feeling.

It doesn't hurt that the weather is cooperating (sunny, blue-yellow, warm) or that the preschooler is cooperating (joyful, well-rested, compliant).

FarmWife IS lucky, and life IS beautiful.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Art by Sue Kroll
FarmWife wants to get some sort of extra-squishy mattress thingy for her Paisley dog. She says it's because he's getting old, and that old people need comfort.

I point out that I am 17 and he his 9, which makes me not-quite-but-almost twice as deserving of an old-people mattress as him!

She points out that I am vigorous and spry.

I point out that I am big, and that bigness makes people get pressure sores sometimes.

She points out that I stand for 23 out of every 24 hours, and that she has never seen a mule with skin as healthy as my skin, and that I have built-in extra-squishy mattress thingies all over my body in the form of fat deposits. (Yes, I'm still on a diet, and yes, I'm still more voluptuous than slim.)

I point out that even cows get mattresses:

She points out that most of those cows would happily trade their mattress for my freedom:

We've compromised: she's got a line on a truckload of shredded bark for my shed. She promises I'll like it.

Sweet dreams!


Monday, November 28, 2011

A little disagreement

FarmWife and I have been looking at blanket options for me, and I'm thinking of something that will make me look roughly like this:

FarmWife, on the other hand, keeps proposing outfits that look like this: 

I think we'll reach a compromise when I can find a waterproof mule tuxedo. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I've had trouble finding the right blanket for my unique physique, so I've prepared a little slideshow to help you understand the various ways in which my wardrobe is unflattering. I've used human models, the better for to relate to you, my beloved bipedal readers. 

The way I look in my too-dangly plaid blanket. 
The way I look in my too-short high-neck blanket.

The way I look in my too-tight blue blanket. 

Tomorrow, I'll try to find you some pictures of what I'd rather look like. I just have to negotiate with FarmWife about which human man is cute enough to stand in as me, Fenway Bartholomule. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

the frustration of monaural hearing

It continually astounds my family that I can pick up a muttered word in another part of the house on an average quiet evening but that I cannot hear someone four feet away shouting, "Marnie! Marnie!" while the tap is running. That I can hear my mule braying from a mile away but that a person speaking to me in a moderately noisy auditorium might as well be a Martian speaking utter gobbledegook. That I can understand you perfectly when we speak face-to-face but that if you approach and speak to me while I'm already in a conversation my brain may completely paint you out of the picture. Why I ignore you when I've been listening to the TV, or the radio, or another person. Why I act as if you don't exist.

I think my brain has learned to shut out sounds that it can't cope with, reducing the confusion of monaural hearing by listening to as little as it can at any one time. Here's an example: when I'm walking with my family and hear a truck passing on the highway a mile away, I suddenly become deaf to words. I only hear the vehicle, and I can't tune back in to what's around me until I identify its location. My brain screams, "truck!" and my thoughts scatter like sheep.

I was looking for online information about clinical research today—hoping, actually, to sneak into some sort of tinnitus study—and I found an article that was, in its own way, cheering. It was published by the National Institute for Rehabilitation Technology, and this is the relevant paragraph:

"The human brain processes the signals from the two ears in a very special, coordinated way. One of the most important of these brain processes is that which cancels background noises so that the person can better discriminate and understand a person's voice that is mixed in with all the background noise (as in a factory, motorboat, party with loud music, etc.). Another of these brain processes enables a person with two good ears, to hear three or four people speaking at the same time - in a place without background noise - and be able to listen to just the one voice that is of interest. EXCEPTIONS to these benefits occur when a person has lost most or all of the hearing in one ear. (1) Unaided, this person understands very little of human speech under either of the conditions just described." (Emphasis mine).

It's true. It's bizarre. It belies the high functioning of my useful ear, which does a pretty good job most of the time, and it's hard to explain. "Why," my loved ones must ask themselves, "can she not hear me? Why, when she's not really that deaf?"

Some good news—a friend of mine who used to be an audiologist tells me that CROS (contralateral routing of signal) systems do help people like me. After talking with her and doing a little research, I really want to try it. Without health insurance I don't think I'll be trying it soon, but it is exciting to think that there might be a way to give my brain a little of the audible stimuli it's been lacking—a way to hear more than one thing at a time again, and maybe get a better picture where that truck is coming from.

Happy buy-nothing day!

