A few moons later, Applejack sat at her kitchen table, head propped up on one hoof, staring blankly at nothing on the wall in front of her. It just didn’t make no gosh darned sense! Ponies had been buying apples from Sweet Apple Acres for generations without complaint, but all of a sudden they were clamouring for an update.
“Ah jus’ don’t get it,” she said, not taking her eyes off their spot on the empty wall, but knowing Big Mac and Apple Bloom were listening, sitting at either end of the table. “Ev’ry tahme Ah mention that Aria don’t even grow the same stuff we do, ponies jus’ start goin’ on about how great she is at farmin.’”
As if the Apples didn’t know everything there was to know about it after doing it the same way for so many years.
“An’ how can ahballs be sellin’ more than apples?” she asked more passionately, now looking to her family for answers, waving her hooves around something fierce. “Ah mean, ponies have ta eat, rah’t?” Eyeballs might be the latest fashion thing, but Rarity had been selling fancy dresses in Ponyville for years, and that had never given the Apples business troubles. “And they can eat apples, but they sure can’t eat ahba–”
She’d been so wrapped up in worrying about the farm and pondering why apples weren’t selling that she’d missed the other thing unusual, but suddenly she saw it.
“CONSARN IT, BIG MCINTOSH, DIDN’T YOU HAVE GREEN AHYES THIS MORNIN’?”
Big McIntosh hung his head, closing his eyes whatever colour they now were, and shied away from her shouting.
Applejack stared at him in disbelief. Her own brother, selling them out like that? She looked across at Apple Bloom to share a confounded head shake with her, but the expression greeting her was sad, rather than angry or confused.
“Ya think Aria really meant it when she offered to buy us out, sis?” Apple Bloom’s shoulders slumped, and it hurt something awful for Applejack to see her precious little sister so resigned to the way things were going.
Maybe it was time to think about Aria’s offer, if even Big McIntosh, the least fashion-caring pony in Equestria, and an Apple to the core, had gone out and bought some new eyes.
“Ah don’t rah’tly know,” Applejack replied, thinking back to her encounter. “She weren’t exactly welcomin’ when Ah dropped by her farm, but then she is an evil sahren, so maybe that’s the closest she gets ta bein’ friendly? Ah mean, unless y’ure Starlahght Glimmer wearin’ socks an’ all rubbed up with poison joke so y’ur horn turns into a cact–”
Applejack realised who she was talking to and cut herself off sharply, blushing as red as her no-good brother’s coat. She’d never even come close to letting something slip like that in front of Apple Bloom before; the whole situation must have been screwing with her head.
“Ah don’t think her offer was meant to be mean-spirited or nothin,’ try’n’a kick us when we’re down,” she continued, trying not to get so worked up again, “an’ we do have a lot a’ good farmland that mah’t be just what she needs.”
Guess it was to be expected Applejack would be taking it hard, with how she’d worked her whole life on the farm, to have to sell it to somepony else. Not even somepony, in fact. But she had to give Aria her dues: it might be the competition that was driving Sweet Apple Acres out of business, but also perhaps the only lifeline they had.
“Maybe we should hear what she has ta say. See if we can still keep some a’ the ol’ Apple spirit about the place even under new ownership. An’ Ah’m sure if she’s gettin’ more land, she’ll need more help runnin’ the place, and ev’rypony knows there ain’t no one in Equestria knows more ‘bout farmin’ than we do.”