Margaret woke up an hour later than usual, no doubt due to the long night of driving. She was still up long before the sun was, the sky only just beginning to gain the rosy tint of sunrise. She walked outside to see Thomas blanketed by fluffies, with a mini foal fluffpile slowly rising up and down on his chest as he breathed. It was times like these that Margaret wished she had a smart phone, if only to take photos to never look at again.
Walking inside, Margaret began to brew a pot of coffee, bringing the pot outside with another cup for when Thomas woke up. Slowly sipping her coffee, she watched the sun continue to rise, the glare of the light finally peering over the fence, directly into Thomas’ eyes, rousing the young man from his slumber. “Goddamn… What time is it?” He murmured groggily, looking at his wrist for a watch that was currently a few feet away, being sucked on by Jackson. “Its around a quarter to eight.” Thomas looked with surprise to see the old woman sipping her coffee on the porch.
The stirring of their bed mate woke the rest of the fluffies, the garden filling with a chorus of yawns and “Gud mawnings.” Margaret smiled at the fluffies. “Did you guys have fun with Mister Thomas yesterday?” Most of the herd gave her a chorus of “Yes Mummah!,” with the expected holdouts from Grapenut and the two strays. And of course, Punky.
As usual, Punky was too busy doting on her bestest baby to pay attention to anything else. Margaret let it go this time as she hadn’t actually called the herd to attention yet, but she wasn’t stupid enough to not read the writing on the wall. Punky was a bad egg, and her bestest baby had gone rotten along with her… Margaret didn’t see it as a shame per say, but it was unfortunate.
Directing her attention back to the herd, she continued. “So as many of you have already seen, we have two new fluffies with us today!” The rest of the herd nodded with the exception of Jackson who appeared dumbfounded by the statement. “Mummah?” Margaret ignored him until he remembered to lift his hoof to ask the question. “Yes dear?” Jackson cocked his head as he looked at her in utter confusion. “Who am nyu fwuffies?” Margaret pinched the bridge of her nose. She loved Jackson but he was dumber than a pet rock.
“Archibald, will you come over here for a moment please?” The unicorn dutifully bounded up. “This is Archibald, he and his special friend Victoria,” She motioned to Victoria, who waved cheerily to the rest of the herd, “Will be staying with us as long as they like. I expect a warm welcome for them, alright?”
Jackson nodded, bounding over to Archibald and hugging him. “Hewwo nyu fwiend, Jackson wuv ou’!” Grapenut bounded over, hugging the two fluffies. “Grapenut wuv nyu fwiend to!” Slowly, more and more fluffies came to join the hug ring, professing their love for their new friends.
“God, I swear this shit will give you diabetes.” Thomas stood up, wiping the worst of the fluffy drool from his watch before fastening it to his wrist. “I’m going to head out before I need an insulin shot.” Margaret passed him a couple hundred dollars, forcing it into his hands as he attempted to refuse. “Margaret you don’t have to-” “For gods sake Thomas shut the hell up and take the money.”
Reluctantly, the young man agreed, slipping it into his coat pocket. “Alright, I will see you later.” As he left through the gate, he turned back to her. “I almost forgot, nearly finished with the fluffy mounted watering can. Should be done by tomorrow.” Margaret smiled. “Fantastic, I’m sure the ponies will be glad to not have to carry the can back and forth so often.”
Margaret waved as Thomas drove off, waiting until he was just a trail of dust in the distance before walking inside to prepare the breakfast for the morning, today’s breakfast being oats, apples, and raisins. Walking back out with the tray, the herd began to move even before her usual cry of “Line up!”
The herd quickly got in position, with the exception of Archibald and Victoria, both staring confusedly at the herd’s movements. Margaret smiled at the two. “Archibald, when I say line up, I want you to roll Victoria over there next to Clementine,” Margaret pointed over at the orange mare, who waved helpfully. “And then you come stand next to Bumbler.” Bumbler sat at attention stoically, his three good children lined up in front of him. “Otay miss Mawgawet!”
Archibald still seemed apprehensive, but was much more relaxed after seeing how friendly and happy the herd generally was. “Alright dear, let me explain how meal time works. First, I feed the mummahs and soon mummahs.” Archibald nodded. “Awight, dat am gud. Dey need gud nummies to make good babbehs an’ miwkies.” Margaret gave him a head pat. “Thats right. Next, come any of the mares who aren’t pregnant.” He nodded again. “Deh need be heawthy to make babbehs an’ miwkies wata’.” Margaret nodded in agreement. “Then, come the stallions.” He nodded yet again. “Dat seem weasonabwe.” Margaret was legitimately impressed by his vocabulary. Most fluffies struggled with three syllables, he was able to get four.
