This story’s focus shifts to a different, but still entirely valid, setting: that of the Rype & Readi Farm proper down in Elkton, a distance of a mere 12 miles (and a most scenic drive) from the historic city of St. Augustine, Florida.
The Rype & Readi Farm was a beautiful stretch of estate, inhabited by a diverse population of animals such as sheep, geese, cows, and donkeys, and blessed with wide tracts of verdant pastures, perfect for an animal to spend uninterrupted hours grazing to their hearts’ content.
“Cole, there you are!”
‘Or at least, that’s the dream,’ Cole thought ruefully to himself, the black-hued bull looking up from the patch of grass he’d been chewing to catch sight of a dark brown cow trotting up to him with an uneasy expression. Rather than voice these thoughts, however, Cole simply greeted the cow with a moo of acknowledgement. “Something up, Annabelle?”
Annabelle swung her head side to side with a miserable groan as she addressed the big bull. “Yes, I’m afraid something is up, something very pressing indeed. Have you seen Apollo anywhere? I looked away for but a moment, but now I can’t find him anywhere!”
“Hmm?” Cole looked up at her in surprise. “Our son? But he’s only a day old! Doesn’t it take a full 24 hours before they start actually walking?”
“That’s the hope, yes,” Annabelle ground her hoof into her forehead with a sigh. “Honestly, how someone so young can be so fast… anyway, I told Farmer Seb and he’s locked the gates, so there’s no danger of Apollo wandering off, but I’d still like to know that he’s safe and sound! If you haven’t seen him, would you lend me a hoof in looking for him?”
“Mmph, I’d love to, Annabelle, but…” Cole rubbed his hoof behind his horns with a wince. “I’m afraid I’m kinda busy with something at the moment.”
Annabelle’s worried expression swiftly became dry enough to start tanning Cole’s hide leather. “Oh really? Because it looked to me like you were just standing around chewing on your cud.”
“Guh-! T-That’s only partly true!” Cole denied with a hasty shake of his head. “I was chewing cud, yeah, but I was doing it ‘cause it helps me think! Mother’s Day is today, and I need to decide whether I’m gonna send my Ma a bunch of daisies or daffodils!”
That statement drew Annabelle up short. “Wait… as I recall, doesn’t your mother love daisies but despise daffodils? What’s there to think about?”
Cole sighed wearily as he waved his hoof in the air. “If you recall that, then you’ll also recall my Ma loves daisies because of how they taste. What I’m asking myself is whether I should send her something she loves that won’t last long, or if I should send her something she won’t like too much, but will last longer with my feelings in it.”
Annabelle considered the dilemma for a moment before flinching sympathetically. “I see your point,” she turned to leave. “I’ll leave you to it and look on my own, but once you’ve made a decision…?”
“I’ll be right there with you, don’t worry,” Cole nodded firmly before shooting her a comforting smile. “Though, to be honest? I wouldn’t churn your butter too hard; Apollo’s a strong little calf, he’ll be fine!”
Annabelle hummed noncommittally as she wandered off, worrying all the while at the uncertain feeling she had resting in her udders.
Unfortunately, that feeling ultimately panned out when, over the course of her search, Annabelle was forced to come to a most unsettling conclusion: her little calf, her precious Apollo… was something of a, sad-to-say, kleptomaniac.
There was no hard proof, of course, but the fact that the sheep said they were missing a bag of their very own fleece, along with the peacocks and geese saying the same about a load of their very own stray down, and the farmhands the very same about a large feed sack, all at the same time as Apollo was missing, was all very condemning.
Thankfully, no one but Anabelle had yet to draw the connection, so there was still time to set things right.
Even better, Annabelle now had a lead on Apollo, thanks to her longtime friend, Betsy, recalling the calf wandering past her as she napped. And indeed, after heading in the direction the old cow had indicated and investigating one of the older and less used sheds….
Annabelle found her calf, her exclamation causing the young black calf to jerk in surprise before he shot her a sheepish grin.
“H-hello, mother…” he stammered nervously, an uneasy grin twitching on his muzzle. “H-How are you today?”
Annabelle snorted gruffly, ignoring the attempt at pleasantries. “Apollo, I am very disappointed in you for wandering off alone, but before we talk about that, I’m going to give you one chance to be honest with me about something else. And I hope you know what I mean.”
Apollo flinched self-consciously, glancing about uneasily for a second before slumping in defeat. “…I was the one who stole that stuff from the farm…” he mumbled regretfully.
Annabelle sighed heavily as her suspicions were confirmed. “I thought so… Young bull-!”
“B-But!” Apollo protested hastily. “I-I needed that stuff! I-I really, really did!”
The calf’s mother snorted in a decidedly unimpressed manner. “Apollo, you’re a day old! What could you possibly have needed all those things for?”
“B-but it w-wasn’t for me! I-it was, well…” Apollo trotted into the shed and returned dragging something behind him.
Annabelle took one look at what her son was dragging… and gasped in surprise. True, it did just look like a feed bag that had been stuffed to the brim with wool and feathers, but to Annabelle, it looked just like–
“A pillow…” Annabelle breathed, looking at her son in surprise. “You made this for me?”
Apollo smiled and nodded proudly. “U-uh-huh! H-Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! And, uh…” he glanced to the side bashfully. “I really am sorry for stealing this stuff, b-but I was afraid t-that…”
“That they’d say no?” Annabelle completed, chuckling warmly at the way her son blushed. “Oh Apollo, it’s alright, I forgive you and I’m certain they will, too. Thank you for the lovely gift, but next time? Please ask before you do something like this?
“I-I will, Mom,” Apollo smiled apologetically before walking up to his mother and nuzzling her neck. “I-I love you, Mom.
Annabelle smiled as she nuzzled him back. “And I love you, Apollo.”
And so they and the rest of the farm enjoyed a very happy Mother’s Day.
by Baxter Balick, Rype & Readi Contributing Writer, Flagler Sophomore College Student
Editor’s Note: Spring on the Farm means lots of new animals. Zoey also had a calf that we named Zeus!