Mail Order Groom

by Irrespective

Chapter 1: 1. Order Yours Today!

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Applejack was predictable.

She preferred it that way. So did her friends, and most of Ponyville.

Predictable, reliable, honest, and most recently, overworked to the point that even she was about to admit it.

And just as predictable to the ponies who knew her, she was going to fight that admission like a starved bear, wrestle with it, kick it around, stomp it a few times, and eventually, in her own way, admit that it might be just a teensy bit true.

She was the Element of Honesty after all, but if there was an Element of Pig-Headed Stubbornness, she would wear that one too. And proudly.

So, mornings at Sweet Apple Acres were just as predictable as Applejack herself. Today was no different, and the steadfast farmer sighed a little as she idly flipped the last flapjack in her pan. It would only take another minute or so to cook the doughy side to a delicious golden brown, and once that was done, breakfast proper could begin.

And, right on cue, Apple Bloom appeared at the bottom of the stairs with a yawn and a healthy sniff of the pleasant aromas in the kitchen. “Mornin’, Sis.”

“Mornin’,” Applejack replied, and she tossed the completed flapjack onto a nearby plate. “How’d you sleep last night, sugarcube?”

“Better than the night before.” Apple Bloom sidled up to the table, and she speared several more flapjacks from the offered stack with a fork, then moved them to her plate. “But ah was still kinda restless.”

Applejack nodded. “Ah heard you tossing and turning. Truth be told, ah didn’t get much shut-eye, neither.”

“You got some pretty dark circles under your eyes,” Applebloom noted with a small bite. “Those sleepin’ pills ain’t worked very well, have they?”

“Nah. Ah just stopped takin’ them. They weren’t doing no good, so there’s no point.”

The sisters paused, and for a brief moment, Applejack’s heart began to beat just a bit faster. At this point in the routine, Granny Smith was due to make her appearance, complete with grumbling about some new ache, old ache, new leak, or all three together. The elderly matron of the Apple Clan would then shuffle into her customary chair, grab the maple syrup, and drown the morning meal in liquid sugar while thanking Applejack for the meal.

But after that brief moment had passed without Granny Smith’s warm smile appearing in the doorway, Applejack sat in her own chair and took a moment to straighten the polka-dot bandana that now made its home around her neck.

The two ponies ate the meal without sharing any more conversation. Neither of them wanted to address the elephant that was in the room, and Applejack wished for a moment that the chirping birds outside would turn up their volume, so the silence wouldn’t be so deafening.

“It just ain’t the same, is it?” Apple Bloom finally said in a soft, thoughtful voice. “Ah still miss her somethin’ fierce.”

The sister’s gaze moved to the empty chair at the head of the table in unison. It had remained exactly where it was for the last six months, and there was a good chance it wouldn’t move again.

“Do you think we’ll ever get used to this?” Apple Bloom went on, and Applejack shook her head.

“Not for a long while, but that’s okay. We’re allowed to miss her. Just shows how much we loved her, and how much she loved us.”

“Yeah. Ah bet Ma and Pa are happy to see her again.”

“Ah reckon so, too.” Applejack grinned a little with the thought, but then she nodded to the sizable stack of flapjacks in front of the youngest Apple. “Best get to eatin’. Don’t want to be late for school.”

Applebloom hesitated, then nudged the plate away with her hoof. “Ah’m not all that hungry this morning. If it’s okay, Ah’m gonna head out and get my chores done.”

“Run along then,” Applejack said. “Ah’ll clean everything up here.”

Apple Bloom stood, moved to the back door, and picked up her saddlebags. Her hoof went to the doorknob, but halfway there, it stopped, and she turned to face Applejack. “Y’know, maybe Ah should stay here and help out with the harvest,” she offered. “Miss Cheerilee won’t mind if Ah miss a day.”

“That’s mighty thoughtful of you, but ah can handle everything here. Big Mac will be over in a few to give me a hoof, too. Don’t you fret none.”

“All right.” Apple Bloom opened the door, stepped onto the back porch and turned to pull the door shut. “Ah’ll see you this afternoon, then.”

“Have fun, and say ‘Hi’ to the Crusaders for me,” Applejack said.

