Things seemed to even out after the incident with Frank, none of the other Fluffies had any issues, in fact they all loved their new homes and families. After the first three days, every mare was pregnant and singing their soon-mummah songs while their mates made sure they kept well-fed and cleaned.
Since Felicity was the only mare without a partner, Lewis made sure to give her extra attention, he would softly wash her with a wet-cloth while Martha would keep her food bowl stocked up. Felicity was thankful for the help but Lewis could tell being the only single mother in a group of parents was bringing her down. In a cruel irony it was the pregnancy that kept her from falling into a depression since she was excited to meet her babies despite their violent origins, but at the same time it was the pregnancy which was the reason Lewis hadn’t looked into getting her another partner, he didn’t want to put Felicity or her foals at risk by making another mistake.
Anyway, he had six pregnant mares to looks after, he barely had time to start looking for other Fluffies right now. Thankfully Lewis had been able to rope in some help, Jennifer Harley was a former teachers assistant who had been let go because of budgetary issues, she was young and she was pretty but most of all she was kind, and that was key to raising the Fluffies right. Lewis was also able to get Jackson to hire his son Flynn on a part-time schedule to as a way of getting more pocket money. Flynn did a decent job but he never seemed to care much about the Fluffies, which made his move to full-time hours all the stranger after his first month with the team.
Of course Lewis figured that had something to do with his constant chatting with Jennifer more than anything else.
When the mares finally did give birth, it was a hellish few days, being so close together meant that it was two days of non-stop ‘Biggesh Poopies’, with one mare setting off another in a fucked up chain reaction of bodily fluids. Lewis made a note to try and stagger the births next time but they managed to get through it all relatively unscathed.
For their first round of foals, they couldn’t have asked for better, every parents had between 4 and 7 babied, without nary a dull one in the entire group.
Adam and Ally had four foals, two boys and two girls, three of them were Alicorns with the last girl being a unicorn, and all had a mixture of their parents blue, yellow and pink markings. Adam decided to keep the Alicorn filly since her diamond pattern was mixed yellow and blue along her pink fluff, he’d never seen a multicolour pattern before.
Barry and Betty also had four foals, three boys and a girl, all Alicorns and all carrying Barry’s swirl pattern. The best was one of the colts whose blue coat swirled around with reds and purples, creating an almost gradient effect across his body.
Clive and Clara had five foals, three girls and two boy, no Alicorns but a good mixture of unicorns and Pegasi between their kids. Lewis decided to keep one of the boys, a black Pegasus with yellow spots just like his father but with his mother’s glittery gene.
Dave and Darcy had seven foals, four boys and three girls, the most out of the group and both in desperate need for Martha’s help in feeding them all. Three were Alicorns, two were Pegasi, one was a Unicorn and one was an Earthie, and even then the Earthie still had some of his father’s shiny coat and his mother’s curly Fluff. Lewis picked one of the Alicorn girls to keep her shiny and curly peach fluff was sure to carry a lot of good genes going forward.
Eric and Emma had six foals, split evenly between boys and girls, only two Alicorns with the rest being Earthies, but the colours were phenonmeal, Eric’s gradient sea blue and Emma’s sapphire with iridescent silver paid off in dividends with each of their foals ranging in various shades of blues, whites and silvers, each of them shimmering in the light. Lewis picked one of the Alicorns to keep but really he could’ve taken any of them.
Felicity ended up with four foals, again split evenly between boys and girls with one Pegasus and one Alicorn in both genders. The Pegasi both took after their father with a mixture of turquoise and violet colours running between them, but both Alicorns carried more of their mothers genes, the male Alicorn at least muted his brown colours with some faded purple stripes, the combination Alicorn and pattern genes would make him valuable to the right customer, the female though was an exact copy of her mother, solid brown Fluff and mane.
Lewis wasn’t worried about Felicity rejecting the foal, in fact he was worries about the exact opposite, he knew mothers – especially first-time mothers – were prone to favouritism in foals that looked the closest to their parents colours, and brown mares were not immune to this defect. Felicity did love all her children, and seemed to treat them all with love and care, but Lewis was sure she was favouring the brown foal until Jennifer put him right.
“It’s not favouritism, it’s protection. Felicity knows EXACTLY what it’s like to be ‘poopie monster’, to be denied basic needs because of things out of your control. She’s giving her daughter more milk and attention so that she can be as strong, if not stronger, than her siblings, get the life Felicity never had.”
After that, Lewis made the decision to let Felicity keep her brown daughter, the one good thing Frank left on this earth.
Once the foals were old enough to start talking, Lewis put up their profiles on the company website, complete with videos of the Fluffies playing, making good poopies and being polite.
