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The Fowler Farm by Samriddha Aryal – Winner of the 2023 Teen Writing Contest – Short Story

A huge thank you to all who took the time to enter the 2023 Solano County Library Teen Writing Contest!

We were honored to read your work, and encourage each of you to continue writing.

Please enjoy the winning entry below!

SHORT STORY WINNER

The Fowler Farm by Samriddha Aryal

          The sound of roosters crowing slowly started to arouse the slumbering Fowler farm. The Fowlers grew vegetables and had cows, pigs, chickens, and sheep. Each of the five Fowlers had a job to do at the farm. Mr. Fowler would work and fix the machinery, while Mrs. Fowler was in charge of watching over the house. Their eldest daughter, Calia, was to help with growing and maintaining the plants. Wesley, the middle son, tended to the animals. The youngest child, little Ford, was his mother’s helper, usually following her around the house.

           Wesley did not want to wake up today. Still, he got out of bed and changed his pajamas for a shirt and jeans. He felt very sleepy but he knew that he had to check on the animals. He went outside and into the barn and grabbed a bag of animal feed. He gave the animals their feed and sat down for a while, and after all the animals had finished eating he opened the gate that led all of the animals outside. Wesley beckoned to one of the cows, Belle, picked up a stool and bucket, and put it down next to her. Wesley put the bucket underneath her. His hands got into a rhythm, pinch, squeeze, pull, release. When the bucket was full of milk, he put the stool back in the barn. He walked to the henhouse, and plucked about a dozen eggs. Wesley then started back to the house, squelching in the mud all the while. He gave the milk and eggs to his mother, who had just put in some bread in the oven to bake. He raced upstairs, showering quickly and changing back into his normal clothes, a t-shirt and some sweatpants. Just then, Wesley heard Ford running down the stairs, with Calia close behind him. They all sat down at the table ready to eat. His father said grace, and they all tucked in.

          Calia was impressed by the amount of food her mother had made today. There were eggs, bread, potatoes, sausages and bacon, and cups of coffee for Mr. and Mrs. Fowler and orange juice for her and her brothers. They ate hungrily and then cleaned up to go outside. Calia stretched out in the sun, enjoying the warmth of the morning. She had a bit of time before she had to get ready for the Red Vine festival.

Wesley went outside to start cleaning the barn. He noticed a poster tacked on the barn door which advertised:

SUMMER CATTLE SHOW COMPETITION AT RED VINE FESTIVAL

BEST COW GETS YEAR SUPPLY OF PREMIUM FEED!

OWNER GETS 1,000 DOLLARS CASH PRIZE!

RULES: COW MUST BE PROPORTIONAL AND MUST BE CLOSEST TO BREED STANDARD. NO BULLS ALLOWED.

SHOW ENTRANCE FEE: 10 DOLLARS FOR ADULTS, 5 FOR KIDS SNACKS, RIDES AND PETTING ZOO TOO!

EVERYBODY IS WELCOME, NO LIMITATIONS!

          Wesley grabbed the poster, folded it and slid it into his pocket. He thought of their cows while he sweeped the dusty floor. There was Carnie, Belle, Clementine, Brownie, Winnie, and Honey. Clementine had done some shows in her past with Wesley’s father, but had never gotten higher than 4th place and his father had quit participating in the cattle show. Wesley decided that he should give Clementine another chance at the competition.

          Calia was tired from the heat. The tomatoes were just about ready, but it was taking longer than expected for them to be fully ripe. Since the Red Vine Festival is next Saturday, she wanted to grow the best tomatoes for the Big Red Tomato tasting competition. These beauties were most likely the best that she had grown, but they had taken a lot of time to grow. Some of them were even four inches wide! She decided that she would have to ask Wesley for some fertilizer from the animals.

         The next week came by fast. Both Wesley and Calia had been working hard, Wesley training himself for the competition. Calia had been working in the sun all day, tending to her tomatoes. Wesley was nervous as he got in the truck, even though he had practiced almost a hundred times. He had a feeling anything could go wrong. They drove down to the ranch, towing behind Clementine in a trailer. It was bigger than Wesley had imagined, and at least 30 people had come, determined to show that their cow was the best. Now 4th place seemed like a great honor to Wesley as he gulped. He thought he saw a Longhorn and even a Highlander. He saw other pure white cows like Clementine too. This was going to be tough.

         The drill was the same that Wesley had done at home. The cows would walk around in a circle, then stand still, and let the judges check them. This would go on and on, and finally, it was their turn. They walked slowly in the circle, Wesley tugging the lead ever so gently. After they had completed the walk, the judge walked over and looked at Clementine all over. Then, it was over as fast as it had begun. Wesley was sent back into his booth with Clementine. The judges were deciding, whispering amongst themselves. The crowd was all hushed. Then, the oldest one walked to the mic. He declared the first winner, number 26. Then, second place belonged to number 74. Third place was number 51. Wesley took a deep breath. He looked down at his pin on his chest and saw the numbers 074 shining back at him.

         Wesley was wondering what to do with the prize money of 500 dollars while he was walking down the road to school. Maybe buy a new bike, and save the spare money. He sure knew that his sister would ask for some of his cash. Calia had gotten 300 bucks, since she had landed 3rd place. His parents were so proud of him and his efforts. He was still sore from when his father had clapped his hand on Welsey’s shoulder. Wesley observed the quietness of the morning for a while. He wasn’t certain what the future would bring, but he was certain it would turn out to be alright.

 

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