• Published 5th May 2018
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Alternate Beginnings: Year One - Doug Graves



Seven years before the events of MLP:FiM, a human appears in Equestria, meeting Applejack and other ponies of Ponyville.

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1 Introductions

February 17th, 993 Domina Solaria

Applejack hums to herself as she stops outside Barnyard Bargains, a jaunty rendition of the Winter Wrap Up theme. She drops off her small cart, the apple wood ready to be loaded with seeds for the coming planting. The large store looms eerily dark in the pre-dawn light, the door creaking open as she enters the otherwise deserted store. She knocks on one of the walls, a hesitant, "Howdy?" as she walks down to the flower aisle. She strains her eyes, not wanting to believe the prices of the seeds that she wants to buy. She does a quick calculation in her head, a heavy sigh as she realizes the profit on these wouldn't be nearly as much as she hoped. But, still worth the risk, and maybe it'll be enough to tide them over next winter.

The light from the back office flicks on, a bright glare forcing Applejack to squint as she looks again at the seeds. Shadows dance back and forth as a figure slowly walks through the doorway. He rustles around behind one of the counters, the clatter of bits bouncing against each other as he sets up the register. Applejack sighs, grabbing a large assortment of the flower seeds and making her way to the counter.

Filthy Rich grins as he turns on the light behind the counter, growing a little wider at the lack of clinking as Applejack pulls out her bag of bits. "Good morning, Applejack. How are things going down at Sweet Apple Acres?"

"Oh, things are going all right, Ah suppose." Applejack sighs, "Ugh. Even Ah don't believe mah self when Ah say that. Things... things ain't going so well, Filthy."

"Please, Applejack, call me Rich, I don't know how many times I need to remind you." Applejack gives a soft smile, quickly fading as she places the packets of seeds on the counter. "This all you'll be needing, then?"

"Eeyup. Twenty five bits for the lot, right?"

Filthy Rich's face purses into a frown, "Well, unfortunately, Applejack, the discount doesn't apply to the chrysanthemums, what with the increased demand." Applejack's face falls, the orange earth pony looking back at the sign in disbelief. But, there it is in black and white, right at the bottom, that the seeds she is hoping to make a quick bit off of aren't included in the sale. She glances back at her bag of bits, knowing that she doesn't have enough to cover the extra cost. Filthy Rich continues, an obvious look back at his office, "I'm sorry, Applejack, but you know, I'm always willing to make an exception under certain circumstances."

Applejack follows his gaze to the office, her face frowning, her eyes turning to a glare, "Ah know you are, Rich, but Ah ain't that broke." She gives another hard sigh, looking down at the bags. "Ah guess Ah'll just put a few of these back. Shame Ah won't have enough to cover the field, though."

Filthy Rich's face falls, "Now, Applejack, none of that." His voice lowers to a whisper, despite a lack of ponies in the store, "Look, I hate to see a pretty face like yours upset. I know it's been hard on you and your family, with what happened to your parents. Just, don't tell anypony else, and I'll cut you that discount on these. Deal?"

Applejack's face brightens, "You got yourself a deal, partner." She gives another glance to the papers on the table in the back office, "And Ah'm sorry that Ah can't take your offer. Granny would tan mah hide if Ah tried sellin' Sweet Apple Acres cider against her wishes, again."

Filthy Rich smiles, "Just keep in mind who your partners are, Applejack." He takes her bits, quickly counting them out and sliding her two back. Applejack stares at the two bits, her hoof going to push them back to him. He stops her with a shake of his head, "And I know Spoiled can be a little rough at times, but give it another thought, okay?"

Applejack gives Filthy Rich a small smile, her hoof shakily taking the two bits back. "Ah will, Rich. Thanks again, for everything." She gathers up the seed packets, closing her eyes and sighing to herself as she feels the stallion's eyes on her flanks. She puts a bit of a spring in her step as she walks out of the store, listening for his sigh as the lights around the counter click off, the slow hoofsteps as Filthy Rich returns to his office.

Applejack makes her way out of Barnyard Bargains, filling her small cart with the bags of seeds ready to be planted. These seeds, along with many of the other varieties waiting at the farm, will hopefully give the family enough of a buffer to keep going during next winter. She'll have to work extra hard, but if there is one thing that Applejack is good at, it's working hard.