Having Martha around was a Godsend, she took to teaching like she was born for it.
Still though, this was the riskiest part of the whole operation for a number of reasons; firstly the amount he was charging for each foal was a little steep – no more than designers usually charge but The Farm didn’t have designer reputation – but he did include a discount if multiple foals from the same family were bought for companionship. Secondly he stipulated that there had to be a screening process where the buyer would have to come in, meet the foal they wanted and then get vetted by the Fluffies themselves.
This was the part that Lewis was most concerned about, it was necessary to keep the foals away from abusers – the price would also turn away most sickos looking for a quick kill – but it required the Fluffies to avoid their most basic of traits. Begging humans to be their new mummies or daddies.
Lewis had prepared for this, and made sure Martha included it in their training, the foals were to be polite, recognise the new humans as MAYBE new parents, but it wasn’t until Lewis told them that they would be allowed to call them mummy and daddy. Over the next few days he ran trials by getting other workers to act as potential buyers and seeing how the foals reacted, most went fine with only a couple of them slipping into begging mode, but he was happy with the results.
Today was the first real test, the first real buyer coming in, a couple interested in one of Barry and Betty’s sons, a white Alicorn with soft lilac swirls. Lewis met them in a room near the front offices to keep them from seeing the dingy quality of the rest of The Farm, they seemed like decent people, Steve and Natalie, both 30 something, both middle-class, but Lewis knew looks could be deceiving, which is why he came up with the interview.
“Have either of you ever owned a Fluffy before?”
Steve nodded. “We took in a feral a couple years back, a little girl we called Hope, she’d lost her herd and was cold and hungry, despite some blank-spots about litterboxes she was absolutely fine… until Hope got old enough to have kids and then she was desperate to have them.”
Natalie continued. “It was my fault, I didn’t realise how badly the mention of ‘babies’ set off mares, Steve and I had been trying for a while and all it took was one time of me saying The B Word and Hope just lost her mind.”
“We weren’t opposed to Hope having kids, but at that point we had just moved into our new home and were trying to save up for our own kid, we didn’t have the budget for more than one Fluffy, we were barely scrapping by with Hope as it was. But she never let up, until one day we woke up and she was gone, we found out that she had…”
Lewis knew where this was going. “She ran off to find a stallion to give her babies anyway.”
Natalie wiped a tear from her eye remembering the next part. “She did, by the time we found her she’d already… she was pregnant, but the stallion had stomped her front legs into paste and told her ‘dummy mare no give huggies now’.”
“She was inconsolable, convinced that being unable to hug her foals would make them turn out bad, no matter how many times we explained to her that they would be ok she didn’t listen to us. I don’t know if we couldn’t break through her grief or if she didn’t want to listen to us. Anyway, she broke out again, don’t know why because she was dead when we found her, she’d dragged her stomach along the ground the whole way, all we had to do was follow the blood.”
Lewis recognised the mistakes a lot of first-time owners made with this couple, but they seemed genuinely upset at losing Hope, that showed they had empathy at least.
“What precautions have you taken to ensure your Fluffies safety?”
Steve chuckled. “A lot of the same precautions we’ve taken with our son, Jacob’s almost 1 now, so the house is already in full bubblewrap mode, plugs are covered, doors and windows are locked, anything heavy or sharp is kept out of sight.”
“We’ve also done some more research on Fluffy psychology, we’re more aware of what to avoid, what not to say or do around them. That’s also why we’re looking at a colt, less chance of us slipping up by mentioning babies again, although we are aware that that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”
Lewis nodded, happy to see they’d done some research. “Would you consider breeding as a possibility? I know that might sound like a future problem but it’s best done with now, we can safely neuter the colt here and he’ll recover psychologically, if you wait much longer, it becomes a harder burden to bear.”
Steve and Natalie looked at each other, both of them silently nodded in agreement.
“We’ll probably breed him.” said Steve. “I’ve always liked the idea of a family unit, plus we have the means to afford it now.”
Lewis smiled at the couple. “Ok then, just one final test.”
Lewis leant back on his chair and knocked on the wall, from outside, Jennifer came in with a carrier box, holding Barry, Betty and their son inside, she placed the box on the table and opened the door, allowing the little colt to walk out. Upon seeing Steve and Natalie, he smiled and waved his hoof at them.
“Hewwo nice hoomins? Yu fink of be babbehs nyu mummah an daddeh?”
Natalie immediately squealed with delight. “Oh yes my dear, we are.”
“Can babbeh hab upsies? Wan gib nice miss huggies.”
Natalie gently took the colt in her arms and lifted him to her chest, the colt instinctively gave her a cuddle and cooed.
