A New Plan
Cleanup didn’t take long. Soon, Petunia was in the kitchen preparing
dinner. With a few changes, the lunch she made earlier could be used.
Meanwhile, Finn sat on the back porch and stared at the mud hole. He
wondered what he could have done differently.
Around 6 bongs, Bartholomew flew over the cottage, circled, and landed
near the garden.
He walked over to Finn. “Hello, Finn. I heard you had a setback with
your water project. I’m sorry. However, I don’t think I have ever seen a
project that didn’t require some changes after it started. Your idea to
bring water to the garden from the pond was brilliant.”
Finn looked up and said, “ Do you really think so, sir?”
“Absolutely,” said Bartholomew. “The plan just needs some modifying.”
Finn smiled. “Thank you, sir. “What can we do?”
He was starting to feel a little better.
“First, let’s go have dinner, and we can talk about it,” Bartholomew
Bartholomew put his wing around Finn, and they walked inside together.
After they sat down for dinner, Finn apologised to Petunia.
“Mrs. Porcupine, I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused you,” he said.
“Thank you, Finn. Things don’t always happen the way we plan. I know
your intentions were good,” she responded graciously.
“Finn had a good idea,” said Bartholomew. “Correction! He had two good
ideas. I believe, if we combine them with some modifications, you will
have water flowing to your garden. With your permission, of course.”
Petunia had a lot of confidence in Bartholomew and said, “That would be
wonderful, thank you.”
“Finn’s first idea was to dig a trench, and his second idea was to dig a
tunnel. A tunnel is just a covered trench. I will explain. First, we can
dig a narrow trench about two feet deep from the pond to the garden.
Then, we will mount a hand-pump on your trough. A small pipe can be run
in the trench from the pump to the pond. After everything is connected
and tested, the trench can be covered. Then, you will be able to pump
water from the pond into the trough,” Bartholomew explained.
“That plan sounds better and easier than mine, but where will we get the
pipe and pump?” asked Finn.
“I will ask the swans to locate the equipment, although I don’t know how
long it will take them. I’ll visit on my way home this evening,” said
Bartholomew. “You should continue to supervise the construction. It’s
still your project.”
Finn was pleased with the new plan and happy that he would still play an
They finished dinner and walked out to the pond. The sun was setting,
and it was a beautiful evening. Petunia felt much better now that
Bartholomew was involved.
“How’s the boat project coming along?” she enquired.
“Very well, thank you. We are on schedule, and there have been no major
problems, but a lot remains to be done,” he answered.
“Well, I must leave and visit the swans. It was nice seeing you again
After everyone said goodbye, Bartholomew flew across the pond to meet
with the swans. Finn began to walk home, and Petunia returned to her
cottage. She placed more sesame seeds for the ants and settled down with
some knitting in the parlour.
The swans lived in a medium-sized cottage in middle of the island. They
had cleared a large area around the cottage so that they had plenty of
landing and takeoff room for their frequent flights. This was also the
location of the island weather flag pole.
At the risk of repeating myself, the swans’ main responsibilities were
to locate items needed in Ballymore by the residents. They have found
special foods, cloth, tools, and more. The list was practically endless.
Sometimes they flew as far as fifty miles to obtain what was needed. It
was not known exactly how they got these various items. Most of what
they brought back was not new, so perhaps they visited dumps frequently.
The food, of course, was fresh. Only Bartholomew knew some of the
details of their trips.
Over the years, the swans have helped Bartholomew with a number of
community projects. They have become close friends and would be pleased
with his unexpected visit.
Stoddard was in the front yard, modifying a halter, when the owl landed
“Hi, Bart, good to see you again. What brings you here this grand
evening?” asked Stoddard.
“Good to see you also,” replied Bartholomew. “I came to talk with you
and Sean about an interesting procurement project.”
Stoddard laughed and said, “All of your procurement projects are
interesting. Sean has gone on a quick egg hunt. At least, I hope it’s
quick. What’s your project about?”
“We are building a water distribution system at Petunia’s cottage. We
need about two hundred feet of one-inch diameter pipe. Each section of
pipe can be as long as you can carry, but one section should be two feet
long. We need connectors for each section and four elbows. We also need
a small hand-pump to which the pipe will connect. With those parts, we
can build a system to pump water from the pond to Petunia’s garden. It
could be a difficult hunt, but I have a couple of ideas that should make
your search easier.” (If you are wondering, the swans are able to
“Very interesting,” said Stoddard. “We can start looking tomorrow
“That would be wonderful,” said Bartholomew, and he told Stoddard his
ideas about where to locate everything.
“I’m sorry, but I must be going now,” said Bartholomew after they had
discussed all of the details.
“The boat is taking most of my time, and there is still a lot to do.
Please say hello to Sean for me. I’m sorry I missed him. Oh, when you
get the parts, please deliver them to Petunia’s cottage, and send me a
message. I really appreciate your help, as always.”
“Yes. We’ll be most happy to. See you again soon, I hope,” Stoddard
After a quick hug Bartholomew flew off to his home. He spent the rest of
the evening working on boat construction details.
