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The Cabbage Patch

by ShadeWalker

At the base of the mountains northeast of Canterlot Castle, there was a small town. Not "Our Town", that Starlight used to run, but one of a similar size much further north. Entirely self-sustaining, the inhabitants traded goods for services to get by. Naturally, with no trade outside the village, they all had to grow their own crops in the fertile ground near the mountain.

One such gardener, Meadow Dale, was a strange occurrence: she was a unicorn, but with no unicorn magic to speak of. Not a single ounce of unicorn magic to her name. But she was determined to do her part, so she started a farm. She grew all manner of food; carrots, green beans, pumpkins, watermelon, and yes, even celery stalks.

Meadow did it remarkably well, too. Every year, she produced the most out of anypony else in the village. Though, in a pool of only 5 who grew things, that's not much of an accomplishment. Still, she gave it her best. Meadow had found over the years that the closer to the mountain she planted, the better her veggies would grow.

So one year, she decided she would plant her cabbages the closest to the mountain she'd ever planted before.

"That's not a smart idea," some villagers would say. Even the local fortune teller would warn her of the mountain's anger for encroaching on its land. Meadow scoffed at the idea that a mountain could get angry, and planted anyway.

One row after another, she planted her seeds. All kinds of vegetables, and a fair distance from the base of the mountain. "Hmm..." she pondered alone. Occasionally, she'd glance to the sky, hoping to see her pegasus friend. "Nope. It's just clouds up there." Meadow returned to her work. digging, planting and moving to the next row. When it came time for her to plant her cabbage seeds, she looked at the base of the mountain. "Where is he?"

Surprised at her friend for not flying around much today, she went into the village to look. She found him talking with the fortune teller. Well, more like, getting talked to by the fortune teller. He turned away and started off walking, looking kinda down.

Quickly, she ran over to him and patted him on the shoulder. "Hey Thunder, you alright? What'd she say?"

Blue Thunder looked up from the ground and into his friend's eyes. She could easily tell he was bothered. "The fortune teller said I was going to lose most of my feathers in a few months. I don't know how or why, but she's adamant it'll happen. What do I do?"

"I don't know. Never had my fortune told in earnest. Has she ever been wrong?" She removed her hoof from his shoulder and walked with him back to his house as they talked.

"Don't think so. I mean, she predicted I would get a nick in my ear. The next day a tree branch took off a piece near the tip. She also said my idea to try and trade hoof-woven baskets would lead to disappointment, and that turned out to be right."

Meadow tilted her head. "But you love making baskets."

"Yeah, but I'm disappointed at how easy it is." Thunder walked ahead to his door. "What brings you this way, anyway? Isn't your farm behind your house?"

"It is, but..." Meadow walked up to the door and spoke quietly. "I want to do something bigger this year." Thunder looked at her through squinted eyes. "What?"

Thunder shook his head. "I don't know what you're trying to prove here, but your veggies always turn out the best. And you make so many, you basically feed the whole town yourself. It's a mystery how few things you actually have from other ponies."

"Well, I don't grow things to get things in return. Just gratitude is enough for me. Besides, somepony has to do it."

Thunder opened his door and stepped inside. "Does it have to be you? That's all I'm saying."

Before he could close it, Meadow stuck her hoof in the doorway. "Actually, I wouldn't mind some help with this year's batch." She gave blinky eyes to Thunder. "Somepony who wouldn't mind helping a magicless unicorn with earth pony work?"

"Try an earth pony then." He tried to kick her hoof out of the way. It didn't budge. Thunder looked down at the hoof, then at Meadow. "You mean me, don't you..."

"Uh huh," she nodded vigorously."

"And you're not going to let me say no, are you..."

"Uh-uh," she replied, shaking wildly.

"How many times are you gonna let me slam my door on your hoof?"

"What? Meanie." Meadow started a frown. "Fine. You win. Sit here and make baskets until your hooves get dry and cracked from all that low quality straw." She turned and started to leave.

Thunder left his door open and looked inside to his half-finished stack of baskets. With a sigh, he turned to the doorway. "Wait..." Meadow stopped and looked back at him. "How long will this take?"

"All day, I think. Why? You got somewhere to be?"

"HAH!" he laughed loudly. "Nope. Not me." He walked out of his house and closed the door. Thunder smiled as he followed behind her to her house.