Apple Bloom nodded with a small smile, and Applejack drew in a long breath as the door shut. Losing Granny Smith had been a terrible blow for the family, but Applejack suspected that Apple Bloom was feeling the loss more keenly than herself or Big Mac. Oh, she hid the pain pretty well, especially for one so young, but there were times when the elder sister could tell that the emotions were deep and raw.

But it would pass, as all things did. The Apples had learned how to move on with life after Bright Mac and Buttercup, and they would do so again without Granny Smith.

Applejack took another bite of flapjacks and reached for the morning newspaper. Granny had always enjoyed looking over the news of the day—even if the ‘news’ was nothing more than a report on Roseluck’s latest fainting spell—and the subscription had been prepaid for a full year, and Applejack hated to waste the bits, so she had taken to at least looking over the headlines before getting started with her day.

She had a few more minutes to spare, anyway. The south forty needed to be harvested today, but she was going to need Big Mac’s help to get everything in, sorted, and to market in time. They were going to be cutting it close, however, and while Applejack was happy that her elder brother had found his special somepony, it did mean he had less time for the farm. His mornings were now mostly occupied with Sugar Belle,⁽*⁾ and as time went on, his appearance in the fields was growing later and later.

⁽*⁾And what they did with that time was absolutely none of her business.

Of course, Sugar Belle always came to offer what assistance she could, but she was a baker at heart, not a farmer. While she could buck trees and carry baskets, she just didn’t have the strength or the stamina yet, nor the skill that the Apples had gained after years of working the farm, day in and day out. She could cook an apple fritter that would make mouths water from here to Canterlot, but she just couldn’t keep up with her husband and sister-in-law.

Then again, Sugar Belle and Pinkie Pie had quickly become best friends, and it was clear that Sugar Belle’s happiness would always increase as the distance between her and an oven decreased.

As she mulled these thoughts over, Applejack idly flipped to the classified section and began to skim. While she had always resisted the notion of hiring outside help, she had to admit that having a crew to assist—even for just a week or two—would be an immense help. Day laborer griffons tended to be cheap and could be hired by the hour, but she would have to make sure they didn’t abscond with any of the baskets, tools, or other supplies. Hippogriffs were more expensive—having been unionized during their return to Mount Aris—but were more trustworthy overall.

Whoever she picked, she was going to have to account for a day or two for training. Bucking apples was the fastest and most straightforward way to harvest a tree, but even earth ponies needed to be shown how and where to kick, or else all one would have is sore legs and dented wood. Griffons and griffs’ ability to fly would seem like an asset at first glance, since they could go up to the level of the apples themselves, but they were slowed considerably by being able to only pick one apple at a time, and then dropping it down without bruising or splitting the fruit open.

In the midst of this musing, Applejack’s eye was caught by a large advertisement on the far right of the page. It was impossible to miss, since the large, nearly quarter-page sized box was already circled with a deep red and opened with a bold MARES! as a sort of headline. Without really thinking about what she was doing, Applejack began to read.



—feel lonely and destitute?

—find yourself longing for domestic tranquility, but have no special stallion to call your own?

—desire a helpmeet and a companion, a stallion who can ensure your continued comfort in perpetual felicity?

A great many of the fairer sex, through no fault of their own, have found the delights of matrimony have been withheld from them. A good stallion, it is said, is as rare as the midnight sun, and for those many unhappy ladies who have not found their treasured special somepony, life can be most glum and disappointing.


Dear friends! Across our fair land, and beyond our borders, many a stallion finds himself in exactly the same position that you find yourself in at this very moment! Indeed, many honorable and morally upright studs long for the comforting touch of a mare in their life, and are hopeful that YOU might be the answer to all of their longings!


With our large pool of potential prospects, we can produce a stallion that will be a perfect match to whatever your particular tastes and desires may be for a potential future husband. All of our offerings are healthy and fit, screened for disease and guaranteed to be well-behaved, clean, and eager to provide for your happiness!


It is no exaggeration to say that we have every type of stallion possible for you! We have strong, young stallions fresh from the apple orchards of Appleoosa, intelligent and soft-spoken studs from the great academic halls of our leading institutes and universities in Manehattan and Baltimare, and even those of royal stock and noble blood, straight from Canterlot itself!

