Margaret walked back to her car and slowly began to unpack the toys from the trunk. Carrying it into the house, she placed them in the entryway, and then walked over to check on Grapenut. The fluffy was breathing easily now, and cooed softly as she lifted him. Margaret felt her heart skip. How could anything be this precious? Softly she carried him out to the garden, still wrapped in the blanket.
She came out to the garden to see Punky sitting up on her back legs as the pink and red foals fed from her teats, the gold colored foal curled up next to her. In her arms was the black fluffy that was the inverse of her mother, currently chirping in happiness as Punky cuddled it to her chest. “Bestest babbeh look like Mummah AN’ Spechul Fwend!”
Margaret looked at the last of the foals, the pale blue foal lying in the grass. Laying the bundled up Grapenut on the deck, she walked over to it. Two things jumped out at Margaret. First, it was a colt. Second, it was stillborn. Lifting it gently, Margaret walked over to Punky. “Punky I’m sorry about the little one, are you doing ok sweetie?”
Punky glanced briefly over at the dead foal, before going back to singing the ‘Bestest Babbeh’ song to the foal she held. Her other two babies had finished drinking and were curled up with the golden foal by the feet of their mother.
Margaret didn’t know enough about fluffy grieving protocol for stillbirths to punish the mare for her callous disregard for the death of her own spawn, but desperately wanted to. She held off for the sake of Clementine and Scarlet though, worried that anymore stress today could cause them to enter labor prematurely. She glanced over at the deck clock and was startled to see it had been less than an hour since she had gotten home.
Walking back inside, she called Jim again. After they finished discussing the events of the prior hour, she had him walk her through setting up ‘Covert Ops Sergeant Teddy’. Getting him setup was easy enough, just a couple double a batteries and tuning the receiver to the right channel, and Teddy was ready for his special assignment. Setting a timer for 6 pm, she opened and began to read ‘Tiny, Tiny Foals, A Primer’.
While reading, Margaret made notes of things she would need to do to give the babies the best chance at living. Two things jumped out at her immediately. First, usually fluffies DO grieve over their stillborns, and Punky was just a cold-hearted bitch. Second, Margaret needed to nip this ‘Bestest Baby’ shit in the bud as soon as possible. Especially with feral born fluffies, the ‘Bestest Baby’ became a smarty nine times out of ten.
As Margaret flipped through the book, she grew more and more apprehensive. She had expected foals to be a lot of work, but it seemed like god himself has it out for the little fluffies. With bones weaker than toothpicks, muscles like jelly, and skin thinner than tissue paper, a six inch fall could snap their spines if they landed wrong. Coupled with the inability of their mothers to defend them from any kind of threat, foals were easy pickings for any predator.
Even bigger threats to foals were their own mothers. Any foal with what is considered a ‘poopy’ color is usually only kept as emergency food, a sacrifice to escape from predators, or in the most merciful case, killed at birth. Margaret counted herself lucky that Punky had given birth to any this round, as it took repeated exposure to the ‘good baby’ rules to prevent rejections.
Good colored foals were in constant danger. Fluffies were notoriously uncoordinated. Mares have been known to roll over in their sleep, crushing the foals. Even worse, when mothers threw tantrums or got too excited, any foal that had been nearby was at great risk of trampling, some accounts told of mothers who, in a rage over not getting spaghetti, threw such a fit they flattened all of their foals. Margaret shuddered at the thought of peeling the bodies of the foals from the lawn, the horrified herd looking on.
Margaret pinched the bridge of her nose in an attempt to lessen the stress migraine she felt coming on. She had no intention of getting rid of the foals, if they could be raised right, they could become valuable workers. She stood up and walked to the back window. Punky had curled up around the three foals, her ‘bestest’ baby cuddled up on the top of her.
As the timer went off, Margaret stood up and walked into the kitchen to prepare dinner. Tonight was special. Everyone, with the exception of Bumbler, had done their best during the chaos of Punky’s birth. Swiftly, Margaret warmed up a serving of spaghetti for each and every fluffy. She hesitated with the one meant for Punky, almost choosing to just give her the standard oats, but decided it was best to serve them all spaghetti tonight.
Loading the feeding tray with seven bowls of spaghetti, Margaret carried the tray out to the waiting fluffies. The instant the door opened, the fluffies caught the scent of warm marinara. The herd immediately stopped playing, all eyes fixed on the tray Margaret placed on the deck table.
“LINE UP!” Margaret timed this line up as their current fastest time, the fluffies practically falling over themselves as they scrambled into place. The last to take his place was Grapenut, Margaret noting bitterly he was limping a bit. Pushing the desire to break down and hug him, Margaret took a seat on the deck chair.
“Well.” She began. “Today has been quite the adventure hasn’t it?” The fluffies stared past her to the bowls of spaghetti, clearly only focused on sating their hunger. Margaret continued. “Before we eat today, I have some things to discuss, especially with the new mother and the expecting mothers.” Turning to the mummah trio, as she had taken to calling them, she made sure to stand directly in between them and the spaghetti.