After a nice lunch, Meadow gathered her cabbage seeds together, collected her tools and hoofed them off to Thunder. He carried them while flying next to her so they could continue to talk, mostly about her plan for the cabbages. She left out the why, and Thunder never thought to ask.

Once they arrived at the actual base of the mountain, Thunder set the tools aside; a rake, a hoe and a watering can already full of water.. Meadow watched and eyeballed an area. "There's enough seeds to plant from..." She stuck her hoof in the ground. "Here, to..." She walked for a ways, then stuck her hoof in the ground again. "Here. And make it a square, please."

Thunder gave a salute with a grin and set about digging out her section of land. He tossed the dirt aside, making the whole square look sunken, but only by a couple inches. Meadow began counting out her seeds, while Thunder flew back and forth from the town with the watering can. He was instructed on the way to the location that the ground had to be sufficiently watered before the seeds could be planted.

After plenty of water, he took a break and sat back, watching Meadow do her work in planting her cabbage seeds.

"What if she's right, and I do lose most of my feathers? Or even all of them?"

"Ugh, that again?" She turned and frowned at him. "Aren't you doing that whole... preening thing?"

"Well, yes, but... That's different. I'm choosing what feathers need to go and which ones are still strong enough to stick around."

"What happens to the bad ones?" She asked, continuing to plant.

"They get plucked out and traded for straw. The guy I trade to uses them for his pillow." Meadow couldn't help but snort out a laugh at the idea. "What? I though it'd be a good trade. He sleeps better, and I make depressing baskets. Win-win...ish."

Meadow sighed and finished up her planting. "You know... If we could trade our goods to other places in Equestria, what would you do with your feathers then?"

"Sell them to somepony who makes quills and be richer than I'd ever be with these garbage pails ponies call baskets."

"Look, if you really don't like making baskets, then why do you still do it?" Meadow asked with a hint of irritation.

"Because I'm good at it. All the ones I make are outstanding looking, to me anyway. And nopony's complained about them not doing their job, so..." Meadow sat and folded her forelegs. "I do it to make them happy. Speaking of which, when can I be happy about how big these're gonna grow?"

"A few months from now. And if you need a distraction from your baskets, you could always worry about losing your feathers to some fortune-teller's prediction."

"I got a couple things to worry about now. Thanks a lot." He huffed.


The next few months flew by very quickly. Thunder would help water the cabbage seeds every day, in between counting his feathers to make sure he's not losing any of the important ones. When it came to harvesting day, Meadow knocked on Thunder's door earlier in the morning than usual. When he answered, Meadow had this brilliant smile on her face. "Are you ready to carry some big cabbages?"

"Sure am. Already did my warm-ups, so I'm good to go! But, as big as they are, I can only fly with one at a time. And there's how many? 40 or so?"

"Should have been 36, but some didn't make it. So about 30." Meadow had already started walking back to her house. "I spent last night clearing out a spot by the rest of my garden. Feel free to stack them there."

"What are you going to do while I do all that?"

"You're helping me, I wanna see if I can make a basket in the time it takes you to harvest all those heads." Meadow looked real happy about the opportunity to change professions. "Besides, you're not doing that today, and they gotta get done at some point."

Thunder sighed. "Honestly, I don't know how much longer I can get away with making just baskets... Maybe I should look into making some straw dolls for the little ones?" Yeah, I could try that, but I'll-"

"Cabbages first, buddy. Then you experiment all you like." Thunder nodded at her, then looked off to the cabbage patch. "There you go. Happy flying."

"Yeah, yeah."

Thunder took off for the patch, mumbling to himself about having to lift the heavy things. "Why couldn't we use a wagon?" he asked, "Or carry them one at a time, but like a team lift situation?" He even landed to consider, "Why not just roll them?"

Meadow's voice popped into mind, declaring how she wanted it done, and if it wasn't how she wanted, there'd be a problem he knew he couldn't solve: an angry mare.

Thunder shook his head and got to flying again. "No no, just carry them. I'll thank me later."

He leaned over the first one and pulled it out of the ground easily. Lighter than he thought it'd be, he was able to carry it back with little incident.

"There you go. One down," Thunder counted.

"Just a couple dozen more. Okay, I'll be off now. Have fun~" Meadow took off for Thunder's house, who continued to bring the cabbages back from her patch across the field.

