While Celestia's Mares-in-Waiting headed off for their next mission in my Equestria dreamscape; a mare in our household faced her own challenge.
Life has returned to normal at our little cottage outside of Ponyville. With Service to the Crown Day and the Best Young Fliers Competition behind us, we could once again start settling back into something resembling a routine schedule at the cottage.
As part of her ongoing work to upgrade our garden Carousel had decided to finally tackle an obstacle that had stood in the way of her expanding our small garden. The obstruction in question was an old gnarled oak tree stump that had stubbornly resisted her efforts to remove it.
She’d dug around the base of the stump, chopped and cut the exposed roots to loosen its grasp of the soil. Even Petina and I had been enlisted to try and dislodge the cantankerous old root but to no avail. Even with me helping with the pulling and Petina levitating with all her might the stump had been triumphant.
After consulting her growing collection of books on the topic home gardening and small-scale truck farming Carousel decided to go to her best source for all things farm related, Applejack.
“Well Sugar Cube that sounds like that there is one stubborn trunk on yer property. It maybe too big fer one earth pony to handle.” AJ finished greasing the axle on one of the family carts. “Would ya like me to give ya some help pulling it?”
“Thanks AJ.” Carousel scuffed a front hoof on the barnyard floor. “But Sky Brush and I have both tried pulling it and even with Petina levitating it wouldn’t budge. Do you think just you and I can actually pull it?”
AJ laughed and looked at the palomino mare. “Oh, I’m certain Petina and Sky Brush gave it their all, but when comes to really hoofs on the ground work, a feather flappers and a spell casters got nothing on a couple earth ponies! Tell ya what I’ll drop by tomorrow after the market closes. Meetcha at yer place around 2 in the afternoon?”
Carousel nodded her head. “Thanks AJ I really appreciated this!”
AJ smiled. She really did like Carousel even though she sometimes found it hard to reconcile this happy, hard working earth pony The daily ritual with the mare that performed those sultry dances at the Bucking Previews Mare and had helped coach RD to perform that routine in Cloudsdale. Dash's performance
At the appointed time next day AJ arrived at our cottage pulling one her family’s small carts which she loaded with gear for the job. I was out doing weather work and Petina was in town taking care of business. AJ found Carousel around back in the garden doing some preparation work for the stump removal. She’d dug some more around the stump and done some more chopping on the tenacious roots to hopefully ease the stump’s extraction. AJ unhitched herself and trotted over.
“Hey there Sugar Cube.” Called out AJ. “So this here is the stump that’s give ya all the trouble eh?”
“Yeah AJ, this is literally the root of my problem.”
The yellow-orange mare walked around the stump and examined it for a couple minutes finally she looked over at Carousel and nodded her head.
“Well I can see why it’s given ya trouble this here is one stubborn stump but we can beat it! Let’s get these harnesses on and then we’ll get this show on the road!”
AJ had brought a tandem rig setup designed specifically for heavy duty pulling like this. The rig was more complex than the harness Carousel used with her cart but with AJ’s help she had very little trouble donning it. While Carousel got into her harness AJ proceeded to firmly lash some tow chain around the stump and then hooked the chain to the center beam on the rig. Then she put her own harness and hitched herself to the rig. After some minor adjustment to the straps they were ready to pull.
Slowly AJ had them bring the tension up on the chain until it was taut; she looked back over her shoulder to make certain everything was going to hold.
“All right then let’s do this! Now I know ya have experience with pulling a cart and a light plow, but have ya ever done any heavy draft work before Sugar Cube?”
Carousel shook her head. “I’m afraid the spring plowing is heaviest work I’ve done so far.”
AJ waved a front hoof at my roommate. “Pfft! Don’t worry most earth ponies are not familiar with truly heavy hoof work. Just follow my instructions and we’ll have no problem!”
Applejack had them increase the tension until harnesses were literally keeping them from falling forward. “Now the important is ta keep constant force on the chain at all times. Now we’ve got some nice soft soil here to dig our hoofs so take moment and get ya self all situated.
Carousel kicked and dug her hoofs into the soil; AJ nodded her head in approval.
“Good! Now ya need to remember ta pull with all four legs equally when yer running ya mostly use just yer hind legs. Even with a light cart on the road yer hind legs do most of the work. Here though we’re going have make front legs do their part of the bargain. Lets also try ta keep our strides in sequence okay. Now when this stump comes loose it might happen all of the sudden so be prepared for it. Best thing ta do is to just keep pulling forward and slowly ease off on the force. Oh and don’t forget to breath while yer a pulling. Ya getting this all Sugar Cube?”
Carousel smiled and nodded her head. “Let’s do this AJ!”
AJ flashed Carousel a grin. “Now that’s earth pony talk! All right then, ya see that there fence post over across the yard? That’s our destination ya just focus on getting there, alright on the count of three then we start with our hind legs, one, two, three.”
The two mares started pulling with all their might. At first Carousel felt like they were not going anywhere then AJ called out.
“Good! Keep pulling! It’s moving! Huff, huff. Don’t let up!”
Carousel could feel the stump move initially but after a few inches it felt rock solid again. “I don’t, ah, ah, think this is going to work! It’s too big!” Said the mare through clenched teeth.
“No it’s not!” Exclaimed AJ. “Keep going!”
The stump creaked and groaned; inch-by-inch it slowly relinquished its grip on the soil. Suddenly there was loud crack and the stump rolled out of the ground, the mares stumbled and then collapsed on grass. For about a minute they just laid panting from the task they’d accomplished. Finally AJ looked over at Carousel and spoke.
“Ha! Told ya Sugar Cube we could do it! That there was some mighty fine pulling ya did their Carousel! We’ll make a farm pony out ya yet!”
“Thanks AJ.” Carousel shook the sweat from her eyes. “But I’m afraid I’m done with being a farm pony for the day! Woohoo! I thought that stump would never come out!” She looked over at AJ. “We’ve got some ice tea in the icebox would you like a glass?”
AJ removed her Stetson-style hat and pushed a sweaty lock out of the way with a front hoof. “That’s a might kind of ya ta offer. Yes I do think I could go fer a big old glass of that right now! Let’s just get out these harnesses and I’ll take ya up on the offer!”
After a few the minutes the mares had removed and stowed the harnesses and gear back into AJ’s cart. Then slowly they both moseyed into the cottage. Carousel knew she needed a bath and she’d be feeling today’s labor tomorrow. But that was tomorrow.
To be continued.
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Making that a couple orders of magnitude larger, that is some heavy work.
c.f Du Pont Blaster's Handbook
And it's a good thing Petina wasn't there, or she'd have challenged Applejack to "handle that harness better (looking) than Carousel".
I really love your work and 98% of the time it looks surreal and believable but this was lacking for me, probably because Ive done it in realy life. Still love it and your writing tho.
I hope that makes sense.