Applejack rubs her growling stomach; she must be hungry, given that she is now standing outside of Sugarcube Corner. And the farm doesn't have much, not this early in the year. And what they did have would be better off sold at market, sadly enough. She sighs, unhitching herself from the cart and walking inside. The bell jingles as she walks in; fortunately, there is only one other pony in line this early in the morning. One less pony that might notice. She glances nervously at the prices, and when it is her turn she says, "Morning Ms. Swirl. Just two donuts please, um, whichever are the cheapest."

Chiffon Swirl gives her a knowing nod, turning to the kitchen and saying, "Pinkie? Two of the donut bags from the back!"

Pinkie salutes Ms. Swirl from the kitchen, disappearing and quickly returning with two small bags. She puts them on the counter, smiling at Applejack and saying, "Hey Applejack! Is your back itchy?" Applejack shakes her head, Pinkie exclaiming, "Oh, well, it should be! Good luck!" Pinkie Pie winks at Applejack before returning to the kitchen.

Ms. Swirl takes Applejack's bit pieces, smiling at her as Applejack looks at the bags and saying, "Don't worry, Applejack, they're just the day old donuts we don't have displayed. Don't worry about it!"

Applejack sighs, her objection to the baker's generosity overruled by her hungry stomach. She smiles, "Thanks, Ms. Swirl. Ah appreciate it. Ah'll see you around!" before scarfing down a few of the donuts in quick succession. She walks back outside, tossing the empty bags into the trash, and hitching herself back to her cart before heading back to Sweet Apple Acres.

Walking down the road is a pony Applejack has been hoping to see; she was too busy during the winter trying to get all the repairs that needed doing, and should have been done during the fall. She waves a hoof, saying "Hey Time Turner!" as she walks closer.

The tan earth pony turns, smiling and waving back, "Hey Applejack! How's the farm?"

Applejack smiles, "Oh, it's going very well, lots of new ground to be broken in! Ah was wondering, Time, are you busy Friday night?" She beams at him, her smile growing larger.

Time Turner's smile fades, "Oh, um, I'm sorry Applejack, but I'm going to be busy that night."

Applejack's keeps her expression positive, asking hopefully, "Oh. Would, uh, any other night work better for you?"

He shakes his head, "I'm sorry, Applejack, it's just that... well, you know..."

Applejack frowns, nodding her head, "Ah understand, Time, it's okay. Anyway, have a nice day." She waves, Time Turner returning an awkward wave back. Well, that was it. The last eligible earth pony bachelor in Ponyville. Well, except for Hayseed, but Applejack would rather ask one of her cousins to move to Ponyville than ask that particular stallion out. Maybe Apple Core would be interested in her; he had seemed at least moderately taken back at the last reunion. Or she could ask one of the single unicorns out, but Applejack shudders at just the thought of that; they have a tendency to solve anything with magic instead of hard work. The pegasi are out as well; none of them work on the fields during Winter Wrap Up, much less during the hot summer months when they could be making their own breeze.

And there is no way she is playing second fiddle, or especially third fiddle, to somepony like Spoiled Rich, even if Filthy is a bit of a catch. Most of the other stallions already in a herd that she might have considered have their own farms to worry about, and Applejack doesn't like the idea of working both on her farm and on her lead mare's farm. There is already too much to do on her own farm! Applejack sighs to herself; maybe some stallion will move to Ponyville, and she'll be able to snatch him up before Ms. Swirl. Though the baker will be able to spot him much earlier, given that Applejack will be working the fields and Ms. Swirl will be in the middle of Ponyville, at the best place to get snacks and baked goods. And if they didn't like Ms. Swirl, then the younger and more spry Pinkie Pie would have a shot before Applejack even knows there is somepony to ask.

She continues walking, lost in her thoughts as she makes her way down the road, her mane and tail styled in her characteristic ponytail and wearing a tan Stetson on her head. She barely notices as her tail occasionally bumps into the cart, shaking the cloth bags of seeds that are piled precariously high. Applejack takes a deep breath of the cool spring air. No need to dwell on what isn't going to be. Better to focus on the farm, and what still needs to be done. This soon after Winter Wrap Up traces of snow can still be seen dotting the landscape, but the full bloom of spring will be here very soon. The various critters have been woken up, the southern birds are back, and Applejack is again ready to get the farm running again.

