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Gates to Green [Open to for Apple-clan]

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In those few hours since Squall and Applejack met at the later's apple stall, the weather have turned foul.


Not that Squall was bothered by it. Befitting his name, he rather enjoyed the dark clouds, buffeting wind and sound of rumbling thunder coming from over the nearby Everfree Forest. Being in good mood, he hummed to himself the melody of one of his favorite symphonies, while the gift basket he brought levitated next to him.

"If only a rain would come with that. This scorcher lasted far too long." Swift mused as he entered the Sweet Apple Arces grounds.


For all his travels - to Ponyville, around Equestria and even beyond realm borders- this was a first time he was in 'Honest to Aeather' orchard. Ranches? Yes. Farms? Absolutely! Orchards? Well, about time he checked out that one.


As such noblepony made curious glances left and right, taking mental noted and making comprehensions to places he visited before. After all this was a new experience, and Count Squallcoast was always hungry for new experiences.


Finally he passed through small archway in the fence just before the house. That's odd. Twilight - because of course he sough Sparkle counsel before this visit - mentioned that upper part of the door were usually open, bad weather or not. Unless no one was inside that is.

"Certainly she didn't forgot.....?" Squall turned around shoot a question to a surrounding space, but predictably, it didn't rewarded him with an answer.


Squall again faced the door, and rose his hoof to knock, but hesitated. Instead he respectfully touched the house entrance. The multiple layers of old pain he could see. Numerous scratches around the keyhole, the signs of wear on stone pathway made by a thousands of hoofsteps. This place was old. And yet no signs of crock or rust, the latest paint layer no older then a year, and everything was clean. This told him a lot. Yes, this place was old, but was cared for, loved. Swift smiled slightly. Honestly he should expect nothing less.


This time he didn't pause. Noblepony knocked at the door a few times, but the silence was all he could hear. Swift waited for two minutes before knocking again, this time stronger - yet the result was very much the same.

"......Are they out because of weather....?" swordstallion guessed. For Squall, physical effort was always a welcomed way to spent his time. Yet he had to admit to himself, he had little idea how it could be applied at the farm. Was this weather necessitated actions to protect the crops, explaining Applejacks and her family absence?  There was only one way to find out.

 "Perhaps I could lent a hoof..." he murmured at he directed his steps deeper into orchard grounds in search for a hat bearing mare.

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Applejack had long ago abandoned any pretense of holding the Ponyville weather team to any semblance of supposed competence but even for them, this was a little much. Normally they would give her warning if there was going to be a storm. One was needed and needed badly, she agreed. But boy howdy was this a poor day to have one on no notice. She had been too busy kissing ponies all dang day and making over five hundred bits in the exchange to get the notice, delivered far too late by several days, of an impending storm over the area. It was originally going to be in three days but they had a meeting and decided to make it today for reasons Applejack didn't really want to hear about, since she had to drop everything she was doing to panic-prepare the orchard for the incoming deluge. She only hoped Zap Apple would grow up be a considerate weather pony- if he didn't turn out to be a guardpony, farmer, train conductor, actor, animal tracker, or any of the other hundred or so career paths his momma envisioned for him.


Applejack ran about the orchard, checking her trees one by one with a list in her mouth. They kept the watering levels of each tree and its root system at certain levels. Too much and you would overwater and essentially drown parts of it, which were bad for both immediate yields and long term health. Each tree and root system had their own drainage network which filtered into the larger irrigation system the Apples had built generations ago, all of which helped pump the excess water to a pony-made small lake- moreso a pond, but a large one- on the north side of the property. The same system, build and maintained by Earth ponies and their magic, would allow them to irrigate the orchard from this same water source later. So in the long run, sure, this'd be beneficial. But a full day's work was being crammed into two hours and the entire family was feeling the burn.


Applejack was running around, checking the trees with a small wagon of covers trailing her. Those who could intake the coming storm were left alone. Those who could not were draped with covers and the ground covered likewise. Apple Bloom, Granny Smith, Granpa Strudel, even cousin Valen helped set containment rocks on the side of the main irrigation systems. Because if the strength of the deluge and the amount of water not being intaked by the trees, it was bound to overflow. Interlocking rocks in the divots and ducks of the system would hopefully prevent any small scale flood. Big Mac hauled the necessary supplies for both jobs and helped when he could. The Apples worked their tails off and then some, but Applejack knew from the moment they started they wouldn't be able to visit every part of the orchard. Luckily she had her master list, so she was able to prioritize her time, and she managed the others as well.

When the storm started to hit in full force, Applejack knew they'd done the best they could and ordered everypony back home. Apple Bloom declined since the treehouse wasn't too far away, and she had everything she'd need out there anyway. Applejack wanted to tell her no, but she was a big filly now. Valen made a beeline off the property. He was busy with Rarity. Big Mac was going to check in on a silo- and knowing him, take a nap- while the elder ponies were going to head back to town for some event. The meat of the storm hadn't hit Ponyville yet, so it was a safe place for them to go. This left Applejack alone to make her way home.

She trotted, enjoying the rain and weather as much as she could. She never did like lightning or the harsher elements of the weather like some other ponies did. She was the one who had to go out afterwards and heal shattered trees, chase off lost Everfree critters, and work double hard on the crops. That was why they had a weather team, a weather team that communicated and worked jointly with the farmers of town to create a harmonic solution to the problems they faced. She'd bring this up to them the next town hall meeting with them. This was...very, very annoying and she knew they'd suffer some tree losses because of it. You always did- she loved her orchard but she knew that everything was fated to end- but the losses this time were going to be pointless.

Uggh. She hated it.

She continued the trot towards her home when she saw another figure trotting into the orchard. It was...Swift Squall? She kicked herself. Oh right, she was going to cook him dinner tonight and talk about his proposition. Dangit, another casualty of the night's events. Still, she would entertain him as best she could. Nopony would be home and Zappy was with Momma Dash, so at least they'd be able to focus.

Her hat was off. She had taken it off when she got home from the kissing booth and had been in too much of a hurry to retrieve it. At some point she had lost control of her ponytail, so her mane was wild and wet. Sweat glistened along with the rain off of her body, and her tail was equally loosely bound. Why, she looked like some mustang off the pond in Mustangia. Or at least she felt like one! "Howdy there, Mr. Squallcoast. Sorry Ah wasn't here ta greet you," she said as she bounded up to him. "Had a bit of an emergency. Follow me inside, we can get ta talkin'," she offered jovially. In a moment she was at the door and opened it, holding it open for her guest.

"Sorry 'bout not havin' dinner ready. Them weather pegasi threw us for a doozy with no real warnin'. Ah'll get somethin' warm in yer belly none too quick, though. Feel free ta take a seat, livin' room or kitchen, whataver fits yer stockin'," she said as she trotted into the kitchen and got the materials for some carrot-apple soup. She poked her head in. "For a snack, how about a Mcintosh? Gala? Red Delicious? Golden delicious? Fuji? Braeburn? Crispin? Honeycrisp? Jonagold? Granny Smith? Cameo? Jazz? Macoun? Ambrosia? Paula Red? Cortland? Cripps Pink? Empire? Autumn Glory? Breeze? Celestial Crisp? Kiku? Kanzi? Koru? Opal? Lady Alice? Pinova? Roam? Suagar Bee? Smitten?"

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