Hay Field Breakfast

Bernie Harberts, mule, map

Hay field breakfast. On these cool mornings, I like to start my mornings with hot oatmeal. And my top hat. No, Brick isn’t begging for breakfast. It’s an optical trick of the lens.

Mules Brick and Cracker and I spend most of our days clip clopping up some Tennessee highway shoulder. Tractor trailers roar past. Cars honk. Drivers wave. I spend all my energy guiding my small troupe safely to the next destination. We are riding West.

Riding the shoulders of these busy roads, many 4-lane, is not relaxing. Crossing bridges is worse.

Bernie Harberts, mule, tractor trailer, bridge, semi

This is what it looks like to be passed on a bridge by a semi traveling 55 mph. What you don’t hearing is the roaring diesel engine. Nor do you feelvthe gale force blast of 55 mph wind hitting your back and sides as the rig passes. On some busy roads, this happens hundreds of times per day. Not relaxing.

But mornings. Ah, blessed mornings. Mornings out here are calm. No cars. I’ve slept under the stars. The cool night air has cleared my brain. If the weather is clear, I’ve slept in my bivy bag so there’s not much to pack.

Bernie Harberts, mule, tractor trailer, bridge, semi

My camp. Many nights, instead of pitching a tent, I sleep in my bivy bag. That’s it next to my army rucksacks. It’s sorta like a nylon body bag with mosquito screens. Often, one of the mules sleeps next to me. Here, Cracker is hinting that, er, it’s breakfast time.

I crawl out of my bivy bag. Pull on my coveralls, boots and neckerchief. I cook oatmeal on my gasoline stove. I feed Brick and Cracker grain and carrots if I have them. Then I just stare at my traveling companions starting their day.

Bernie Harberts, mule,oatmeal

Cooking oatmeal.

Bernie Harberts, mule, oatmeal


Bernie Harberts, mule, oatmeal

Brick eating her grain out of the collapsible canvas water bucket I carry in my saddle bag. Look closely and you can see the steam coming out of her nose on this cool morning. Even though it’s late April, overnight temperatures dip in to the 30s.

Bernie Harberts, mule, oatmeal

Cracker is all about the carrot. When Cracker’s not about….

Bernie Harberts, mule, oatmeal

….the crackers. I was given so many of these crackers, they ended up in Cracker’s feed bag. He loved them.

I hope your day started well wherever it began.

Post script: I wrote this a few days ago. As of May 1, we are in Somerset, KY.


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[…] morning. from an article I wrote Hay Field Breakfast about starting the day in a bivy bag. The bivy bag is the blue, sack-looking thing Cracker is […]

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