“There are some rules to being a mommy while you live here, okay?” Margaret bent down to their level. “First things first, there are NO BESTEST BABIES.” She said this staring directly at Punky who huffed and turned her head away. Margaret grabbed her head and forced her to face her. “THERE ARE NO BESTEST BABIES. UNDERSTOOD?” Punky glared at Margaret, spite in her eyes. “Otay. fwuffy no haf bestest babbeh anyways.” Margaret glared at her once more, Punky staring back in defiance. Margaret spoke again, “If I find out you do have a bestest baby, I will punish you. HARSHLY.” Turning to Scarlet and Clementine, Margaret spoke softer. “That goes for you too dears, okay?”
Clementine, swallowing the mouthful of drool that had formed after catching the scent of spaghetti, nodded. “Otay mummah, aww babbehs awe goodest babbehs, bu’ no babbehs am bestest babbeh.” Margaret let go of Punky’s head, turning to face Clementine with a smile. “Yes dear, what a great way of putting it!” She kissed Clementine softly on the head, the fluffy giggling and cooing as she did so.
Margaret regained her composure. “Second, there is no such thing as a ‘poopy’ baby. Anyone referring to a baby as such will be spending a day in the sorry box. Understood?” The trio flinched at the mention of the sorry box, Scarlet and Clementine quickly agreeing. Margaret stared daggers at Punky until she gave a halfhearted “Otay.”
Margaret hated every moment she spent talking to Punky. Secretly she hoped that Punky would give her an excuse to punish her, but seeing what became of Bumbler had obviously made an impression on her. While no fluffy would admit it, they had all heard the scream from when she had whipped him.
“That goes for the rest of you too, no calling any babies ‘poopy,’ no ‘bestest babies.’ Am I understood?” The herd shouted “Yes mummah!” through copious mouthfuls of drool. Margaret smiled as she noticed Jackson trotting in place in anticipation. She had been worried the days prior events may have scarred him, but it seems his attention span was even shorter than he was.
“Now, as you know good workers are rewarded through spaghetti. However, today was special. When I came home, each and every one of you was doing your best. Mommy is VERY proud of all of you!” Smiling, she laid out a bowl of spaghetti for each fluffy, each fluffy ravenously devouring it as she placed it in front of them. She sighed a bit as sauce flew through the air, splattering the fluffies and the surrounding lawn. It looked like it was time for another bath. But that could wait until tomorrow; they had gone through enough trauma for the day.
The fluffies finished their meal, and then turned to groom each other. Margaret didn’t know if it was a social thing or if they were just trying to get more sauce. Margaret found the way they licked each other’s muzzles reminiscent of cows with their young. Smiling, she turned to go back into the house.
Walking inside, Margaret picked up the toys she had bought earlier in the day. Carrying them out to the herd she was met by a squeal of joy from Bullet. “Mummah bwing bwockies an’ bawws!” Margaret had forgotten she was the only one of the herd to have not been born feral. “That’s right Bullet, will you show the rest of the fluffies how to play nice with the toys?”
Bullet, clearly enjoying the attention, began to lecture the other fluffies on how they can play with the blocks, showing them how to grip the rubbery exterior using their hoofs and stack them. Margaret smiled as she then began to play a game of ball with Grapenut, the pegasus limping a bit, but otherwise able to keep up with the giggling red mare. Walking inside, she retrieved a Sergeant Teddy, and brought them to the mummah trio.
Placing the red bear down beside the trio, Margaret discreetly read the introduction card included with the teddy bears. “Girls, this is Sergeant Teddy, he’s here to help you feel safer at night. Say hi to him!” Scarlet giggled and nuzzled the soft bear. “Hewwo Sewgeant Teddy! Fwuffy name am Scawwet!” The other two followed suit, even Punky appeared to be interested in the bear, her foals peeping as she left them alone to nuzzle the soft fluff.
Walking back to the deck, Margaret called the fluffies to attention once more. “Alright dearies, there are some rules to the toys. First, you must share. Understood?” The fluffies agreed noncommittally. Margaret could tell this would be an issue down the line; she would likely have to punish one of them for an example. She desperately hoped it would be Punky to break the rule, but knew it was most likely going to be Jackson or Button who were going to be the ones to get into trouble.
Clearing her throat, Margaret continued. “Second, during work time, you will bring me all the toys and I will keep them until after dinner. Understood?” She received another halfhearted answer, the fluffies all restlessly fidgeting as they stood in place, eager to return to playing. Margaret sighed and dismissed them. With each passing day she felt like she was returning to being a school teacher corralling a bunch of rowdy kids.
Margaret was about to walk back inside when she felt a tugging on the bottom of her pants leg. Looking down, she saw Bullet had wrapped her little arms around her leg. “Mummah, tank ‘ou fow toysies. ‘Ou am best mummah ebah.” Margaret smiled, and lifted the mare in her arms. Hugging her tightly she also recalled why she chose to be a teacher in the first place. Smiling, she kissed Bullet on the snout and set her down.
Walking inside, Margaret saw the voicemail light blinking on her land line. Pressing the button, she was greeted by the voice of Thomas. “Hey Margaret, I finished making the plough, give me a call and we can set up a time for me to bring it over.” Margaret smiled. It was time to begin planting.