Monday, July 30, 2012

A proposal

Whereas I, Fenway Bartholomule, have a chronic hunger which is not satisfied by nibbling upon the invisible grasses of my overgrazed acre;

Whereas Arrietty G. Teaspoon, my most constant companion, has a chronic hunger too and is adorable when fat;

Whereas the humans spent all day yesterday laboring to stuff my small barn to the gills with fresh, delectable grasses in abundant, succulent bales;

Whereas the goats have sinister intentions towards the grasses, such as an intention to strew the stems about and urinate upon them;

Whereas the tower of bales within my barn obscures my view of the far wall, which was a sight lovely to behold with it's 2x4 framing and it's felt paper liner;

Whereas the humans sacrificed themselves most mightily in order to stuff my barn, obtaining multiple stings upon the head and neck from angry paper wasps, who are now dead for their sins;

Whereas there is no time like the present,

I, Fenway Bartholomule, propose that all of the hay be given to me at once. A meager flake, morning and evening, is hardly enough to keep life and limb together.

Chew on that idea, FarmWife, while I watch the new hay from behind this electric fence.


Thursday, July 26, 2012


I told my tutoring students to write a short story using the entire alphabet, in order, to begin their sentences. They told me I had to do it too. Here's my effort:

"A bird's company"

Absentmindedly, Hazel stroked her parrot's ruffled grey chest, breathing in the sweet, dusty smell of him. Bird had been with her for most of her life, she realized—since before memory, a squawking, feathered familiar. Counting backwards, Hazel decided that Bird was 54, she 58. Dad, who had been Bird's first love, was dead.

Earlier that year, Hazel's father had handed her Bird's plastic travel cage. Fearing more for the bird than for himself, he had gotten the African Gray's affairs in order not long after his cancer diagnosis. "Good Bird," he had said, his gruffness hiding threatening tears. "Hazel will mind you." 

In the intervening months, Bird and Hazel had doctored one another's loneliness. Just thirty days after Bird had moved into Hazel's third floor condominium, their patriarch had died a slow, quiet, softened-by-morphine death. Kindred in their grief, Bird and Hazel had both worn gray to the funeral, only a red scarf and tail feather breaking the cement-hued scene. 

Loneliness had brought Hazel and Bird closer, since, and they spoke for hours of their hopes, of their histories, and of the man who had been the only family to them both. "Mother left before you came," Hazel told Bird. "Naughty naughty!," Bird scolded in reply.

Over the course of one winter, Bird and Hazel bonded like they never had during childhood. Pestering Hazel with his mundane cries of "Pretty Bird!" and "Wanna cracker?," Bird drove Hazel to teach him a more diverse vocabulary. "Quivering clamshells!," he learned to squawk. "Rosy red rhinoceroses!" Soon, Bird had a vocabulary to rival the Oxford English Dictionary. 

Throughout that winter, when Hazel thought she was teaching Bird, he was teaching her, too. Unwind by singing every evening. Vent your frustrations. Wash your face before breakfast. 

"Xerxes of Persia!," the parrot screamed when Hazel covered his cage at bedtime. "You yammering yak!" 

"Zip it," Hazel would sigh, smiling, before climbing under the covers, touching a bedside photo of her father, and drifting off to a dreamless sleep. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Goats with pink horns, duck whispering, and moles

1) Pinkerton, the stray goat with pink horns: here he is, as promised. The animal shelter reports that he will move to New Moon Farm (a goat sanctuary) on Saturday.

2) Quacktacular success: Dylann, my middle human filly, has trained her duck Pickle to heel. Pickle adores Dylann, who spends time with him in the barnyard each day. Pickle runs to her feet and gently pecks them for attention whenever she emerges from the house. Pickle prefers Dylann to his ducky wives.

Meanwhile, Pickle's ducky wives (Princess Dewdrop and Junebug, respectively) don't care a bit for their human mistresses. The only difference? Time. Dylann has put in a lot of it, and it shows! We are all terribly proud of Dylann for being such a good duck whisperer. 

3) Goats, secret agents, and villany: one day, FarmWife came home to a terrible scene of devastation and disorder. The goats, by some trickery, had gained access to the garbage and pulled it into their stall! This was inconceivable

A little investigation revealed that the garbage had been tipped by a mole! The goats must somehow have conspired with this garden-variety spy to emerge at precisely the right location, at precisely the right time, to send the rubbish cascading in the direction of the goat pen. A little reaching with their go-go-gadget necks, and voila! The trash was theirs. 

