Jim the Breeder: Square One
Jim drove off the gravel driveway and into the field next to his house. He had gotten the acreage for a good price some years back when his breeding business got too big for his back yard to handle. The previous owner had been looking to sell the farm and move closer to his children and grandkids.
The farm had been in the old man’s family for years, and he was more than willing to tell Jim all about it. Wilber, the old man, went into detail about camping in the woods and swimming in the river as a boy, how he met his wife at the country fair when they were teenagers, and the nice life they had on the farm. Surrounded by photos the old man said he was disappointed that none of his kids wanted to carry on the farming life, but he was proud of everything the accomplished.
After his wife’s passing the old man’s health had started declining. Even with his neighbor’s help he had troubling maintain the farm. By the time he decided to sell he had leased out his fields and sold off most of his animals. Wilber had a few requests for Jimt to Honor when selling: keep the leases with his neighbors for another five years and that he wouldn’t cut down the old cedar tree.
Jim had kept both promises. The first worked out pretty well, as he wasn’t a farmer. Sure he could tend his garden but taking care of fields was a different story. He happily left the fields to people who knew what they were doing. In turn he got a few extra dollars and good rates on the hay they harvested from the fields.
The second part of the deal cost him quiet a bit when the cedar fell through the side of the barn during a storm and killed a good amount of his breeding stock of fluffies. He hadn’t realized the tree had a hollow trunk until the removal service came by to clear it up. Had he not promised the man he might have taken it down before that.
Of course all that was hindsight, and if he could have seen the future he would be playing the stock market. Instead he was pulling up next to some second hand chicken coops surrounded by chicken wire. The coops themselves were set on a concrete slab that Jim had guessed was a foundation for a long decayed structure. It currently helped prevent foxes and coyotes from burrowing under the coops where the fluffies nested at night.
Though the barn would have been safer for the new fluffies, and he had plenty of room for them, he needed to take precautions with the stock he had left. This meant the new fluffies were in quarantine until he was sure they couldn’t pass along anything that might kill or cause him to medicate the whole herd.
Getting out of the truck Jim was assaulted with the complaints coming from the back. A few dozen cages were strapped down in the bed, and in those cages were fluffies he had just picked up from the shelter. They were wind deaf and rattled from the drive back to the farm but overall unhurt so Jim ignored them for now. Hopefully these would be the starting stock for new pedigree lines. They had shown promise at the shelter but it took time make sure they met the pedigree guidelines.
Jim let Nibbles, his cannibal fluffy, out from the other side of the truck. They walked back to the house with the tiny pink pegasus trotting along and clutching a small bag of foals in her jaws. Jim grabbed his laptop and left nibbles in the house, directing her to eat in the kitchen. She was a good fluffy, but Jim’s next stop was the fluffy barn and Nibbles tended to spook the herd. She had wandered in the night of the storm half starved and he had placed her in a cage with a dam and her new litter of foals. Nibbles had eaten one of them in from of his whole stock and, well, they tend to remember such things.
The barn was quieter than it had been a few months back but was still noisy with fluffy chatter and play. Jim took some pride in having a happy stock of fluffies. It also just made things easier if they liked him. It was much nicer to hear the fluffies ask to play or for upsies than it was to hear them screech and run away when they saw him.
Jim grabbed the equipment he needed and tossed it into a wheelbarrow. Walking down the isle between the pens he found a ball. It was an air filled plastic ball about the size of a softball, but only weight a few ounces. Picking it up he heard the gasp from a nearby pen, “Baw! Jim mista, hewp fwuffy get baw back?” A few fluffies stood pawing at the screen of their pen looking longingly at the ball in your hand.
Jim said, “Here you go,” and with a light toss sent the ball into the pen. He heard the soft pip of the ball hitting something and a fluffy starting to cry. “Oh, sorry!” Jim said looking into the pen. The fluffies didn’t seem to hear since the injured party was already getting hugs and the ball was being chased around by a wobbly stampede of fluffy ponies stumbling over each other as the ball bounced off the walls and changed directions.
By the time Jim got back out to the truck the fluffies had settled down. He took his time setting up his chair and folding table, arranging all the supplies he would need to be accessible. Once satisfied that things looked right he put on his waterproof apron and got to work unloading cages from the back of the truck.
The fluffies already had a health check and their shots before leaving the shelter, one of the legal requirements for adopting a fluffy. The goal now was to tag and enter the new stock into his records. One of the requirements for fluffies to get an official pedigree was documentation. Each fluffy needed to be tested for mental abilities, and their lineage tracked to help stop the inbreeding that plagues dog breeds.
One of the ways fluffy pedigree controlled inbreeding was by requiring the lineage to be “clean” for up to five generations. This means that there cannot be any crossover in parentage by anything closer than a fifth cousin. By then the fluffy is practically unrelated. Heck, many small towns couldn’t claim that sort of diversity.
That meant that if Jim wanted to sell fourth generation pedigrees he would have to start with at least sixteen unrelated fluffies who all had to pass the ability tests and produce viable offspring. With birth defects, random illness, infertility and fluffies being fluffies, it was more than likely that this new group of twenty plus ferals would only be a part in producing a few fluffies worth some actual money.
Jim took the first fluffy out of their cage and set it on his lap. The pumpkin orange and teal mare was scarred at first, but calmed as Jim started to pet her. Jim ran his hand along the mare’s back and sides to check for any defects or anomalies. The fur could hide all kinds of bone deformities or growths so he had to check by feel.
