By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA
In the days following the outbreak of COVID-19 at the Grand Barn, many areas of the Farm started to deteriorate quickly. Farmer Minnis held a meeting on a Friday and told all the animals that he would lock down the farm for the weekend starting on Saturday.
“No more than FIVE animals at weddings or funerals!” Farmer Minnis said, causing the sheep and goats who had planned ceremonies to baa, bleat and boo in displeasure. When the animals learned Farmer Minnis allowed a visiting group of American Boulonnais to throw a spectacular wedding feast with teams of horses, swimming pigs, Junkanooing flamingos, no masks and no social distancing, some went mad.
“Why do they get special treatment?” the hens clucked. “Why can’t we do what the visitors can on our own farm?” the bulls bellowed. That’s when the Andalusian, that fancy horse who controls the comings and goings on the farm, stepped forward and neighed: “It was I who gave them permission. But pay that no mind, I’ll do the same for you -but probably not - if you ask me nicely next time.”
Bravis, the Mountain Goat who led the faction opposed to Farmer Minnis and his top animals, called a meeting and bleated: “Look how badly they treat us! Farmer Minnis must answer for this!” That’s when the top horses, all on Farmer Minnis’ team, sent the bees out to buzz about how Bravis had requested a special wedding favour for his friends too.
It was at that moment the animals started viewing Farmer Minnis and all his top animals on the farm with suspicion. Bravis and his faction were viewed with suspicion as well.
By the next week, the number of animals infected with COVID-19 had doubled. Then tripled. Then quadrupled and more. “Where is Renny the Racehorse?” the ducks quacked. “He’s the new farm doctor but we can’t find him anywhere!”
“Perhaps he trotted off,” the buzzards laughed. “We should too. This farm is broken and, worse still, it’s going broke!” they snarled.
The seagulls were upset because the gazillion conch they had fished up for the farm lay rotting, unsold. For some reason, Farmer Minnis had forbade the seagulls from selling the usual way. Desmond the Draft horse, who was put in charge of the fireflies, threatened to withhold light from any animal who could not ‘pay up,’ even though many animals no longer had jobs. The Andalusian then issued - before rescinding- orders barring the native farm animals from seeking a temporary escape in the farm’s hotel barns. “He only cares for visiting animals!” the dogs barked. “Why are we treated so unfairly?” they howled.
On the animals’ yearly holiday to celebrate their freedom, Farmer Minnis ordered the farm completely locked down. “You can only shop for feed three days a week. Other than that, stay in your styes, pens, dens and nests. Keep to your hills, hives, huts and holes!” he decreed. “As for the gates to the farm... uh... let’s just leave things as they are, open!”
The animals were becoming angry. Farmer Minnis had many problems on his hands.
The security boars, who patrolled inside the farm, were getting sick with COVID-19. The warthogs, who patrolled the border of the farm, were getting sick with COVID-19. The sparrows, those nursing birds, were getting sick with COVID-19. The Grey parrots, learned in healing, were getting sick with COVID-19. Some of these animals left their posts, upset Farmer Minnis and Renny the Racehorse were not protecting them from COVID-19.
“We can’t afford another lock down!” the bulls bellowed.
“Farmer Minnis, how will we pay our bills and rents?” the cows mooed.
“We’re running low on feed donations,” the doves cooed.
“Too many of us are sick,” the sparrows worried.
“This place is a police farm!” the pigeons warned.
“Where are the owls? Why won’t they help us?” the ducks quacked.
The animals wanted to be free of COVID-19, and there was much confusion on the farm. So much so that some started to listen to Stella, a foreign Grey parrot who tried to convince the animals all their healers were actually trying to kill them! Meanwhile, the virus was still spreading fast while the top animals (including the farm doctor, Renny the racehorse) were silent. “What will Farmer Minnis do?” the sheep baaed once again.
Then a single voice rose above the noise, “No. It’s time to ask, ‘what will we do?’”
• To be continued