“Hmm, babbeh wub yu.”
Barry and Betty walked up, loving the sight of their son and his potential new parents, Barry looked at Steve.
“Yu wook afta babbeh?”
Steve nodded. “We will, we’ve got a son ourselves, we know what it’s like to look after a child.”
“Yu gib him baffie wawas? Eben wen he nu wike?”
“We will keep him clean, yes.”
“Gib Skettis ebewyday?”
Steve’s smile dropped. “Not every day, no? If he’s earned them as a treat then we’ll think about it but not for every meal.”
To Steve’s surprise, Barry smirked. “Dat twick qwest-shun, yu gib gud an-sa. Bawwy wike yu.”
The next few minutes were filled with Steve chatting with Barry while Natalie and Betty adored the little colt and his dancies. Lewis smiled and turned to Jennifer.
“I think we’ve found the little guy a new home.”
Once the first baby was sold, the rest of them went quickly. Not every interview went as smoothly, sometimes Lewis would like someone who the parents got bad vibes from, sometimes the parents would be happy with a buyer but Lewis didn’t feel right with them. Either way they all learned to trust each other’s judgement.
By the time adoption day had come along, every foal up for sale had been sold, the group was so happy that their children were all going to happy homes, though some of the mothers were sad that they’d never see their babbehs again – Felicity especially. But they understood this was part of the process and Lewis allowing them to keep a child to raise did ease the heartache.
It was a surprisingly smooth operation despite its rocky start, something that not everyone expected as Lewis discovered when he and Flynn went to speak to Jackson about how much their little side-project had made while Jennifer looked after the group.
“Fuck off.” Jackson didn’t believe the number.
Flynn shared Lewis’ smile. “It’s true dad, I saw the sales figures myself.
“You made 10,000 just from a couple months work? I don’t believe you.”
Lewis smirked. “Believe it or not Jackson, the numbers don’t lie. We had 24 foals, 9 of them Alicorns, 10,000 shouldn’t seem that much of a jump. Granted I think we lucked out, aside from Frank all the Fluffies were well-behaved, none of them fell into the trap of Smarty foals or bestesh babbehs.”
Flynn nodded. “I gotta admit dad, they are kinda cute when they’re not shitting or demanding thing.”
“God you have way too much of your mother in your blood. Alright, I’m happy for the pair of you, but you know what this means right? Peterson’s gonna want more results now that this has worked out?”
“Hold off there Jackson, we have until the end of the year until Peterson decides if this is worth it or not, it’s only October now, we haven’t had the time to look over the budget proper, 10,000 might seem like a lot but once we factor in living costs, food and drink, wages, it might not as big a profit as you think. Until we understand all that, let’s just be happy that we’ve given some Fluffies a good home.”
Jackson rolled his eyes. “Ugh, I preferred you when you weren’t a hugboxer. You know you still work here right, at the big evil Fuck The Fluffies Farm? Nothing’s stopping you from fucking off outta here and starting your own business, hell I bet the banks would be happy to give you a loan for dealing with the Fluffies round here. You sound like a vegan who refuse to leave a burger joint cause they like bitching about it too much to actually do anything.”
“And you sound like a crotchety old fart who hates on everything because you blame the world for your own problems.”
Flynn watched with some mild horror as his father and his boss glared at each other, only for the two men to start laughing at each other.
“You’re piece of shit Lou.”
“Right back at ya Jackson.”
Flynn shook his head. “I don’t understand what the hell is going on, I’m gonna head back down to help Jen prepare for dinner.”
Lewis couldn’t help himself. “Oh, JEN is it now? Awfully chummy aren’t we?”
“What? No. We’re friends, just friendly, nothing more, shut up.”
And with that, Flynn left before they could see his face burning red, Jackson cackled at his son.
“Oh I love that boy but he’s still a fucking teenager.”
“Ah don’t be too harsh on him Jackson, the boy’s got a crush. Can’t say I blame him, Jennifer is an attractive young woman.”
“Ooh, you giving my boy competition Lou?”
Lewis scoffed as he stood up from the table. “She’s too young for me Jackson, and not really my type.”
Lewis patted his friend on the shoulder. “Thanks for sending Flynn my way, I really needed the help.”
“I know, I wouldn’t helped you myself if my legs worked.”
“Please, you would’ve chucked the first Fluffy that shat in your hands against the wall.”
“That’s what I said, I’d help you.”
The two friends shared a final laugh before Lewis went back downstairs. With this being adoption day he needed to have the foals prepared for delivery, Jennifer had let them all have one final play day with each other, where everyone hugged and cried and said their goodbyes, before being placed into carriers for the journey. Thankfully most of them were being sold with a sibling so at least they weren’t alone, and the ones being sold by themselves would still being able to talk to the others before they reached their new home.
