Sunday, 31 March 2013

Searching for Spring....

The Mini on the hunt for Spring!
Dearest Muleteers, I have been a little worried that Spring has got lost, maybe she has wandered off across the ocean to our friends in the USA?  A mini mule like me loves the green grass and warm temperatures that Spring brings so you will see why I was so worried.....  I persuaded FH to accompany Explorer Mini on a search for the elusive Lady Spring.....

We set off to see what signs there were in the neighbourhood of Spring appearing, surely she must arrive soon?

I can't tell you how relieved I was to find my first clue that Spring has already paid a fleeting visit... look at those lovely daffodils, I had to sniff them to check they were real.  I offered to pick some for FH with my teeth but ughh they don't taste nice so best to leave them to look pretty.

The daffodils are a beautiful sign of Spring
Next we wandered off up the lane to see what delights we could find in our neighbouring fields, it's such a long way when your legs are as tiny as mine, I'm always happy to walk with FH though, special us time is welcome.... I am No. 1 you know but don't tell anyone else will you?!

Mini Mule on the Hunt for Lady Spring!
Spring rewarded us for our walk with her next clues.... I spy with my little eye (and rather large ears ;-) some bleating lambykins!  These ones are lucky as they're with their Mums enjoying the sweet, tasty grass that Lady Spring has delivered.

These little lambykins are not so lucky, they are orphans.... thankfully our nice neighbour is rearing them as tame lambs, us mules keep an eye on them and take it in turns to visit them and talk to them over the fence, they just say....baaaa, baaaa but they're cute anyway :-)

The Mini visits the lamb creche!
The next clue Lady Spring has left us is the carpet of Snowdrops, they are staying a long time with us this year, normally they would have said goodbye by now but the freezing temperatures have let them stay a while longer.  Aren't they pretty?

A carpet of beautiful snowdrops
After a hearty Springtime walk (I'm convinced she's arrived now!) I could tell we were nearly home as I could hear Dragon neighbraying.  Come quick you missed a sign!  

Look there's blue sky here too!  Not just horrible grey clouds but real blue sky.

Mule alert - blue sky ahead!
And look there's buds on the maple tree too!

Finally home time, I am such a clever Mini Explorer, I found Spring, she was there all along just quite well disguised.  Phew!  This Mini is all overcome with emotion at the arrival of the long awaited, best season of all..... only one thing for it...... a secret kiss from FH! Ssshhhh don't tell the others!

A secret mini mule kiss.... sshhhh!

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Story of The Donkey's Cross

Good Friday is here again and with it a reminder of the story of the donkey's cross.  Have you ever wondered why most donkeys and mules have those marks of the cross on their backs, a sign for all to see?  We are not religious folk ourselves but do find much truth in the donkey's story....

Look closer at the long ears in your neighbourhood and you will see that so many of them carry a cross.  Why a cross and why the donkey and mule?  It all goes back many hundreds of years when the donkey stood by a lifelong friend - Jesus. 

The donkey had been with his friend for all his life, he'd been there at his birth and had carried his water as a child. He snuffled him gently when his tears fell, looked on benevolently as the child grew, he offered no words but a depth of undestanding as the wiser, older man grew.  If you've ever looked in to the eyes of a donkey you will understand that he looks in to your soul and offers calmness and hope.

Jesus understood the value of the most humble of all animals; the donkey.  When Jesus found himself on a trip to Jerusalem he called for his friend the donkey to accompany him, his friend carried him through the streets of Jerusalem, for the donkey is the bringer of peace, in older times his cousin the horse was a bringer of war.  On Palm Sunday the donkey carried his friend with ease and all around crowds welcomed Jesus and his donkey.

It was not to last.....

A week later Jesus was ordered crucified.  His donkey friend could not understand the evil that men do to each other.... Jesus was to be hung on a cross that he was to carry through the streets past people who had once been his friends, now they were calling for his death.

The little donkey loved his friend Jesus so much and wanted to help bear the load of the heavy cross.  As a donkey he was used to bearing heavy loads and the humiliation of the jeers of men, he asked Jesus if he could bear the load with him.  Jesus thanked him but said no, this was his cross to bear and he would do so with dignity. 