FarmWife needs some new elastic and snap ends for me—her mom gave her a Hug blanket that's just my size, but it needs some minor repairs. Unfortunately, she refuses to go to the store today. Calls it "Buy Nothing" day.

Tomorrow, in honor of Small Business Saturday, FarmWife will buy my straps and snaps at the local hole-in-the-wall sewing and hardware stores, respectively.

Decal by Nicker Stickers
If you're looking for a small business to patronize this year, consider a Fetching Tag for your four-legged loved ones. They're my favorite form of identification (I have five of my own, plus a handful for my goats and dogs). for more information.

If you want a REALLY small business, remember that FarmWife's 2-for-1 poetry offer still stands. Buy a commissioned poem for one of your loved ones this November, mention this offer, and she'll write you a second poem, free! There's plenty of time for your Christmas orders—what a great way to get hard-to-buy for relatives taken care of, eh? for details.

I must, too, give a plug to my kind sponsors and friends—among them, Chimacum Tack for harness and accessories, Nicker Stickers for custom window decals, FoalinAround for personalized jewelry, Blocky Dogs for BIG dog (or steer or mule) collars, Paco for unique leather dog collars, Sue Kroll for mule paintings, Wind River Woolens for wool products, Stirling Design for graphics, and Equestrian Clearance Warehouse which is not a small business but which did give FarmWife some dapper new boots.

Happy shopping, if that's your thing today, and many carroty delicacies to you and yours.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm thankful for my handy husband

Among the many, many blessings in my life—kind, imaginative children; sweet, extraordinary pets; a bountiful garden; loving friends; a close-knit community; a place to live in a beautiful corner of the world—I have a husband who is very, very good with his hands (among other things). It amazes me when Mr. Puddle Run turns a pile of scrap lumber into a useful structure, and it amazes me when he goes shopping for a project and knows just what to buy and how to use it. His intellectual and physical aptitude combine to make him a skillful remodeler, which works to make our home tremendously more beautiful, comfortable, and enjoyable than I ever thought it could be. Mr. PR, with virtually no budget, has managed to move walls, lay floors, add storage, hang doors, repair sheetrock, install windows, and so on. I do what I can—painting walls, steadying loads, fetching tools, laying tile—but Mr. PR is the master. He envisions and then executes the building of sound, beautiful things. He does so quickly and affordably, too, which turns his work from craftsmanship into something closer to magic.

Mr. PR and I dream of building a house together someday, and I think we both know that means he will build and I will help. I hope to be a good and useful helper, and to that end I practice when I can.

Thank you, Mr. PR, for making our home better.


Giving thanks

FarmWife, for your love . . . 
FarmHusband, for your hard work . . . 
FarmDaughters, for your kind attentions . . . 
Goats, for your companionship . . . 
Chickens, for scratching away the creepy crawly things . . . 
Housepets, for keeping me abreast of the humans' affairs . . . 
Readers, for your friendship (and for visiting my website 157,000 times). . . 
Russ, for growing my hay . . . 
Nicker Stickers, Sue Kroll, Fetching Tags, Blocky Dogs, Paco Collars, Equestrian Clearance, and Chimacum Tack, for your sponsorship . . .
Granny Joan, for helping FarmWife buy me . . . 
Uncle Jim, for selling me to FarmWife . . .
Bill and Mel, for noticing when I was afraid and calling FarmWife to tell her . . . I give thanks. 

To all of my friends—you who've shared your thoughts, your creativity, your words, your gifts, your art, your energy, your time, your goods, and your friendship—I'm earfully grateful. 

From the bottom of my noble and capacious heart—thank you all. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A pre-Thanksgiving update

I'm well and warm, dressed in my salvaged rain blanket. FarmWife managed to mend it so that it fits better than before. FarmWife has weighed her options, has gratefully considered all of your input into my plight, and has decided that I'll stay clad this winter. I came to Bent Barrow Farm with rainrot, which is no surprise since we live in a constant frigid deluge from November to January. This blanket will do until I get another.

I've just had a terribly delicious apple core assortment—one each of three varieties that are going into FarmWife's pie, it turns out. Tomorrow, I hope I get a real apple—the middle AND the rest of it.

Do you remember last Thanksgiving? It snowed, and FarmWife gave me sunflower seeds and apple slices for breakfast.

I'm thankful for my cozy shed which keeps me dry, my farmer Russ who grows my hay, my many dear friends of the Interwebs, and of course my FarmWife. I'm thankful for my human children, who groom me, and for my goats. They're not voluptuous blondes, but a mule takes what companionship he can get.