Goat, garbage, spilled can. "Who, me?" (Feigns innocence.)

Fresh mole hole

That's all the news that's fit to print! 


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Divining for strays

FarmWife has a knack for finding lost things. So far, her tally of recent stray animal pick-ups includes seven horses, a pony, a Saint Bernard, a Pomeranian, a pitbullish mix, two cattle, a German wirehaired pointer, and a Holland lop rabbit. This week, she found an alpine goat buckling. With the way he was running up and down the road, carrying on and bleating, she figured him for a freshly-dumped bottle baby. He loved people. His horns were painted pink.

Animal control is very good here in Whatcom County. Not only do they continue to come out each time FarmWife calls, but they never complain when she phones for daily updates. This goat is doing well, with no owner claims on file yet. Shelter staff assume he'll wind up at a local goat sanctuary in Arlington, Washington.

I'll share pictures of Pinkerton (as we took to calling him) tomorrow. In the meantime, don't lose your livestock—if you do, FarmWife just might find them and turn them in!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

A one-horse town?

Wickersham's train depot, 1910. 
FarmWife heard me calling Wickersham a one horse town. "But Fenway," she asked me, "it's more of a two-mule town, isn't it?"

"Well, FarmWife, I'm half horse and Arrietty is half horse. Adds up to one." 

"What about the other halves, then? Isn't it a one horse/one donkey town?"

We put our heads together, and decided that, to the best of our knowledge, Wickersham proper—that is, Wickersham to the exclusion of Innis Creek and N.P. Roads—is a 36 dog, 18 cat, 85 chicken, two mule, two goat, two rabbit, five cow, one parakeet, three duck, one lizard town. Ours is a 19 human, 10 dog street. This is a two mule, two goat paddock. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012


Land: $211,000

Water: $15/month

Seeds: $3 per packet

Compost: free, after feeding the goats, chickens, and mules

A husband who likes to garden: PRICELESS.

Morning agenda

8:00 am   Bray balefully
8:02 am   Receive one scant flake
8:04 am   Experience the daily Picking of the Hooves
8:20 am   Inhale the last microscopic morsels of hay
8:25 am   Roll luxuriantly (right side)
8:26 am   Rise, then re-roll (left side)
8:30 am   Graze upon the imaginary grasses
9:30 am   Experience the daily Currying
10:30 am Give rides to an under-muled urban child (a visiting friend)
11:00 am Watch the daily Lunging of Arrietty, who is fatter than me and who is learning to drive
11:25 am  Synchronized rolling, with Arrietty (right sides)
11:26 am  Synchronized rolling, with Arrietty (left sides)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Computer wrangling

"Never in my years as a mule blogger," I told her, "have I missed four days in a row."

"Never in my years as owner of a mule blogger," she told me, "have I had this much work to do."

"I could blog while you're at work," I told her. "You could bring the laptop out here."

"You would make the laptop dusty and hairy and probably squished," she told me.

"I could come in the office," I told her. "I could wipe my hooves on the mat."

"I would get in trouble," she told me. " Some people don't like having mules in the house."

"Then you must make time," I told her. "There must be time for your transcription work."

"I will make time," she told me. "I will always transcribe for you."

No one understands me so well as FarmWife, and no one is better suited to do the important work of putting my words onto the internet. It's a finger thing, I think.


Friday, July 13, 2012


Last time I wrote (nearly a month ago. Gulp! Sorry about that!), I was broker than broke and rather busy looking for work. Not much came of my active search, but do you know what? The moment I stopped looking, opportunity knocked.

It turns out that resigning myself to not finding an additional contract job was just the ticket, because I've since been recruited to perform conference programming services for my very favorite long-term contract employer and been offered an old position at a local printing shop. The latter obligation, which now occupies about 20 of my hours every week, is comfortably familiar and fits spectacularly with my busy schedule. They seem glad to have me back, and I probably don't have to tell you that I'm happy to be back on the payroll!

It's a joyful thing, self-employment, but I love a regular paycheck. This way, I get both!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You are missed

Dear Grammy and Grandpa,

Thank you for coming to Wickersham and bringing the sun. We are still enjoying it! Arrietty's fuzzy belly hairs have almost fallen out.

Thank you for bringing carrots! FarmWife is rationing the remaining delectables to prevent excessive fatness. "We do not grow fat," I tell her. "We grow more voluptuous."

Thank you for saying I am beautiful! FarmWife knows, and I know, and I know FarmWife knows, but it's always nice to have it confirmed by a third party.