After the tenth cabbage, he noticed he was flying a little slower. Probably due to tiredness he thought. Thunder landed halfway between the patch and the house and looked up at the mountain. He had heard it rumbling for some time now, but didn't think much of it until ne noticed a steady stream of orange make its way down the gradual slope. "Is that-" Thunder looked at where it was headed, and panicked. He looked at the patch, then at the house, then the patch. "Agh!"

Thunder kicked off the ground and flew to the cabbage patch.

He stood there and counted how many were left. "20 left. Good." He looked up at the lava stream, then again at the cabbages. "Don't worry. I got you guys!" Thunder got into the patch and pulled up the one closest to the slope. Faster than normal, he flew back and placed the head with the other ten. Then he turned and went back to the patch.

Thunder continued his mission, watching the stream get closer and closer to the patch. The closer he got to finishing his task, the more he noticed how much slower he'd gotten. He finally stopped tunnel-visioning and noticed varying hues of blue feathers scattered between the patch and the house.

Then he looked at his wings. All but the primary feathers had fallen off from the force of his wingbeats. He'd never needed to pump that hard, so how could they be able to resist such pressure? With all but his best feathers gone, Thunder knew he had little time left.

The next time he got to the cabbage patch, an idea came to him. I don't have to carry them all back one at a time, I can just move them out of the way. Just out of danger, right? He stopped and looked at the two that remained. "Heh, good idea, but why'd it take this long to think about it?" Thunder picked both of them up and did his very best to balance one on his back between his wings and the other under his foreleg as he walked back to the garden.

Looking back at the patch, the stream had stopped with just enough lava to fill the square he'd dug out for the patch.

Thunder placed the cabbages in the pile with the others, which were in a much less neat pile than Meadow had asked for, but at least they were safe from premature boiling. He sat and looked at each wing. Most of his feathers were gone, leaving behind spots where they used to be. He sighed and stood up, going to his house first.

When he opened the door, he saw Meadow at the table trying desperately to make a basket. "Fit in the hole, you stupid chunk of straw!"

"You should really speak nicer to the straw, or they'll get angry with you."

Meadow began in a mocking tone, ""Don't yell at the straw or they'll get angry." "Don't plant near the mountain, or it'll get angry." "Don't water your neighbor's flowers or she'll get angry." I can't do anything or it'll anger somepony."

"What was that one?" Thunder asked, closing his door after walking inside.

"Yeah, my neighbor got upset with me because I watered her rosebushes."

"Not that one, you goof. The middle one. Angry mountain."

Meadow blinked a couple times. "Oh that? The fortune teller said I shouldn't plant so close to the mountain because it'll get angry with me. But hah! How'd the harvest go?"

Thunder unfurled his wings and frowned. "I lost all my feathers. Well, most of them." Meadow gasped. "It's not all that bad. Imagine how much straw I can get for them now. Oh right, I should probably go get those feathers before they blow away." Meadow coughed. "Oh right. Your harvest. See, the mountain decided to leak some lava out of one of its pores and it just so happened to trickle into the cabbage patch I dug for you, and it just so happened to be just enough to only fill that square of land. Funny that, huh?"

"Are my cabbages safe?!" she asked, almost bucking over the table in her attempt to stand up. "Are they all good?"

"Yes, your cabbages are fine. I am too, thanks." He looked at the basket, or sorry attempt at one. "They're not all in a neat stack, but they're all there." He bit down on the handle of one his finished baskets. "I gotta go get my feathers now. I'll be back at your place when I'm done."


The next few hours were spent picking all the feathers he could find off the ground, and by Meadow cleaning her cabbages, readying them for storage. Finally, when he was completely done, he knocked on her door and was let inside. Thunder placed his full-to-bursting basket of feathers by the door and sat at the table. Meadow came out of her kitchen with a pair of plates on her foreleg, balancing food on them. Thunder took a plate and thanked her for the meal.

"No, thank you for your help. Imagine me having to do that myself. I probably would have tried to roll them out of the way far enough, then tried to wagon them over to my house once they were all out of harm's way." Thunder's eyes widened. "What?"

"See, I though of that too, but when I did, it was too late to actually do that. So I ended up doing it the hard way."

Meadow looked at his basket of feathers. "How'd you do that, anyway?"

"Flew too fast." He took a bite. "This is really good salad."

"Thanks. We grew it ourselves."

The two shared a half chuckle before enjoying the rest of their meal.