But perhaps your tastes tend to the exotic and the rare? Then you are in luck, friend! We also have a large selection of kirin, hippogriff, zebra, griffon, and even changeling stallions for you to select from, each one eager to start a new life with YOU!


Simply send us a list with your specific requests for an ideal match, and one of our representatives will be in contact with you within a week to present your new husband to you!


Never fear! Simply write to us with your contact information, and we will be happy to make arrangements for a range of potential spouses to be brought right to your doorstep!

Contact us today!
F.F. Services, L.L.C.

“Of all the ridiculous nonsense!” Applejack folded up the newspaper and tossed it on top of the outgoing mail pile. “Imagine, ordering a husband out of some catalogue, like he was a new plow or a gross of nails!”

Applejack snorted, stood, and stuffed the mail and the newspaper into her saddlebags. If she had enough time to read about absurd offers for custom ordered stallions, then she was being far too idle and needed to get to work. The morning dishes needed to be cleaned, Winona needed to be fed, and there were more than enough trees that needed to be harvested.

Besides, ‘F.F.’ probably referred to Flim and Flam, those perpetually deceitful brothers of infamous fame. Whatever they had to offer, she didn’t want to have any part of, and she hoped that if those two were extorting some poor, lovesick males with promises of a mate that they would soon see through the ruse.

“Mail-order grooms. What a load of horseapples!” she proclaimed.

* * 🍎 * *

Applejack blew out a sharp note of annoyance as she bucked the tree behind her, and her eyes went to the afternoon sun as the apples dropped.

Big Macintosh was late. Very late.

So late, in fact, that at this point, he might as well not bother coming out to the fields. While Applejack was sure her brother had some valid excuse, his absence coupled with the heat of the day and the amount of the work that needed to be done equaled out to one extremely irate sister, and he was going to get an earful from her later.

If she ever got done with the harvest, of course. While she was making good time, the amount of remaining work for the day meant that she was going to be out well past midnight, and still have to be up before dawn the next morning to sort and separate what she’d collected. Then she had to somehow get her goods to market, which was going to take precious time away from the fields, to say nothing of feeding the pigs and the chickens, and…

Applejack sighed, and she moved to the barrel of water that she’d packed out on the wagon with her. Stubborn as she was, she could see the hen scratches on the barn wall plainly enough, and the scratches said that she was going to have to hire some help.

Even just one pony would make a world of difference, she thought as she pulled a cup from the saddlebags that were resting next to the barrel, filled it, and took a long drink. Big Mac and herself had managed to hold down the farm by themselves, for the most part, and once she could get somepony fully trained, the chores would practically handle themselves.

With a snort, the overworked farmer pulled the newspaper she’d brought in her bags, flipped open to the classifieds again, and began to look for anypony who was looking for a job.

“Hey, A.J! Where are you?”

“Down here, Dash!” Applejack called out, and her eyes swept the sky for her prismatic friend. Hoof falls nearby brought her gaze back to the ground, and she was mildly surprised when Rainbow Dash appeared from behind a tree, all four hooves on the ground.

Her smile grew when she saw that Rainbow had not come alone. “Afternoon to ya, everypony. What brings y’all out here?”

“You, darling,” Rarity said with a small pout as she, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie approached. “Today was supposed to be our spa day, remember? I’m afraid you’ve already missed it.”

“Shoot. Ah knew ah was forgettin’ something. Sorry about that,” Applejack said. “Ah’ve been so busy with my chores around here that it just slipped my mind. Guess I’ll just need to take a raincheck on that for now.”

“Do you need some assistance, dear?” Rarity asked. “And where is Big Macintosh? Don’t tell me he left all of this work for you intentionally!”

“Nah, somethin’ musta come up,” said Applejack. “He was supposed to be here a few—well, a lot of hours ago. Ah’d be right grateful for the help, if’n y’all don’t mind haulin’ these bushels to the wagon.”

“Of course!” Rarity’s magic sprang to life, but she grunted with effort when she lifted the bushel nearest to her up. “My! It seems like you’ve had a bumper crop this year!” she huffed.

“Tain’t been too bad, ah reckon,” Applejack said with a nod.

“So, how are you going to get all of these harvested?” Rainbow Dash asked. “I mean, if Big Mac is going to keep bailing on you, you’re gonna have to do something. Isn’t Apple Bloom supposed to be out here, too?”

“She’ll come help once she gets done with her homework this afternoon,” Applejack replied as she set an empty bushel under the next tree. “But Ah don’t want her education to suffer ‘cause of what’s going on ‘round here. Granny was hoping she’d go to college and get some agricultural degree or another. She’d always say there’d always be time to harvest, but there wouldn’t always be time to get her schoolin’ in.”

There was a slight hesitation from her friends at the mention of Granny Smith, but it was Fluttershy who spoke up first. “How have you been doing since she… um, well, you know…”

“We’re doing well as can be expected. Apple Bloom still misses her somethin’ fierce. Big Mac’s doing a bit better, since he has Sugar Belle to look after, but even so…” Applejack trailed off, and her gaze went distant for a moment. “Well, ah guess it’s just a day-by-day kinda thing. Some days are good, some days ain’t. Just the way these things go.”

“That tells us how your family is doing, but what about you?” Rarity repeated, with a sharp inhale as she hoisted up the next bushel in her magic.

“Me? Ah’m doin’ all right, Ah reckon. Ah miss Granny too, but Ah keep myself occupied with chores and such.”

“Yeah, but there’s waaaay too much farm here for one pony!” Pinkie Pie bounded by, a basket of apples somehow balanced on her head. “And we don’t want a repeat of the baked bads, now do we? DO WE?!”

“No, sure don’t want that.” Applejack glanced to the remaining trees and heaved another sigh. “Reckon Ah’ll just have to hire some help, that’s all.”

“Or,” Rainbow Dash cut in with a note of deviousness in her voice as she began to jump on a tree, “you could always find yourself a special somepony, like how Big Mac did.”

“Aw, don’t you get goin’ on that ol’ line again!” Applejack protested. “Ah swear, ever since Big Mac and Sugar Belle got hitched, you and Rarity have just about chewed both my ears off with that suggestion.”

“We’re only trying to take care of our friend,” Rarity said as she began to hoist a basket, dropped it, and then went for a smaller one nearby. “You must admit that life would be much easier if you were to obtain a lasting commitment from somepony strong, well-mannered, and eager to please. He, naturally, should be of even temperament, soft-spoken but firm in conviction, broad and well-toned, with a dark coat, piercing gray eyes and a long, flowing black mane. I can just see him now, deftly bucking these trees with only one rear hoof, a thin glazing of delightful perspiration evenly spread across his withers and flanks, and a soft, inviting grin when he sees you striding towards him, a nicker of delight rising from deep within his chest as he gallops to meet you…”

“Ah think you’re tryin’ to make one of your harlequin romance studs real again there,” Applejack snarked as the others snickered. “‘Sides, stallion like that’d dumb as a post and only interested in keeping himself lookin’ prim and proper like. If Ah was goin’ to get hitched—and Ah ain’t sayin’ that Ah am, so don’t look so eager—Ah’d want somepony who ain’t got a problem with an honest day’s work.”

“But just think of all the little Apples!” Pinkie Pie said while cartwheeling by.

“Oh, they’d be so adorable,” Fluttershy agreed with a dreamy grin. “A whole bushel of tiny foals, so precious and soft!”

“Ah ain’t a rabbit, Shy,” Applejack said with a roll of her eyes. “Ah’m pretty sure Ah wouldn’t have a litter of foals.”

“Oh, I know. But one at a time would work. And then, the older kids could help take care of all the little fillies and colts you’d have!”

“Exactly how many kids are you expectin’ me to have?” Applejack asked, but then she shook her head. “Never mind. Ah’m sure Ah don’t want to know the answer to that.”

“All we’re saying is that you should give the idea a chance,” Rarity said, her magic snagging apples from the air as Rainbow Dash bounced them loose. “We’ve all seen how happy Big Mac is with Sugar Belle, and we just want the same for you, dear.”

“Hey!” Pinkie suddenly popped up with Applejack’s newspaper in her hooves. “I know what you should do, Applejack! You should totally get yourself one of these mail-ordered groomstallions from this ad!”

“No way, no how,” Applejack said with a snort. “Ah saw that earlier, and that’s the most ridiculous thing Ah’ve ever seen.”