As Applejack walks down the road, she notices the squelch of the wheels on the slightly muddy road, and the soft clop of her horseshoes along the ground. Normally, this close to the Everfree Forest, that shouldn't happen; she should at least hear the birds. Or rather, she should not be able to hear those sounds if everything is fine. The weather ponies that normally scout the area hadn’t mentioned anything weird going on, but as Applejack makes a quick glance to the skies she can’t see any pegasi in the air. Her ear pricks as she starts scanning the forest edge, looking for danger, when a strange creature sits up a short distance from her.

Applejack quickly comes to a halt, a few of the bags behind her toppling off the cart. One of her ears flicks back as she looks at the creature with a curious expression, cocking her head one way and then another. It had been laying on the ground, not quite hidden from view behind some of the foliage. It’s obviously... well, she hopes that means it's a he. Standing, at least a foot taller than her, probably two, but lanky, with four limbs and differently shaped hooves. Hopefully he is friendly, since he hasn’t pounced or made any sudden movements towards her; however, the lack of natural weapons makes her even more cautious. It's easy to figure out how a manticore is going to come after you, yet a cockatrice is worse to stumble upon. Her body is gearing up to turn and gallop away just in case; being strapped to the cart will make things difficult. Hopefully, this… scaleless dragon will just walk away, or-

The creature slowly moves one limb upwards, scratching the hair that covers the top of its head. “Hello?” he says in a baritone, deeper than any pony she knows besides Big Mac.

“Well, hello back at'cha!” the earth pony mare replies in a southern accent, relieved that it at least can speak. Her eyes quickly dart down to the fallen bags, then back to the creature. “Well, shoot. Ah sure didn’t expect a creature like ya to talk. Mah name’s Applejack.”

The creature shivers, glancing down at his bare chest and muttering, 'We speak the same language?' before looking between Applejack and her cart. He says in a louder voice, “I could say the same thing. My name’s Doug. Could, um, could you use a hand there?”

Applejack looks at Doug quizzically. “A hand? What’d ya mean by that?”

Doug slowly gets up from where he is sitting and cautiously walks over to her, picking up the bags of seeds and placing them back on the cart. “Just a little help. I’m… not from around here. Where is this?” Applejack shudders a little at the proximity to the strange creature, but so far everything doesn't seem too bad.

Applejack looks down the road she had been travelling along, trying to keep her voice steady, “Why, this here’s Sweet Apple Acres, home of the best apples in Equestria! Me and my brother Big Mac work here along with Granny Smith, and we’re always looking to make new friends. What do you do?”

He nods his head, a smile forcing its way across his face, “That sounds like a lot of fun, and hard work too. I work with planes. Or at least, I used to. I would tell them what to do or where to go.”

Applejack looks at him a little quizzically, “With plains, huh? Ah imagine they can be pretty stubborn to get to do what you want! Lot of hard work?” She starts walking along the road again, a quick head motion getting him to follow. At least he seems nice so far.

Doug shrugs, his pace quickly matching hers, “Well, knowing how to talk to them helps a lot. Sometimes they just need a little persuasion, you know?”

“Oh, don’t Ah know! There was this one time, the weather team let one of them storms get a little out of hoof, it ended up blowing half the southeast orchard over! Mac and Ah spent two days hauling stumps out of the ground. In fact, Ah had to help the poor colt take his yoke off when the day was done, give him a little rest, and he never takes that off!”

The pair enter one of the gates that leads to a newly plowed field. Doug can’t help but look around at the various trees, fields, and barns that dot the landscape. They continue walking back to one of the barns where Applejack gets herself out of the harness. Applejack takes bags of seeds out of the cart and lines them up along the field next to the plowed lines.

Applejack looks at Doug, a neutral expression on her face, “If'n you don’t mind me asking, what are you?”

Doug continues looking around, still fascinated by his surroundings, “I’m a human. Heard of them before?”

Applejack shakes her head as she continues getting the field ready. “Nope, can’t say that Ah have. You ever worked on a farm before?”

Doug stops looking around, shaking his head. “Never worked on a farm, but I’ve done a fair amount of gardening. I’d sure be grateful if I could help around here, though. What are you working on?”

