Today was a very busy and very special day at the Rype & Readi Farm Market, with all the workers and animals working double-time to get the place as spic and span as possible.
The reason for their frantic working was that, as wondrous a location as the Market might have been, filled to the brim as it was with exotic foods and acting as a home as it did to an incredibly diverse array of animals people would normally never see anywhere near civilization… the Farm Market was still incomplete. Farmer Seb had people working on the Market almost every day to expand all that it had to offer, and as a result of the expansion there was new room available in the location.
This new room could be used for a variety of reasons, such as opening a new bistro, installing new locations to serve food… but currently?
The purpose that had been decided for this space was to allow a new friend to move into the Market from the Rype & Readi Farm.
At the moment, Farmer Seb was on his way back from the Farm with the new arrival, and the whole of the Market was abuzz preparing for their arrival.
Unfortunately, amidst all of this chaos and clamor, Tammie’s chicks were left alone to go about their own business. And as a result of having nothing better to do with their time, the chicks all started to talk.
Or rather, given the reason for all the hullaballoo that had gripped the Market and the sparse information they’d been provided about their newest neighbor… they gossiped.
“So who do ya think it’s gonna be, huh? Huh?” One chick asked eagerly.
“I heard they’re not a bird!” Another chirped eagerly.
“I heard it’ll be something with hooves!”
“I heard they’ll be bigger than us!”
“Maybe a cow?”
“Not enough room, not enough room!”
“Oh, how about a goat?”
“Then they’d just stay with Gomez and Bailey!”
“What about a horse?”
“The stables are all full, there’d be nowhere for them!”
“Oh, I know, I know! I bet it’s a sheep!”
“I bet they’d fit!”
“That sounds cool!”
“Yay! We’re gonna have a sheep neighbor!” The chicks all peeped happily as one. “A sheep, a sheep!”
“I bet they’re gonna be really big and woolly!”
“Nuh-uh, still too big for where they’ve got picked out!”
“Oh, then maybe they’ll be a kid like us!”
“Dontcha mean a kid like Gomez?”
“That’s a lamb!”
“Hey, that means they’ll be our age, right?”
“We’re getting a new playmate!”
“A playmate, a playmate!” The chicks all cheered again.
“Whaddaya think they’ll be like?”
“Well sheep are supposed to be the opposites of goats, right?”
“Oh, so they’ll prolly be a lot more fun than Gomez!”
“Oh, oh, and they’ll be really white and fluffy, too!”
“Yeah, cause that’s how sheep are!”
“Oh, and I heard that some sheep have horns, so maybe they’ll have horns, too?”
“That’s only the older ones!”
“I heard that sheep are dumb and that goats are way better!”
The chicks all fell silent at that and stared at the one who’d said that, who was himself suddenly feeling a bit sheepish.
“…you might be spending a bit too much time with Gomez.”
“Ah… yeah, now that you say it like that, I think you might have a point….”
“Anyways, what else?”
“Oh, I know, I know!”
“What is it?”
“Why don’t we ask them ourselves?”
“Uh… because they’re not here yet?”
“Yeah they are! Farmer Seb just got back!”
“HUH!?” The rest of the chicks all cried as one, crowding their sibling in order to see what they were seeing.
And indeed, the one chick was right; Farmer Seb’s pickup truck was back, and going by the way the workers and animals were all crowding around it, that meant that their new guest was with them, too.
“They’re here, they’re here!”
“Where are they, can you see?”
“I can’t see!”
“Hey, Mom’s coming over here!”
And indeed, their mother Tammie was trotting over to her chicks.
However, far more important than that was the fact that Tammie wasn’t coming to see them alone.
Tammie held her head high with pride as she gestured her wing at the figure next to her. “Kids, I’d like you all to meet Caramel. She’s a registered Babydoll Sheep and she’s going to be staying here at the Market with us, so please try and make her feel welcome.”
And indeed, Caramel was a little lamb, smaller than Tammie and somewhat shaky on her legs as she smiled hesitantly at the chicks. She had short brown wool all over her body, and a shaky smile on her muzzle.
“H-hello,” she greeted the chicks hesitantly. “M-My name’s Caramel. I-It’s nice to meet y-y-you.”
For a moment or two, the chicks were silent, just staring at her. Then, out of the blue…
“We thought you’d be bigger,” One of the chicks peeped up in a matter-of-fact tone.
“We thought you’d have white wool!”
We thought you’d have horns!”
“O-oh…” Caramel hung her head sadly.
“Children, that’s very-!” Tammie started to reprimand her chicks.
“But that’s okay!”
Only to get cut off by the lot of them peeping as one, all hopping in front of a stunned Caramel with excitement.
“You might not have been what we were expecting!”
“But that doesn’t mean you’re not nice!”
“Or that we can’t be friends!”
“Or that we can’t have fun!”
“Oh, I wanna have fun, I wanna have fun!”
“I have an idea! Let’s show Caramel around the Market, and then we can all play hide and seek!”
“That sounds like fun!”
“Wanna do it, Caramel?”
“Do you wanna, do you wanna?” They all started hopping eagerly.
Caramel hesitated for a moment, but after receiving a contented nod from Tammie, she nodded as well. “S-sure! That sounds like a lot of fun.”
And so, as she walked off with the chicks, Caramel could feel that she was going to have a good time living at the Market.
And she did.
by Baxter Balick, Flagler College Sophomore and Contributing Writer
Editor’s Note: Caramel is the latest 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.