“Alright, get back in line and wait your turn. And don’t worry, there is plenty of food for everyone.” Margaret smiled at him as he dutifully trotted back to his place as Margaret placed the first bowl of food down, the mares grouping up around their designated bowls. She was worried about Victoria, but Bullet had apparently taken her place as caretaker despite her own growing bulk, happily rolling her over to the bowl while telling Victoria about how great the nummies were here.
Soon, the herd had all finished eating, Margaret collecting the bowls and trays and breaking out the watering can. “Alright, time for work. Bumbler, come here please.” The black unicorn trotted over, dutifully taking the half filled can. “Archibald, watch how Bumbler does his work, and try to copy him.” The grey unicorn nodded, staring with laser focus as Bumbler carefully watered a line of radish sprouts before walking back to Margaret, handing her the empty can before silently walking to the back of the line of worker fluffies.
Margaret turned to Archibald. “You think you can do that dear?” He nodded and Margaret filled the can. Passing it to him, he stumbled momentarily from the weight before lifting the can and walking over to the crops, beginning to water the plants Bumbler had just done. Margaret was about to correct him when Bumbler stepped forwards. “Dem gwassies aweady hab dwink, nee gib odda pwants dwinkies!” Archibald nodded with some difficulty, before taking a few steps back to begin watering the next line of plants.
Margaret was impressed. Bumbler had managed to pull his ranking up from bottom of the barrel to third worst. If he continued like this he may eventually make his way into her good book. Archibald finished watering the row of sprouts before bringing the can back, Jackson happily taking the can and bounding off to water the next row before getting called back by Margaret to fill the can up. As he was finishing up the last row of sprouts, Bumbler suddenly stopped, dropped the can and dropped into a defensive stance, staring at the road. “MUNSTAH!”
The garden devolved into chaos as the roar of a six cylinder diesel engine slowly approached the garden. Clementine curled around her foals defensively as they peeped and chirped, Grapenut and Jackson in position to guard her, their legs shaking in fear. Bumbler gathered his three foals under him as Punky was preoccupied screaming and clutching her bestest to her chest. Button and Bullet hugged each other for comfort, both scared but reassured by their partners presence. Archibald and Victoria only appeared confused as the chicken coops came into view, carried by Bill’s massive tractor.
“God damn it Bill! Warn me before you bring the fucking tractor out!” Margaret yelled at Bill who sheepishly waved back at her. “Sorry Marge, I forget how jumpy those ponies are.” Bill carefully maneuvered the coops into place, lowering them from the front of the tractor as Nick hopped out of the cab, removing the straps holding the coops to the tractor.
Nick shrugged as she stormed up to talk to Bill, who had positioned his tractor to get ready for removing the layer of harsh sawgrass for the planned expansion of the garden. “Sorry about the noise Marge, I forget how jumpy the little guys are. They okay?” Margaret stared at him angrily. “You’re luckily none of them shit themselves or you’d be cleaning it up the same way they do.” Bill laughed. “I don’t doubt it.”
Margaret came out of the garden to take a look at the coops. They were beautiful. Solid hard wood, a built in floor heater for the cold months, removable soft carpet inside, and clearly retro fit for fluffies. It had been lowered to rest on the poured concrete slabs perfectly, the lip of the coop’s edge sliding over the base. Peering inside the large coop, Margaret could see the walls had been covered in a soft, rubberized padding. Mounted on the roof was a LED nightlight. Thomas had, yet again, outdone himself.
“What powers the nightlight?” Nick pointed at the roof of the coop. “Built in solar panels power the floor warmer and the nightlight.” He reached around the back, producing a DC cord. “Could also plug it in, but then you have to worry about fluffies around a live wire.” He returned the cord to the small cupboard he had pulled it from, latching it securely. “But as long as you brush the panels off once a month they should last about fifteen years before requiring service.” Margaret smiled. “looks like they’ll out last me then!”
Margaret walked back into the garden. To her surprise, the herd had formed a semicircle around Archibald, who was teaching them about the Metal Monsters. “Metaw munstahs can onwy wawk on wocky gwound, an’ nu can wawk thwough wawws!” The rest of the herd nodded in understanding. “Awchibawd am suuuuu smawt!” Jackson spoke, mouth agape with wonder as Archibald regaled the herd with the tale of how he saved Victoria from being flattened by a semi truck. Margaret stood to the side as he told the story, occasionally reenacting parts with exaggerated motions. She briefly wondered if Archibald the Story Telling Fluffy could be marketed, but quickly disregarded the notion.
Bill walked up to the deck, catching the tail end of Victoria’s harrowing escape from death. “Christ. Imagine how terrifying the world must be when you’re that small.” Margaret agreed with a short grunt. “Anyhow, I need to start the tractor up again, can you give the herd a warning? Spending an hour shoveling fluffy shit isn’t an attractive proposition.” Margaret nodded, standing up and calling the herd to attention.
