Friday, November 30, 2012

Conditions are not ideal

Fenway and Arrietty have their antlers, garlands, hats, and bells at the ready. My camera is charged up and ready to go. All that's missing is the SUN! I am going to have to do one of three things if I am going to get a properly mulish Christmas card together this year: break out a flood light, bring the mules in the house, or wait until mid-December for a break in this oppressive cloud cover.

It's not the rain that bother's me, it's the darkness!

Wish me luck. Tomorrow, I'll try for a photo rain or shine.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time passes quickly

It is a fallacy for mothers and fathers of young children to think that they will have abundant free time as soon as the children are old enough to go to school. For one thing, children who are old enough to go to school are also old enough to be driven to and from drama workshops, sporting events, music lessons, parties, and sleepovers. For another thing, children who are old enough to be driven to sporting events and music lessons usually need money for such extra curriculars, which means that in between drives said mothers and fathers had better be raking in paychecks. The rewards, however, are many: I am now a mule in possession of three little girls who can enact dramas, score soccer goals, play musical instruments, etcetera, etcetera. They are proper Renaissance children. 

As for me, I am still out here in the shed, sound but unridden, occasionally groomed, often visited, sometimes ignored, and always adored. The hay still comes three times per day, the removal of manure and scrubbing of troughs still occur twice weekly, and I still have a miniature mule, a geriatric goat, and a cackling and quacking flock of fowl for company.  We critters had a delicious celery, cranberry, barley and apple salad for Thanksgiving last week (view it at and are feeling fit and fuzzy! 

How was your holiday, and how are you? 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Search filters

Dear friends,

You, of all people, know of my splendor. Don't try to deny it—I've noticed how I take your breath away with my majestic nobility, my brayful boldness, and my artful big nostril/small nostril sneer. I don't have to explain to you what profound gladness comes from viewing my magnificence.

I want everyone to know the joy that comes with looking upon me, Fenway Bartholomule, and I thought that Instagram would be a perfect vehicle for the transmission of that joy. Sadly, there is a major wrinkle in this generous plan. Four wrinkles, really, and they are as follows:

1) vodka beverages
2) ladies' footwear
3) antlered deer
4) off road vehicles.

Friends, FarmWife can Tag and Tag and Tag her photos until the cows come home* but I promise you she cannot saturate Instagram with images of me, Fenway Bartholomule: the interwebs are  already flooded with gingery mules in copper cups, strappy mules on ladies' feet, dead mule deer next to gun-toting lads, and muddy four-tired utility vehicles.

The only off road vehicle I'm interested in is this sort (courtesy

Despite the plethora of non-equine mules on Instagram, FarmWife says we will persevere. I may not be the only mule on Instagram, but at least I am the most mulish.


* I hope the cows don't ever REALLY come home. I find them icky.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What's YOUR tagline?

My favorite tag company, Fetching Tags, is giving something away every day from Nov. 7 to Dec. 7! You can join in the fun and enter to win at

I have a couple of Fetching Tags of my own. My taglines? "I am Mule, Hear Me Bray", for starters, and "Ears to You!" My "I am Mule" tag is currently on loan to Arrietty, who doesn't have a tag of her own yet. When she gets one, it shall say "Warm as toast and smaller than most." (If that doesn't ring a bell, you obviously haven't been reading enough classic picture books.)

Paisley's tag says "One sandwich short of a picnic," but it's currently riveted Double Agent style to his Paco Collar so that all that's visible is his name and number. Clover has a wee little collar with a wee little tag—no room for a tagline, but she does have a cute little shamrock on there—and Missy's, of course, reads "Empress of All the Light Touches."

What does your tag say, or what WOULD it say if you had one?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just in case

Just in case I die of starvation, I wanted to put this photo out there on the internet. It is evidence of my advanced state of emaciation. Can you believe FarmWife says I don't need another meal until dinner time?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tangle free!

FarmWife has been dying to do a full scale muley spa day this autumn, but with mud on the ground and temperatures hovering around freezing it just hasn't fit in. She did, however, pick up on a psychic distress call from me the other day - she grabbed her Detangle & Shine solution (a birthday present from the folks at Simple Relief) and strode out here to the paddock with one thought in mind. "I bet my dear Mr. Bartholomule could use a tail-brushing." Well, I sure could have! Imagine her surprise when I showed up dragging half the forest behind me!

