I’ve been writing a lot about house and home lately, which makes me feel a bit disloyal to the original purpose of the blog, which is to track “farm life.”
It’s winter here and the growing season is dormant, so there’s not much to report by way of plant life. But I actually do have a lot to report from Jon’s end of the business. Our cattle stock has grown significantly, as has our land. He purchased another huge track along a muddy, arcing river that’s perfect for the black angus community. More on that later.
The more fun addition to the farm is the new presence of a mule! One of the men who cares for the cattle keeps his horses on the farm. When he bought a spur-of-the-moment Berkshire and temporarily hid it from his wife (Relationship Advice: Do not do this!), the purchase also included a mule named Smokey.
I’d actually really like to rename his something else, like Atticus Finch or Simon, but all the guys have told me that you can’t change the name of a stock animal without bad results. I’m not sure what exactly this means, but I suspect it’s a similar superstition to changing the name of a boat, which is rumored to bring nothing but bad luck.
I wasn’t raised as a city girl by any means, but stock animals are a whole new gig for me. After a few weeks of taking Smokey handfuls of my hippy cereal, which brings him running for me at the fence, and apples, which only earns a slow trudge, Jon tossed a saddle over his back and I climbed aboard.
I suppose in my head I was expecting to take off into the forest, navigating trails, just me and the horse. I mean, mule. I suppose that my inability to emotionally distinguish between the two is telling enough.
In reality, what happened is that I hopped up there only after struggling awkwardly until Jon finally lifted me by the knees like a child (I’m 5’2″, so cut me some slack) and then Jon led me around the yard by the reigns. Eventually, he handed everything over to me, and I guided the mule along the fence row and down the road.
The experience was… far from the romance of horses portrayed in high falutin’ novels like All the Pretty Horses. I felt that Smokey could feel how uncertain I was, which made me feel stupid, because I see knee-high kids riding horses out here all the time. But still, my hands shook. He didn’t do anything wild, but the whole ordeal was incredibly uncomfortable. Jon says it’s the saddle. I say it’s the fear. I climbed off after thirty minutes. We have some learnin’ to do.
But I still like to go out and look at them. At the very least, they make a pretty picture.