Ears to you and yours,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A terrible story with a happy ending

Art by Xu Beihong
Tragedy was narrowly averted today. I'll tell you how:

I have a blanket strap, torn and ruined after catching on the fence.

I have a fence, mangled and destroyed after catching on the blanket strap.

I have a FarmWife, tired and flooded with adrenaline after rescuing me.

I have neighbors, kind and gentle, who called FarmWife up to tell her that they'd seen her mule galloping over the bridge towards Highway 9. Mel from next door came over to watch the human filly while FarmWife searched for me.

This is how it went then: FarmWife came running over the bridge, panting and calling "muuuule!"  I heard her, and stopped in my tracks. I had been quite busy cantering across the Andersen's lawn, sides heaving, tail in the air. I was still a hundred feet from the highway. (The Highway is where loose livestock go to die in fiery wrecks, FarmWife told me later, but at the time I didn't know that. I thought it was where loose livestock go to escape grabby things.) A couple of other neighbors had assembled and stood sensibly at a distance saying things like, "easy, boy," and "want an apple?"

I heard FarmWife, I stopped, I whirled around, and I went to her. I trotted fancily across the lawn, then bounced up to FarmWife and told her, "oh, I'm so glad you're here. You wouldn't believe what happened. An invisible dragon almost ate me." I put my head in her lap and sighed. I wiped my nose on her tummy (it was running). She haltered me, rubbed my forehead, and took me home, thanking the neighbors on the way.

I am now naked, pending blanket repairs; locked in my little paddock, pending fence repairs; and tired, having just lived through the most exerting experience of my year. FarmWife is relieved that I didn't die under the wheels of a logging truck, and grateful to all the neighbors for their kindness and composure.

So there you go, friends—a good safe fence and a good safe blanket added up to a near-death experience, which proves that even mules are not immune from the horse-like condition of managing to almost die for very stupid reasons.

Now, the big question: should FarmWife get me a new blanket with more secure fasteners or should she leave me nude? She likes me cozy, not to mention clean on riding days, but she doesn't like me getting hung up. She thinks a different brand might suit me (this one has too much drop, meaning the blanket ends at my knees instead of at my tummy), but she's a little spooked by today's events. Your thoughts are welcome.

Ears to you,
Fenway Bartholomule

Monday, November 21, 2011

What I learned from Caroling 2010

Caroling 2010 was, all in all, a success. Still, there are always lessons to be taken from every experience. Last year I learned a few things:

1) The humans should practice in advance. There are certain things a mule should never be forced to hear.

2) Rental reindeer are wonderful, but a mule must not get too attached. It's hard when your reindeer leaves at the end of the day.

3) Rain + caroling does not equal disaster (though snow would be better).

4) It really does get dark at around 4, and it wouldn't hurt to get on the road earlier in the day.

5) Photos of me in my splendid wreath, bells, and hat should be taken well before dusk.

6) Most neighbors are gracious and one is a scrooge, but I won't say who.

With these lessons in mind, please await the release of TWO important December dates: 1) caroling rehearsal, at which all humans will be expected to eat some hors d' oeuvres and practice a handful of songs. and 2) Caroling 2011, at which all humans will be expected to deliver cheer door-to-door along the verdant lanes of Wickersham, Washington in the company of an earful mule.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The window

painting by Johann Georg Meyer
FarmWife used to have a great big comfy office with a window right out onto the lawn. It happened to be that I would get turned out right beside her workspace on certain sunny summer days. We could work side by side—her at the computer on her various editing projects and me on the other side of the glass on my mastication of the delicate grasses. It was beautiful.

Then FarmWife's littlest child grew big enough for a room of her own, and FarmWife and Husband made a tremendous sacrifice. They gave up their master bedroom, moved into the former office downstairs, and turned an upstairs nook—what was once a master closet—into a windowless pit of a room. FarmWife now works in a space about as cheery and soulful as the inside of a breadbox (but with fewer delicious baked goods), but she is rewarded with easy bedtimes which include no fighting about how many nightlights to keep on, whether to listen to lullabies on the CD player, or who's humming herself noisily to sleep.

Help is on the way! FarmHusband, who is terribly clever at turning bits of wood into beautiful buildings, has undertaken to make the space cheerful and bright. A real wall will replace the mustard-yellow blanket that divides the office from the adjacent bedroom, new sheetrock will provide a canvas for cheery paint, and best of all a WINDOW will look out upon the horse chestnut tree, the woodshop, and the pasture beyond.

