Day 1: 6:45am
The Milking Shed
“Oh my God, Gladys,” Francine says suddenly. “I can’t believe I almost forgot! Did you hear the news about the farmer and his wife?”
Gladys turns to Francine slowly, chewing broadly as she looks to her friend and coworker. “Hmmm?”
“The way I hear it, those two had an all-out yelling match before the sun went down last night.”
“I heard they drove off somewhere in the middle of the night, but only the farmer returned.”
“Oooh, now that’s juicy.”
“And I guess most of the fight had something to do with her weight.”
Francine perks up at that comment, a look of terror in her eyes. “You don’t think–?” She yelps as the farmhand tugs at her udder roughly. “Careful down there, buddy boy. Those are my money makers, you know.” She turns her attention back to Gladys. “You don’t really think–?”
“I don’t know, Francine, but Carly also said the two of them were talking a great deal about how her clothes don’t fit the same way as they used to.”
“Oh, what does that bitch know? I wouldn’t trust anything she says as true.”
“But she does sleep in the house. If anyone should know, it’s her. And she said they went on and on about it for hours.”
“But you don’t really think the farmer would send his own wife to the slaughterhouse, do you?”
“I don’t know. The way Carly tells it, he was awful quiet during the whole conversation. Spent a lot of the time trying to convince his wife she wasn’t that big. But Carly says you could tell he didn’t believe it.”
“Well now,” Francine says thoughtfully. She shoos away a few flies with her tail as she considers the implications. “No, I just can’t believe it.”
“Think about it,” Gladys begins. The farmhand finishes and wipes her udders clean with a rag before standing. Gladys shudders at the motion before continuing. “She’s well past milking age. I don’t think I’ve seen her calve since I’ve been here, have you?”
“No,” Francine begins, “come to think of it, no I haven’t.”
“And you can’t deny she’s been putting on weight. I’d have to guess she’d do well at market.”
The other farmhand cleans Francine’s udders. “Hey there, cowboy,” Francine reprimands, “Let’s keep this professional down there!”
Day Two: 9:15am
The Food Trough
“You boys see the new youngin’ that farmer brought in?” Frank asks.
“Whooo-eee,” whistles Wilbur. “She is a pretty young thing. The farmer sure knows how to pick out a fine sow.”
“You know,” Oscar says thoughtfully, “you’d think he’d wait at least a day before he brings in the new livestock after sending the old one off to pasture, don’t you?”
“You’ve got a lot to learn about a farm, kid,” Wilbur says, giving Oscar a nudge with his nose. “Just because you send a hog to the lot don’t mean the slop stops needing eatin’. That there farmer gave his old lady a good long run before he sent her off.”
“Too long, if you ask me,” Frank joins in. “I ain’t never seen a sow stick around for as long as she.”
“Precisely my point,” Wilbur agrees. “But that don’t mean she didn’t serve a purpose. Why, if you take a gander over at the farm house, you’ll see that new little gilt is hard at work taking care of the cookin’ and the cleanin’ and the mendin’ and the ironin’. Everything on a farm serves a purpose.”
“Oh,” Oscar replies in surprise. “So, you’re saying it’s not about just replacing the old one with a pretty new one, it’s about doing what’s best for the farm.”
“That’s precisely what I’m sayin’, my boy,” Wilbur smirks.
“Of course,” Frank begins with a chuckle, “if you can get yourself a tight little number like that with some teats ready to feed, you jump on that wagon.”
Frank and Wilbur erupt into laughter. Oscar looks uncomfortable.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if finding the new gilt is what caused him to finally send the old sow out to the slaughter house,” Frank continues.
This comment causes Frank and Wilbur to laugh even harder. Oscar still looks uncomfortable.
“Don’t let it bother you, kid,” Wilbur consoles him. “That there wife of his knew what she was getting into when she married him. When it’s time to go, you’ve got to go. That’s the circle of life.”
“And just think,” Frank adds, chewing a mouthful of slop, “if it weren’t for folks like the farmer’s wife getting sent off to slaughter, we wouldn’t have nearly as tasty a slop.”
Oscar stops eating as he realizes what Wilbur is suggesting.
“Don’t worry, kid,” Wilbur says, as he digs into the food. “She was just sent off yesterday. There’s no way she’s been processed in time to be in today’s slop. I’d give it a week or so.”
“Oh,” Oscar replies softly.
“Yeah,” Wilbur agrees. “Right now we’re probably mostly eating Agnes. Now that was a right fine heifer!”
