Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Yesterday, FarmWife spent an hour moving fences, tidying up, raking hay, scrubbing troughs, rearranging buckets, and so forth. At the end of it, she had an entirely new system: Arrietty on one side of the fence, in what shall henceforth be known as "Fatland," and Missy and me on the other, in what shall henceforth be known as "Foodville." Missy, who has been having trouble keeping her appetite up, is now living on my side of the fence in a 4 foot slice of shed, separated by a creep-bar. She and I will both have access to delectable orchard grass hay and the back pasture, along with spring's impending grass. Arrietty, meanwhile, is on a new diet of 1) air, 2) water, 3) salt, and 4) itty bitty portions of dry brown hay delivered three times a day in a slow-feed haynet. This business of Arrietty getting fatter and fatter was not sustainable, FarmWife explained, especially as her hoof growth has increased dramatically as of late. "It's a potentially life-saving intervention," FarmWife told her. "You would not enjoy foundering."

FarmWife is also forcing Arrietty to join a dorky club (of F.W.'s own invention), called "H.E.L.P": Hiking Expeditions for the Loveably Plump. Clover is the other founding H.E.L.P. member, and FarmWife is the self-appointed trip leader. She is going to make them start hiking every day, rain or shine, except today. Today, Clover is at the hospital suffering the removal of her biggest tooth, which had broken down the middle.

As for me, I'm not in such bad shape. We still don't know why this night and day transformation from easy keeper to hard keeper took place, but I'm no longer declining. FarmWife is feeding me oodles of delicious stuff, and my vet is content to put off my next exam until the checking account bounces back from this dog business.

All is well in Wickersham.


P.S. If you've noticed that all the photos I post are old ones, I apologize. I can explain: the human's camera is broken and FarmWife's smartphone camera works only sporadically. Luckily, plans are afoot to save for a new Canon.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Much better, thank you

To all who expressed concern over the state of FarmWife's face, she's much better, thank you. A nice tip from our friends at Simple Relief has helped her start healing the cuts inside her mouth and her front teeth are already nice and firm! Crisis averted.

Tomorrow, Arrietty and I start bunking separately. She's moving into the goat stall, the goat is moving into mine, and FarmWife is building a creep of some sort so that Missy can continue to live the life of repose to which she has grown accustomed. There's just no other solution to the fat mule/thin mule problem.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Well, that was embarrassing (and some scenes of carnage)

I'm afraid FarmWife and I butted heads yesterday—not in the sense that we disagreed, but in the sense that we bonked painfully into one another (more painfully for her, I'm afraid). It was as the result of me spooking, but I bear no blame: the night before, I had been witness to a massacre in the chicken coop (two more chickens and both of our dear ducks are dead, beheaded—and my barn is splattered with blood like a scene from a horror movie. It was awful. No wonder my nerves are a bit shot. FarmWife thinks the predator is a zombie weasel, since it slips through small cracks and only eats brains.)

As far as the head bonk goes, FarmWife came out of the situation with a bloody nose, a cut lip, and a loose tooth, which is slightly funny if you look at it from the perspective of someone having a bad run of dental luck: next Wednesday, Clover goes in for oral surgery (an infected slab fracture of the 4th molar), and my own dental exam has been postponed because of the cost. FarmWife cannot afford a problem in her own mouth right now.

Luckily, FarmWife's tooth is firming up already, just 24 hours later, and she hopes rather a lot that it will give her no further trouble. She's going to avoid apples and other crunchy things for a while, to which I say this: give them hither, FarmWife. I will chew them for you.


P.S. The chickens and rabbits are on a serious after-dark lockdown, now—no more trusting their regular "secure" enclosures, of chicken wire and 2x2 inch woven wire, to keep predators at bay. The chickens are now sleeping in the bunker, which is like a metal-sided coop-within-a-coop, while the rabbits now get their stall's exit-hole plugged with a cinder block each night at dinner time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hoof trims

FarmWife's daughter treated her to a professional hoof trim today—that is, FarmWife presented her own work-worn fingers to a manicurist at yonder shopping mall and watched him work his magic. The poor chap probably didn't know what hit him. FarmWife's fingers had never been pampered much, you see, so he wrestled with myriad hangnails, battered unkempt cuticles into submission, and finally coated the whole thing in a layer of clear shellac (FarmWife drawing the line at colored polish). Daughter, in the next chair over, got black polish on her own hoofies. This, she explained later, was so that she might match the dog.

We recently celebrated Toenail Day here at Bent Barrow Farm, upon which occasion we all submit to FarmWife's ministrations to our own hooves and claws. The rabbits get cradled like footballs and have their toenails chopped with a guillotine-style cutter, the goat sits in FarmWife's lap and presents her funny feet one at a time, and Arrietty and I stand in the shed with poise while we are trimmed and rasped. You can tell by the nature of the proceedings who among us has retained our dignity.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dear Friends

Money troubles? Phllllbttttt! 
Dear Friends,

Thank you for all your many expressions of concern as to my well being. I'm currently feeling pretty good, staying pretty active, and appearing in stable condition (no more water out of the nose, so perhaps that was a fluke!). I'm eating like a prince—Equine Senior, timothy pellets, oats, and free choice orchard grass hay—and no longer losing weight. My next vet visit will involve bloodwork, a dental exam, and a fecal egg count. FarmWife is working on getting Missy over to my side of the fence and Arrietty over to the other, now that I am in the "hard keeper" camp. Arrietty is much too ponyish for a diet like mine!

Sadly, my next vet visit has been postponed because of an even more pressing development—Clover, my shiny little weasel dog, has a broken molar! It is split down the middle, right up into her gum, and smells like rotten fish. She must have a great deal of pain, and so FarmWife made the terrible choice to postpone my dental work in favor of Clover's. (FarmWife's own dental work, meanwhile, is permanently on hold!) Hopefully, we'll both have been fixed up by FarmWife's next payday.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Death comes to the sleeping

I don't know that such a long lapse in blogging is excusable, but for what it's worth I've been caught up in something which should soon bear fruit. When it does, I'll have a lot more to say.

Before dawn today, our chickens were visited by a marauder (what sort, we know not). It killed one, leaving it headless and disemboweled, and injured the leg of another. We lost a chicken outside, in daylight, last week. A month before that, we lost our best duck without a single feather of evidence left behind.

Today's attack was different. It took place in the safety of a closed and latched coop. There were no obvious areas of entry for the predator, which made me wonder if it was something skinny—perhaps a fisher, like the ones in yonder marsh. It left me feeling broken-hearted for our chickens, who must have been startled awake by the attack. What a terrible thing, to be accosted on your roost!

Otherwise, the animals are well. Fenway's unexplained weight loss has me a bit troubled, but I have had some good advice from his veterinarians and am expecting to schedule another exam next week. Our new cockatiel, Kevin, is the best thing since sliced bread and Clover is looking beautifully shiny, healthy, and slim on a new, veterinarian-recommended diet of Merrick's canned food and rolled oatmeal.

The best news? My oldest daughter, who lives in two households, is coming home tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 State of the Farmlet Address

A mule surveying his realm
Spring has been thinking of coming early here in the Pacific Northwest, and we are ready for it. My teeth (which may or may not be defective—I am seeing an equine dentist at my soonest possible opportunity) are ready to nibble the tender shoots of its delectable grasses. My mini-me, Arrietty, is ready to gambol squeefully upon its cushions of flowers. My goat, Missy, is ready to totter about under its azure skies. My FarmWife, Marnie, is ready to bask in the long evening hours of its lengthening days.

This has been quite a year at Bent Barrow Farm. We saw our youngest human off on the school bus for the very first time, welcomed Miss Arrietty G. Teaspoon (our heart and soul), and moved into my double-sized, much-improved little barn (Christmas Present 2011). We lost B.G., one of the World's Best Goats, to irreversible orthopedic disease. We lost Pickle, one of the World's Best Ducks, to a hungry raptor. We gained Kevin, the cockatiel, who is like a feathered, sonorous bundle of sunshine. 

My outdoor poultry are out of hand, even with the lost duck. 14 hens are too many for one little farmlet, and FarmWife is trying to give some away to excellent non-soup-pot homes. One rascally Andalusian bird has taken to laying her eggs like boobie traps upon meager precipices, and FarmWife has twice been rained upon by a sticky shower of exploding orbs. It's really only funny the first time. FarmWife has renewed a forsaken vow of veganism after a regrettable lapse of a few years, so she's not very interested in the eggs for their own sake. Luckily, my human Granny has offered a retirement home to a couple of our oldest hens. 

My chihuahua, Clover, is on a strict diet and has transformed from a 13 pound sausage of a dog into a beautiful 11 pound gazelle. She looks amazing. My Australian shepherd, Paisley, has had just a handful of seizures in the last calendar year and has overcome much of his epilepsy-related anxiety that he had been experiencing before his medications were balanced. He turned 11 last week and, according to the vet, has the heart of a young athlete. He may live forever, to the pleasure of all around him and to the dismay of FarmWife's vacuum cleaner. (FarmWife's note to self: no more fluffy white dogs.) 

My cats are much the same as they were a year ago: sleek, serene, and haughty. They, of all Bent Barrow's residents, may have been the very healthiest of late. In fact, I cannot recall a time when either of them visited the vet this decade but for routine vaccinations. 

My rabbits have been living a barnyard existence since spring 2012, and it suits them. After flunking them both out of house rabbit life (too many holes in the sheetrock, the couches, the baseboards, etcera), FarmWife weighed the options of indoor cages with supervised play time versus an outside paddock and attached stall. She chose the latter, knowing it would allow them more freedom of movement, and it is working like magic! Their enclosure is predator-proof, covered on top, bottom, and sides, and big enough for some serious hopping. They are sleek, fat, happy, and social, and FarmWife finds them both to be thriving. We make a very cute fivesome—the goat, the rabbits, Arrietty and me—when we graze together all in a row. We are our own peaceable kingdom. 

The human habitation is closer to a state of good repair than it was at this time last year, thanks in part to a nice coat of fresh paint. The North and East sides are fresh, anyway, while the South and West sides await the same treatment this summer. The new paint is brown (in tribute, perhaps, to yours truly?), which is a tremendous improvement over the pukey mint green that was applied in 1985. FarmWife says that one of these days, after the house is painted and reroofed, she is going to get it a bronze plaque. It shall read, "The Noah Wickersham House. 1900." You east coasters may not realize it, but that's old for a house in Washington State. We're proud of its history. 

My human fillies are thriving in kindergarten, second, and seventh grades, respectively, and seem to be evolving into people of Great Muleness. One is determined to be a marine biologist, another a pianist and veterinarian, and the third a carpenter and ballet teacher. 

FarmWife and her husband are going on 10 years together this spring, and it's only fitting to note on this Valentine's Eve that they are more perfect together than ever. FarmWife loves her husband deeply, constantly, and more each day. She might even love him as much as I love Miss Teaspoon—and that's saying something. 

As for me, I'm working on getting myself to the vet hospital for bloodwork and a dental exam. Something's off about me: I'm eating twice as many calories and looking half as plump, I'm sullen and footsore, and my breath smells funny. Recently, FarmWife noticed that water streams from my nostrils when I drink! Despite a clean bill of health during a veterinary exam a few weeks ago, FarmWife and I have agreed that something is still amiss. 

I will keep you updated, and I ask you not to worry: as a citizen of Bent Barrow Farm, I am in good hands. 

Ears to you,
Fenway Bartholomule