Chapter 11: The Honey Bear in Noah's Ark
Cherry Hill Farm had seen many changes over the years and had produced many different cash crops. The family still sold cherries, apples, plums, and pears at a local market during the season but the current moneymakers for the farm are milk and honey.
The farm was full of orchards, clover fields, and rose hedges. The family had 37 goats and 24 hives of bees that enjoyed feeding on these treats very much.
Cherry Hill Farm's goat milk and fruit are so sweet that they are used in the making of a very famous gourmet ice cream. (I'll let you guess which one.)
Cherry Hill Honey is sold nation wide in health food stores. And the bee's wax is used for making candles in Pennsylvania.
The two cows and assorted chickens provide milk and eggs for the family and sheep were just pets. (Or so the family thought.) The Rose family was so used to the way the animals of Cherry Hill behaved that they really didn't know how special things were for them.
One person who does know that Cherry Hill is special is Jillian Rose. Jillian was not born in the shadow of Cherry Hill like all the other Roses. She was born in up state New York. She met Grandpa Steven in college.
Jillian thought Steven Rose was the biggest storyteller she had ever met. That was until she met Max. Max was a huge gray Manx cat Belle had sent along to college to watch out for Steven.
Jillian was visiting Steven's dorm room when she actually watched Max phone home. All 11 digits! She didn't doubt Steven again.
Jillian and Steven were married and returned to Cherry Hill. Together they took over Grandma Lissa's old family home North Side Farm. They worked very hard and turned it into one of the finest equestrian hospitals in the country.
Now Jillian and Steven were semi-retired, and their son Jordan had taken over the business.
Grandpa Steven said that being semi-retired meant you only work when you have to but, fortunately that wasn't very often.
These days Steven and Jillian spent most of their time training horses for child therapy programs. Now and then they would take calls just for fun.
Grandpa James and Lil Mike were taking a truckload of honey into town and had stopped by North Side to pick up a package that Jillian wanted mailed. Nanna Jillian came running out of the house.
"I just got a call from the zoo. One of the zebras is in a bad way and they need me to come in," she called.
"Well get your stuff and hop in. We're on our way," Grandpa James answered.
Jillian climbed in the front and her border collie Lady jumped in the back with Pal and Buddy. For the moment everyone forgot the honey.
The local zoo was the brainchild of an eccentric philanthropist. (That is a fancy way of saying the man was rich, generous and he didn't do things in the usual ways.)
When he inherited the large farm east of town he decided to create his own personal safari land. Over 25 years he created large enclosures and comfortable quarters for the animals he collected. There were two elephants, two giraffes, two rhinos, two lions, two tigers, in fact there were two of everything on his list.
In the center of it all he built himself a large comfortable house. He called his creation Noah Andrew's Memorial Animal Preserve. But the locals called it "Noah's Ark" for obvious reasons.
The zoo was left to the town when Noah Andrews died and the community took great pride in therir little ark.
When the Roses got to the zoo Jillian directed them to the little hospital. Inside were several sick animals. Nanna Jillian headed to the zebra's pen and Grandpa James offered to help.
Lil Mike and the guardians were left to explore. They checked out the monkeys and the lemurs. They watched the elephants spray water in the air. Pal walked proudly along the rail in front of the lions and tigers. They were heading over to the bears on a back trail when a zookeeper came out between the bear pens. When he saw the dogs and Pal He began yelling at Lil Mike.
"Hey, get those dogs out of here before they scare the animals. "Where are your parents?" he was new, young and bossy.
Lil Mike's feelings were hurt. She headed back toward the truck on the verge of tears.
At that very moment, back on the farm, Belle's tail began to itch. She was out of her house and flying about quickly. She couldn't see anything wrong.
"Bother," she muttered. Just then she saw Wink.
"Wink my tail is itching," she called.
"I haven't heard anything. I was coming to tell you that Jillian had an emergency at the zoo and Lil Mike and James went along." Wink wiggled his ears to listen for any more news.
"I need to get to the zoo," Belle didn't know how she knew. Her tail never told her these things. "Get the doves we need to fly."
Wink raced her to the farm. Within minutes Belle was flying, her tail itching all the way.
Meanwhile back at the zoo….
"The zookeeper wasn't the only grumpy one at the zoo. Three days before the zoo acquired a new resident. A very large Kodiak bear had been rescued by the zoo from an irreputable animal reserve. Grumpy bear didn't like his new home any better than the last one.
The new zookeeper finished cleaning the bears quarters and left. He left the gate open. Grumpy nosed about. Grumpy poked about. Grumpy got out.
The zookeeper was now in another area and didn't see it happening. Grumpy ambled along sniffing here and there and looking this way and that. He smelled DOG!
Grumpy hated dogs. At one time in his life dogs had been used to capture him. Grumpy growled. The Kodiak proceeded with care. He was frightened, in a new territory, and there were dogs about.
There are few animals as dangerous as frightened bears unless they are frightened and hungry bears. Grumpy was both. At just that moment he smelled HONEY.
Grumpy followed his nose.
Belle scratched her tail.
Lil Mike and her guardians climbed into the back of the truck. The zoo wasn't fun today. She began to play with some toys she had brought in her pockets in an attempt to cheer herself up. A breeze blew gently.
Lil Mike stood up to use the honey crates as a stage for her little ballerina doll. When suddenly a huge brown head appeared over the back of the truck. Lil Mike froze.
Buddy and Lady bared, bristled and braced. This bear was way too close.
The huge bear rose up on his hind legs and tossed his head. He was startled and confused.
Pal's ears went flat and his eyes squinted. If it was trouble this guy wanted he would have it.
Grumpy smelled the dogs, he smelled the cat, he smelled the child's fear, he smelled the HONEY. He swiped at a case of honey and knocked it to the ground with a crash. Honey spilled everywhere.
"Hey stop that!" Lil Mike yelled before she had time to think. Buddy grabbed her by the seat of her pants and pulled her back.
Grandpa James and two zookeepers came out of the hospital at the sound of the noise.
"Michal Hanna you stay down and don't move," he ordered
Lil Mike did what she was told.
The bear was startled again and now had food to defend. He roared and swiped the air with his claws.
Buddy and Lady got ready to jump. Pal was ready to leap at the signal. This bear was going to get it.
"EVERY BODY GET BACK NOW!" It was a command. It was Nanna Jillian. She was holding a dart gun and she was focused.
BANG! went the gun.
The bear jumped and roared.
All three guardians jumped and landed right in front of him. But they didn't need to worry; Grumpy Bear fell asleep right then and there.
"Are you ok honey?" Grandpa James ran to Lil Mike.
"A man yelled at me," Lil Mike said as her lower lip began to tremble. It didn't really make sense now but that is what she had wanted to tell him before.
Grandpa James held her tight and patted and rubbed the guardians in turn. "You guys sure do good work," he praised them.
"Hi baby girl," Nanna Jillian rubbed Lil Mike's hair. "You want to see the new baby?"
Lil Mike nodded her head but stayed in grandpa's arms.
The zebra was still in her pen but now a very tiny zebra was beside her trying to figure out how to use his funny long legs.
The guardians insisted on escorting the zookeepers while they took the bear back to his pen. They were not going to have any more trouble.
Belle flew in just as the keepers were latching the gate. She took one look at the mess and demanded an explanation. She was being a little unreasonable but she was tired and her tail had bugged her to distraction the whole trip.
She apologized later and praised them all over and over again.
So peace returned to Noah's Ark and there was a zookeeper looking for a new job.
Airabella Quick of Cherry Hill Farm is © copyright 2008 by Kimberlyn Kammerer. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted elsewhere without permission from the author/illustrator.