The woodshop, which stands directly between the office and the mule shed, will block my most direct view of FarmWife's new window.  I will have to walk out to the pasture to summon her with a glance, but I think that at the very least my voice should carry better through two layers of glass than it does, presently, through an exterior stud wall.

FarmWife can't wait to report from inside her new-and-improved workspace, which should come together in the next week or two. She promises to hang a great many photos of me, Fenway Bartholomule, upon it's fresh and lovely walls. I'll let you know.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beverage menu

There are a variety of beverage options on Bent Barrow Bistro's winter menu.

A) There's icy water in the big half barrel, which gets stirred several times daily and usually has a sort of a slurpee consistency.

B) There's icy water in the little tub, which is low-volume enough to freeze nearly solid on a cold night and which must suffer the removal, by FarmWife, of a large ice slab each morning.

C) There's tepid water in the navy blue five-gallon bucket. This comes from FarmWife's bathtub's "tepid" setting.

D) There's well-temperature wellwater in the gray-blue five-gallon bucket. This comes from the no-freeze hose bib or, if the no-freeze hose bib is frozen, then from FarmWife's bathtub's "cold" setting. The no-freeze hose bib, you may have deduced, is not really what it purports to be.

I like drinking from B, the little tub, which I do until it's empty. Then I go over and drink from A, the big half barrel. I do this gently, using my snout in stirring motions so as to work around the ice. I slurp, pause, slurp, pause, and slurp. Meanwhile, FarmWife stands near buckets C and D saying, "Come try this, Fenny! It's warm and nice! Have a sip!"

Missy likes drinking from bucket C. She'll have a half gallon of warmish water for breakfast and another for dinner in cold weather, which FarmWife loves to see.

B.G. likes to take a sip from C, a sip from D, a sip from C, and a sip from D. I think this is because she knows she can dominate us all with the power of her goat slime. Saliva-infested waters give her dominion over all of the creatures of the paddock.

FarmWife has tried emptying buckets A and B on icy days and filling them, fresh, with water from the house. I stand about until they've frozen, then I make a little hole with my snout, enlarge it with some head-swirls, and drink.

I am practicing for the apocolypse, in-case I ever have to be a wild mule. I'll want to know how to overwinter without an electric water heater.

Bottoms up!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vocabulary words

FarmWife hasn't ridden me in MONTHS! I'm not exaggerating. First she was working too much, then she was at a conference, then I had a stone bruise, then her kid was in the hospital, then it started to rain terrible, slushy rain. She's huddled in a warm house beside a crackling fire and I'm huddled in a cold shed beside a belching goat.

FarmWife still visits me every day. She feeds me hay in the morning, a snack in the afternoon (sometimes a rose hip, sometimes a pear, and sometimes a handful of sunflower seeds), and hay in the evening. She warms my water when it's cold and freshens it up when it's dirty. She cleans my shed. She opens my pasture gate when the sun is out and closes it when the weather's rainy.

We have a language: "Heeeee-Hawwww-Hee-HEE-HEEEEEAaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwww!" means "feed me," and her conventional reply is "poor hungry baby!!" She yells it to me, and it assures me that she knows about my plight. I stop braying and wait, and eventually food comes.

If she does not reply with "poor hungry baby," I worry. I bray again until I'm sure she hears.

If I'm not hungry, I say "hooo-hoo-hoo-huh" to her. It's a gentle sort of thing to say, and it means "I love you with my heart AND with my stomach." I usually say it when she comes back from the school bus—this is a time when I've already been fed, and when I know a whuffly thank you will be welcome.

If FarmWife wants to hear a full-fledged bray, she says "MuuuuuuuuuuuuuuLLLE!"  I scream "HEEEAwwww!" and gallop to her.  This happens most, but not all, of the time, and she is happiest when She is happiest when these times correspond to her attempts to show me off to a friend or visitor. Other times, she calls "MuuuuuuuulLLLE!" and I look up with a bored expression, nicker weakly, and go back to grazing.

If she wants to hear my whuffle, she says "Hoooo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo Fenny." I "hooo-hoo-hoo" back.  Her heart melts a little, even though we say "hoo-hoo" to each other every single day.

I may not be able to carry FarmWife up the precipitous slopes of Lyman Hill today, but don't think we aren't having quality time. We are.


