Thursday, August 30, 2012

Boots, faith, and my physical recovery

Here is a tremendous sign of faith in my future soundness: FarmWife has decided that I deserve a brand new pair of hoof boots! It's a bit of a risk: after all, it's a $130+ investment (or more, depending on the brand) for the possibility of future trail rides. If my hock blows up, well . . . then I'll have them on hand, I suppose, for future hoof injuries or unmounted strolls or loaning out to friends.

FarmWife thought she could get away with using my ratty old pair, but they are in such tatters that when she put them on me in the pasture last week I promptly stepped on the disfigured heel area and ripped one of the things to complete and utter smithereens. That sort of hang-up does not bode well for a long life among the serviceably sound, so into the garbage they shall go. (Not really into the garbage: FarmWife's Scottish blood compels her to keep every potentially useful article in the spirit of "waste not, want not," so it's into the parts bin for these boots.)

Wish me luck as I save up for new boots, and even more luck as I try them out this fall. We can all hope, together, that my performance warrants the expense.


I wear boots only on the front—can you tell? 

Monday, August 27, 2012


There is a bizarre phenomenon in Wickersham . . . the grasses grow brown and the earth drifts into the sky in a million minute particles. FarmWife says it's only dust,  but this isn't the dust I know and love. That dust sticks on coats and hooves, but this dust sticks on throats and eyes and nostrils. FarmWife waters our shed floor now, so that our trough, at least, will stay clean.

This dust is the product of one month's steady, uninterrupted sun. I am flummoxed by the question of how you 300-sunny-days-a-year people cope with the stuff!

Otherwise,  all is well in my world. I hope you can say the same!



Sunday, August 26, 2012

I'm a winner!

Last week, I was driving along listening to Click 98.9 (yes, I admit it: I like the same music as my 12 year-old daughter. I also like classier things, but I am not above grooving to a Maroon 5 or Coldplay song) when the DJ asked, "do you want to go see Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge?" "Why yes," I thought, "I do." Do you know what? I was caller number 20. This is something that has never before happened to me, and came as some surprise, which probably explains why I sounded befuddled and falsely enthusiastic when she replayed my, "wow, great!" on the radio five minutes later.

Mr. Puddle Run and I are going to the Gorge next weekend, then, to see DMB and the Avett Brothers and some jazzy other opening band whose 3-minute YouTube video failed to impress. I am prepared for an absolutely spectacular evening.

If you've never been to the Gorge Ampitheatre in George, Washington, know this: it is MARVELOUS. A mini-Grand Canyon-esque venue, it is worth the drive as much for the setting as for the music. I can't wait for Mr. PR to see the venue, which I first experienced in 1999 (Thanks, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon).

I am a winner, and though I am not particularly superstitious I did enter two additional contests, the same day, to win horse trailers. Might as well hope for a lucky streak.


By Daniel from Calgary, Canada
via Wikimedia Commons

Mobile posts

These big ol' hooves of mine make blogging from this tiny little smartphone difficult,  but FarmWife says I must practice. She says that my new smartphone is the solution to this problem of an overly busy transcriptionist. Now I can blog alone from the comfort of my paddock, you see! 

I wonder if I can make voice calls. Send texts?  Play Angry Birds?

The web is mine! I am finally a 21st century mule!




She does not heed the word "stand", which leads to great trouble when there is a gate ajar or when there is a grooming in progress or when there is a photo being taken. Witness the product of FarmWife's photography attempts:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The prettiest mule at the fair!

Well, I've always wanted to go to the Northwest Washington Fair in person but it hasn't worked out yet. Never fear—thanks to my artist friend, I was there in spirit if not in body. Do you remember yesterday when I said I was sure my oil portrait would fare well in the competition? Well, it sure did! "Fenway Bartholomule" won the professional division! Wowee Zowee. I don't know if it's because I'm so darn beautiful, or because I surround myself with such talented people. Shaila, I am honored to have been rendered by such a gifted painter as yourself.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about my recent days. It is a gripping tale of hay flakes, dust baths, and naps in the shade.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Art and a giveaway!

Dear Friends,

Big news in the art world! My oil portrait (by Shaila Tenorio, visible on the right sidebar of my blog) was entered in the Northwest Washington Fair. I'm eagerly awaiting news from the artist about how it did—honestly, I'd be shocked an appalled if it was anything less than a blue ribbon winner. It's that beautiful. The painting usually hangs in FarmWife's living room like so:

What is that second picture, you ask? Well, I'll tell you!