“Mistah Biww!” Jackson cried out happily, racing over and getting swept up in a big bear hug by the tall man. “JACKSON! Hows my favorite fluffy doing!” Jackson hugged Bill’s neck tightly, his stubby arms just barely reaching around his neck. “Jackson am gud!” Bill gave him a gruff kiss on the forehead. Jackson regaled Bill with the list of the days prior events as Bill smiled and stroked the ponies neck.
Suddenly a large smile spread across Bill’s face. “Hey Marge, you mind if I take Jackson up in the ‘Metal Munstah?’” Margaret gave a short laugh. “Only if he agrees, and if you’re prepared to clean up any messes that result from your actions.” Bill smiled even wider. “Hey Jackson, want to ride in the big ol’ ‘Metal Munstah’ with me?”
Jackson appeared excited by the idea of spending time with Bill just as much as he was terrified of the tractor. After much reassurance from Bill the two climbed the tall ladder stairs to the cab of the tractor, and after a moment the tractor roared to life and lurched forwards. While initially startled by the revving of the engine the fluffies appeared much more comfortable with the presence of the rumbling tractor.
Bill lowered the rototiller and began to move forwards, the fluffies again startled by the sound of ripping and tearing as the sawgrass was torn up and launched over the fence by the powerful machine. Reaching the end of the fence, the rototiller lifted and Bill took the tractor on a short trip around the house. Stopping the tractor at the opening to the fence, he hopped out, Jackson riding atop his head. “That’s the best your hair has looked in years Bill.” Bill laughed. Plucking the fluffy from atop his head he cradled him in his arms. “Have fun buddy?” Jackson smiled and nodded excitedly. “Jackson hab SUUUU much fun!” Placing him down, he raced over to regale the rest of the herd with his tale.
Bill turned to Margaret, handing her a crumpled invoice. “Alright, we’ll be finished up tomorrow.” Margaret took the invoice and walked inside, grabbing her check book. Quickly writing out the check, she brought it out and handed it to Bill. “Alright, say hi to Sue for me.” Bill nodded, smiled, and walked out of the garden with a quick goodbye hug to Jackson.
Margaret watched the fluffies play and frolic until the sun began to set, collecting the toys and bringing dinner as usual. Soon after dinner, the fluffies formed a fluffpile and quickly began snoring. Margaret flipped off the lights and began her own preparations for bed.
Punky was rudely woken by a bop to her nose. “Owwies!” She looked up angrily to see her bestest baby Candy looking at her rather annoyed. “Candy hungwie mummah! Need nummies!” Punky huffed angrily at the foal. “Nu gib nosey boops babbeh!” The foal rolled her eyes annoyed. “Fwuffy am suuuuu sowwy fow hittin’ Mummah.”
Her anger abated, Punky hauled herself up to sit on her haunches. “Hewe babbeh, mummah hab wotsa miwkies stiww.” Candy snorted irritated. “Babbeh nu babbeh nu mowe, nu wan miwkies.” She chomped the air a few times, her tiny teeth clacking together audibly. “Buh babbeh, meanie munstah mummah nu bwing food untiw bwight times.”
“BESTEST BABBEH WAN NUMMIES NAOW!!!” The tiny foal began to throw a tantrum, rolling on the ground flailing wildly, screaming as loud as her tiny lungs would let her. Her screaming suddenly stopped as she was lifted suddenly by her scruff. “BAD UPSIES! NU WAN!” She screamed, releasing a stream of liquid shit as she was forced into the arms of Punky.
“Why babbeh angwy Punky?” Bumbler asked angrily, woken abruptly by the tiny screams. “Dummeh Bumbwah, gu back tu sweepies, bestest babbeh jus’ hungwy.” Bumbler snorted angrily. “Den gib miwkies. Nu am hawd.” Candy struggled to position herself upright, Angrily screeching at her father. “NU WAN MIWKIES, WAN ODDA NUMMIES!” Bumbler glared right back at her. “Den wait untiw bwight times.”
Candy glared right back at her father, blowing a raspberry at him. “Dummeh daddeh, dummeh, stoopid daddeh, Candy hatechu! HATECHU!” Bumbler reared up on his back hooves, stomping down angrily with as much force as he could muster, which was and impressive amount for a fluffy, startling both mother and child. “Whiwe Mawgawet am nu hewe Bumbwah am stiww hewd smawteh!” He glared at the two outcasts of the herd. “Go sweepies. Get nummies tomowwow.”
Punky and Candy watched as Bumbler walked back to his place among the fluffpile, curling back up around his three foals and falling back to sleep. Punky could feel her blood boiling. How DARE he yell at her? At their BESTEST? And to think she had once let him be her special friend.
Punky felt her bestest babbeh hug her leg tightly, still frightened by the scolding and show of power her father just performed in front of them. “Mummah, babbeh am stiww hungwy… Nu cawe if miwkies, wan nummies.”
Punky looked at the garden, an idea suddenly forming in her tiny brain. “Bestest Babbeh, Mummah jus’ found bestest nummies fow you!”