His little donkey friend followed behind watching the jeering people with horror and a tear in his eye, why are humans such strange animals? No other would do such things.

The donkey waited until the crowd had left, he went to his friend and waited with him until he was gone....

Sad and lonely the donkey turned to leave.... the shadow of the cross fell upon his back and shoulders.  And where it fell it remained and was passed to all of his kind as a mark of thanks for the loyalty and love of the humblest of all animals, the donkey.

Whatever you believe our friends, we're sure you agree that our friend the donkey deserves the mark of the cross, it would be hard to think of a more worthy bearer.  Still today he toils alongside his human friends dreaming of the day when his cross will mean that mankind shows him the respect he so rightfully deserves.

Happy Easter Friends!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

This Bed Ain't Big Enough For The Both of Us

Greetings Woofeteers!! Sleep, play, eat, sleep, play eat..... golly it's a hard life!  I have been such a busy puppy making friends and influencing people (the puppy dog eyes work a treat ;-) that when I get a quiet hour or two with the Cloth Dog I am just exhausted!  Have I told you before I love my Cloth Dog?  He's my hero!  This means that at every opportunity I have to be as close to him as possible.  He is very fluffy and is so lovely to snuggle up to, his ears make exceptionally good chew toys and I really like to wrestle with him.

There is just one problem with all of this.....I don't like sleeping in my own bed.....

I would much rather sleep in the same bed as my Cloth Dog.  This has started to pose some problems as I have been growing just a tiny little bit and the Cloth Dog has been sending pained looks to the humans....

Try as I did I just couldn't quite get comfy except for when lying on top of the Cloth Dog who got grumpy after a while, he said I was making his paws go to sleep?

Finally the humans got the hint!  Off MH set to the shops to purchase the biggest bed he could find.....

He did good!  He was stopped in the car park of the pet store by someone who wanted to know what kind of dog could possibly be big enough to fill the monster bed, a Great Dane, a Bull Mastiff?  Not quite.... one Pocket Sized Labrador and his Lurcher puppy.....

It would seem that word of our magnificent bed spread like wildfire.  FH came home and thought that the bed would last us boys a while but told MH in no uncertain terms that I am gonna get much bigger and perhaps we might need an even bigger bed..... MH paled a little at this statement!

To check how comfy our bed was an invader appeared.  FH decided to get in to the bed too...

There was only one thing to do, we all decided to snuggle in and check out the full capacity of this monster bed.... yep, it can take two dogs and a human and I can report that FH thinks it's comfy enough for her boys, in fact she's threatened to move in permanently.

I checked if her nose made a good chew toy.....

I can confirm that it didn't, my Cloth Dog's ears are far superior and taste nicer too.  

Alas there was only one thing for it after such a busy day, a nice snooze for everyone.  

Sweet Dreams Friends!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Roller's Philosophical Friday: Destinations

It's raining, it's pouring, The Mini is snoring, Dragon looked outside and wouldn't get up in the morning.....

Yep, here it comes again, raindrops keep falling on my head and the fields are back to a boggy, muddy mess again.  I am hiding inside and trying to keep the mules' spirits up.  We had a glimpse of Spring and a taste of green, green grass in our spring paddock only to have it snatched away again.  There is no way we're venturing out in this weather, I may be able to cope but those mules are fairweather folks.

Ever wondered why just when things are going great, the sun is shining, you're looking forward to new horizons and good times ahead and then BAM!  Someone puts a bump in the road, a curve in the straight, a problem where there wasn't one, rain where there should be sunshine? Yep I think about these things all the time...... I have a lot of philosophising time whilst eating, the perfect combination ;-)

I am ever the optimist though, the sun will arrive again, the mountains will be climbed and Summer is just around the corner.

So here's the thought for today, thanks to a friend who knew just the right thing to say to brighten my day!

Don't confuse your path with your destination.  Just because it's stormy now doesn't mean that you aren't headed for sunshine!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

What's In A Name?

Somedays my human calls me by my name 'The Mini', sometimes she calls me 'Number 1', other days she calls me 'Sweetie'.  Some days she calls Dragon 'Dragon' and other days she calls her other things....

Today I was busy pondering our names and remembering how we came to get them.... 

So to begin with there!