We want to commission a portait of Arrietty too, of course, but that's an expensive proposition that might have to wait. In the meantime, the kind people at gave me a beautiful print-on-canvas of Arrietty (her eye, actually) so that she would not be left out entirely. It is absolutely beautiful, and will hold the place very nicely until such a time as we can afford more original artwork.

Would YOU like a canvas print for your wall? I have two gift cards, valued at $10 each, to give away. To win one, simply post a photo on my facebook wall ( The first gift card goes to the photo with the most "likes," the second to the photo of MY choice. It's that simple!

Ears to you,
Fenway Bartholomule

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two peas in a pod

If you can't stare at invisible scary things with your mini-me, who can you stare at invisible scary things with?

Sunday, August 12, 2012


It must be a small animal thing: Arrietty spends so much time napping with my goats, it's like the three of them have some sort of club. If they had paintbrushes, they'd hang a sign on their treehouse reading "Small, Tired Livestock Only."

The humans do all sorts of "ooh" and "ahh" when my tired, small livestock nap together. Don't worry, though—they ooh and ahh when I shine, too.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


Photo from 
1) a neighbor called this morning and said that FarmWife and her children ought to come pick his blueberries, which were weighing his bushes down to the ground. They picked about a gallon and the bushes looked just as fully loaded when they were done as when they had begun. I think this means it is time for the mules to be unleashed upon the bushes to do the rest. (FarmWife says that would be tacky, and that she was a guest, and that the animals were not asked along.)

2) FarmWife says I am too fat for big snacks like whole apples and carrots but that I can have little snacks like apple slices and carrot sticks. She also says that I can have one little pink treat per day from my good friend Jean in New England. They came in the mail and are delicious! To my friend Jean, my most brayful thanks.

3) The goats can reach the hay, and I cannot, but the goats' penalty for reaching the hay is that they never get a flake of their very own, but only the bites that they steal. I think that's fair.

4) FarmWife does nothing these days but work, work, work, but here is the fruit of her labor: money, which buys hay, which fills our barn until it nearly bursts. She is also proud to announce that she is bringing horses (and their human, from Healing Harvest Forest Foundation) to the Timber Framers Guild conference, the programming of which is what keeps her so busy. If you've ever wanted to learn about sustainable forestry and animal-powered selective logging, this is your big chance! She is so excited about this confluence of her personal and professional interests, she can't even begin to say. (You know you want to come. You just know it.)


Sunday, August 5, 2012


This feels like summer! It's 90 degrees, my legs aren't off-white anymore, and I—who abhors breezes, and like a nice stagnant room—actually have a fan on in my office.

I am loving my current lifestyle among the fully employed: half-time at the print shop, half-time at home as an editor, conference programmer, and journalist. It's a perfect mix between the camaraderie of traditional employment and the freedom of self-employment. It doesn't feel like too much. The paychecks show up like clockwork.

All's well in my world, and if the blog goes quiet for spell here and there then I hope you'll at least remember me as busy, happy, and gainfully employed.


p.s. in addition to all this work, there's play. My new favorite toy: Instagram. Look for my by username "didgery" to keep track of what I'm photographing!

Carrying people

This week I have issued rides to my big, medium, and small human fillies, soundly carrying them hither and thither about my pasture for up to 20 minutes at a time, to no ill effect. In fact, I have carried them so soundly that FarmWife thinks she may be able to ride me again herself one day! My hock has been cool, firm, and swelling-free since May, which is truly remarkable (you'll remember, of course, that it once looked like this, and that I've been to two vets about it, and that it responded to an injection but that the improvement didn't last):

FarmWife thinks Arrietty is to thank for my soundness, as I now wander the pasture for 12 out of every 24 hours, moseying happily about in my little herd of two. In contrast, I used to stand still for 12 out of every 24 hours, wondering what a lone mule is to do with his one long, hungry life. FarmWife thinks it's the walking that's fixed me. 

May your hay be fresh and abundant, may your trails be smooth and scenic, and may all your ailments spontaneously resolve. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Dear FarmWife

Dear FarmWife,

I know life is busier now that you're working full time. Thank you for having the foresight to have my barn open right onto the driveway, where you can bid me good morning and good night as you walk to and from the car!

Thank you for assembling a non-stick professional wardrobe, the better for to throw hay before work (do check your hair in the mirror, though. You're going to want to take care of that dangly thing there.)

Thank you for teaching your medium-sized daughters how to scoop up poop. My paddock still does need cleaning, even when you're busy!

