Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor


Christmas Secrets

For reasons I do not fully understand, my trophy wife cries a lot at Christmas. First a little background: Last December, half my aged mule team laid down on the frozen ground for the last time, so we shelved our Christmas Eve family tradition of singing carols with the mule team pulling the hay wagon. (“An Army of One” may work for the military, but a mule team of one just can’t pull my hay wagon.) A couple weeks ago a mule team popped up on Craig’s List. The owner explained they were older Fjord cross mules which had been used as a feed team several years back, “They may be a little rusty for driving, but they are real easy to be around.” I believed him.

I named them Martha and Abigail after America’s first, first ladies and last Sunday, I harnessed and ground drove them. They snorted, stomped and were generally unpleasant—reminding me of two other first ladies. I solicited the aid of my trophy wife to run the lines while I led the team. After a while we swapped and Druann led the team with me on the lines. They did blow up once and my crew of one shed a few tears, but I judged the afternoon a driving success. Druann strongly suggested, demanded actually, I not hitch to the wagon until our kids arrived for Christmas and could saddle up as outriders. She is not much for mule wrecks. I acted like I didn’t hear her.

Wednesday morning, Dan stopped by my clinic when a brilliant idea burst into my mind; Dan would be a perfect outrider for three reasons. One, he is an athlete—not that he has spent many hours in the saddle, but if there was one guy agile enough to jump from his horse onto a runaway team it would be Dan. Two, he is a Christian so he isn’t afraid of dying. Three, and most important, he was available Friday morning. We set a time.

The harnessing went smoother on Friday, and in thirty minutes I was ground driving Martha and Abigail around the pasture. For two hours the team was geeing, hawing and most importantly, whoaing. When Dan pulled in, I saddled my big black horse, Dudley, and explained how to jam him in front of the team if things got wild. Dan nodded in agreement. With Martha and Abigail still tied fast, Dan helped me hitch them to the wagon before taking his spot on Dudley in front of the team. I unsnapped their leads and very slowly crawled up into the wagon seat and took the reins. I gave Dan a nod and made a small tug on the left line to step the team away from the hitch rail. (At no time did I make any reference to Dasher, Dancer, Prancer or Vixen, and I sure as heck didn’t shout “to the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!”) And then…

Items now on the “Needing Repair before Druann Gets Home” list:
1. Fifty feet of barb wire fence along driveway.
2. Vinyl rail on yard fence.
3. Harness hip strap, quarter strap and britchen.
4. Straighten wagon tongue from new “U” shape.
5. Replace foot rest broken by excessive rudder pressure from mule skinner.

Items now on the “Points to Ponder” list:
1. There is an old saying, “The empty wagon makes the most noise.” It is the truth.
2. Brakes on the wagon would be nice, but to work the tires must actually be on the ground, something which was intermittent, at best.
3. “Holy crap, whoa! Holy crap, whoa!” is not a popular Christmas carol, but for 45 seconds it’s all I could sing.
4. For a stranger to the saddle, Dan can really ride. He was only a half-step shy of colliding with all of us when we shot through the first gate.

When the deafening noise stopped, the wagon tongue was wedged in the yard fence; Abigail was still harnessed, but was lying on her back, and although Martha was standing upright, she had turned around inside her harness. I had four hours to clean up the evidence before Druann got home; there was no sense worrying her.

I thought I had pulled off the mother of all deceptions, when Saturday morning while staggering towards the shower the trophy wife barked, “Hold it. What are all those bruises on your back?” I froze, and looked in the mirror. My lumbar spine carried the tell-tale signs of thrashing which matched the wagon back rest. My mind raced like a runaway mule team…I had to think of something fast.

I dropped to my knee in the Tebow position and confessed, “I am having an affair. Those are marks of passion from two other females.” (It was close to the truth.)

“Yeah, right,” Druann shot back as she rolled her eyes. “You’ve been driving the hay wagon haven’t you?” Then she started crying again.

Demonstrating the stubbornness of a mule, I have a backup plan for Christmas Eve. Don’t bother watching the sky for Santa, the real action will be street level and it will zoom past in the twinkle of an eye. Merry Christmas from the Conservative Cow Doctor his trophy wife, and family.

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