Hello again

October was a busy month for me professionally, as I prepared for and then attended a conference in Virginia for my biggest editing client. I've also taken on a few odds and ends—small contract jobs, a teaching position, and a couple of volunteer gigs (editing newsletters for both of my daughters' elementary schools).

I haven't ridden in several months—there was work, and then there was a stone bruise, and then there was a conference, and now there's weather. It's pissing rain outside but I've got a toasty fire.

I've been daydreaming about more land, a barn, a meadowbrook carriage, a new roof, and a Jersey cow, but do you know what? I'm happy. There's always another thing to yearn for, but I'm not restless anymore. Even without my favorite form of decompression—trail riding—I'm loving life.

Part of it might be my children's ages: no one is in diapers, everyone goes to bed on time, and everyone's capable of going on a hike or sleeping in a tent or helping with the chores. We had an active summer as a family, and it promised even better summers to come. Mr. Puddle Run has even agreed that we can take Fenway packing in the mountains after a dry run with backpacks (sans mule). Having a 900 pound bellhop to deal with our luggage makes backcountry camping sound manageable!

Part of it is having rewarding work. I love my job, and I'm good at it. I'm still learning, which feels great, and yet I know what I'm doing. It's wonderful, and if it continues to gain momentum then I can imagine doing this full-time next year when R starts kindergarten.

Part of it is knowing that a big dream—riding a lot, like I once did as a child—is almost within reach. It won't be long until the kids are old enough to let me go for a couple of hours here and there. I don't need to compete, to buy a fancy warmblood, or to take a lot of lessons, but I do need to ride often enough to keep fatty in shape. It's not like riding a motorcycle, where you dust it off and cruise down the coast when you get a free weekend. I fantasize daily about having my mule fit enough for a truly ambitious ride, but that takes a commitment of time that I just can't make right now.

Part of it is being happy in my marriage—my husband is amazing, and we're better together now than we've ever been. He and I have both changed a lot since we met, but we're changing in a complimentary fashion. We're growing together, not apart. He's happy in his work, I'm happy in mine, and we're happy together. He compliments me. My weaknesses are his strengths.

I wouldn't turn my nose up at a barn or a Jersey cow, but I've got a lot to be thankful for already this Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leveraging my incredible, cosmic power for good

Update on the biggest human child: she had her appendix out yesterday, as I mentioned on my Facebook page, and it went well. She's resting now and will probably be out of the hospital by dinner time.

Do mules have appendices? I hope not! They sound like icky little organs if you ask me.

What I really wanted to tell you, though, is that I, Fenway Bartholomule, am on a mission to eat more Cheerios. And granola bars. And fruit roll-ups. And cake.

Actually, FarmWife doesn't let me eat any of those things but I would if I could. Do you know why? Each and every one of those things comes in a box with this upon it:

This is a powerful little pencil thingy! If I collect them and give them to the larval humans' elementary school, it benefits educational programs that will otherwise go unfunded. It helps the kids have a mulish upbringing full of joyful opportunity. 

Do you live near an underfunded but deserving school? If not, do you want to help MY school? You can clip these symbols from Ziploc, General Mills, Hefty, Natures Valley, and Land-o-Lakes products plus many, many, many more (full list here) and mail them to Acme Elementary School, care of Michelle, P.O. Box 9, Acme, Wa., 98220. You can also sign up to have your online shopping count towards educational funding by choosing a school to benefit at this link

If every one of my 1,791 Facebook friends sent in six box tops, my little human's school would have a thousand dollars. Think of it! That's a big number for a small rural school with a tight budget. If you live near an equally deserving school, see if they participate. Chances are these coupons are already sitting in your kitchen. FarmWife was surprised to find four box tops during a recent hunt through her kitchen—four, even though she's a buy-in-bulk, cook-from-scratch, grow-your-own kind of chef. 

Ears, and thanks. I promise that we'll get back to mule business tomorrow. I have to tell you some things about the whuffly bray I've been making lately. 

Fenway Bartholomule

Friday, November 11, 2011

October, wasted.

This is my "nobody made me a cake" face.
October had 31 days, which means FarmWife had 31 opportunities to celebrate my 17th birthday. Here's my reasoning: my bill of sale states "black mule born Oct. '94." (I'm not black, but I'll let that slide). This means every October day is as much my birthday as then next, and no October day has been proven to be NOT my birthday.

