Carnival Farm Excerpt

Seagn pulled into the farm and got out of the truck. Tilly greeted her again. “Hey, puppy, where’s your pa?”
Tilly didn’t seem to care where his owner was, as he was happy enough to roll on the ground in front of Seagn, exposing his belly for her to scratch. Seagn finally stopped, and the dog got up, butting her hand with his head.
Seagn walked around the barn, calling, “Carl? Hey? Anyone?”
“Yeah!” a man yelled back, deep within the barn. “Yeah, who’s there?”
She walked into the barn and looked up toward where the voice was coming from. “Shaun. Is that you, Carl?”
“No.” She looked up again into the loft to see a man standing at the edge of it, as if he was going to leap down the hundred or so feet to land on the ground. He had blond hair and was built solidly, a bull on legs.
“I’m Mack. I work with Carl. What can I do for you?”
“Do you have any animals for sale?”
“Horses. Nothing else much, why?” He approached the ladder and swung around it, climbing down from the loft.
“Geese? Ducks?”
“No, no birds.”
Seagn frowned. “Okay, next question. Where is your blacksmith?”
“You mean for horse shoes?”
“Yes.”
“What kind of horse?”
“Shetland pony.”
He jumped the short distance down from the ladder to the ground. “Is he broken in?”
“Um…”
“What kind of work does he do?”
“He stands around in a petting zoo.”
Mack waved a hand. “He don’t need shoes. Just trimming, that’s all.”
“He’s got shoes on him. They’re broken.”
“We can take the shoes off him. You just need to trim him every eight to ten weeks or so.”
“I need to get him trimmed and the shoes off. Do you know where I can go?”
“Bring him here?”
“Thought you’d say that. I need a trailer.” She pointed out of the barn. “All I have is a truck.”
Mack frowned with one side of his mouth. “I’ll meet you at your truck. Give me a few minutes.”
She walked one way, he went the other. After ten minutes or so, she wasn’t surprised to see him come back to the truck, a knapsack over his shoulder.
“If the horse can’t come to me, I’ll go to the horse.”
“How much?”
“A hundred.”
She stuck a hand in her pocket and pulled out five crumpled twenties.
“Much obliged. What did you say your name was?”
“Shaun.”
Mack nodded. “Right. Well, drive me there?”
They got into the truck. “It’s a Shetland pony?”
“Yes.”
“You plan on using it for rides?”
“Yes.”
“You have to make sure it’s broken or some toddler will get bucked right off. Boy or a girl?”
“Boy, but he looks neutered.”
Mack laughed. “He does, does he?”
Seagn bristled. “I’m a veterinarian. I know what it looks like.”
“Sorry, I’m sorry.” He turned to her. “What’s a vet doing with a petting zoo? I thought you’d be with the SPCA.”
“I’m trying to make them healthy and to display these animals to people who never saw them.”
“For free?”
“It’s a dollar if they want to feed them. But, yeah, nothing to pet them.”
“That’s a good deal.”
“I hope so. But people, you know, they always want something more.”
“Heh. I know how that goes.”
They pulled off Route 1 and onto the road for the Ranch. “You’re out in the sticks here.”
“Don’t blame me, blame the carnival owner.”
“You’re a petting zoo for a carnival?”
“That’s right. A traveling petting zoo.”
“What kind of animals you got?”
“One horse—” As she spoke, she turned into the meadow. The carnival rides were all set up, and a black Escalade was parked among the rides. “I wonder who that is.”
“Looks like the government.” He pointed at the vehicle. Seagn saw US Government plates on it.
“Uh oh. Taxes.”
“You think?”
“Who else?”
Mack shrugged. “They here for you?”
“I hope not.”
She took the left and pointed the truck away from the rides to her petting zoo. She parked the truck in front of the pen where the animals gathered.
Seagn got out of the truck. “Shet! C’mere Shet!”
The animal didn’t know its name, so she had to go and fetch him from the field. Mack was playing with the goats by the time she came back.
“You have some active goats,” he said. “Mind if we do it in your trailer? I need a clean surface for him to stand on.”
“Sure.” She set up the ramp and led him up it. Immediately, he went to his alloted pen.
“Well trained, too,” Mack said. “Tie him up there.”
“Does shoeing hurt?”
“It’s like putting a pin through the tip of your fingernail. Doesn’t hurt at all.”

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