Blueberry Lane Herb Farm
“Old Maid! I won again, I won again!” shouted Guinevere over the gentle ping of rain drops on the window panes. Rasmus wrinkled his nose, twitched his whiskers, and collected everyone’s cards. He shuffled the deck and dealt another paw of cards. Everyone at Blueberry Lane Herb Farm was restless; it was the third day in a row of rain.
Pages of the wall calendar flapped from the breeze of the window, and it caught Tilly’s attention. She flew over to fix it, but first turned the page from July to August. “August 1, hey that was last week. Today is August 5th. Coral Bell has lots of reminder notes. Let’s see. It says she must get school supplies, harvest sunflower seeds, fix the barn window, get a fur cut for Guin, order a tractor tire, and fix the perch in Matilda’s chicken coop. Hmm, it’s a busy month.”
Guinevere tossed her playing cards in the air, ran to the calendar and hollered, “What? What fur cut?” Then she stood on Coral Bell’s desk to reach the calendar. With furious intent, she erased the calendar note about the fur cut. “There, that’s taken care of. A fur cut is non-sense. I’m a long-haired guinea pig, and I must have long fur!” She stomped her little paw on the desk and exclaimed, “Again I say, who has ever seen a long-haired guinea pig with short hair? That’s just ridiculous. I must be true to my breed!”
Thump Thump Thump
Rasmus sat up straight with his ears tall and upright. He loudly protested, “Guinevere Margaret, don’t you dare erase Coral Bell’s reminders. You write them back in immediately! You are being a naughty piggy. That fur of yours always causes a commotion. You get hay stuck in it, it gets caught in things, and it makes you late because you’re ‘doing your fur’! Plus, you get Tilly involved in fur-washing and styling, and she’s tired of it. It’s just too long! Who agrees with me? Raise a paw or a wing!”
Pedro, being a nervous chinchilla, hid under the table at the sound of Rasmus’s demands. Tilly raised her pretty green wing and tweeted, “Guinevere Margaret, Rasmus is right about everything. Your fur is a mess, and I am too busy to be styling that mop of yours everyday before school. The last time I had to wash pumpkin seeds out of all the tangles it took an hour. It’s time to chop it off!”
Guinevere shrunk down in tears and despair. After all, when someone’s middle name is used, it’s super serious business. Guinevere quit playing cards and stomped off to her room to sulk. She plopped on her bed and cried her little heart out. She tossed and turned and cuddled her teddy bear. Suddenly, she had an idea! If she had to get a fur cut, she should have one that is very stylish. She remembered reading that models in Paris, France, are beauty and fashion trend setters.
Coral Bell gave Guinevere permission to enter the shed where she was working. “Hi Guin, are you here to help me prepare the herbs for drying?” Guinevere replied, “OK, because if I help, you’ll get done faster. Can we go to the library when we are finished? School starts next month, and I want to get some books to brush up on my school work.”
Coral Bell was shocked, “Guin, you haven’t done your summer reading yet, and you have a math workbook. So, what do you want from the library?”
Guin was bewildered. She had to think of a clever way to talk Coral Bell into a trip to the library. “I want to look for art books. I’m thinking of becoming an artist when I grow up. Art books will help me discover my inner creativity. We don’t have any books like that.” Coral Bell thought this was an unusual idea for Guinevere, but she agreed to take her to the library. To Guinevere’s disappointment, Rasmus and Pedro went along too.
Guinevere’s door slammed shut as she dumped her tote bag of library books on the floor. Hidden between the books on painting were books she checked out of the library when the others were not around. They were all about the latest beauty and hair style trends from Paris, France. Guinevere studied every page. She studied her fur in the mirror. She pinned up her long fur to see how short fur would look. Should she have bangs or not? How would she cut the layers? She decided it would be best to go to a special salon. But how would she pay for it? Could there be enough coins in her piggy bank? How could she reach her piggy bank on that high shelf?
She dragged a chair and placed it under the shelf. Still couldn’t reach. She stacked books on the chair and climbed on top. She still couldn’t reach. Talking to herself, she said “I know, I bet I can use my dress hanger to pull the piggy bank off the shelf. Brilliant. Sometimes I’m so smart that I amaze myself.”
