by Baxter Balick, Rype & Readi Contributing Writer, Flagler Sophomore College Student
Yet another busy and special day at the Rype & Readi Farm Market, yet more out-of-town visitors to the local animals ever-so-humble abode. In this instance, however, the visiting animals were truly naught but visitors, and would be leaving all too soon for the other animals to truly enjoy their presence. Nevertheless, in spite of how short the visit was to be, at least one animal on the Market was truly enthused to be able to enjoy the visitors’ presence at all.
“Aunt Cocoa! Aunt Coffee!” Caramel bleated joyfully as she nuzzled her aunts, only just keeping herself from prancing about with joy. “It’s so good to see you again! How are you, how have you been?”
“It’s good to see you too, Caramel!” Cocoa hummed pleasantly into her niece’s wool as she nuzzled her back.
“Don’t worry, deary, we’re all doing quite well,” Coffee assured the lamb with a smile, even as she raised a hoof to her distended belly. “All four of us.”
“That’s wonderful to hear, miss,” Tammie gobbled happily, waving in greeting as she and Paprika approached the miniscule herd of sheep. “Sorry for intruding, we just wanted to introduce ourselves. I’m Tammie, and this is Paprika. It’s so nice to meet the both of you, Caramel’s told us so much about you.”
“And it’s nice to meet you as well,” Coffee replied pleasantly, waving a hoof in greeting. “Thank you very much for looking after Caramel for us, we truly appreciate it.”
“Oh not a problem, the dear’s been an undeniable angel,” Paprika waved the praise off casually before glancing around curiously. “Though, speaking of Caramel’s family, I do believe her Uncle… Hershel, I believe, was supposed to be present as well lest I’m mistaken?”
“His name’s Uncle Hershey!” Caramel corrected the chicken politely.
“And yes, Hershey is with us at the moment, just…” Coffee dragged her hoof down her muzzle with a grimace. “‘Indisposed’ at the moment.”
“He found a pile of hay your goat friends weren’t using and had himself a snack before becoming dead to the world,” Cocoa deadpanned.
“With Gomez joining him soon after, I presume….” Paprika slapped her wing to her face with a sigh.
Caramel gasped in honest surprise. “Wow, how’d you know, Miss Paprika?”
“And sometimes I question how smart it is to raise my chicks on my own…” Tammie muttered to herself before forcibly shifting her beak’s expression into a smile. “Aaanyways, onto other matters… oh, I know!” the turkey gestured her wing at the twin ruminants. More specifically, at their distended stomachs. “How far along are you?”
“Oh, we’re about mid-way there if I had to guess,” Coffee mused before shrugging indifferently. “But really, who can say?”
“Either way, you can rest assured there won’t be any ‘emergencies’ while we’re here!” Cocoa laughed pleasantly. “And honestly, we’re quite grateful for that, seeing as we need to leave quite soon!”
“Awwww!” Caramel groaned as she hung her head in disappointment, angling herself just so so that she could give her aunts a pleading look. “Do you have to? Can’t you stay awhile? I miss you guys a bunch!”
“Aw, and we miss you a lot too, Caramel,” Cocoa gave her niece a comforting hug.
“But, unfortunately, it’s just not possible,” Coffee sighed as she shrugged helplessly. “We have an appointment, and we simply can’t miss it.”
“Oh?” Paprika couldn’t help but perk up curiously. “Is that so? Where are you going?”
“Farmer Seb scheduled a bit of a makeover for us,” Coffee sighed wistfully, running her hoof through her curls. “It’s just a little touch-up, but we’re very much looking forward to it. Being warm and woolly is nice in the winter, but we’d prefer to avoid being cooked alive in the summer, so we’re most certainly looking forwards to the trim.”
“Oh, that sounds positively delightful!” Tammie fluttered her wings eagerly. “We fowls can never do much more than preen ourselves and get our feathers in order, so the idea of being able to change your looks however you want is truly awe-inspiring!”
“Saaaay…” Paprika tapped a wingtip to her beak thoughtfully. “Cocoa, Caramel, if you don’t mind, would it be all right with you if we were to offer some suggestions for this makeover? Nothing serious, mind you, just a few ideas here and there? A way of living vicariously through you and your fur, if you will.”
“Um…” Cocoa and Coffee exchanged hesitant glances before shrugging and smiling at the birds.
Because really, how bad could their suggestions be?
As it turned out…
“Cocoa, there you are! This will only take a moment, I had a thought concerning your new look: straw! It’s a staple of ruminants, after all, and it can easily be woven into your wool! That way, you’ll both look good and have a snack on hand! Brilliant, no?”
“Oh, Coffee! I had an idea for your makeover: there’s this wonderful thing humans do with their hair called ‘braiding’, and I was thinking-!”
“Maybe do it up slightly different-?”
“A shave here-?”
“Grow it out-?”
Quite bad indeed. And perhaps even worse was just how unerringly persistent the featherbrains were, constantly pestering the expectant Babydoll sheep throughout their stay at the market.
To Cocoa and Coffee’s credit, they tried to endure the barrage as best they could, holding their tongues in favor of smiling and nodding, but… well, even they had their limits.
“Oh, there you are!” Tammie clucked happily as she and Paprika trotted up to the discretely grimacing twins. “Perfect timing, Paprika and I just had the most brilliant of ideas!”
“Indeed!” Paprika nodded enthusiastically. “You see, we just heard one of the employees talking about something called ‘dye’, and-!”
And that was where they drew the line.
The birds jumped back in shock when the sheep suddenly shouted in annoyance.
“Tammie, Paprika, you two are very nice, and we’d very much like to consider you our friends…” Cocoa started, her voice full of restrained frustration.
“But you are driving us insane with these suggestions!” Coffee ground her hoof into her forehead with a groan. “We’re just getting a trim on our wool, that’s it! Please let it go?”
The turkey and chicken were silent for a bit as they processed the outburst… before bowing their heads in regret.
“We’re sorry…” Tammie clucked sadly. “We just got too enthusiastic.”
“From now on, we’ll avoid pushing our expectations on our friends. Sorry for the hassle.” Paprika apologized.
“That’s all we ask…” the twins sighed in relief.
“…still, if I might make one suggestion?”
“Sorry…” Tammie grinned sheepishly as she rubbed the spot Paprika had thwacked.
Editor’s Note: Cocoa and Coffee are part of our flock of registered Olde English Miniature Babydoll Southdown sheep, an ancient breed with sweet, teddy bear faces. Raised for their diminutive size (only 24 inches tall when mature), they are easy to handle and not aggressive. The little sheep are amongst the highest priced sheep and most in demand of any breed. The demand for Babydoll wool increases each year. The wool is short stapled, but a micron count of 19 to 22 puts it in the class of cashmere. The wool has more barbs per inch than any other wool and is perfect for blending with other fine wools and for felting More information is available on our website.