Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Rent a Peasant - Frances

Frances the mule is believed to be well into her twenties and is a cast member at "Rent a Peasant" - Please check out their website - www.rentapeasant.co.uk/

Frances the Mule: Part 1 - By Louisa

I keep rare breeds of cattle and sheep. A concatenation of circumstances, including the BSE crisis with the attended catastrophic drop in the value of cattle, in 1996 led to the formation of the living history group Rent a Peasant. The aim was to portray everyday life of ordinary people, using the livestock, as a means of paying the feed bills. By 2000, we had become an established part of this niche in the Heritage market. Then came another livestock scare: E. coli. Bookings were cancelled at short notice, with no compensation. So the vague idea formed that there was one class of animal that was not associated with food and health scares: the equines. And there the matter rested until my faithful twin-tub washing machine broke down and I needed a replacement. I duly bought a copy of the yellow ads paper to look for a replacement but, as one does, went through the agricultural and livestock sections first. Skimmed over the horse section but my eye was caught by the word "Mule". Humm, thought I, a mule would be a suitably low social class equine for a bunch of peasants, got to be worth phoning up to enquire. Remarkably I was the first to enquire, so arranged to view and met Frances. Frances, as you may see from the photos, is a past mistress at doing "Cute" and this had saved her life. The people advertising her were professional horsemen with enormous 17h horses that competed at Wembley and the like. They had gone to the knacker man to arrange to have a horse put down, seen Frances and come home with her. At this point they had then thought "what on earth do we do with her" and so put the ad in the paper. In turn, I came home with Frances, knowing absolutely zilch about mules but feeling that they couldn't be so much different from cattle, could they? It was pure serendipity, fate or whatever you like to call it that a broken washing machine resulted in the purchase of a mule. I do feel that I was "meant" to have her.

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