With the dress hanger, she climbed back on the chair and on top of the stack of books. The chair wobbled, and the books started to slide. “Whoa. I better go really slow,” she said to herself. She balanced on her tippy toes. Slowly, she reached up with the hanger. The books slid again as she hooked the hanger around the piggy bank.
Crash Boom Bang
The chair and books toppled over. The piggy bank shattered, and coins kerplunked across the floor. Guin had a soft landing on top of her teddy bear. “Ouch! Oh my gosh, oh no, my piggy bank. Ut oh. How am I gonna explain this to Coral Bell,” Guinevere fretted. Then she heard a knock on the door. First she froze, then she scrambled around trying to quickly tidy the mess.
“It’s Rasmus, are you OK? I heard a big loud noise. What’s going on?” Guin hollered back, “I’m fine, go away. Don’t be such a nosey rabbit!”
Rasmus knew she was up to something. He quietly hunkered down outside her door to listen. He pressed his tall brown ears this way and that way against the door. He heard Guin counting out loud, “25, 50, 75, a dollar. 25, 50, 75, two dollars. 25, 50, 55, 60, 65. A total of $2.65. I wonder how much it would cost at a salon. I know, I’ll look in the local newspaper. They always have advertisements.”
She flung open her bedroom door and Rasmus fell over. “Rasmus! What are you doing? Are you spying on me? I told you to go away, you big nosey rabbit! I’m telling Coral Bell on you. A girl needs her privacy around here, now go back under the living room chair!” Rasmus got a peek at the disaster and then scampered downstairs to the living room. He scooted under his favorite chair and pretended he’d been there for hours.
Meanwhile, Guinevere looked through the newspapers in the recycling basket. She was disappointed to see that fur cuts and styling at a salon were out of her $2.65 budget. She realized she had to take matters in to her own paws. After thinking over her dilemma, she developed a plan. It involved an innocent accomplice.
Tap Tap Tap………Tap Tap Tap
Pedro was peacefully napping on the porch swing when an annoying noise disturbed him. The click of Guinevere’s glittery shoes tapped in syncopated rhythm. “Pedro, wake up. Wanna do something creative?” Pedro rolled over on the porch swing. “Pedro, wake up. I have a really fun plan. We have to go to my room first.” Pedro groaned and rolled the other way. “Pedro, come on. I have Small Pet Select Organic Apple Chews hidden in my room.” He didn’t respond. “Pedro, I even have Rye Twists!” Rye Twists were Pedro’s favorite snack. He rolled over again and fell off the porch swing, half awake.
“Guin, what do you want now? I was in the middle of a dreamy nap. This better not be one of your crazy schemes,” Pedro grumbled. Guin said, “It’s a game Pedro. It goes like this. I tell you what to do. For everything you do right, you get a Fidget Stick. First, we must be really quiet and tip toe upstairs to my room.” The promise of a Rye Twist was an offer Pedro could not resist.
“Let’s get Ramus and Tilly to play too,” Pedro said. Guinevere panicked. She insisted they could not possibly play because they were busy helping Coral Bell in the barn.
Guin had everything set up. The hair style book was open to the page with the prettiest model on it. Her chair was set in front of the mirror, and she had childproof scissors ready. “Pedro, we’re playing beauty salon. Here’s how to play. I’ll be the customer, and you be the stylist! I’ll come into your salon, you ask me what I want. Then you show me the picture in this book and I will like it. Then you just have to make me look like the model. See, it’s easy!”
Pedro squealed, “Oh no, señorita Guin. No estoy jugando este juego. Haz que Tilly juegue contigo!” (Oh no, Senorita Guin. I am not playing this game. Get Tilly to play with you!)
“Pedro, if you win, you get a whole box of Rye Twists. The WHOLE BOX!” At last, Pedro could not resist the winning prize. Guinevere’s plan was working like a charm. After Pedro examined the picture in the hair styling book, he jumped up on Guin’s chair and went to work.
Snip Snip Snip Snip Snip Snip
Pedro said, “Close your eyes so the fur doesn’t get in them.” Pedro took his time. He kept looking at the model in the book. A snip here. A snip there. As her fur fell in swirls on the floor, she imagined herself looking like a movie star with the most fashionable fur style. She imagined wearing her purple glittery sun glasses without fur falling in front of her eyes.
