Farnham's Fluffies, by Swindle

With apologies to Robert Heinlein.

Hugh Farnham and his wife Barbara surveyed the land proudly, then frowned. They’d spent years preparing their land for any disaster, including a nuclear war, and years of painstaking effort were about to go to waste as they watched a herd of feral fluffy ponies approach their crops.

“Boys,” Hugh called to his sons Hugh Jr. and Karl Joseph. “Grab your beating sticks and chase those ferals off! We don’t need them demolishing our vegetables.”

“Right away, dad!”

Suddenly, in the distance, an air raid siren began droning, and Hugh pulled out his pocket transistor radio and flipped it on.

“- repeat, the Air Force and Navy are reporting Russian and Chinese missiles have been fired at the US and are armed with nuclear warheads. Take shelter immediately! If you have a basement or-”

“BOYS! Belay that! Herd those fluffies down into the bunker and button up, pronto! We’re about to get nuked!”

“Dear? Why bring the fluffies inside?”

“Waste no resource, sweetheart. Waste not, want not.”

His teenage sons successfully herded the panicked fluffies into the house and down into the basement where Hugh had built a bunker out of the old, abandoned mine the house was on top of. Hugh and Barbara shooed any stranglers who’d tried to run into the kitchen or living room so they followed the rest of the herd, grabbed a few items of sentimental value, and joined their sons and the fluffies in the bunker, sealing the armored door behind them.

“How long do we have, dad?”

“Probably not long. Earliest warning with ICBM’s is fifteen minutes, with submarine-launched cruise and ballistic missiles it’s even less. Where did you put the fluffies?”

“In the livestock store room. There’s nothing in there but hay and feed for the cows, so I figured they’d do the least damage there.”

“Good thinking, Karl. Damn! I wish there’d been time to grab the milk cows, but we don’t know how long we’ve got until-”

There was a sound like the world’s largest subway train roaring past at full speed and the earth shook. Barbara fell into her husband’s arms and said, “Boy, this sure seems familiar!”

They turned on a camp lantern and waited through the shockwaves of multiple nuclear blasts hitting the nearby city and air force base. Books and other sundries fell off of shelves and landed on them, and they heard the shattering noise of dishes falling from the cupboard and breaking.

After no more atomic bombs had fallen in over an hour, Hugh stood and checked the geiger counter and dosimeter; radiation was elevated, but not enough to harm them this deep underground. The thermometer told them that the house was probably on fire, but the bunker itself would stay tolerably cool.

“Barbara, why don’t you and the boys go see how our guests are doing while I make sure our water tank didn’t bust in the shockwaves.”

Barbara opened the door to the stock room and immediately gagged at the stench; there must be over three dozen fluffy ponies in here, and every one had made scaredy poopies. Several were moaning, disoriented by the earthquake, and others were screaming in terror or crying. A number of foals were chirping in distress, and at least two fluffies had died when a 50lb bag of animal feed had fallen over on top of them.

“Ugh, it stinks in here! Mom, why did dad have us bring those filthy ferals in here?”

As if on cue, their father appeared behind them and replied, “Waste no resource in a crisis, son. Even these pests have a use now.”

The next few days were spent with Hugh and Barbara taking inventory, cleaning up the damage to the bunker, and determining which supplies were irreplaceable. Junior and Karl were kept busy cleaning up the fluffy room and building a wall of cages out of chicken wire; as each one was completed, a protesting fluffy was stuffed into it and locked inside.

“I don’t get it, Karl; why does dad keep calling these things a resource? They’re useless!”

“They’re not useless, son,” said Hugh as he entered the room. “Good work, by the way. We can feed these fluffies what we were going to feed our milk cows.”

“But dad, what’s the point? Those milk cows were going to give us milk and meat for years to come!”

“And just what is it you think that fluffy mare is giving those foals there, son?”



“Ew! Dad, you’re not serious!”

“I am serious, son. Fluffy milk is just as nutritious and tasty as cow’s milk; people just don’t drink it because they think it’s weird, same as drinking milk from a cat. This is survival now, and we can’t afford to be squeamish.”

Junior looks at the nursing mare doubtfully, then shakes his head.

“No way. Fluffies don’t produce enough milk for humans to drink, not all four of us, anyway. And they can’t give us milk and feed their babies too.”

“Well son, that’s easily fixed.”

Hugh opens the cage and plucks all four foals from their screaming, protesting mother and shuts the cage again.

“Grease up the frying pan. We’re having fluffy dumplings and cornbread for dinner.”