When Petunia went to check on her sesame seeds the following morning,
the result was the same. The ants had taken the seeds and left the dish
turned right-side up. There was an arrangement, she believed.
Following breakfast and cleaning, today would be another day in the
garden. There were a lot of strawberries ready to be picked. She didn’t
know when the swans would find the pipe and pump, so she might as well
continue her normal routine. Seely arrived to open the bakery counter,
and Petunia went out to the garden. It seemed as if the strawberry
plants had grown another two inches overnight. She hoped the residents
would like strawberry pie this year.
She had been picking strawberries for about one-half hour when she
thought she noticed some movement out of the corner of her right eye.
She turned and looked but didn’t see anything immediately. Then, about
ten feet away at the base of a strawberry plant, she noticed a large
gathering of ants. That was curious, she thought and continued to watch.
The ant gathering broke into two smaller groups. The first group of
about twenty-five began to climb the plant. Ants don’t eat strawberries.
What are they up to? What are they up to, indeed?
Resting on the top leaf were two bugs enjoying their breakfast of
strawberry leaves. As the ants climbed higher, the bugs quickly dropped
breakfast and jumped off of the plant. The ants were now on every leaf.
The second group of ants took over the next plant in the same way. More
ants appeared, split into groups of about twenty-five, and each group
climbed a plant. Any bugs, who were on a plant, quickly jumped for their
lives or flew away. Petunia could not believe what she was seeing and
was flabbergasted. It took a while, but eventually the ants were
protecting about a hundred plants. After bugs were driven from a plant,
most ants left that plant. Two remained as guards. She was watching a
highly trained and effective army in action. If the weasels had been
there, they would have been very impressed.
Petunia was amazed. She had a new weapon against the bugs. Apparently,
it was the ants’ way of saying thank you for the sesame seeds. She
wanted to hug each one of them, but that wasn’t possible. At least she
would double the amount of seeds she left each evening. She would also
be more careful where she stepped. This would be a day to remember, and
it wasn’t over yet. After she retired, the swans delivered about twenty
pieces of small pipe, fittings, elbows, and a pump. They set everything
next to the trough.
Early the next day, Britt Bluebird flew to Bartholomew’s treehouse and
informed him of the late-night delivery. He was delighted that the swans
had been so successful, so quickly. He then sent messages to Finn,
Melrose and Merwin asking them to meet him at Petunia’s at 10 bongs.
Everyone converged upon the cottage at the requested time. Finn brought
with him Colin, Conner and Craig Chipmunk. They were also good diggers.
Petunia was pleased to see everyone and served a light breakfast. She
told them about the ants, and they were as amazed as she.
After breakfast, plan B of the water project began. Bartholomew marked a
line from the pond to the trough. Finn had the moles and chipmunks begin
digging the new two-foot deep trench. Finn, again, was the dirt mover.
Digging the trench proved to be much easier than the tunnel. By late
afternoon it was complete, and water from the pond ran up the trench
about half way to the trough.
While the trench was being dug, Bartholomew worked on the water pump. It
was old and rusty and needed attention. Happily, Petunia had a lot of
odds and ends in her storage shed. Bartholomew used some sandpaper and
oil to free up the pump’s moving parts. Then, he bolted it securely to
the trough. Its spigot pointed inward. The pump was ready.
The next step was pipe assembly. The animals attached a short section of
vertical pipe to the pump inlet. Then, they connected about eighty feet
of pipe sections and rolled the finished piece into the trench. One end
was joined to the pipe that came from the pump. They connected another
eighty foot length of pipe and rolled it into the water-filled part of
the trench. Where it entered the pond, it was two feet underwater.
Finally, the two long pipes were joined together. Done!
The new water system was now ready for testing. Everyone gathered at the
Bartholomew said, “Petunia, would you like the honour of turning on the
first water distribution system in Ballymore?”
“Thank you, but I think Finn should have that honour,” she said.
The pump lever was too high for Finn to reach, so Bartholomew placed a
short stool next to the pump. Finn smiled and jumped up onto it.
“Just keep pumping the lever up and down until water comes out. It might
take a while,” said Bartholomew.
Finn began pumping the lever. Nothing happened for about thirty seconds.
Then, some gurgling was heard. Then, some spurts of water shot from the
spigot. Finally, a strong flow of cool water gloriously gushed from the spigot and
splashed into the trough. Initially, there was some mud in the water,
but it quickly cleared. The animals cheered. The mood was jubilant. The
project was a wonderful success.
After a few minutes of congratulations, Bartholomew said that they
needed to make sure there were no leaks. They found none, and the trench
was quickly filled. Bartholomew placed some markers along it in case
repairs were needed in the future.
Petunia invited everyone in for a celebration dinner. The satisfied
animals left at sunset with full stomachs.
Before she went to bed, Petunia went back to the pump and filled the
trough to overflowing. She laughed with glee. She felt like a child
again as the fresh, clear water splashed over the edges.