Applejack gets the last bag in place before moving back to the barn and grabbing a second harness with her teeth. She deftly swings the strap around her barrel, locking it in place around her neck. She moves back to the field, picking up one of the bags and placing it in the sack on the harness. “Well, talk around town was how some of them Canterlot nobles were saying that chrysanthemums were going to be ‘in’ this year.” Applejack sits back to make air quotes with her hooves before grabbing some seeds and tossing them into a furrow. “So, Ah figured Ah’d give it a shot, see if we can’t make a couple extra bits on the side.”

Doug ponders the different words Applejack has been using, though her intent is obvious. “So, need any help then?" A hint of worry in his voice, "Can’t promise much, but I’ll give it my best.”

Applejack stops knocking the plowed dirt into the furrow. She takes a hard look at Doug, pursing her lips in a look of trepidation. “Well… for starters, how about you knock the dirt into the furrow after Ah’ve put the seeds in. Just follow me and we’ll see how it goes.”

“Sounds easy enough. You have a shovel or something?”

“A shovel? Just use your hoof, easy enough.” She demonstrates by continuing to work, knocking the dirt in as she goes. She quickly develops a pattern, swaying side to side as she alternates grabbing seeds, dropping them into the furrow, then bashing the plowed dirt into place and moving along. She looks over at Doug, who is walking over to the barn where he grabs a long, flat piece of wood. “What are you going to use that for?”

Doug walks back over, testing the broken piece of fence in his hand. “Well, I think I might get sore from bending over like that and working the whole field. We humans generally prefer to stay as upright as we can, makes things easier on our backs.”

Applejack snorts, going back to work. She has left a decent amount of dirt off to the side for Doug to get to work on. “Well, some folks might call it being afraid to get your hooves dirty.” She looks back to see Doug keeping up, though the exertion is showing on his face.

He remarks, “I might need to make some special tools for me to use. It’s working, but I could use a rake or special kind of plow, do this a little easier.”

The pair finish the field, chatting about the work that generally gets done on the farm. By the end Doug is slowing down, Applejack helping out with the dirt he has left behind. Doug takes several deep breaths as he makes his way to one of the many apple trees, sitting down in the shade, and wiping the sweat off his forehead with his hand. Applejack heads back to the main farmhouse; she returns a few minutes later, carrying several bottles of orange liquid. She hoofs one to Doug, who takes it, peering at the contents. He shrugs, opening the top and tests the liquid within. He quickly smiles, tilting the bottle back and draining the rest in one go.

Applejack stares at him incredulously, “Wow, nopony’s ever taken a liking to plain ole apple juice that quickly. You must've been mighty thirsty.” She smiles and slides him another bottle, which he takes, opening and drinking half the bottle before slowing down and starting to sip.

“All Ah can say is, you make one mighty fine apple-” he burps, then smirks at Applejack as she blushes. “Juice. I mean, you make some delicious juice here and I would love to sample every product you have.”

Applejack rolls her eyes at that and replies, “Well, you’ll just have to wait for dinner then." She sticks her head up, closing her eyes and smiling, "Ah’ll see about fixin' up a nice selection of what we here at Sweet Apple Acres have to offer.”

“You should market that; you know, pretty picture of your face smiling and saying, ‘It’s Applejack Approved!’ or something equally as corny.” Doug pauses, moving his hand to his chin. “Or would you say as apply? Ow!”

Doug’s hand massages his shoulder where Applejack slugged him. She gives him a mock glare, eyes twinkling, “Oh shucks, nopony would want to buy an apple just cause my face is on it. My friend Fluttershy, though, or maybe Big Mac if we really wanted to stoop for some eye candy.”

“Your brother? I can see the poster now,” - Doug raises his hands, making a rectangle with his fingers - “He’s standing up on a crate of apples, looking back at the camera. He’s holding himself up strongly, muscles bulging, saying, ‘Apple trees aren’t the only things with hard wood around here!’” Doug grins at his joke before giving a yelp, rubbing the same spot where Applejack has slugged him again. “Ow, you-”

Doug is cut off as Applejack wrestles him to the ground, both of them laughing. Applejack groans, “That’s mah brother you’re talking about!”

“Well, you brought him up first!”

Applejack pins Doug to the ground, glaring at him. “Well, be that as it may, Ah still don’t need images like that clopping around in my head next time Ah'm trying to sleep.” Doug gives up struggling, laboring to breath underneath Applejack. Applejack slowly gets up, brushing herself off, “Although, speaking of hard wood… how would you like to give apple buckin' a try?”