OK, I exaggerate. It was one bramble, but what a bramble it was! FarmWife couldn't have wished for a better trial for my new beauty products, and she leapt into action. Spritz, fingercomb, untwist, unwind, separate, shake out, and smooth - in five minutes' time, she had kicked that bramble's butt and returned my tail to its usual voluptuous glory. The Detangle & Shine worked marvelously on my tail, which begs a question. Why on earth didn't FarmWife use some on the rest of me, too, before taking the "after" photo which appears below?

May your tail be forever brambleless and your hay forever abundant. 



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cow sitting

Cow sitting has been in turns wonderful and heartwrenching. My good friend D., a Jersey cow, fell terribly ill from postparturient hypocalcemia on Saturday night 24 hours after calving. She and her calf are both alive and well today but the whole episode, from calving through late-night vet visit, has renewed my passion for a vegan life.

I was strictly vegan as a teen but, in this decade, have had frequent guilty lapses. By "lapses," I mean that I gave up considering myself vegan at all (though I haven't eaten a mammal since 1987). I've tried to justify a more mainstream diet by keeping my own goats and hens, buying milk from neighbors, and consuming locally-grown dairy. That doesn't quite cut it for me anymore, as there are still culls who suffer in this exploitative system. Even the act of buying sexed chicks means that an equal number of male chicks die.

I realized, last week, that the answer is right in front of me and has been since I first read "Diet for a New America" in 1993: don't eat animal products. It's not that hard.

There's no reason to eat food that makes me feel bad, and I want to apologize to my animal friends right now for the lack of willpower that led me to this place. It isn't hard to eat vegan foods that make me feel physically AND morally robust! I'm renewing my vows so that I can look my cow and chicken friends in the eye.

I don't write this to guilt any of you into veganism: I DO write it to publicly air my feelings of guilt, I suppose, but also to encourage each and every one of you to follow your own moral compass. If you are doing something that feels wrong, stop doing it! If you have a truly honest and compelling conviction about what is right—about what is kind—then heed it! If you can see the path of righteous living, then walk it. It may not look anything like the path that I am on, but I can promise you it will be smoother underfoot than the alternative.


A disappointment

President Harry S. Truman at the Missouri
State Fair with the State Champion mule team,
c. 1955. Caption credit: credit: University of Missouri
Dear friends,

I have a dreadful bit of news: I, Fenway Bartholomule, am being barred from the polls despite having reached the age of majority (18, last month, and thank you for the birthday wishes!) on the grounds of my non-human status. The speciesist policies of this so-called "democracy" are shameful and repellant.

FarmWife says that voting is best reserved for those with opposable thumbs, but that my cries of bias against the four-footed do in fact ring true. She herself is a supporter of animal rights, and has even renewed her once-lapsed pledge of veganism after falling more deeply in love than ever with the neighbor's dairy cow. Too many cattle live short, uncomfortable lives. FarmWife wants cattle in her life as friends, not food.

FarmWife says that not all animal-keeping is exploitative, and she is not tempted to give up riding, driving, or keeping domestic pets. I perform labor for which I am suited, as she does, and I take my wages in hay.

On that note, I'm holding up under light use and have been salvaged from my early retirement! I have been on a couple of satisfying little trail rides lately and can report that I performed nobly and with perfect soundness. This hock just needed a year off, after all.

Since I can't vote, will you do me a favor? Can you please go to the polls and vote for me? It's really important.

Fenway Bartholomule

Friday, November 2, 2012


Attentive readers will remember that my FarmWife is in love with our neighbors' cow. This cow, D, is very special to FarmWife, but I don't mind: I'm lucky to have a human with such a capacity for love.

FarmWife is sometimes left in charge of D and a handful of other cattle (also nice, but not like d) while their owners are away. In that capacity, FarmWife recently had the exciting and tremendous responsibility of midwifing for D during the birth of a calf. The little one is perfectly beautiful in every way. FarmWife hopes someday to have a Jersey cow of her own, or a pair of little Jersey steers to raise into working oxen. For now, she enjoys the cows of others.

FarmWife says she loves this cow, D, as much as she loves me, Fenway Bartholomule, and that sitting with her while she gave birth was a great honor. Since I shall certainly never give birth, I'm glad FarmWife got to have that experience with a different animal friend.