Day 3: 12:01pm
“So, I hear the master’s new mistress would not even stay the night last night?” Herbert inquired.
“’Tis what I heard as well. However, she did return this morning,” replied Horace.
“How odd. You don’t suppose the farmer has gone soft and will begin to allow all of us to have free reign, do you?”
Horace laughs in response. “Jolly good one, Herbert.”
“Oh, don’t I know it. I am quite the hoot, aren’t I? Do you suppose she escaped her stables last night then?”
“Undoubtedly. I would assume the master will have had whatever hole she had found in the fence mended by the time he has the stables mucked.”
“Oh, I do hope it doesn’t delay the mucking. The stables have been quite a mess ever since the old mistress was sent to the glue factory.”
“Yes, indeed. How odd it is that her disappearance would have such an effect on the cleanliness of our stalls. I don’t believe I’ve seen her directly involved in the muckings since I was a foal.”
“Ahh, but you know what they say, don’t you?”
“I most certainly do not.”
“Go muck yourself!”
“Oh, Herbert, you truly are a hoot!”
Day Four: 2:46am
The Sheep Pen
“Hey Jack, you say something?” Wade asks.
“Huh?” asks Jack.
Charlene jumps up, “Is it morning already?”
Two bright lights appear in the distance, getting larger and larger every second.
“Whoa!” Wade responds to the situation.
“You don’t think–?” Jack begins to ask.
“Aliens!” Charlene gasps.
The three stand in awed silence as the lights grow closer until they finally stop directly in front of them before disappearing.
“Dude,” Jack asks.
“Dude,” Wade answers.
“Dudes!” Charlene exclaims, as her eyes adjust to the change in brightness and she sees that the lights had been the headlights to the farmer’s car. “It’s just the farmer!”
“Oh,” Jack says, obviously disappointed. “What’s he doing out at this time of night? Or is it morning and the sun burned out? Dudes! Did the sun burn out?!”
The three of them look to the sky.
“I can see all the little pieces of the sun up there, dudes,” Charlene says, as she sees the bright little lights littered across the dark sky.
“Whoa, man. Someone’s going to have to clean that up.” Wade looks at the other two.
“Hey, man! I didn’t do it, I swear!”
Two sets of car doors slam, causing the trio to turn their attention back to the car, where they see the farmer and his wife walking to the house.
“Whoa, man,” Charlene says, as she takes a bite of nearby clover. “This grass is strong. I totally just saw the farmer’s wife back from the dead!”
“Me too, man,” Wade adds. He falls to the ground and looks back to the sky. “Poor sun. If only it could have come down here. I would have cuddled the crap out of that thing and never let it explode.”
Jack falls down beside him. “Yeah, man.”
Day Five: 6:45am
In front of the farm house.
“I tell you, Ida, this new girl just doesn’t seem to know a thing or two about getting a meal out here on time!” Clara said anxiously. “I’ve got a whole mess of chicks in need of getting their breakfast. Charlie, stop that!”
“Oh, I know, Clara. But I have to say, I’m a bit concerned. I didn’t see her come in this morning. She’s been arriving just after Hank does his morning crow, but not today.”
“Well, if she doesn’t get out here soon, that farmer’s going to get an earful from me, I can tell you. If he would keep her locked up in her coop, we wouldn’t have to deal with this uncertainty, now would we?”
The back door to the farmhouse opens.
“It’s about time!” Clara gasps. “Chicks, get over here and get yourself some breakfast already!”
Clara and Ida go to where the feed is already being tossed onto the ground and greedily begin pecking at the kernels.
Ida, after a few pecks, looks up and begins speaking, “Now listen here, young lady, I–”
Ida notices that the farmer’s wife is the owner of the hand currently feeding her and stops mid-sentence, her beak left open.
“Well, now, Ida. Go on, let her have it,” Clara urges Ida, while still pecking away. “Ida?”
Clara looks at her friend and notices her frozen stature. Clara looks up and becomes still as well, just as the chicks come running for the food.
The chicks begin eating hastily, oblivious to their mothers’ attentions.
“Well, go on,” the farmer’s wife says to Ida and Clara, nudging them lightly with her foot. “Eat up. I ain’t got all day.”
Ida and Clara continue to stare. A few of the chicks notice what’s going on and join in. The farmer’s wife gets noticeably concerned.
“Richard!” she yells toward the house. “What’d that girl do to the chickens while I was off at the wedding?”
She throws a handful of feed directly at the chickens, who still continue to stare.
“Damned hired help,” the farmer’s wife says to herself. “Always screwing something up!”