“Nuuuu! Babbehs tu widdwe! Babbehs nee mummah! Nee wuv an huggies! Pwease nu take babbehs! Nuuuu!”

“Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!”

“And in the morning, you boys are going to figure out how to milk momma over there.”

“Nuuuuuuuu! Babbehs!”

By the end of the week, they had a dozen nursing mares in cages separate from the others, all being milked twice a day and producing just enough for the Farnham family. Each screeched about how it was having its “miwkies” stolen from its babies and demanding its babies back, not realizing their foals had been cooked and eaten already. Only three mares had been allowed to keep their foals, and the other mares were kept as valuable breeding stock. The strongest, healthiest stallions were kept as studs, and the ones with less tolerable personalities were killed off one by one and added to the larder. The smarty had been the first adult to be eaten. Fluffy meat, as it turned out, tasted like a cross between chicken and beef, but with a sweet taste to it. It was very tender and tended to just fall off the bone after being cooked.

The Farnhams quickly came to appreciate the flavor of fluffy meat and milk as it augmented their diet of canned and dry goods.

Hugh, finding that none of his family, including himself, had a taste for rooster fries or rocky mountain oysters, decided to stretch their resources as far as they could go. Each stallion that was selected to serve as food rather than a breeder was gelded and allowed to serve the pregnant dams as attendants before being eaten. Their testicles were cooked in tomato sauce that was mixed into the cattle feed once a week to keep the fluffies relatively happy, and fed to the fluffies. Hugh thought it was a cruel trick to play on the poor creatures, but it was a source of protein and they had to stretch things as far as they could to ensure their survival.

“Waste no resource in a crisis.”

None of the Farnham’s was ever cruel enough to enlighten the fluffies as to the source of the “meatie bawws” in their “skettis”, and Barbara was always slightly ill when one of the fluffies expressed a preference for them. Karl found it amusing, but still never told the fluffies they were eating their own balls. They weren’t sadists, after all, merely pragmatic.

By the end of the year, the Farnhams were going stir crazy with cabin fever, having been locked inside their bunker the whole time. They’d occasionally caught fragments of radio broadcasts on their radio, but never enough to discern what was being said or even what language was being spoken. Clearly some remnant of civilization existed on the surface, but who had won the war, and what were the conditions up there?

After surveying the area with a periscope and testing for radioactivity, Hugh finally decided to reconnoiter the area and see if it was safe for his family to emerge from the bunker.

As it turned out, civilization had indeed survived. Government was all but nonexistent, and survivors had banded together for safety against looters and the looming threat of a Russian/Chinese invasion that never came. They were starving, diseased, and many had no idea how to survive in a world without modern luxuries and technology.

Hugh Farnham quickly saw opportunity.

He and his family rebuilt their house on top of the bunker and established it as a trading post, surrounded by landmines and razor wire for safety. They allowed people to copy passages from books such as the army survival manual or the Foxfire books, paying for the privilege of finding information on hunting, camping, first aid, dressing hogs, building log cabins, and reproducing 19th and early 20th century processes for doing things, processes which had all but vanished as skill sets thanks to technology and modern infrastructure. They bought supplies from other traders with the silver dollars they had stockpiled, and sold anything they could spare to obtain the things they needed. Their most flourishing business, however, came from the over one hundred fluffy ponies they now had in a working farm.

As it turns out, feral fluffies had fared poorly in the nuclear holocaust, and the ones who hadn’t died in the blasts had either subsequently died of radiation poisoning, regular poisoning from chemical weapons, or starvation. Many others had been hunted down and devoured by starving survivors searching the ruined cities and countryside for any source of food they could find.

Thus, the Farnham fluffy farm was essentially the sole source of fluffies in the area, and a major source of revenue for them, as it was one of the most reliable sources of meat, milk, fur, leather, and wool in the region. Barbara insisted on giving away a free foal or two to anyone who wanted one (within reason, of course; they had to keep enough for the farm to function) to help out other survivors by reintroducing a valuable food source to the region that could survive on nothing but water and grass, the latter of which had no use to humans. Hugh eventually conceded, reasoning that they could still profit off their fluffy farm even if others began breeding fluffies of their own.

The sign in front of their trading post read:


American vodka
Corn liquor
Pure spring water
Grade “A” fluffy milk
Corned fluffy and potatoes
Fluffy steak and fried potatoes
Butter and some days bread
Smoked fluffy meat
Jerked quisling (by the neck)
Crepes suzettes by the order
!!! Any BOOK accepted as cash!!!
Blacksmithing, machine shop, sheet metal work- you supply the metal
Lessons by arrangement
Social evening every Wednesday
Ring bell. Wait. Advance with your hands UP. Stay on path, avoid mines. We lost three customers last week. We can’t afford to lose YOU.

