by Baxter Balick, Rype & Readi Contributing Author and Flagler Sophomore Student
Day to day life on the Rype & Readi farm was a casual enough affair; all the animals treated each other cordially, and there was rarely any hullaballoo disturbing the peace and sanctity of the farm.
All of the animals were good friends, and though once in a while something would come up like something always does, it was never anything serious–just simple affairs, such as Tammie’s chicks occasionally getting into some mischief or one of Paprika’s coven being particularly airheaded about something as simple as where their eggs were situated.
In summary, none of the animals ever really had any problems with each other.
“Hey Pa-a-a-aprika,” one of the market’s goats bleated as it trotted up to the white hen, an annoyed expression on her muzzle. “I need to talk to you about a pro-o-o-oblem.”
…correction: most of the animals usually didn’t have problems with each other.
Paprika blinked at the large mammal in surprise before waving her arm in greeting. “But of course, Gomez! How can I help you?”
Apparently matters were off to a bad start, because the goat’s expression darkened considerably. “You just became a pa-a-a-art of it.”
Paprika stared at the goat in confusion for a moment before gasping as realization struck her. “Oh my word, Bailey! I-I-I’m so sorry, it’s just that you-!”
“Both so-o-o-ound the same?” Bailey deadpanned. “Both lo-o-o-ok the same? Both ta-a-a-alk the same? Tru-u-u-ust me, I’ve heard it all befo-o-o-ore.”
“Ahem, yes well…” Paprika coughed self-consciously. “I assure you, it’s not out of malicious intent. You see, we birds have very distinctive ways of telling our genders apart, roosters and gobblers looking quite different from us hens and all that. Whereas you mammals, well…” she waved her wing at the goat uncertainly. “We… really don’t have a lot to go off of, I’m afraid.”
Bailey’s response was to snort dispassionately. “Ma-a-a-aybe so, but I’m sti-i-i-ill sick of being mistaken for my own so-o-o-on. Do you think you can he-e-e-elp?”
Paprika tapped a feather to her beak with a thoughtful hum for a second before shrugging helplessly. “I certainly don’t see any reason not to try. Just let me go and get Tammie so that we can have a second opinion on matters and we can get started, all right?”
“So-o-o-ounds good,” Bailey nodded gratefully as she turned to leave. “I-I-I-I’ll go and ge-e-e-et Gomez. Tha-a-a-anks, Paprika.”
“Not a problem, dear friend!” Paprika waved her wing over her shoulder as she walked off. “With any luck, we’ll have your problems over and done with before the day is out!”
“This is taking forever…” Tammie hung her head with a dejected gobble.
“She’s ri-i-i-ight,” the goat on the left, who was most certainly Gomez, bleated.
“We-e-e-e’ve been looking for a way for ho-o-o-ours,” the goat on the right, who was 100% Bailey, concurred. “But still no lu-u-u-uck.”
Paprika’s kind might have been renowned for their cowardice, but she herself was far from a pessimistic specimen of poultry. Nevertheless, even she had to admit that the task before them was proving to be more daunting than any of them could have anticipated.
The female fowls had tried a variety of methods to differ the mother and son herbivores, but nothing had truly managed to stick.
They’d asked Farmer Seb if they could use some paint to color them differently, but he’d told them that it wasn’t healthy to be covered in paint like that, and he’d also reminded them it would eventually either be shed or washed off anyway.
They’d tried to use an old pair of nametags they found lying around in the store, but the goats just didn’t have anywhere for them to be stuck on, and neither Bailey nor Gomez was too fond of the idea of them being used to practice amateur accupuncture.
They’d even tried grooming the goats’ fur in different ways, but all it had taken was a stiff breeze to undo their hardwrought work.
As it stood, Paprika was rapidly approaching her wits’ end with this whole affair, but she wasn’t finished just quite yet.
“What else do we have?” She asked the Tammie the turkey wearily.
“All right, let’s see, let’s see… oh!” Tammie perked up eagerly as she dug out a wreath of flowers from a pile of miscellania they’d pulled from the barn. “I remember this, my chicks made it! Here!” She held it out to the goats. “Maybe if one of you wears it-!”
“…without… eating it… like the last half dozen pieces of apparel we’ve offered you…” Paprika dragged her wing down her face with a groan as Gomez chowed down on the flowers.
“So-o-o-orry, I was hu-u-u-ungry,” the goat bleated apologetically.
“I-I-I-I’m getting hungry too, now that you me-e-e-ention it,” Bailey mused before turning around and starting to plod off. “Be right ba-a-a-ack.”
Tammie stared after the mother goat despairingly for a moment before casting a doubtful glance at Paprika. “Any more ideas?”
Paprika was pointedly silent for a bit before shaking her head with a sigh. “Let this be a lesson, Tammie: sometimes, no matter how hard you look for it… some problems just don’t have a solution.”
The feathered friends jumped in shock when a cry of pain suddenly arose from Bailey.
“Yah a-a-a-alright, ma-a-a-a?” Gomez called over.
The goat in question was glaring venomously at the ground as she rubbed her foreleg over her muzzle. “Mo-o-o-ostly. Just bit something I sho-o-o-ouln’t have. Da-a-a-arn metal,” she snorted as she delivered a kick to a stray tin can. “Dunno who-o-o-o started that rumor about us eating i-i-i-it, but they’re an i-i-i-idiot.”
Paprika and Tammie stared at Bailey for a moment longer… before slowly facing one another, eager grins on their beaks.
“An addendum to my earlier lesson, Tammie,” Paprika clucked proudly as she and the turkey watched Gomez and Bailey graze, a bell hung from one of the goat’s necks. “While some problems might not have a solution, for others you just need to wait long enough for the solution to present itself. Convenient, no?”
“Yeees…” Tammie dragged the word out hesitantly before glancing at her friend. “Except now that we can tell them apart, there’s still one question to be had…”
“Hm? What might that be?”
“…do you remember if Bailey is wearing the bell or if Gomez is?”