Friday, 18 October 2013

... all I can think of ...

by Simone McPherson

The other morning I shot two Eastern Brown Snakes at the house with my single barrel shot gun.  My routine in the mornings are fairly standard.  Run around like a chook with its head chopped off till El Ranchero gives the announcement that we are “moving out” – that is to say we are leaving right ‘Now’.  There is no waiting on El Ranchero’s behalf.  There is no margin for me to finish one of my little chores that I do in the mornings … yeah you get the idea just the norm.

Well that morning I was not feeling the best – a trip into town and I had picked up something – ‘it’ no longer is just a cold with a cough and a runny nose – ‘they’ have mutated so much that you don’t really know what is going on or what is happening to your body. 

I had the morning off.  I was rather slow in getting my bits and pieces done.  El Ranchero had left early to meet the Dozer driver as we are organising a boundary fence and ... is in country that you slide down on your bottom and then you are on your hands and knees to climb back up to where you started from – in other words very steep!

 I have this thing were I empty out my old cooking oil over a bank between the house and where the dogs are chained up near the water tanks.  

While watering my little garden before it got too hot.  I could smell this strong smell it is rather hard to describe a pungent, mouldy, rotting meat smell.

I have smelled this ‘stench’ before on a number of times when I have passed or seen a snake.  Snakes here give off an odour, the odour can be foul.  So I kept an eye out, and though I was not expecting to see a snake let alone two and for them to be Eastern Brown Snakes, well! – now when one is put in a position where one has to be calm, cool and collective, especially when there is no one else around and one has to make a decision one goes into this place of total quietness – it is almost as if everything has been slowed down and all one can hear is the sound of one’s own breath, that is where I went.

Now Eastern Browns are fast-moving and aggressive snakes well known for their bad temper, along with other Browns, they are responsible for more deaths every year in Australia than any other group of snakes.  Not only is their venom ranked as the second most toxic of any land snake in the world (based on tests on mice), they thrive in populated areas, particularly on farms in rural areas.

If disturbed, the Eastern Browns raise their body off the ground, winding into an 'S' shape, mouth gaping open ready to strike. Its venom causes progressive paralysis and stops the blood from clotting, which may take many doses of anti-venom to reverse. Victims may collapse within a few minutes.  

So with that in mind you can understand how I was not going to have these snakes around our house and ...

 ... around our working dogs which we put a lot time and effort into with their training so I made a decision calmly and rationally.

You see for the past three weeks with this unseasonal hot weather that we have been having we have never seen so many snakes we see at least three a day.  And they are aggressive and very irritated for they are all looking for mates to reproduce with.   

Our local Gunsmith in town even ran out of cartridges for shot guns, which is what we use for snakes out here.

Today we went out to see how the Dozer driver was going in a far boundary paddock called ‘Creek’.   

 We had a few showers overnight which was fantastic after all that hot weather and they say more rain to follow – though looking outside it looks pretty clear.

We drove out to ‘Creek’ paddock with Maxi and ... 

... walked the dozed boundary line it’s another world down there in the creek country.  Of course the weather did change and we got stuck in a Thunderstorm complete with claps of lightning over-head.

Then on top of it all the Landrover dropped its 4W4 and we could not get out of where we were.  El Ranchero then had to walk back to the boundary fence and get the Dozer to pull us out.  Mean time Maxi and I are getting soaked. 

Now when there is thunder and lightning over head the last place to shelter is beneath a tree, we have a number of trees at our property that have been struck by lightning and blown to smithereens.  So there we are Maxi and I sitting in a clearing just away from the Landrover in the pouring rain as the lightening and the thunder breaks over us.  Maxi then suggests to me this is not a good place to be either so we agree to get back into the Landrover at least it is earthed if lighting hits us – the tyres I tell him, he just looks at me with water dripping off his nose.

Then we hear a crashing approaching through the trees – thank God it’s the Dozer driver with El Ranchero running behind him.   

 The Dozer driver comes down to us in the pouring rain wraps a chain around the Landrover and we are pulled up the hill ….. We thank the Dozer driver ... 

... I have another three gates to open and all I can think of is a warm shower and a hot cup of tea, ah! the life in the ‘Great Outdoors” would not change it for quids …