Lewis took the cart of foals down to the delivery area, somewhere he hadn’t been since he first started, the amount of ferals they had coming in at any one time was too much for him to handle, it was nigh on impossible to keep them all contained so the pens had to be constantly washed of blood and brain matter from the Fluffies stomped to death in the stampede.
Most of them foals.
Thankfully now was different, Peterson had taken Lewis’ advice and cut down on the amount of Fluffies they were taken in, not completely stopped but enough that they could start revamping sooner rather than later, so by the time Lewis got down there it was fairly quiet.
He found his spot in Delivery Bay 3 and waited for his truck to arrive, after a couple minutes he saw it pull up outside the doors and reverse into the bay. Lewis wasn’t in any rush so he watched the truck park up and the driver jump out.
As soon as Lewis saw the driver he felt his stomach jump. ‘Oh no’ He thought.
The Driver took off his gloves and put them in his back pocket - Lewis caught his muscles flexing at the movement – before giving out his hand for Lewis to shake.
“Hey there, Daniel MacMillan.” If his name hadn’t given away his Scottish heritage then his thick accent and his auburn locks would’ve. “I’m here tae pick up some wee-yins.”
Lewis forgot what he was doing for a second before snapping back to reality. “Oh yes, sorry. Lewis Carter. And I guess that’ll be this guys, say hello everyone.”
A ringing of “Hewwo nice mistah sounded out from the cage. Daniel laughed.
“Oh they’re bonnie little buggers ain’t they? I’ll admit I was surprised that the big-yins told me tae dae a pick-up, usually I’m dropping the little bastards off, took me all of yesterday tae git the truck fitted out.”
“Oh, well I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”
Daniel waved his hand. “Dinnaw yoo worry about it, yer just a man daeing his job, I’m just here tae dae mine.”
“Well, can I give you a hand loading them up?”
Daniel looked over at Lewis and smiled. “Aye, I think I’d like that.”
The two men spent the next few minutes taking the foals on board and placing them all into their own little box with bedding, blocks, food, water and a litterbox, plus more for the combo-delivery. Daniel explained that the drive would take him about 6 hours to complete, which was doable for a human but for a Fluffy it felt like forever, so the truck was fitted to keep them occupied.
“I’d take less time if the bastards had given me some proper suspension on this bloody thing.” Daniel explained as he put the last foal into his travel box. “But I dinnae want the wee guys taw be feart of the bumps in the road, so I’ll drive a little slower for them.”
“I appreciate that Daniel, thank you.”
“Och, please, call me Danny.”
Lewis suddenly felt very guilty for making fun of Flynn as he felt his own face flushing red. “Ok… Danny.”
Daniel flicked a switch inside the truck, turning on a light and playing music to relax the foals as he shut the back door on them.
“I’ll keep them safe Lou, dinnae you fret. It’s nice taw see someone else care about the wee-yins.”
“Actually I didn’t until a few months ago, my sister Hannah’s always been the one to care about small animals, she’s got a Fluffy family herself. For some reason it never clicked with me until… it just did.”
“Better late than never, right?”
Lewis smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I guess that’s true.”
Daniel paused for a moment before reaching into his cab and pulling out a pen and paper. “You guys still taking Fluffies in?”
Daniel ripped off some paper and handed it to Lewis, it had a phone number on it.
“I find a few troubled Fluffies round these parts, if you guys have any room just gies a bell and I’ll bring them round. Better a cozy end here than in a shelter. And who knows, maybe I’ll give you a good-yin.”
Lewis saw a flash of mischief flash across Daniel’s eyes, and felt the butterflies in his stomach dance.
“Of course, you could use that number tae call and ask about these yins, see how they’re doing. Or maybe something that’s no… about work.”
Lewis gulped. “I might do that, yeah.”
“Sounds like a date.” Daniel said with a wink before walking back to his truck.
“You’re daeing some grand work Lou, keep at it and they’ll have tae change the name outside tae ‘Carter’s Creature Comforts’.
Lewis scoffed. “Yeah, like that’ll ever happen.”
“Ye never know.”
Daniel gave a final wave goodbye before jumping back in his cab and driving off, Lewis stayed and watched until the truck turned a corner and was out of sight. He then looked down at the phone number in his hand and chuckled, such a strange first meeting, but then again it was memorable.
He put the number in his pocket.
Lewis then turned the cart back around and pushed it back towards the elevator, still laughing about what Daniel said; Carter’s Creature Comforts.
Such a silly name, there was no way that would stick.