Well, 2023 is almost over and I’ve barely said anything on this blog during the past year. It was a hard year in many ways but it had some really good bits too. I will say that this Christmas season has been one of the best ever. Certainly the best in many years! We had a grand time at the Beulah Parade and Yule Log Festival in early December. Sonic and Scout, who had only pulled the carriage about three times before (and only once without Finn hitched in front), leaned boldly into their harnesses and made us proud in the Beulah Parade of Lights. They looked magnificent and I only had to get out and lead them for a short way during the scariest part of the parade. I’m very proud of them and amazed that they did so well with almost no preparation.
Next morning Phil and I headed out to the Beulah Yule Log Festival with a couple of goats and our friends Zen and Vanessa. There was a delicious chili lunch beforehand this year so for the first time ever we didn’t hunt for the Yule Log hungry!
Finn is now a well-known fixture at the Yule Log celebration. He’s been attending since 2015 and several young kids asked Phil if Finn had been coming to the Yule Log “forever.” Phil looked down at these 8-year-old children and said, “Yep!” Because as far as these kids were concerned, Finn HAD been coming forever!
And look who made his debut at the Yule Log this year! Pongo accompanied Finn and learned the ropes. When it came time to haul the Yule Log back from its hiding place, Finn leaned into the harness and really helped things along. Pongo’s effort, on the other hand, was mostly symbolic and sometimes counter-productive, but I think he had a good time and he was so cute no one could get mad at him even when he pulled the wrong way.
The boys waited patiently for cookies after the log was successfully hauled back to the lodge. Finn acted like he was eager for a treat but ended up not wanting anything we offered him. Pongo, on the other hand, takes after old Sputnik. He never met a cookie he didn’t like! Pongo wolfed down everything we put in front of his face and begged for more. I think this little guy is going to have very happy memories the Yule Log Festival!
This was a particularly fun year because I signed up to be a bellringer for the Salvation Army! I asked if I could ring in front of our local Ace Hardware and Valley Market grocery store and they said I could! So I picked up the kettle and the bell, a “Volunteer” apron and a pin and we rang the bell in 2-hour shifts six different days during the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Pongo came along as my sidekick and ended up stealing the entire show. I’m not nearly cute enough to get anyone to come over and donate money, but Pongo sure is! By the end of the first two-hour shift he had learned how to ring the bell. Notice the red wooden handle on this bell.
Next time around I had to wrap the wooden handle in white duct tape because Pongo had almost chewed through the wood. Notice I also added a “Volunteer” pin to his hat!
By the end of the third day the bell handle was toast, so I made a new one from a piece of dowel rod, and I wrapped this handle in a thick piece of leather so Pongo couldn’t destroy it so easily. This bell handle held up better to the abuse. Here’s Pongo with his hat, his badge, his bell, and his kettle. It was hard for anyone to walk by and NOT donate! After all, it’s worth at least a dollar to see a goat ring a bell!
As a side project, Pongo wandered around the store and pulled up a few weeds that were growing between the cracks in the pavement. The store employees were thrilled and asked if Pongo could come back regularly to do this job during the summer months.
I loved this lady’s festive Christmas outfit so much I had to get a photo of her. Notice the shirt: “Brew-dolf”! Also, the sweater featured Snoopy and Woodstock. My mother-in-law would have been very pleased.
We rang the bell for an extra hour the last day and Pongo was exhausted. Here he is conked out in the front seat of my truck with his head on my lap. What a sweet buddy!
I’ll leave you with this cute video of Pongo proudly ringing his bell!