With love,

Your Grandmule, Fenway Bartholomule

To your departure, I say "phlllllbttttttttttttt!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Canvas Prints

I didn't get into blogging for the free stuff, but it sure doesn't hurt! The kind folks over at Easy Canvas Prints wanted me to have a canvas print of Arrietty to review here on Brays of Our Lives, so they're sending it my way. 

In the meantime, Easy Canvas Prints staff wanted you to have something nice as well. Now through July 31, they're offering you and readers of other animal-related blogs the chance to get 25% off and have 25% of your purchase price donated to several animal charities. For more details about this offer, which includes free shipping, visit

I'll let you know when Arrietty's picture arrives. It's going to be cute, I can tell you that much!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I'm (muppmphgh) sorry (mpphghgmmghmumph) to have been quiet (yumyumpmmmphfhghghgh)  these last few days. (Schhlurp. Smack.)  I've been really busy enjoying carrots . . . you see, my very indulgent grandparents are visiting. (They are the best kind of visitors: the ones who bring treats for the livestock AND ask FarmWife about the proper rate of dispensation of carrots for ultimate muley enjoyment and wellness!)

I'll share pictures tomorrow. Right now (mmphghgghhghhph) I'm far (schlupschurp) too busy.


Friday, July 6, 2012


Do you guys remember the Ear Story? I got dozens of wonderful submissions when I asked you to explain the mysterious nick in my right ear. No, nothing so plain as a livestock tag . . . these were stories of adventure, intrigue, magic, and legend! The winner, by popular vote, was Special Delivery, the one true story of the ear.

Well, your chance to dramatize past horrors has come again! I would like interesting, insightful, absurd, or compelling tales about what may have happened to poor Arrietty's haunches. Something awful, I'm sure: she has parallel scars running down the back of her thighs, and a deep gash in the muscle of her right haunch.

Whomever can give me the most moving story of what happened to Miss Teaspoon's butt will win a Fenway Bartholomule bumper magnet, five Fenway Bartholomule notecards, and a thousand blown kisses. Four finalists will be chosen by me, Arrietty, and FarmWife on or around July 15 and put to a popular vote. Email your submissions to


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Go carefully, Little One. The way ahead is treacherous.

Arrietty has been the lucky recipient of a harness, on loan from our friend Anna Mule of New England. Anna Mule is only a smidge bigger then Arrietty, so the harness looks like it shall work nicely for FarmWife's purposes. FarmWife's purposes are to train Arrietty to wear the harness, lunge, ground drive, and progress to dragging things behind her. (You may remember that I tried the same process, and that I am a master of wearing harness, lunging, and ground driving and a terrible wimp when it comes to dragging things behind me.)
This is Arrietty being readied by her miniature pit crew. 
This is Arrietty growing tired of her grooming
routine. "It's exhausting being 
this beautiful!"

This is Arrietty modeling the harness, which looks a
bit lumpy due to the tied-up traces but which we
assure you will present an elegant picture when hitched. 

This is me counseling Arrietty on the terrible dangers she is to
face. "Go carefully, Little One. The way ahead is treacherous." 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A very particular weather request

Not to be a crumb bum, but this is my wish: that the sun, which has hardly visited Western Washington since mid May, will continue to stay away tomorrow. I want a nice, heavy deluge (like today's, which is almost heavy enough to wash away roads) for the fourth of July. I wish it upon the entire nation, the better for to sooth the overheated masses, to quell Colorado's raging forest fires, and to dampen the excitement of explosive-armed Fourth of July celebrants. When the danger of National Blow Things Up and Terrify the Pets Day has passed, I propose that we all enjoy at least two weeks of lovely weather (shall we say seventy degrees and sunny?) to celebrate.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Two motheaten mules

To all of my friends who are too hot this week, let me bray for you. I know that some of you have been beset by fires, gale winds, and apocalyptic temperatures across the US! It isn't fair and I hope it isn't our new normal.

As for me, I haven't been too hot since August 2011. We still haven't had a proper summer day in Western Washington, which means that my dear Arrietty and I haven't yet bothered to entirely shed our winter coats. Me, I know what to expect (rainy June, nicer July, a week of heat in August) so I'm 90% there. I'm just hanging onto a few guard hairs on my belly. Miss Teaspoon, who is used to living on the east side of the mountains, doesn't know what to make of this misty moisty place where cloudy is the weather! She is still 60% fur, and what remains is coming out in patches. We would laugh if she wasn't too angelic to make fun of.

To the rest of you, all I can say is hang in there, stay hydrated, seek shade, and maybe, someday, come visit my cool green valley.