Good luck teaching the littlest daughter to help, but in the meantime, thank you for teaching her which curry combs are NOT to be used on my ticklish bits, and what footwear is NOT to be worn in the paddock, and what the rules are regarding equines, children, and supervisory adults. I'm glad I can be groomed while you clean up around the garden.

Thank you for getting me a little muley friend. Arrietty makes the time pass in a most delightful fashion!

Thank you for cuddling us both morning and evening, before and after work, and for telling us we are beautiful, and for picking our hooves every day.

Thank you for arranging to do half of your work from home, where you can look out the window and see us shining in your pasture. We know the sight delights you, and that makes us happy.

Thank you for promising to use some of this new money for stuff like hay, Ivermectin, and Equisect. We don't particularly like swallowing dewormer and getting sprayed, but we like it better than being eaten by crawly bugs.

Thank your husband for me—this barn he built is really great, and I know it's going to make your winter chores easier.

Thank your father for installing a light so that you can always see me after work, even in the winter.

Thank you for blogging with me—I know you enjoy it as much as I do, but I'm grateful nonetheless.

Fenway Bartholomule

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Reprinted from the Brayer: Introducing Arrietty

The Bold and the Brayful
a column by Fenway Bartholomule

Introducing Miss Arrietty G. Teaspoon, Assistant Mule of Bent Barrow Farm

I've some earfully splendid news for you today, my friends, but first let's have the back story.

Bent Barrow Farm is a fat, backwards L: the foot of the L, if you will, is home to a two story 1900 farmhouse, a sprawling green yard for the dogs and children, and a perennial garden bed. Also a terrifyingly big, terrifyingly pink rhododendron which I've never liked. Also some fruit trees, which I like rather a lot (fruits, leaves, and all . . . one reason why I am not often loosed in the dogs' and children's yard). Also a mailbox and a woodshed.

The hinge of the L, if you will, is home to a chicken coop, duck hut, garden, greenhouse, and wood shop. My little barn (measuring 16x32 feet) hangs off the east side of the shop. Beyond my barn, my gravel paddock wends around a abundantly fruitful raspberry patch (also rich with delicious foliage) and past a sandbox and jungle gym.

The tall arm of my L is all “pasture”, to use the term loosely. It's not big, but it's comfortable. Twin maples shade the north end, and in the summer a hammock hangs between them. The Samish River, still just a lazy marsh at this latitude, borders the field. My pasture is alive with birds.

This entire parcel measures 1.25 acres, which brings me to my original purpose: I wanted to say that it is a good farm, but not a big one. One mule, two dogs, two cats, two goats, seventeen chickens, four ducks, and five humans were already rather a lot for this green acre. That's why FarmWife had to plan carefully when she proposed the addition of another equine.

“We could get a draft team,” she said. “Two Belgian mules to plow the garden.” (Our garden is just barely big enough for a Belgian mule to turn around in, FYI.)

“We could get five riding mules,” she said. “One for each of us.” (I don't even think we'd have room for their manure piles!)

“We could get a mini,” she said.

All this was a careful strategy, designed to paint her final recommendation in a more positive light. “A mini mule,” she said, “would take up hardly any space. She would eat hardly any hay. She would be so manageable for the children. We could train her to drive.”

And so, my friends, FarmWife's scheming and the generosity of a stranger from Eastern Washington have collided and brought us the gift of Miss Arrietty G. Teaspoon, a seven year old dun molly mule and the delight of my heart. She is beautiful. She is strong. She is kind. She is intelligent. She wields cuteness like a disabling weapon, melting the hearts of all who set sight upon her. She smells like flowers. Her bray is like the trilling of a songbird. Her eyes are liquid pools of soulful love.

The humans love Arrietty too, and say she is everything they ever hoped for and more. (They also say, very kindly, that I am still the First Mule of Bent Barrow Farm and Eternal Lord of the Hoofbeasts).

Last weekend, Arrietty and I took FarmWife down to the local chapel to teach a youth group about mules. We walked her there at the end of our lead ropes, not wanting to be in violation of any leash laws (do loose humans need rabies certificates?). We stood calmly in the eye of a storm of youth, toddlers to teens, as they squealed and stroked and darted and giggled. “He's so shiny,” they ooohed. “She's so fuzzy,” they aaahed. “They're so cute.”

I think it's safe to say that we delighted those children, and it's not a stretch to say that they delighted us, too. We are good citizens, Arrietty and I, and are proud to bring the Muleness to America's youth.

Fenway Bartholomule