No sales tax.


And Hugh’s family never again questioned his decision to drive the herd of feral fluffies into their bunker on that fateful day.


Oddly cute!




I’m surprised anyone took silver. Fluffies would have been a funny form of currency.


Fluffy hides as currency, anyone?

“How much?”
“Two hides and two scraps each.”
“That’s highway robbery!!”


Fluffies are food; once eaten, they can’t be spent. There has never been a time or place in all of recorded history that people wouldn’t take silver as payment for goods or services though. It’s the perfect means of exchange; you pay a chick a mercury dime to fuck her, she spends the mercury dime on a can of beef stew, the guy with the canned goods spends the dime on a box of ammo, the arms dealer spends the dime on the hooker again.


The issue is, in a survival situation like that, money doesn’t have as much short term value. It doesn’t do anything to keep you alive. A can of beef stew or a bullet has intrinsic value because it does something you need. A coin, of any material, isn’t going to feed or protect you.

You could almost think of it as some sort of super inflation, where the value of having something you need right now has skyrocketed beyond the value of currency.

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“Also one of these hides is a bunch of foal hides sewn together!”

“No it isn’t!”

“One of them is crying, you lazy asshole!”


It’s a nice theory, but it’s never held up. Breakup of Yugoslavia? Gold and silver skyrocketed in value; anyone who had it lived in relative luxury, anyone who didn’t was reduced to barter. Weimar hyperinflation? Silver and gold were king, those with paper currency got fucked. Collapse of Argentina’s economy? Silver and gold let you buy food, weapons, medicine, and hookers; cash was worthless and barter was uncertain. There has never been a single instance in all of recorded history, back to the stone age, when people didn’t accept silver or gold in trade for goods and services.

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Its survival and food as true as their dad said “waste not want not”

With fluffy birth rate is insanely fast and enough feeds for them food werent short, was worried a bit with the cabin fever glad they pull thru.

The " no sales tax " thing just hilarious on the list :joy:

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If you’ve never read Farnham’s Freehold, by Robert Heinlein, you’re seriously missing out.


I’ve not, actually! Short story? Novel?

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Heh now I have to re-read Farnham’s Freehold by Robert Heinlein.

I’d rather have fluffy milk over cat milk. Less chances of getting scratched XD

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“Nuuuu, Fwuffy am not ‘wegah tendah’! Nu kyo wut ‘wegah tendah’ mean, but fwuffy nu am dat!”

Great read. Would love to see a sequel to this


I could see a comic series based on this.

Farnham’s Freehold is a novel, a little longer than Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, but shorter than Starship Troopers. Hugh Farnham is an uber-prepared survivalist whose relationship with his family has been strained over the years; his wife is a drug addict and alcoholic, his son is contemptuous and rebellious, and Hugh essentially gets little respect at home. His adult son and daughter are visiting, along with one of his daughter’s college friends, when Hugh’s radio warns them that the Soviets have launched nukes and we’re launching in retaliation. They all go into Hugh’s bunker he built under the house just in time for a frankly realistic and disturbing description of what a near-miss by a series of nuclear warheads. One nuke goes off directly over the house, but instead of vaporizing them it transports them to an unknown time and place, an untouched wilderness where the only sign of civilization is Hugh’s bunker, now above ground. The six of them: Hugh, his drugged-out-of-her-mind wife, his rebellious son, his daddy’s girl daughter, his daughter’s college roommate, and his black house servant (they basically helped raise the black guy, let him live rent free in a room in their house, and his wages are paying to send him to college) must now figure out where the hell they are and how they’re going to survive. And then it turns out his daughter is pregnant from her college boyfriend, who it’s implied might be one of the professors. Given that they may be the only six people left alive in the world, Hugh isn’t terribly upset at this news as it means the gene pool is now slightly bigger than it otherwise would have been.

I’m not going to spoil any of the rest of the plot. It features a realistic depiction of family dynamics and a man struggling to restore his relationship with his son but not knowing how, it covers the racial dynamics of the 1960’s (the period in which the book was written), a realistic depiction of the struggles to survive in a remote wilderness with only the supplies you brought with you, and more. It’s very popular amongst classic scifi fans and survivalists alike. And once you get to the “free kittens” ending, you’ll suddenly see why I made a fluffy ‘sequel’ to it. It’s a good book, check it out.


Useful and creative. Very nice.