“Pinkie does have a point, y’know.” Rainbow Dash swooped down and snatched the paper away for a closer look. “This looks pretty legit to me. Since you can’t find anypony here locally, why not get yourself somepony from a few towns away?”

“Because Ah ain’t about to go and buy a stallion at the hardware store while Ah’m ordering more shovels, hoes, and branch trimmers,” Applejack flatly replied.

“Well then, don’t think of it that way,” Rarity offered as she studied the advertisement from over Rainbow’s shoulder. “Look, it says they can provide a diverse range of stallions to choose from. How is this different from, say, a dating service?”

Applejack couldn’t think of a proper reply to that, so she just grumbled and bucked a nearby tree.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Fluttershy added. “And we can all help you pick out somepony special just for you.”

“Yeah!” Rainbow Dash said. “We’ll all make sure you don’t get stuck with some old geezer who’s just trying to steal your bits!”

“Come on,” Rarity cajoled, and she flashed her brightest smile to her friend. “What have you got to lose?”

“What’s left of my sanity, for one thing,” Applejack snorted. “Look, will y’all leave me alone about this gettin’ hitched thing if Ah look over a few of the stallions they’re advertisin’ here?”

“Sure thing,” said Rainbow. “If you actually look over some of the selection and can’t find somepony who’ll be good for you, we’ll all leave you alone. Right girls?”

The other three nodded and affirmed they would stop, with huge grins and the pantomime motions of a Pinkie Promise from all.

“Fine. When Ah get some time later on, Ah’ll send off a letter. Now can we please drop the subject and get back to harvestin?”

* * 🍎 * *

“You’re late,” Applejack said with a snort.

Big Mac’s heavy hoof falls thundered on the kitchen floor, and with a large whumph, he plopped down in the chair across the table from the annoyed sister. “Eeyup.”

“Ah was wondering if you’d even bother coming over at all today.”

“Sugar was sick,” Big Mac replied, a hoof rubbing the back of his neck. “Ah meant to come, but Ah just couldn’t leave her. She’s been throwing up all day.”

Applejack harrumphed, but only slightly and in a subdued tone. “She feelin’ better now?”


“Good. Ah’d hate for you to be here while she still needs you.” Applejack drew in a long breath, held it for a moment, then let it out and put all of her irritation with it. “Well, can’t be helped, Ah suppose. Why don’t you go sort what you can for an hour or two. Ah’ll get somethin’ mild and warm whipped up for you to take back once you’re done.”

Big Mac grinned as he stood. “Thanks. Sugar will appreciate that.”

Applejack nodded, and she watched her brother for a few moments as he marched himself out the back door and over to the barn. She wasn’t surprised about the reason for Big Mac’s absence, and she knew that he’d made the right decision. Family always came first in the Apple Clan, and Big Mac’s first duty was to his wife, then to his sisters.

Besides, Applejack was now only a few days behind, thanks to the help from her friends. If she just put in a little more effort and worked a few more hours each day, she was sure she could get caught up in short order. That would save her from having to hire outside help, and her eyes flicked to the newspaper on the table as the thought went through her head.

Her eyes once again drifted to the bold advertisement for mail-order grooms, and she rolled her eyes. She really did not need a husband, but she was getting tired of the endless pushing and prodding from her friends—and from Rainbow Dash, in particular—and she had kinda-sorta promised to write…

“Ah can’t believe Ah’m actually doing this.” Applejack stood, produced a pencil, an envelope, and a blank sheet of paper from the nearby pantry cupboard, and sat down again. “Best to just get it out of the way, Ah suppose. Shame to waste the stamp, but they ain’t ever going to stop if Ah don’t take care of this now.”

It only took a moment for Applejack to fill out the envelope and to compose a short letter explaining her interest and her need for a good, hard-working stallion who could buck apples, tend to farm animals, and take care of the upkeep that was needed to keep Sweet Apple Acres running. Once she was done, Applejack sealed the envelope, put it on the new outgoing mail pile with the bills, and grabbed a pot to start making supper.

“Ah still say it’s all a bunch of hooey,” Applejack grumbled to herself as she began to fill the pot with water. “Findin’ a groom through the mail ain’t gonna work. I’ll bet nopony even replies. It just ain’t right.”

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Next Chapter: 2. Quantities are Limited! Estimated time remaining: 59 Minutes
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