“Guin, I am finished. On the count of three, you can open your eyes. One. Two. Three!
Screams bellowed from Guinevere’s bedroom. Pedro dropped the scissors and made a mad dash for the barn. “Pedro, this is not what it’s supposed to look like! Pedro, where are you? Get back here,” Guinevere blubbered. She sat stunned as she looked in the mirror and wondered how she could ever go outside again, much less to school. She even started to wonder if she could use the fur on the floor to make a wig.
“Miss Coral Bell! I have big troubles, and I don’t know what to do! I’m so nervous. Guinevere is having a fit.” Intrigued by Pedro’s calamity, Coral Bell, Rasmus, and Tilly sat on bale of hay while Pedro explained the crisis. “Guinevere, she made me play a game with her. She said if I win, I get a whole box of my favorite snack, you know, the Rye Twists. I played by the rules, I won the game, and then she screamed at me. She’s steaming mad! I don’t know why’s she so mad. I did everything she said to do!”
Pedro continued to explain all about the book, the picture, the scissors, and the fur cut. Tilly burst out laughing while Rasmus’s dark eyes grew wide with curiosity. Coral Bell realized she had been tricked into going to the library and she tricked Pedro into cutting her fur. Coral Bell marched from the barn to the house, followed by Rasmus, Tilly, and Pedro. They went straight up to Guinevere’s room to settle the matter.
Guin timidly opened her bedroom door. There she stood with a winter hat on. Tears sopped her cheeks. Telltale signs of cut fur were strewn about the floor. Tilly cackled in laughter. Rasmus covered his eyes with his front paws. Pedro stood with his paw out waiting for his payment of Rye Twists. Sniveling, Guin collapsed on the floor and hid her face in her teddy bear.
“Guinevere, Pedro told me about the game you were playing. Take that hat off, and let’s see your new style.” Looking down at the floor, ever so slowly, Guin removed the hat. Tilly was hysterical laughing. Rasmus was in shock. Pedro kept his paw out, waiting for the Rye Twist payout.
Coral Bell continued, “Now, let’s start at the beginning so we understand the entire story. You were determined to keep your long fur. You erased the reminder on my calendar about your fur cut. You tricked me into taking you to the library. You bribed Pedro into cutting your fur. Somewhere in this mess, you broke your piggy bank. None of this makes sense Guinevere Margaret! Please explain yourself.
Tilly chimed in, “Yeah Guin, this is your best half-baked idea ever!”
Guinevere sat up with her fur sticking out everywhere. Although she was funny looking, Tilly felt sorry for her. She took Guin’s comb in her beak and started combing her fur down while trying to comfort her.
Guin muttered, “If I must have short fur, then it should be stylish. You know, like the Paris fashion models or a movie star. I thought it was easy for Pedro to look at a picture and cut my fur the same way. I didn’t have enough money to go to a fancy salon. Besides, Coral Bell, you always say we should learn to do things for ourselves. So, I did. I’m sorry for tricking you, and I’m sorry for bribing Pedro, and I’m sorry I called Rasmus a big, nosey spy. I hope you are all sorry you made me get a fur cut! Now look at me. I can’t go out in public! I can’t possibly let my friends at school see me looking like this. I won’t even go out to the barn! I’ll have to spend the rest of the year at home until it grows out.
Coral Bell replied, “Young lady, everyone who knows you loves you for who you are. You are not loved for what you look like. It doesn’t matter if your fur is long or short. What matters is how you treat others, how you make them feel. What’s important in life is sharing time with those you love and giving from your heart. While I admire you for wanting to look your best, it is being your best that matters the most. Every day be the best little Guinevere you can be. That means being a good sister, a valuable family member, friend, and student. When you have bad days, there’s always the next day to start fresh.
Coral Bell dried Guin’s tears, cuddled her on her lap, and reassured her how much she is loved just for being Guinevere.
Rasmus, Tilly, Pedro, and Coral Bell shared a family hug and went back to playing Guin’s favorite card game, Old Maid, while sharing Pedro’s new box of Rye Twists.
UK friends, you can find Pedro's favorite treat (Rye Twists) here.
And here are some coloring pages! Just click to download.
You can also download this whole story here!