He tried to be delicate in his exam and the fluffies enjoyed the pets as he asked questions.
Jim asked, “What color was your mama’s fluff?”
After a few seconds of thinking the mare replied, “Bwu! Mammeh pwetty bwu!”
“Very good,” Jim said and typed the information into the laptop with one hand while still holding the fluffy, “and what color was your daddy?”
A few more seconds of thinking and the fluffy said, “No wememba.”
“That’s ok. How about babies, do you like babies?”
“Fwuffy wuv babbehs!” the fluffy exclaimed, happily wiggling around at the thought,
“Fwuffy haf wots of babbehs!”
The response answered his next question, now for the hard ones. “Did your babies grow up to be big fluffies?” Jim asked anticipating possible panic or crying that sometimes happens with the question. Feral fluffies don’t have an easy life after all.
Thankfully the fluffy replied with, “Fwuffy’s babbehs big fwuffies now. Fwuffies babbehs haf babbehs too!”
“Alright, lets go see the other fluffies,” Jim said standing up still holding the mare. “If you see any of your brothers of sisters, or grown babies let me know.”
Jim walked slowly past the cages. Some fluffies said hello, others just asked to be let out. In the last few cages the orange mare let out an excited shout, “Babbeh! Mammeh hewe!”
The purple and teal fluffy looked up, “Fwuffy no am babbeh am big fwuffy now! Mista gif mammeh hewties?”
“Is nice Mista, gif good upsies.” The mare looked up at Jim. “Mista wet babbeh out too?”
Jim walked back to the table, “If you’re a good fluffy for this next part I’ll let him out. Can you be a good fluffy?”
“Fwuffy be good.”
“Ok, I’m going to set you down but you need to stay here, okay? Don’t run away.” Jim set the fluffy down next to the cage. The mare looked back towards the other fluffies but stayed where she was while Jim got the tags ready.
Reaching into a box he grabbed a set of tags. The tag was hard plastic with a hole on one side and small metal spike on the other. Etched into the plastic was a set of six characters that he entered into the computer to keep track of the fluffy’s information. He then cracked the tag in half at the center seam and loaded them into the piercing gun.
Jim used a cotton ball and some rubbing alcohol to sanitize the tag before picking the orange mare back up. Which ear he tagged was determined by the sex. Right ear for females, left for males. Jim sanitized the fluffy’s right ear then felt for the cartilage between his fingers. Like many animals fluffy ears kept their structure through rib like stands of cartilage that ran along the length of the ear. After placing the tag point between the cartilage ribs Jim gave the piercer a quick squeeze until he heard a click. The fluffy yelp and let out a cry of, “owwies!”
“Shh, shh, its okay,” Jim consoled the fluffy and squeezing it close in a one armed hug as he put down the piercing gun. The fluffy’s crying was already fading as he double checked the tag to make sure it was secure. “You’ve been such a good fluffy, how about a treat?”
“Tweat?” the fluffy’s looked up at Jim with excited eyes still watery from crying.
Jim grabbed a sugar cube from the box on the table and held it out to the fluffy. The mare sniffed the cube briefly before picking it up with her mouth. As soon as she could taste it the little mare’s eyes went wide and started to wiggle around again in delight. She was letting out a happy little squee with her mouth still clamped down on the cube totally unaware Jim was bringing her over to the female pen.
Once she was set down the fluffy started to prance around in happy little dance in the grass. It took a little bit before the whole cube dissolved and the fluffy could speak again. “Fwuffy wuv tweat! Can fwuffy haf mow tweats?” the fluffy asked before she even noticed that Jim had left.
Jim was back at the table, now working with the purple fluffy. He examined, questioned, and walked the fluffy past the other cages before tagging him and released it into the male pen before continuing the process with every other fluffy. His examinations found a few things. Unfortunately he found a growth on one that he needed to look at later, but he also found a unicorn with extra bone structure on its back that could mean it was actually a de-winged Alicorn. If it had had its wings at one point they were removed early as he didn’t find any scarring in the area. Of course it could just be one of many genetic abnormalities fluffies sometimes get.
Most of the fluffies couldn’t provide too much information on their history and all the documentation was taken with a grain of salt. Fluffy memory wasn’t the best and foal adoption was fairly common in fluffy herds due to death or getting lost. He did find a pair of brothers in his walk by though which was useful.
Jim cleared up the trash and collapsed the cages and table down before throwing everything into the back of the truck. He stepped into the fluffy pens and showed them the grate cover latrine pits they should use for relieving themselves though he wasn’t going to enforce it until they got into the barn. Pick your battles as they say.
He also showed them the coops where they should sleep. There were dim battery powered lights inside and they were big enough not to be confused with a sorry box. It also had straw and cotton fill for them to use to make nests, some of which were already starting to do. He’d leave them be for a few hours then come back out and usher them into the coops for the night.
He drove the truck back to the barn and sprayed everything he could down with sanitizer spray before setting them out to dry overnight. Jim then set to work closing the barn down for the night, making sure everything was where is should be.
Walking through he found most of the pens had started to gather together for the night forming their communal fluff piles. Jim watched as a light red fluffy, just getting done using the bathroom grates, wander over to the edge of one of the fluff piles. It snuggled in and gave a big yawn before its face disappeared into the soft fluff of the fluffy next to it.