The Mini

..... also known as Monty, My Darling, Wobble Monster, The Worrier or quite simply Number 1.

In a galaxy far away I was called Monty.  Someone thought this rhymed well with 'Mini Mule' and that I would be the (in)famous Monty The Mini Mule!  I had a brother called Muffin (original I know...) and we were destined to be exhibits in a children's farm..... Hmmmm I had other ideas about this!  

So when I began my life with the Muleteers Monty was my name but FH thought it didn't suit me, with her very overactive imaination (have you noticed this?) she tried out various terms of endearment for me, they included Montgomery, Mont, Sweetpea (I know embarassing huh?) but in the end she found that 'Mini' suited me well. I am shaped a little like a Mini car and have bags of personality and well.... I am fairly mini in stature!

But it became obvious that Mini did not sound quite right so I whispered that I am the one and only (in the words of Chesney Hawkes for those 80s pop fans out there) and that I should like to be 'The' Mini!  So there we have it, a name that is fit for purpose, one that I prick my ears up at and that suits me well.  Monty was always a little too normal for me....... Occasionally I hear FH call me Number 1, this is obvious although I try not to show off in front of the others, I have to say I've also heard her call the others this too, she says she doesn't have favourites but I know different;-)


....... also known as Keensacre Roland, Ro-Land, Roller Polar, The Gentleman or My Darling (by his Granny)

Roller being a pedigree mini shetland is the only one of us with a posh studbook name, it's not really fair is it?  When Roller was born the stud people wanted to call him Rowan but that name was taken in the register so they decided on Roland. His posh prefix 'Keensacre' finished the name.  The only problem was no one ever actually called him by his name so he had no idea he had one.  Until he arrived at Muleteer HQ.  On arrival FH found Roland quite a mouthful to shout when it was dinner time.  FH reckons names with two definite syllables are easier to shout so Roller's name soon became Ro-Land.  It seemed rather formal though and somehow reminded FH of a cartoon character called Roland Rat......  with time Roller was christened Roller as it suited his laid back approach to life and was nicer to holler, the little man also decided that was the name he would answer to.  When Roller is in his winter finest he adopts the poshest of names (much posher than Keensacre Roland), he becomes Roller Polar in tribute to his Polar Bear finery.

When people are talking about Roller I often here them refer to him as gentle, cute, sweet, lovely and kind, maybe these are also his names?


....... also known as Callie, Nectorbee, Nector, Noo or Juvenile Delinquent

Dragon is well... Dragon.  When Dragon arrived she was christened with the name Nectorbee and was nicknamed Noo.  FH was not very good at hollering this at dinnertime either and had begun to describe Dragon as Calamity Jane in mule form to others around her.  Opinionated, a bit of a bruiser, brash but caring underneath, could swipe a grown man in the eye with her tail hard enough to make their eyes water but also soft enough to blow gently on the back of your neck.  So the name Callie was decided upon, easy to holler and suitable for this unique lady.

On occasion we were all reminded of the fact that this mule is definitely a woman and a mule, she can blow hot and cold, she can be falling asleep gently one minute and breathing fire the next, pottering along the country lane quietly without a care in the world and chasing a naughty dog the next.  She can also be rather protective and lovey dovey over us minis.  If you've ever seen the film Shrek you will know the Dragon character I'm sure.  So there you have it Dragon was christened and we all thought it suited her perfectly!  She's Callie in public, Dragon at home..... we love her whatever her name!


.......... also known as Lady Diesel, Catanian, Deesy Weese 

Diesel is our feline companion, she is queen of all she surveys!  Once upon a time she was found wedged under the bonnet of a van as a kitten, she always was a bit adventurous.  Without her Mum she was in a bit of a pickle but was rescued by a lovely lady.  On inspection of the adventurous kitty it was clear that she was rather dirty having spent a while in an engine compartment.  Try as she might kitty's rescuer could not get the diesel spot from her nose..... then it became apparent that it was part of her delightful features!  Diesel was christened and it suits her very well!  She joined the muleteer household and her name suited her very well so it was kept, at mealtimes FH slipped in to her vast imagination again and gave Diesel the Lady prefix (like her head isn't big enough as it is!) and on occasion let slip that her pet name is Deesy Weese.  When we were christened the Three Muleteers it did not seem fair that our feline companion was left out, she sleeps, eats and lives with us! That's when FH remembered her favourite programme as a kid 'Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds'.  Anything a dog can do a cat can certainly do better so the name Catanian was adopted and the rest is history.

The Three Muleteers

............ also known as 'My Sanity', 'My Little Piece of Heaven', 'My Gang'.... 'My Depleted Bank Balance', Makers of Mud or sometimes 'You Lot'

Finally the collective was gathered and it seemed that we needed a name.  It was our Granny Human that obliged.  Her observation that FH had finally found her Three Musketeers did not take long to set FH's overactive imagination in to gear...... the rest as they say is history!


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Stand Off At The Mule-K Corral

Spring is in the air and I am feeling fruity!  I was raring to go when FH told me it was time to work this morning.... the saddle was nowhere to be seen and the long reins came out so must be time for something different?  Hmmmm I think FH has designs on me pulling stuff (not including her off her feet?!).   So off we set at full mule ahead long reining (aka line driving)... ready to conquer the unknown... sort of!  FH was busy teaching me Gees and Haws as left and right.... for our American friends we use the opposite system in UK, 'Gee' is left and 'Haw' is right.  Of course I understood this very quickly as would be expected.  I showed FH my traffic prowess by 'whoa-ing' in the narrow gaps on our country lanes to let the cars go by, I thought I'd show her how clever I really am by stopping at the allotted passing place before I'd even been asked... I can hear those engines miles away and know what to do.
Then on to trotting, hehehe that made FH blow and go bright red but I enjoyed it, especially up the big hill.  

And then it happened...... Stand off at mule-k corral.....

There in the hedge was the most beautiful black 'stallion' I had ever seen!  It's spring and as I said I'm feeling fruity and am on the lookout for a man.... a short ears or long ears, I'm not really fussy....

When FH told me to go past I said nah, don't want to, going to plant myself right here in the road and stay talking to my new handsomeness.  What was that FH?  We're blocking the road?  Whatever, swish, swish see if I care.  Busy, busy, busy, chatting up this handsome man.

FH started to get very red in the face but smiled sweetly and said nice things to me, but FH you're not as enticing as this handsome chap, sorry not going that way with you.

FH tried all her tricks, we lunged past, she went in front, we went in circles (all the while checking that my best side was facing my new admirer) and eventually we just stood for a while.  
Honestly, my human is the most incredibly stubborn animal, she wouldn't go anywhere but the way she wanted to.... the stand off when on for ages.... we ear waved at a few of the neighbours who passed who were amused at FH (couldn't have been me that was making them laugh, could it?)

In the end I gave up on FH and decided that I'd had enough looking at the stallion anyway (by now I'd noticed his ears were substandard, his mane was not sticky up enough and his voice was not bray enough....)

OK FH off we go, look at me and how good I can be, don't you just love this long reining thing?  Past the trailers that rattle, the river that rages, the barky dogs, look we're Gee-ing and Haw-ing and Whoa-ing and Go-ing and I'm such a good girl..... have you forgotten your grumpy, stubborness now human??

Off we go on the long and winding lanes home, I've entirely forgotten what FH and I were having a stand off about? Isn't it a lovely sunny day, aren't I a good mule :-) What was that about flirty, juvenile delinquent FH?  I didn't quite hear you?  Gotta despair of those humans sometimes... they really need to  realise that us equines know best.  Til the next lesson!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Roller's Philosophical Friday: Caring

I'm the caring, sharing type and reckon my Muleteer friends are too :) So often in life people seem to forget that there an individual under a facade, a person (or pony) behind the number or name, a friend or a foe, a need behind a whisper.... sometimes something takes an hour when it should take a minute.... a small kindness, a gesture, a nudge, a whisper, a snuffle, a hug.  Sometimes we all need care and compassion, hopefully we remember those others who need it too?

In small acts we make huge impacts..... this weekend I'm going to snuffle for a living!  Sending you all snuffles and care :-)

Too often, we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Leo Buscaglia

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

My Little Pony Meets My Little Puppy!