Doug looks at her like she’s lost her mind, “Mind explaining just a little more? I don’t think I heard you right.”

Applejack looks up at the apple tree they are sitting under. “Well, the apples on this tree are still a little immature, but they’ll work nicely for a demonstration. First, we’ll need some baskets. There should be some back behind the barn there.”

Doug looks at the barn, then at Applejack who continues waiting patiently at the tree. He gets up, muttering to himself, "This better not be going where I think it’s going," as he walks behind the barn. He sees stacks of baskets; he looks behind himself, half expecting to see Applejack there. When nothing happens, he grabs twelve baskets, as many as he can carry, and stumbles back to the tree where Applejack is waiting.

“Good, you brought enough of them. We’ll end up needing all of them, but you can wait till we pull the wagon around. Alright, we’ll need four baskets for this tree, arranged under the branches.”

Doug places the baskets he is carrying on the ground, grabbing four and laying them under the tree. Applejack shakes her head as she rearranges where the baskets are placed. She nods approvingly as she looks back at Doug. “Now that the baskets are placed you just rear up like somepony called your brother a no-good whorse and just…”

She lets loose a grunt as her front hooves dig into the ground, pushing back and bucking the tree. Apples cascade down, neatly landing into each of the arranged baskets. Doug stares at her with a look of wonder on his face. Applejack giggles at his stunned expression, “See, easy enough. Now, you give it try. First, we arrange the baskets where the apples are concentrated.”

“Uhm… I don’t think my legs work like that.”

“Well, you never know until you try.”

“Uh… alright. You think I need to get my hands on the ground or you think a kick like this will work?”

Doug demonstrates a side kick, aiming the heel of his foot at the tree. Applejack shrugs and says, “Ah never seen a pony buck a tree like that, but Ah ain’t seen many ponies like you, so give it a shot?”

Doug shrugs back to Applejack as he arranges the baskets under the next tree. “Well, can’t hurt to try, can it?”

Five seconds later, Doug is on the ground, eyes squeezed shut in pain as he holds his foot. One apple manages to shake itself loose, though it misses the basket and lands next to Doug’s head. Applejack walks over to him, trying her best to hold in her laughter. “Well, partner, it could have been worse.”

Doug groans in pain as he rolls over, looking at Applejack. “Oh ya?”

“Eeyup. That apple could have landed on your head.”

Doug merely groans again, rolling onto his back and closing his eyes. Applejack nuzzles him on the arm, a more serious look on her face. “Think y'all be alright?”

Doug smiles at the contact, but winces as he lightly squeezes his foot. “Ya, I’ll live. Don’t think I broke anything, just need to walk it off.”

“Alright then, Sugarcube. Don’t need nopony injuring themselves. How about, when you feel up to it, head back to the barn and get the rest of those baskets. Start arranging them, four per tree, while I go get the wagon.” She points with a hoof, a few rows of apple trees already laden with fruit, "You should be able to tell which ones are ready." She gives him another nuzzle before making her way to the main barn.

Doug slowly gets to his feet, gradually putting more weight on his injured foot. He gingerly walks to the back of the barn, looking over the stacks of baskets. He pauses, frowning at the labor ahead of him; he glances back to the front of the barn, spotting the one axle cart Applejack was using earlier. He walks over, grabs it and tests to see if he can drag it around. Happy with the result, he drags it behind the barn, loading the cart with about half of the baskets. Deciding against pushing himself with his hurt foot he drags his improvised rickshaw along the row of apple trees, stopping every other tree to unload baskets.

His first payload complete, he returns with his cart, seeing Applejack with her considerably larger two axle wagon. She whistles appreciably as she sees him returning, though blushes as she realizes how her wolf whistle might have been taken. Doug just smiles back at her and quickly waves, going back to dragging the cart. Applejack shakes her head and releases the wagon. She begins bucking the trees, reminding herself to show Doug how best to place the baskets.

Doug walks by again, dragging the other half of the baskets. He smiles at Applejack, then looks back to his destination. Applejack smiles back at him, her eyes drifting towards his flanks as he continues past her. Her smile grows a little wider as she bucks the next tree, thinking, ‘Ah finally found another pony Ah enjoy working alongside. Never thought that would happen.’

