Ranch Life is Strange

Davis sat on the back porch sipping the first cup of coffee for the day. A line of light grew along the horizon, signaling the imminent arrival of the sun. Watching the sunrise always made Davis feel like he was going to have a good day. Even if it turned out badly, or just annoying, at least he had a beautiful beginning. He sat and rocked quietly, sipping coffee and letting his mind wander.

Hair-raising howling broke through the quiet of early morning birdsong. The howls came closer.

Davis sat and rocked.

The sunrise was painting the sky in glorious pinks, golds, and purples when the trolls broke through the tree line to his left and raced directly to the back door.

“Don’t break the damn door,” Davis called, cradling his coffee mug. The trolls trampled up the steps and shoved their way into the kitchen.

The last of the five trolls quickly, but carefully, shut the back door behind them. Davis could hear the pounding of troll feet as they raced for the basement and their daytime nest.

“Wonder what they was up to all night to cut it that close coming home,” Davis muttered to himself. Shrugging, he went back to rocking and sipping. He provided a home. He didn’t ask for the details of their lives because he knew they weren’t up to anything bad, contrary to popular opinion.

A few minutes later, Davis stood up, stretched and turned toward the back door. Stepping back into the kitchen, he frowned at the muddy footprints making a wide path from the back door to the basement entrance.

“Well, that’ll keep Cobble and her crew busy today.” He walked to the sink, carefully stepping over the muddy trail to avoid tracking it anywhere else in the kitchen. Cobble would be plenty mad at the trolls, there was no reason to direct her ire at himself. One didn’t purposefully upset your brownie housekeeper and her crew. At least not if you wanted to keep a clean house. Truthfully, the ranch was her home of last resort and she wasn’t going anywhere, but it still didn’t pay to upset her.

Davis poured the rest of the coffee in the pot into his travel mug, washed out the cup and set it on the side of the sink to dry. Heading back out the kitchen door, he directed his steps toward the big barn sitting a few hundred yards behind the house. To the side of the barn and wrapping around behind it, a large pasture area stretched green, and inviting. Beyond the back pasture fence was an open field where several figures, tiny in the distance, moved slowly, grazing on the prairie grass, the occasional flare of wings, casting unique shadows across the grassland. Davis watched them for a moment before striding into the barn.

The interior of the barn was warm and smelled of hay and animal musk. Davis zigged-zagged down the center aisle between the stalls, pausing to pat the heads that peered over the top of the stall doors as he unlatched those doors. By the time he reached the far end of the large barn, three horses, four gryphons, two manticores, a pair of mated wyverns, and two Shetland ponies, mother and son, followed him out into the pasture. He paused at the gate and gave each animal a pat as it strolled past him onto the dewy grass.

The sun was a little higher in the sky now. Davis made one last visual check of the barn and pasture before turning back to the house. Quincy should be up by now and she had likely started breakfast. He’d get some food before riding out to the far field to do a closer check of the Pegasi out there. Then he’d ride the fence line for the weekly check.

He stepped back into the kitchen just as Quin was putting a platter full of scrambled eggs onto the center of the table.

“Morning, love.” She smiled and gave him a quick kiss. “How’s everybody doing?”

“Morning, sweetie. They’re all good. I’m going to ride out after breakfast to check the fences and I’ll look in on the Pegasi and Joey while I’m out there.” Davis returned the kiss and sat down at the table. Quin set down a second platter of bacon and toast and sat down across from him.

“Right before you came in, I got a call from Harry. Looks like there’s a neglected unicorn over in Greenwood County. He’s picking it up later and bringing here. Thinks he should be here sometime mid-afternoon,” Quin said, scooping eggs onto her plate.

“Okay. Any idea how neglected?” Davis asked. He reached for some bacon and a slice of buttered toast.

“Harry said pretty bad according to the person who called him. A neighbor he said. Poor thing seems to have been starved and likely beaten,” Quin said. She shook her head.

“Well, that’s what we’re here for,” Davis reminded her. He put a hand over hers. Quin nodded, blinking back the tears that threatened to fall. Rescuing abused and neglected creatures, both mundane and magical was what they’d been doing for the last twenty years.

“I know, and I’m grateful we’re able to help them. I just wish we didn’t need to be here,” she said in a quiet voice.

“Me, too,” Davis said. “But we are and I’m glad we are. Even if the damn trolls raced in just as the sun was coming up this morning.” He grinned to take the sting out of his words.

“Yeah, I heard them. Zyra telling them to be quiet was louder than the trampling.” Quin laughed.

“Yeah, she means well, but has no concept of ‘inside voice,’” Davis agreed.

They finished breakfast in companionable silence, simply enjoying each other’s company. Finally, Davis sighed and pushed back from the table.

“Well, I better get going. If we’re getting a new resident today, I need to fix up the medical stall for him… her?” He glance at Quin.

“Her. I think Harry said her name was Alairia. She’s young too, he said.” Quin picked up the breakfast dishes as she stood. Davis put his plate in the sink and gave her a quick kiss.

“All right. I’m going to make sure the medical stall is ready for her and then I’ll ride out to the back field. Joey will be excited to have another unicorn around. I think he’s feeling a bit lonely even though Silverstar and the other Pegasi have gone out of their way to include him as much as possible.” He gave her another kiss and stepped out the door.

Never a dull moment on the ranch.


This week my challenge was issued by ‘nother Mike. The sunrise was painting the sky in glory when the trolls broke in. Don’t forget to make your way over to More Odds Than Ends to see what everybody did with their challenges!

Please follow and like us: