Category Archives: Garden Stories

MM2022 Day 22: Sparkle and the Sampsons

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“Just two more houses to go!” exclaimed Figgy as he landed with a thump on the kitchen counter at the Sampsons.

“Wow, it’s gone by so fast,” said Pixie.

“I know,” said Figgy slowly, hesitantly. “Meeting so many different kids, helping all these Mischief Makers has been…”.





“Fun because we’ve helped so many Mischief Makers and kids enjoy the season more, but a little lonely because we haven’t really connected with any one family?”

“Yeah, something like that,” agreed Figgy.

Lil nodded. “Yes, I miss our old job a little too. Both are fun, but there is something special about making mischief in one house for the whole season.”

Figgy smiled and nodded, happy to have a partner who understood the joy of Mischief Making.

“Ok,” said Pixie. “We have the Sampsons tonight and tomorrow the Talbots.”

“Yep,” said Figgy. “Sparkle couldn’t meet us tonight, she had an emergency appointment with Santa about something that happened a few nights ago with cotton balls, sand and the Sampson’s television.”


“I know, but I have her notes here. Samantha Sampson will not eat her breakfast and she refuses lunch and dinner. All she wants to eat are oranges and grapes.”

“Ick,” said Pixie.

“I know,” agreed Figgy. “If she’s going to eat only one thing, it should be something good. Like marshmallows dipped in syrup.”

“Or marshmallows dipped in syrup then dipped in crushed up candy canes.”

“Yum! Or, marshmallows dipped in syrup, dipped in crushed up candy canes, then dipped in dark chocolate candy coating.”

Pixie and Figgy stared blissfully at the microwave, imagining all the melted chocolate and marshmallows.

“What if,” Pixie began slowly. “What if we made Samantha our favorite breakfast?”

Figgy’s face brightened. “Yeah, maybe she just hasn’t found the right breakfast combination yet. We could totally help her with that.”

Pixie beamed and headed for the pantry while Figgy raided the fridge. “Let’s see what we have to work with.”

A few minutes later, they had pulled out all of the ingredients they thought they needed.

“Spaghetti noodles?” asked Pixie.




“Powdered sugar? Candy canes? Sprinkles and chocolate sauce?”

“Check, check, check and check!” said Figgy.

Pixie scratched her head, surveying all the ingredients. “Something is missing.”

“You are right, this doesn’t look like a very balanced breakfast,” agreed Figgy.

“Oh!” shouted Pixie. “Maple syrup!”

Figgy nodded. Maple syrup, one of the key food groups, was a must.

“Ok, Pixie,” said Figgy. “I think we are all set. Samantha will not be able to resist this delicious breakfast.”

They left a note, forging Sparkle’s signature, and then headed out into the stars.

When they arrived back at the North Pole, satisfied with their work for the night, Glitter was waiting for them on the tarmac.

“Hey Glitter, what’s up?” asked Pixie.

Glitter looked at them gravely. “It’s time for you to find out what Mrs. C. and I have been up to this season. Come with me.”

MM22 Day 7: Cookie and the Calloways

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“Whoa.” Figgy stared at the clever trap laid for Cookie.

“Yes. Whoa, indeed,” Cookie said grimly. “I told you. Her behavior is atrocious. She is sly and sneaky and she’s been laying traps for me since day one!”

Pixie and Glitter carefully tip-toed around the large mound of cake and treats. On first glance, it looked innocent and tempting. Piles and piles of sweet treats. Enough to tempt any elf. Sugar cubes, chocolate, sprinkles and a large bottle of maple syrup at the very top.

“But she made a mistake this time,” said Cookie with satisfaction.

“She did?” asked Pixie.

“Yep,” he pointed to the bottle of syrup. “That syrup is NOT the right grade.”

Figgy peered closer at the bottle. “But, it’s grade A. That’s the best, isn’t it?”

Cookie looked imperiously at Figgy. “Any elf worth his sugar knows that grade B is, in every way, superior to grade A.”

Figgy glared at Cookie. “Oh no it isn’t! Grade A is the best!” He looked and Pixie to back him up, but she was distracted by the string attached to the cap of the syrup bottle.

“Now you listen here, Figgy. Grade B is better! It’s darker in color and much more flavorful!”

“But, Grade A is lighter, crisper—“.

“Grade A has no depth of flavor, no time soak up all that maple taste. It’s taken from the tree too early!”

Figgy opened and closed his mouth, flabbergasted. Grade B, better? Ludicrous.

Glitter stomped her hooves, interrupting what was clearly becoming an all-out battle. “What did you find, Pixie?”

“Clever,” murmured Pixie. “Very clever.”

Figgy, with a final glare at Cookie, joined Pixie near the pile. “What’s clever?”

Pixie pointed. “See that string? Looks like fishing line. If you follow it from the cap of the bottle down to this pile, you can almost see the tiny trap door.”

Figgy, Cookie and Glitter peered closer at the middle of the pile.

“What do you think is inside?” asked Figgy.

“Nothing good,” grumbled Cookie.

Carefully, very, very carefully, Pixie lifted the small flap and peered inside. “It looks like…a whole bag of sugar!”

“Really?” asked Cookie skeptically.

“Yes, and she’s dyed it different colors. Almost like Christmas sprinkles.”

“Colored sugar!” shouted Figgy, and without stopping to consider, he dove straight for the door as if he were going for a swim.

“PLLLTTTHH!” Figgy surfaced spitting and wiping frantically at his tongue. “SALT! IT’S SALT!”

Cookie sighed. “I told you. She’s devious.”

Pixie pulled Figgy out of the trap and helped dust the salt off of him. Glitter pushed a shot of maple syrup and a sugar cube to him.

“Thanks,” he said gratefully. “How could she do that?” He looked sympathetically at Cookie and he gulped the syrup.

“Devious,” repeated Cookie.

Pixie met Glitter’s eyes and nodded. It was clear what needed to be done.

“Well,” started Pixie. “Clearly Casey Calloway is bored.”

“Bored?!” spluttered Cookie. “How can she be bored!? I haven’t even had the chance to do ANY of thing things I had planned. I’m too busy trying to escape from all of these horrendous traps she sets!”

“Trust us,” said Glitter. “With this sort of atrocious behavior, there is only one remedy.”

Cookie and Figgy looked expectantly at Glitter and Pixie.

“Games,” said Pixie.

“Obviously,” agreed Glitter.

“How do you figure that?” Figgy asked.

“Cookie, what were the other traps this season?”

“Oh let’s see,” said Cookie peevishly. “There was the little obstacle course she set up for me that ended in a mud bath. Then, there was the terrifying jack-in-the-box at the end of the race track she’d made. And, my personal favorite, sarcasm intended, the exploding bowling pin.”

“Exploding bowling pin?” asked Figgy.

“That’s right. She lured me in with what looked like an innocent game of bowling, but when my ball struck the pins, they exploded and rained down sticky goo. It took me ages to get it out of my hat.”

“But don’t you see, Cookie,” asked Glitter. “Casey loves games.”

Cookie stared incredulously at Glitter. “Games?”

“Yes,” added Pixie. “All we have to do is play along. We’ll start tonight and leave you with a list of other games to play with her.”

“Wait,” said Glitter, reaching into her harness. “I have an idea.”

She pulled out a box of Chessmen cookies. “Lets play a game!”

Figgy and Pixie eyed Glitter in awe. “So, you just…have those with you in case of…what? A game emergency?”

Glitter sniffed. “Well, you never know when you’ll have time for a quick game.”

Cookie smiled, willing to give the idea a try. “Ok, Knight to E4.”

MM2022 Day 6: Tinsel and the Taylors

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Figgy glared at Pixie furiously.

“Figgy,” said Pixie in exasperation. “I can feel your glare.”


“You should have explained the rules better. How was I supposed to know??”

“How were you supposed to—what? You don’t know that it is NOT ok to steal other peoples resources?”


“OR, destroy their houses that they worked very, VERY hard on?”

“I thought it was—.”

“And for goodness’ sake Pixie. Everyone knows that you are never, under any circumstances, supposed to dig…STRAIGHT DOWN!”


Figgy and Pixie turned to see a small, tiny really, elf waiting patiently in front of the Toy Shop.

“Oh, hello there,” said Pixie. “We were just, er, debriefing from last night’s job.”


Pixie rolled her eyes at Figgy and then turned back to the tiny elf. “You must be Tinsel?”

Tinsel nodded once.

Giving Figgy a “we’ll-talk-about-this-later” look, Pixie pulled out the folder on Tinsel’s assigned home. “Yes, of course. Let’s see, you have…Molly and she refuses to go to bed?”

Tinsel nodded a second time.

“Oh, that is a problem,” said Figgy.

Tinsel nodded a third time.

“Well, let’s get to the house and see what we have to work with. I’m sure we can figure some way to tire Molly out.”

Tinsel shot into the air toward Molly’s house, Pixie and Figgy close behind.


Fifteen minutes later, all three elves, having run down the hall and into the pantry, were panting and trying to catch their breath.

“She’s a menace!” grumbled Figgy.

“A terror,” added Pixie.

Tinsel nodded…again.

“Tinsel,” said Pixie, noticing that the elf had yet to speak. “Can you…that is to say, are you able to…”.

“Can you talk?” finished Figgy. “It’s just, you haven’t made a sound beyond clearing your throat.

Tinsel sighed and when she finally spoke, Pixie and Figgy were shocked by the tone of her voice. Expecting a high squeaky voice from one so small, what came out was a deep, baritone voice belonging to a much larger elf. Like Santa or the abominable snowman.

“I try not to. My voice is too loud, even at a whisper.”

“You’re whispering?” asked Figgy.

Tinsel nodded. “I think it might be why Molly doesn’t want to go to sleep. You see, she heard me on the first night and I’m pretty sure she thinks there is a big scary monster under her bed, so she finds any excuse not to go there.”

A loud gasp came from below. The elves peeked down to see Molly staring straight above the spot where they were hiding, a look of pure terror on her face.

“See,” said Tinsel, trying to be quieter. “She can—AGH!—hear me—AGHHHH!—even when I’m—AGGGGHHHH!—whispering.”

Pixie and Figgy could only stare. They were still unable to believe that such a deep voice came out of such a small body.

Tinsel nodded.

“Ok,” said Pixie, snapping out of her reverie. “We are just going to have to show Molly that there is absolutely nothing to be scared of.”

“How are we going to do that?” asked Tinsel.

“We’ll have to get a little goofy,” said Pixie.

“And a little messy,” added Figgy, picking up on Pixie’s plan.

Minecraft forgotten, Pixie and Figgy filled Tinsel in on the plan and got to work.


“Are you sure about this?” asked Tinsel staring at all the candy, sprinkles, icing, gummies, sugar coated chips, and ice cream cones strewn over the table.

“Trust us! Molly is going to love it. You said yourself she likes to do crafts. What better craft is there than sugar cone Christmas trees?”

“No, not that. I mean this!” Tinsel pointed to the sugar cone hat on top of his head. Icing and candy dripped down the sides into his eyes and all over his clothes. He felt ridiculous.

“Oh,” giggled Pixie. “Well, this way, maybe Molly won’t be so scared of you. It should work.

“Should? SHOULD??”

Pixie and Figgy backed away slowly. Tinsel was getting angry.

“Let us know how it goes!” shouted Figgy on his way out the door.

It was their cue.

2022 Mischief Makers Prologue: B.R.A.T.T Correctional Crew

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Figgy Frost paced in front of a small crowd of red and green clad elves. The snow crunching under his tiny toes.

“Ok Crew, it’s game time!”

“Yes, Sir!” the elves chanted back.

“We’ve been training!”


“We’ve been toiling!”


“We’ve been trying our–.”

“I think,” Pixie Powder interrupted, “what Figgy is trying to say is…good luck to you all this season! He and I will be working in the trenches with you, but will meet back here each night to debrief and troubleshoot.”

The select group cheered, spun mid-air, and flew off into the night.

“Er, thanks Pixie,” Figgy said sheepishly. “Got a little carried away there.”

Pixie smiled. She and Figgy had been working hard training the new recruits of the B.R.A.T.T. Correctional Crew every day since Santa had assigned them the job as Co-Chiefs the previous year.

B.R.A.T.T., or, the Big Rowdy Association of Tiny Tyrants had increased in number over the last several years. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the rest of the Care of Christmas Board decided that the B.R.A.T.T. Correctional Crew needed to be re-instated to combat the growing problem.

After the announcement, Mischief Makers across the globe had eagerly submitted complaints about their charges. Some were legitimate, some…not so much.

Lars, whose kid set up a mouse trap to capture him, among other dangerous stunts, definitely needed help. But then there was Spark, who had sent in complaints about her kid’s lack of excitement about the gifts she left. As if a kid could or would be excited about receiving plain white socks on the first night…and every night of the season.

Santa had put Pixie and Figgy in charge of the program after their turbulent year with the Malloy family, a longtime member of B.R.A.T.T. Over the past year, the duo had assembled a small strike team and run training exercises to get ready for the season. Every team had a list of kids who needed a little extra nudge in the good behavior department. Each one on their last chance before the Christmas Magic Reversal Squad paid a visit to their home, causing them to lose their assigned elf and be put on the Naughty List. Permanently.

“Great job guys!” Lil, Co-Chair of the Mischief Maker Program, fluttered to the ground beside Pixie and Figgy followed closely by her partner Nim.

“Yeah, you two are naturals!” Nim, added.

“You really think so?” asked Figgy, smiling.

“Absolutely!” said Nim.

“Are you guys ready?” asked Pixie.

“Yep,” said Lil. “We have just enough time to pay a quick visit before we have to get back for the Mischief Maker Launch Party.”

The four friends were headed to their original assignment for a pre-season pep talk from their first and favorite charges, Joe and Jake. They were just about to take off when the sound of galloping hooves thundered behind them.

“Wait!” Glitter, head of the Reindeer Program, skidded to a halt in front of the foursome. “Wait, huff-puff, huff-puff, just a minute.”

“Sorry Glitter! We almost forgot to get you!” exclaimed Pixie.

“No, no. That’s not it,” Glitter panted. “There’s been an emergency down at the toy shop. Santa needs all of you asap.”

Concerned, the elves and reindeer sped to the toy shop, breathless with worry.


Shouts and greetings, laughter and applause greeted them as they burst through the doors. Mischief Makers cheered, Santa chortled and two bewildered boys beamed at the foursome.

“Joe?!” gasped Nim and Lil. “Wha–???”

“Jake!?” shouted Figgy and Pixie. “How–???”

Santa’s eyes twinkled. “I made an exception to the rules. I am Santa after all. I wanted a special surprise to kick off this season and Figgy and Pixie’s new assignment.” Joe and Jake smiled broadly, eyes sparkling and cheeks splitting. “This is going to be the best Christmas ever!”

2021 Mischief Makers: Breaking News!

Here’s the set up from last year, first story for 2022 scheduled to post on 11/30!

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North Pole Gazette

Reported by Sparkly Sprinkles

December 25, 2021

After a turbulent year, Pixie Powder and Figgy Frost are happy for some downtime at the North Pole. But these two Mischief Makers are in for a real surprise. 

A source who is familiar with the matter told this reporter that Frost and Powder are going to head up a new task force in the Mischief Maker Program: The B.R.A.T.T. Correctional Crew! 

B.R.A.T.T., or, Big Rowdy Association of Tiny Tyrants is an old division of the North Pole that, due to a series of in-home kerfuffles, has recently come back into service. Frost and Powder’s mission: assemble a team to target Tiny Tyrants and whip them into shape.

And here they come just out of Santa’s office! While Frost’s smile seems a bit forced and Powder’s giggle a little nervous, Santa knows these Mischief Makers are up to the job. 

Where will they go next? 

This is a developing story. 

Mischief Makers Day 23: Shocking Secrets

It’s almost time! The elves are coming!!!

I’ll post the last few stories from 2021 as a refresher and intro to this year’s fun. Enjoy!

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“Figgy, Pixie!” Lil panted. “Don’t do it!”

Nim and Lil came streaming through the kitchen with Glitter hot on their heels. 

Pixie and Figgy frowned. “What’s wrong?”

Nim and Glitter looked around the room while Lil caught her breath. They saw the snack laden kitchen table and stack of games set up, ready to be played. 

“Oh,” sighed Glitter. “Good.”

Nim laughed nervously. “Whew! We thought for sure you were set to go out with a bang.”

“Well,” said Figgy. “We were just discussing livening this game day up a bit with some sparklers and fireworks.”

“NO!” Glitter, Nim and Lil all yelled at once.

“Jeez you three,” laughed Pixie. “Figgy is just kidding. We were only arguing about which game we should add to the pile. Quirkle or Mancala. Any votes?”

The new arrivals sighed in relief. 

“What’s going on?” asked Figgy. For the first time, he noticed the worried expressions on Nim and Lil’s faces and the serious set to Glitter’s head. 

Nim and Lil looked at eachother, communicating with eyebrows and head nods. 

“Wow you guys,” said Glitter. “Not too subtle, are you?”

Nim sighed. “We overheard Santa and The Director talking about you both.”

Figgy gasped. “The Director?” 

Lil nodded.

“What am I missing?” asked Pixie. “Who is ‘The Director’?”

“Sorry, Pixie,” said Lil. “I forget you were originally under the Birthday Beagle Brigade. The Director is the Head of Operations at the North Pole.”

“I thought Santa was the COO?”

“He is…sort of,” said Glitter. 

When Pixie still looked blank, Figgy filled her in. 

“The Director is in charge of the entire North Pole. All programs and events…even Santa.”

“And,” added Nim. “When there are problems that can’t be solved by traditional means, The Director sends a crew in to help.” 

“What problems have we caused?” asked Figgy. “We had a really rough start this season, but we managed to straighten out the Malloys ok.”

“Yeah,” added Pixie. “They’re absolute angels compared to the beginning of the year.”

“Righhhht,” said Glitter. “But it’s not just them. The Director had to re-enstate B.R.A.T.T. this season due to other…overzealous charges.”

“But that’s not our fault!” said Figgy. 

“I know,” said Lil. “We’re not exactly sure what is going on. We just overheard Santa and The Director talking and we heard your names and words like ‘too many messes’ and ‘re-assignment’.”

“Just who is The Director and why does he have so much power!?” spluttered Pixie.

She,” said Lil. “And she has so much power because she keeps the North Pole running smoothly. Santa would be lost without her help.”

Pixie’s eyes widened as realization dawned. “Mrs. Claus? She’s The Director?” 

Nim nodded while Figgy spluttered. “B-but does that mean…we won’t be coming back here next season?”

Lil gulped. “I’m afraid it may be worse than that.”

“That’s right,” said Nim. “We think Santa is pulling you two from the program.”

Adventures in Homesteading Chapter 6: The Informant

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“You’d better come with us.” Pudgy turned and led the group back to the garden once again to discuss the new information. “I want Leo to hear it first hand.”

The small group of mice and not-quite-mice huddled outside the garden gate while waiting for Leo to come out. 

“Back again?” he asked through a mouthful of green beans. “Oh, hey Chipper.”

“Wait,” said Pipsqueak. “You know each other?”

“Sure.” Leo picked at his teeth. “We’ve met a time or two.”

“Of course you have,” Pudgy grumbled. “Chipper and his horde have information on the strawberry thief. They’ll share it with us if we let them in on our deal and share the garden.”

Leo looked shrewdly at Chipper. “You’ve got more brains than I gave you credit for Chipper.”

“Why you–!” 

“Enough!” Pudgy stomped his feet. “Let’s get on with it.”

“Well, what do you know?” Leo asked when Chipper was silent but for the twitch of a whisker.

“Not until you let us in on this deal,” said Chipper with nod at the garden. “How do we get in there without getting trapped?”

“Tell us what you know first, then we’ll tell you the secret,” said Pipsqueak.

Chipper looked from Leo to Pudgy to Pipsqueak. Gomer was chasing his tail. Again.

“Fine,” he said. “We were sniffing around the house, trying to find a way into the garage when we heard an odd sort of jingling sound. We scurried around the corner but all we saw was a shadow. A large shadow.”

The Three Tails and the chipmunks shared a frustrated look. This “new information” was not very helpful and here they’d agreed to share the secret of the garden. For one second, Pudgy considered not telling them how to get in, but his honor would not allow him to go back on his word. 

With a loud sigh, he shared the secret with their new allies and trudged back to the garage with Pipsqueak and Gomer.

Adventures in Homesteading: A Tale of Three Tails Chapter 5

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Chapter 5: The New Deal

“I cannot believe you agreed to their terms Pudgy!” Pipsqueak whispered angrily. “After we worked so hard to keep them away from the strawberries!”

The Three Tails wandered back to the garage only to find that more strawberries were missing. Since the chipmunks were occupied in the garden, they knew their culprit was still at large. 

“We have to work with them, Pipsqueak. Besides, they weren’t our strawberry thieves were they?”

“True,” sighed Pipsqueak. “So now we are back to square one.”

The trio huddled behind an old rusted coffee can watching the patch for trespassers. 

“I just don’t know who it could be,” murmured Pudgy. 

“Scoot over Gomer,” Pipsqueak whispered. “You’re hogging the coffee can.”

Gomer grunted but shuffled over.

“Shhh!” Pudgy squeaked. “I see movement behind the bushes!”

They peered around the side of the coffee can and watched as a few, very small, mice scurried around, digging around the strawberries.

“Uh…those don’t really look like mice. I mean, they do, but not really…you know what I mean Pudge?” said Gomer.

In surprise, Pipsqueak looked at Gomer and said, “Wow. You’re right Gomer.” He wasn’t normally so observant.

“What are you guys looking at?”

Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer all jumped. One of the creatures had snuck up behind them. It had a mean look about it like it was ready to fight.

“We could ask you the same question,” said Pudgy, trying his best to sound menacing.

The not-mouse stared thoughtfully at them. “You must be the mice we’ve heard about. The ones who are living it up in the garage.”

“Yeah, so?” said Pipsqueak.

“Well, we all decided that we wanted in on that deal so we’re moving in.”

“What are you?” asked Pudgy. “You’re not regular mice.”

“That’s for sure,” it scoffed, looking offended. “We are field mice. I’m Chipper.”

Field mice, thought Pipsqueak. Burrowing under the ground, eating tubers and destroying gardens. Look at it with it’s short tail…mice are so much more civilized.

“Look, Chipper” said Pipsqueak. “This is our territory. We don’t have enough food to share with-with field mice so you’ll just have to scurry on to the next farm.”

“Ha! What a crock! We know you’ve made a deal with the chipmunks. We want in too.”

“No.” Pipsqueak twirled her tail aggressively around her paws.

Then, Chipper played his trump card. “Let us in on the deal you have with the chipmunks and I’ll tell you what I know about the strawberry thief. The real strawberry thief.”

Illustration by Linda Kane

Adventures in Homesteading: A Tale of Three Tails Chapter 4

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Chapter 4: Danger

Pudgy, Pipsqueak and Gomer raced back through the hole in the garage, blocking it once again.

Gomer trembled as he re-lived his last run-in with a hawk. The memories. The smell of damp grass, the rush of cold air flitted through his mind, making him even more frightened.

Pipsqueak shivered.

“Everyone calm down!” Pudgy’s voice shook. “We’ve faced worse on the homestead. We can’t let one hawk make us cower in fear.”

Pipsqueak peeked through the crack in the door. “What can we do? The three of us are no match for a hawk.”

“We could always lure it to the garden,” Gomer had stopped trembling and there was a strange gleam in his eyes.

“Why on earth would we do that? Do hawk’s even eat vegetables?” 

“No. But I bet they eat chipmunks.”

Pipsqueak gasped. 

“Wait a minute,” Pudgy said almost to himself. “The chipmunks.”

“WHAT?!” Pipsqueak was horrified. “Did you see what that hawk just did?! We can’t use them as bait!”

Pudgy shook his head. “No, no, of course not. It would be the worst sort of betrayal. Even for strawberries.” Pudgy rubbed his paws together. “We could join forces with them!”

Gomer and Pipsqueak stared blankly at Pudgy. 

“We’ll appeal to their survival instincts. We’ll ask them to join us in protecting the food…and each other from predators.”

After checking to make sure the hawk was not lying in wait for a tasty mouse morsel, the Three Tails raced back to the garden and hid under a large head of lettuce.

“Psssst!” They tried to get the chipmunks attention, but the critters were too busy tearing into a red, juicy tomato to hear.

“Ahem!” Not even a twitch.

“HEY YOU GUYS!” Pipsqueak’s normally soft voice took on a shrill, screechy tone.

Seemingly as one, the chipmunks swiveled their heads, tomato juice dripping from their tiny mouths. 

“First,” said Pudgy. “We’d like to express how terribly sorry we are about your loss.”

“Our loss?” asked Leo.

“Yes,” said Pipsqueak. “The hawk just took two of your group.”

“Oh!” said Leo. “That.”

Pipsqueak looked at Pudgy for help.

“Aren’t you sad?” Gomer wrinkled his brow.

“Oh sure,” said Leo as he bit into another juicy tomato. “Heartbroken.” 

The other chipmunks chittered. 

“*Maybe appealing to their survival instincts is not such a good idea*,” whispered Pipsqueak. 

“Look,” said Leo. “If we were sad every time one of our number was eaten, attacked or taken, we’d be crying all the time.” He took a big bite out of a cucumber. “We’ve learned to cope.” 

“I can see that,” said Pudgy. “But if we join forces, we can be lookouts for each other. Partners. Maybe even…friends.”

Leo twitched his ears.

“Ok,” said Pipsqueak. “Maybe not friends, but colleagues at the least.”

Leo turned to the rest of his scurry, silently communicating with them. There was a lot of chitters, head shaking and high pitched trills before he finally turned back to the Three Tails.

“You have a deal,” he said. “On one condition.”

“What condition?” asked Pudgy.

Leo took another bite out of the cucumber, chewing slowly. “We share *all* the food.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his paw. “Strawberries included.”

Adventures in Homesteading: The Tale of Three Tails

Chapter 3: The Deal

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The Three Tails led the chipmunks to a beautiful garden. Large leafy heads of lettuce grew alongside big bushes of beans. Squash was just starting to sprout and carrots were peeking out of the ground. 

“Well?” said Pudgy.

Leo tore his gaze away from the garden and narrowed his eyes. “What’s in it for you if we leave the strawberries alone?”

“Only more strawberries for us,” said Pipsqueak. 

“There’s plenty in this garden for us to share,” said Pudgy.

Gomer yawned. “And if you don’t share, we can always send the dog after you.” 

Pudgy and Pipsqueak stared at Gomer, shocked. Never had spoken with such calm certainty.

Leo scoffed. “The dog? It’d get you first.” 

Gomer just smiled. A smaller chipmunk raced to Leo and whispered in his ear. “They’re friends. The dog and those three.” 

Leo’s eyes widened and he squeaked. “Er…I don’t think that will be necessary.”

Pipsqueak scurried forward. “Do we have a deal?”

The chipmunks nodded their heads in unison.

“So…what’s the secret?” asked Leo.

Pipsqueak could barely contain her grin. “Gomer, now you can tell them.”

Gomer dashed over to the gate and lifted a small flap hidden in the weeds. “It’s easy. Just lift this door and you can go right in.” He shimmied under the fence.

Leo grumbled. “That was a dirty trick.”

Pudgy smiled. “A deal’s a deal.”

Leo huffed and swarmed the garden with the rest of his scurry. 

The Three Tails headed back to the strawberry patch to have a celebratory snack. But as they made their way home, a dark shadow covered the ground in front of them. 

Gomer looked up to the sky. “HAWK!” He squealed, ducking for cover under the thorny rose bushes. 

They watched in horror as the hawk swooped down and grabbed two chipmunks, one in each talon.