Applejack moves from tree to tree, showing Doug how best to place the baskets before bucking the tree. After a few more examples Doug moves ahead, re-positioning the baskets he had placed earlier. Applejack gives an approving nod as she continues working while Doug begins placing full baskets on the cart. She notes, his arms do make it a lot easier for him to get the full baskets onto the wagon, especially as they starts stacking up; same with picking up the dropped apples. They continue for nearly an hour before the wagon becomes too heavy for Doug to comfortably pull.

Applejack stops him as he starts making increasingly long trips from tree to wagon. “Woah there, partner. Ah’ll handle the wagon, you head back to the farmhouse. Ask Granny Smith about putting some lunch together. Oh, and say hello to Big Mac as well, let them both know you’ll be staying for dinner.”

Applejack bucks the next couple trees before moving the wagon closer and collecting the full baskets. She drags the wagon to one of the nearby barns before spotting Doug returning to their earlier spot, a basket full of food in his hand. She waves at him and he changes course, removing the makings of a picnic lunch. He spreads a cloth on the ground and places a hay sandwich, several carrots and compact oat bars in front of Applejack. For himself he pulls out a dried fruit salad, a hunk of bread and some slices of cheese. He places two bottles of juice in front of each of them before leaning up against one of the nearby trees.

Applejack takes her portion and moves it so she is able to lay next to him, brushing her side against his leg. They smile at each other before starting on their meals. Doug’s hand absentmindedly moves to Applejack’s side and begins scratching. Her breathing becomes a little heavier as Doug’s hand begins moving more purposefully, tracing the muscles under her coat.

Applejack moves her front hoof to Doug’s leg, tracing the calf muscle. She moves lower, getting to his ankle. She turns, looking at Doug and asks, “So, what do ya call these hooves here?” She motions to his feet, the soles looking a bit red and irritated, especially where he had kicked the tree.

“Those would be my feet." He motions at each part, "Toes on the end, then the foot, then ankle, then the shin bone and calf muscle. I think we’re pretty similar as you get higher than that.”

Applejack moves her hoof down to the foot, scooching forward to get in reach. Doug laughs as she moves her hoof up the front and down the back side. Applejack grins, “Ohh, looks like somepony is a mite ticklish.” She starts moving her hoof on the underside of his foot again, slower this time, enjoying the grin he is trying to suppress.

Doug’s knee jerks up as he tries to keep from bursting out laughing. Applejack pushes herself up and over his legs; she props herself up on her elbows and brings both hooves to bear against his feet, trying to tickle both of them.

Doug goes on the offensive, knowing he won’t be able to hold out for long. He starts scratching Applejack’s sides before moving towards her flanks. Following a particularly good tickle on Applejack’s part he bends his knees, pulling his body forward. He grimaces as he starts tickling Applejack’s forelegs and her barrel before moving to her head. He tries behind her ears and moves down her mane but is still unable to find a weak point. He bursts out laughing as he gives up, laying down and holding his arms tightly to his sides.

Applejack relents after a moment, turning and smirking at Doug. “Looks like Ah win again, partner.” She moves up and nuzzles his chest, eyes closing in contentment.

“So, what do you win, then?” Doug’s hand moves to Applejack’s mane and starts slowly stroking back and forth.

“Hmm. Might need to try some more of those ear scratches. After that we need to get back to work, can’t spend all our time foaling around.”

One of Doug’s hands moves to scratch Applejack’s ears while he finishes his lunch with the other. She coos softly, rubbing her head into his stomach. Doug gives a crestfallen sigh, keeping up the ear scratching as Applejack moans louder.

She takes a deep breath of the sweat from his exertion, beginning to glisten on his skin. Her nose crinkles as she tries to place the scent. It smells like a mix between the perfume that fancy stallions up in Manehatten wore and a hint of… she shudders as she comes to the realization; the stench of death. Or at least, the smell of blood and charred flesh. She isn’t sure why but she finds it oddly titillating, like a hint of danger. But, he just ate the bread, cheese, and apples. Can it really be that?

After a few minutes Applejack stops breathing as hard and Doug stops scratching. He gathers the leftover bottles and they both rise, moving to the barn where Doug helps unload the apples. They sort the apples in piles for sale in town, some to be crated, and others to be used in cooking. Applejack hauls the cooking apples back to the main house while Doug fills the cart with the empty baskets and the process begins anew.