There's been a new member of the Muleteer clan, I think you've all met him, the cute and mischievous Milo.... well, I decided that it was my turn to make his acquaintance!  I've heard he's small, cute, full of beans and has appalling wind.... hmmm are they not talking about The Mini?  FH likes to call him My Little Puppy, she says there is irony in there somewhere?

So I invited him over for a closer look.... it's hard to see him over the fence when you're my height!  This 'Little' puppy is actually quite big.... have you seen the size of his hooves? They're massive!  I think he will grow in to My Big Puppy and might even become as big and strong as me :-)

Here I am teaching him the value of hoovering carrot pieces from the floor.  He loves carrots, I think we will have a lot in common.

I also noticed that the puppy had brought along his Cloth Dog chaperone. Someone needs to keep the youngster in check :-)  I rather like the cloth dog, in fact I would go so far as to say that I was rather mesmerised by his handsomeness.  He has a very interesting tail that I just had to investigate.... it wags around a lot and looks quite different to mine, it isn't very flowing, I thought I'd better check by giving it a nudge and snuffle, the Cloth Dog didn't seem to mind, he told me that I was much more gentle than his puppy charge who seems to think his tail is a toy for pulling on.... yikes, better watch out for my splendid hairdo, don't want that messing with!

After sharing the carroty goodness MH brought out another treat, an apple, now I wasn't aware that dogs ate apples and carrots?  I hope they don't like grass and hay or us Muleteers will have to compete with them!  My Little Puppy tries to look very cute.... I must try and master that sit thing, it seems to work in all instances!

Uh-oh the Cloth Dog's getting in on the act too, surely he doesn't like apples?  Hmmm FH says he is a labrador and this means that EVERYTHING is edible.... an interesting concept, I really must get to know this wise man further.

After the food was all consumed there was just a little bit of time left for cuddles and snuffles, now look here my canine friends FH still loves My Little Pony prowess, she says my mane is superior and I smell delightful so I'm happy I haven't been ousted!

Finally it was time to say goodbye to my new friends, I would really like them to come and play again, I'll even share my carrot treats with them.  I've heard that dogs like to greet each other by sniffing so I thought I'd try it for goodbye as well..... FH says I sniffed the wrong bit, The Cloth Dog didn't seem to mind though, he just stood and gave me a very patient look?!

Bye bye friends, is there room for a little one in that big bed of yours?  I'd be ever so good?

What a lovely time with my extended family, where were the mules in all this?  Stood at the top of the hill swishing furiously!  Mini was having jealousy issues and Dragon was bored with all the boy talk.... can't please everyone!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mule Rescue

Something is not right, something is definitely wrong.... there is a very scared creature on the other side of the fence and it's making very scared noises..... I think its lost its Mum, I think it's stuck.  Quick FH, stop calling me for dinner and come help!  Those naughty minis have disappeared in for their dinner but no I am NOT coming until you come sort this problem out.  I will stand here at the top of the hill and look over here til you get the hint for goodness sake!

The Momma sheep wants baby lambykins back and you're gonna have to deal with it cos I can't get over there and open the gate for it.

FINALLY!! You got the hint that I wasn't moving for all the shaken food bowls and enticing noises in the world, sometimes there are more important things in life than food (yes, I did just say that!).

Now then, get over that fence and rescue the poor lambykins.

Hee haw, hee haw,  Catanian.... we need you!  FH doesn't have a sheepdog so you'll have to do!

Sheepcat extraordinaire!
The poor lambykins is very afraid and running around so FH you'll have to be quick.....tehehe that was quite amusing when you dived on the floor, nearly in to that cow pat...hehehe

Right one lamb caught, one Momma sheep on the other side of the fence, one Sheepcat scoping out the gate.

Phew Momma and baby reunited, after a quick nuzzle and comforting drink I saw Momma bring the lambykins right near to the gate and look pointedly at FH, Catanian and me.  I'm really convinced she was saying thank you, how lovely.

Ok, all sorted, just checking that there are no more escapees and then it's time for a nap and that dinner you promised me, I think extra carrots are in order...

We're particularly pleased to reunite Momma and Lambykins as here in the UK it's Mother's day, Mum's are just THE BEST!  For all the Mums and Grannies out there we salute you for keeping us all on track and bringing joy to the world.

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made Mothers.
Rudyard Kipling