FarmWife wished me happy birthday a couple of times but she never—and I mean NEVER—baked me a dessert, nor planned a surprise party. There was no carrot cake.

On a loosely related subject, FarmWife overlooked today's numerological significance—she should have gone to 7-11 for 11 bottles of champagne this morning at 11:11 am on 11/11/11, but she didn't. She stayed home and unthinkingly baked muffins instead. Twelve of them.

FarmWife doesn't mean to be cruel. She says "it's for your health," when I ask about the cake, and "you are frightened of surprises," when I ask about the party.

Just because she's right doesn't mean I have to like it.

Fenway Bartholomule

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breaking news: the world's best snack

I, Fenway Bartholomule, have singlehandedly discovered the world's most delicious snack. Having no hands of my own, I used one of FarmWife's.

She held out the snack, I took it up with my velvety and pliable lips, and I experienced a taste sensation to rival anything Nabisco or Frito-Lay could dream up. The icing on the proverbial cake? My snacks are organic, locally grown, and packed with vitamin C.

The world's most delicious snack is . . . . drumroll please . . . . the ROSE HIP!

I'm not kidding.

Pick up your jaw.


FarmWife says "wahoo!"  She's always looking for low-cal snacks for her plumpest beloved, and Wickersham is full of these tasty little tidbits. In typical Fenway Bartholomule fashion, I have thrilled her. I have delighted her. I have filled her heart with joy.

Try a rose hip, my friend. May you, too, find it delicious.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sterling Silver (rear view)

My FarmWife is home

My FarmWife was too busy on Sunday to write—busy piloting a meadowbrook through the verdant countryside, as I hear it! She saw the National Sporting Library & Museum, COTH headquarters, and a lot of lovely farms. She visited two tack stores. She met a mule.

She is home again, home again (jiggity jog) and glad to be here. The glistening steeds of Virginia horse country have nothing on me, Fenway Bartholomule.

She promises pictures.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Letters from Loudoun County

Dear Fenway,

I've spent today learning all sorts of important things about timber framing. (The better to build a barn for you, my dear! In due time.) I've been missing you, FarmHusband, and the children as well Townes, Desmond, Paisley, Clover, Missy, B.G., Harriet, B-bun, and, to a lesser extent, the chickens, but I'm having fun nonetheless.

I met one corgi, two donkeys, a flock of sheep, and a herd of steers yesterday. Today? A whole lot of humans (great ones, I'll admit). I'm getting a little anxious for some four-legged company—and I don't mean saw horses—but I'll get my kicks in due time. Tomorrow, I'm off to the barn then straight to the airport. I hope my neighbor on the plane won't mind the smell of mules and horses.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Letters from Clark County


Dear Fenway,

I got out of suburbia today and saw some beautiful farms and mills. The farms were full of livestock and the mills were full of grain, so you would have loved the entire tour. I also saw a photo of three horses and an ox hitched together. Can you believe it? You'd have fainted from terror if it had happened to you.

There were a number of verdant pastures on today's tour, and I saw a magnificent hay barn that you would have enjoyed. Were it full, you could eat for ten years and not finish it all.

I met a donkey (above, meeting a friend from New Hampshire) who very nearly talked his way into my suitcase. You would have liked him, I think. I gave his owners your card and I told him to keep in touch. Only time will tell whether writes as well as you.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Letters from Virginia

My dearest Fenway Bartholomule,

I flew American Airlines last night and I regret to say that they have a weight limit of 97 pounds per overhead bin. You would not have fit, even had you sucked in your shining barrel.

I had hoped to report, after my flight, on the millions of acres of delectable grasses spread out beneath my wings, but they're all dead and brown. Washington State and Virginia—my point of origin and my destination, respectively—are both relatively verdant. Virginia, in fact, is lovely! I think you'd find these conference grounds delicious, and I've got a picture of the lawn to bring home for you. It's a wonderful shade of green.

There are no equines at the conference center but I did have lunch with a rider just now. We talked of you and of her five horses. I expect I shall see some hoofbeasts tomorrow when I go on a tour of historic mills and farmhouses—If I meet any beautiful old mares, I will ask them if they are your mother.

I plan to meet a mule on Sunday but I promise to save my ear rubs for you.

Look after FarmHusband and the children for me, and don't let Missy boss them. You know she'll try.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

His and hers trucks

The Volvo has been replaced by a truck, and now FarmWife and FarmHusband have His and Hers trucks. Can you guess which is whose?

OK, maybe you can guess from this angle: