Friday, May 31, 2013


There is a rumor afoot (ahoof?) that Missy, Arrietty and I are going to get marvelous, magical BATHS on Wednesday! You see, temperatures are due to soar around 80 degrees fahrenheit this week, and that's an opportunity that can't be missed. Missy is small enough to squeeze into the heated indoor bathroom in a pinch, but for us mules there's no choice but to bathe au naturale in the wild outdoors. Warm weather is essential.

Why do we need baths, you ask? Well, there's the dirt, the dust, the grease, the grime, and the accumulated detritus that has resulted from passing the last who-knows-how-many months as a barnyard animal. There's the long and scraggly winter hair, which is falling out but not fast enough. And there's the fun of it. If there's anything more adorable than me, Fenway Bartholomule, it's me in a bubble hat.

Ears to you! We promise pictures on the big day!


Bath Day 2012

Friday, May 24, 2013

A quick update on me

This has been the Month of FarmWife: she talks about HER new job, HER house repairs, HER dentist appointments, HER PTA obligations, HER very busy schedule. Not a lot about ME on that list, and that's my excuse for being a very quiet mule. You may recall that I have been forbidden from laying hooves on the MacBook, so without her transcription services I'm hardly able to blog.

I just wanted to let you know that I am doing very, very well. I have a new trimmer coming out next week to have a look at the ol' hoofies, but I've been sound this spring. I've regained all the weight I lost, and we thank the Panacur PowerPak for that. I like the organic lifestyle as well as the next guy, but sometimes you've just got to poison a few parasites to get by!

Arrietty, Missy and I are passing our days in complete tranquility, save for a little bit of deer fly trouble, and things in the barnyard really couldn't be more peaceful. FarmWife still shows up every day to curry out last winter's straggling hairs. Hay still gets delivered. Manure still gets removed. The water troughs still get scrubbed. Of course, daily trail rides and fearsome adventures would make for great blog fodder, and we'll get to those someday. Short of the time and ambition for such adventures right now, I can only assure you that I remain healthy, wise, and, as always, your humble friend—

Fenway Bartholomule

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Steel yourselves

Dear Readers,

I, Fenway Bartholomule, cordially invite you to steel yourselves against an onslaught of beautiful, affectionate, darling pets, all in desperate need of loving homes, before visiting This is a website for which FarmWife is newly responsible. She's been busy getting all of their deserving dogs, cats, bunnies, and birds listed online these past few weeks, and that's my excuse for the long silence. Know that in the meantime I have been well. Yes, I have had to pass many lonely hours without FarmWife's company, but at least I've passed them with Missy and Arrietty and with mouth buried in hay. I'm nearly ready to unveil Summer Coat 2013, which is due to be just as shiny and splendiferous as Summer Coats 2012 and 2011 were, and Arrietty is about ready to unveil her wonderful new Fetching Tag! It reads, "A.G. Teaspoon" on one side and "Short & Sweet" on the other. We also have new chicks to show off ("homemade, not storebought," as the human children say) thanks to the efforts of Honey, a broody Buff Orphington, and there will be hikes and adventures of which to tell in the very near future.

In the midst of this busy time, let me say that there is not a one among us here on Bent Barrow Farm who could be happier, healthier, or more thoroughly grateful for the patience and friendship of you, our beloved blog readers.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dog joy is the purest joy

There's no gratitude like dog gratitude. There is no happiness like dog happiness, especially when it's a dog who has been locked in a six by twelve box and is suddenly set free to romp, run, roll, cuddle, and play for twenty minutes. It's faces like this one that make my new job at the humane society so very satisfying!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ode to a mare, my mother

Mares and foals in a River Landscape, George Stubbs
I remember little things:
The taste of milk, your scent.
I don't remember everything—
Just feelings, just a sense.

I don't remember bay or black,
I don't remember gray:
I just remember whiskers, warmth—
Your muzzle in the hay.

I don't remember if you worked
Or if we passed our time
A-romping in yon fields of green
With grasses for to dine.

I don't remember if we slept
In meadows or a stall
Or if we knew a master's hand
Or no man's touch at all.

I don't remember if my dad
Was nearby or was far—
I don't remember snip, or socks,
Or if you had a star.

I just remember sweetness, love—
Remember feeling safe.
Remember trying baby teeth
On wisps of tail and mane.

I just remember flashing legs:
Your four and mine made eight.
We raced the wind, and always won.
Your fire fueled my play.

I wish we had a photo, mom:
Of graceful curving ears.
Of velvet muzzle, strong wide back,
Of eyes made wise by years.

I wish we had a portrait that
Could hang upon this wall:
A picture of a noble mare,
The finest mom of all.

Happy mother's day!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I am the sure winner!

The 2013 annual Race to Shed Out is not over yet, but I am lengths ahead of everyone and sure to win! I have silky dark ears and temples, silky dark shoulders and withers, and silky dark gaskins. I have a residual layer of teddybear fuzz on my sides, belly, and chest but it's coming out in giant handfuls every day (and all over FarmWife). Arrietty, on the otherhand, is still virtually indistinguishable from Teddy Ruxpin. She is teddybear fuzz all over.

Arrietty tried to wear a miniature-horse sized flymask last week. Can you imagine? FarmWife was a fool to even try. Arrietty clearly has a serious case of Donkey Forehead, and the mask was pathetically undersized. FarmWife is going to have to try harder than that.

Maybe FarmWife needn't try, afterall, come to think of it—the flies give Etty wide berth. It is me they love: me, silky sweet me, delicious and decadent me. They eat my seams and edges: my belly, my sheath, my ears, my chest. They eat me alive, slowly, one bite at a time.

FarmWife has me wearing my Moon Helmet and organic flyspray every day, but she is going to have to do something about the deer flies biting my undercarriage. I am waiting for someone to market boxer briefs for gelding mules.

Old photo, pre-barn


It's funny, but a close brush with opportunity (a job, elsewhere, which would have required a move) really served to ground me here. Coming in a close second after a very protracted series of interviews was a blessing in disguise: it's May, and there is absolutely no better time to be stuck in Wickersham.

I was riding the school bus to Bellingham today with 40 odd second graders (field trip-chaperoning with my daughter's class) and really feeling the majesty of this place. The contrast was part of it: inside, raucous voices, squirming bodies, rattling fixtures, a roaring engine. Outside, acres upon acres of brilliant green hayfields, bales standing in the sun. Waterfalls cascading down densely forested mountainsides. Glaciated peaks looming, brilliant, on the horizon. Songbirds flitting among native dogwoods. The Nooksack River flowing lazily in its course. Trees bedecked in pink and white blossoms. Gardens standing naked, black earth at the ready. I don't know if you're sick of hearing this yet, but I live in an amazing place. These children are lucky. Some of them have never known anything else.

We are all so lucky to live here, to breathe this air and see these sights and eat from these gardens. We are lucky to know and respect our teachers, our firefighters, our postal workers, our farmers, our builders, our merchants, our neighbors.

When I stopped for gas at the Acme General Store this afternoon, the clerk's voice blasted over the intercom to the driver pulling in beside me. "Happy Birthday!" rattled the tinny voice. The driver laughed, and pressed the button on our end. "You remembered!"

I would not trade a town like this for anything.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Here's a fun update!

The shelter where I started volunteering has offered me a paid webmaster/publications editor position, so four transformative things have happened: 1) my volunteering has morphed into halftime work, to my great delight and satisfaction. 2) I've given notice at my evenings-and-weekends job, which is going to make a positive difference in the quality of our family life. 3)I've officially put my job hunt to bed. I'm 100% booked, between this, teaching, my Guild work, and a couple of very enjoyable contract jobs. 4) I've started listing our available dogs and cats on Petfinder, and will be all caught up by lunchtime tomorrow. The exposure will be great for these deserving critters. To see them now, visit

Life is good

I promise I wouldn't miss a week of blogging without a good excuse. Here it is—my transcriptionist, FarmWife, has been very busy getting to know 100 new friends! They're the dogs, cats, and bunny of the Humane Society of Skagit Valley. FarmWife is HSSV's new webmaster and publications editor, which means she's going to be responsible for getting each and every one of their beautiful, deserving pets listed online. She hasn't fixed the website up yet, but she HAS gotten the dogs listed on Cats to follow. If you would like to get to know Sam, Angel, Sophie, Murray, and all the other fabulous lads and lassies that have stolen FarmWife's heart and revitalized her career, just hop on over to and click on "adoptable dogs." I promise you'll love them too.