Baroness von River - Assistant head trainer at Bits & Bytes Farm

The Friendly Beasts of Bits & Bytes Farm

by Baroness Von River - December 2010

Baroness Von River - Head Assistant Trainer at Bits & Bytes Farm
Baroness Von River - Head Assistant Trainer at Bits & Bytes Farm

It is said that upon the strike of midnight on Christmas Eve animals are given the gift of speech. They then rise and sing out in praise of the Christ child. You well-intentioned humans nearly got it right. The truth is, that upon the strike of midnight on Christmas Eve, humans are given the gift of hearing.

One of my ancestors had the great honor of being in that humble stable on the night of His birth. The following “tail” has been passed down from generation to generation.

The Friendly Beasts

Jesus, our brother, kind and good,

Was humbly born in a stable rude;

And the friendly beasts around Him stood.

Jesus, our brother, kind and good.


"I," said the Donkey, shaggy and brown,

"I carried His mother up hill and down;

I carried His mother to Bethlehem town."

"I," said the Donkey, shaggy and brown.


"I," said the Cow, all white and red,

"I gave Him my manger for His bed;

I gave Him my hay to pillow His head."

"I," said the Cow, all white and red.


"I," said the Sheep, with the curly horn,

"I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;

He wore my coat on Christmas morn."

"I," said the Sheep, with the curly horn.


"I," said the Dove, from the rafters high,

"I cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry;

We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I."

"I," said the Dove, from the rafters high.


Thus every beast by some glad spell,

In the stable dark was glad to tell

Of the gift he gave Emmanuel,

The gift he gave Emmanuel.

Donkey by Melanie Eberhardt

Illustration by Melanie Eberhardt.

An exhausted husband and wife were given refuge within our stable. It was immediately apparent that they were no ordinary couple. It was also apparent that the wife was pregnant. She would soon give birth to an extraordinary child. The animals all lay silent and still while the couple made themselves as comfortable as possible. A short while later, He was born. Excitement and awe rippled through the tiny stable. The animals rose and began welcoming the Christ child. It was at this moment the small family went from hearing the cacophony of bleating, braying, yowling and lowing, of mere animals to hearing beautiful songs of praise, comfort and encouragement from His very first congregation.


Those who are attentive to animals, like Miss Elizabeth, can tell you that we really do speak all of the time; unfortunately most humans are either unwilling or unable to hear. She has often told of how Classic Casey met a very attentive woman and held a very revealing conversation with her. As Assistant Head Trainer I regularly coach horse and rider as well as provide progress reports to Elizabeth. In spite of my partner and students being human, we are able to communicate effectively. We animals will tell you when we don’t feel well, when we are scared, or confused. We will also tell you when we are content, happy, or excited to see you -- but not everyone can hear. Midnight on Christmas Eve, even the most animal deaf person has their ears opened to hear our true voices.

Baroness Von River, Elizabeth and Reign Day
Baroness Von River offers Elizabeth some training advice for Reign Day.

Last night was Christmas Eve and had you been at Bits & Bytes Farm you would have gotten an earful. After we welcomed in Christmas we turned to general conversation.

The chickens were heard gushing over how sweet Barry was for tucking them safely into bed each night.

Classic Casey offered to teach classes on owner massage therapy (his lips put shiatsu massage chairs to shame!).

Monarch’s Reign wondered out loud if he would get extra food for Christmas.

With Wings announced his plan to prove that Pegasus is not the only horse who can soar.

Lynn’s Vision “Bubba” and Era of Chanago discussed strategies for conquering upcoming dressage tests.

The Dobermans (Miss Sydney, Sugar and Roo Roo) chortled about how fun it was to hide in the woods and make Barry and Elizabeth seek them out.

So Romeo professed his love of rides in the woods with “Friend” Andie, and then confided that despite playing hard-to-get, sometimes, he wants nothing more than his very own person to lavish attention on him.

Brew This “Brewster” and Political Pull discussed the merits of being ridden in the arena versus in the woods. “Pull” insisted that the woods win hands-down.

K.O. River Crossing talked about how much he adored his mom, Loui, and how much he missed her when she was away.

Audible "The Mule" thanked everyone for treating her as an equal, even though she looks a little different and talks funny.

Popular Five “Bo” nervously wondered if his new big brother would like him. He hoped that all grays are as nice as Monarch.

Bolt of Lightning “Lucky” prayed this will be the year he finds a fun young person who is just as bold and adventurous as he is.

Pride of the Fox admitted that he is excited about jumping and very proud of his mom Rebecca.

We cats mingled and chatted with everyone reflecting on the prior year’s adventures and successes.

Meowy Christmas to All!
Baroness Von River

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