26 August 2022

Hisstory looks set to repeat itself down on the farm, dog-gone it

| Sally Hopman
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Slee;ing dog

You want me to do what? Go on snake patrol this early? Sorry, you’re going to have to wait. I’m writing to Lassie. Or, if you keep this sort of harassment up, the RSPCA. Photo: Sally Hopman.

Someone’s starting vicious rumours. Like seriously dangerous rumours that could mean the end for people, even those of us all Ugged up.

There’s been a snake sighting. Yes, it’s still August and, yes, it’s still snowing somewhere. I can feel it through the Ugg. And yes, it was a Brown. The ones that kill you.

I heard one was spotted in a Yass park by the river. The park actually became the river after the sort of rain we’ve been having, but that’s no excuse. It was seen near where dogs and humans wander, which is a bit of a worry.

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Someone posted news of its premature arrival on one of those online community noticeboards that are mostly used to complain about something – the lack of a healthy potato scallop, Woollies delivering the wrong perishables – but that’s mostly in summer – or why the potholes are still, well, potholes.

The thing is, I’m not ready for them. Every year at least one – but usually most of its extended family – come to my place to slither. Or they rise from somewhere in the paddock I’ve walked over a million times.

They usually appear under the Hills Hoist, sliding about like they own the place, which they actually do because on first sighting, I decide immediately to move to the highest-rise apartment in the land.

Dog in bed

Sorry no. All your talk about snakes has put me off my game. I’ve taken to my bed. Until next winter. Thank you and good night. Love, your ex-snake-hunting killer dog, Mickey. Photo: Sally Hopman.

I can deal with summer because you know they’re going to be here. I know to wear socks on socks on socks under boots with spiky bits. I also carry an AK-47 with me at all times, just in case. OK, that last bit’s a lie, but only because you have no photos – and because being the Queen of Clumsy, if I had one, there would likely only be bits of me left, and probably not the bits that can type.

Towards the end of last summer, I saw lots of snakes but they took off because they’ve probably heard about my killer, 147-year-old blind dog, Mickey, who can spot a reptile from, well, somewhere very deep in his sleep.

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But the irony is that I pretend to be brave when I see one because I worry that Mickey will accidentally tread on it. Not really very likely considering Mickey doesn’t move far from said sleeping areas to his food bowl.

But there was one snake last year I saw way too often. A mother of a thing, probably about a kilometre long and with a face that seriously needed to be permanently pickled. Not unlike mine every time I saw it.

I came out with an armful of washing basket one morning to see it a couple of metres away, lying in the sun. It looked asleep but maybe that was just wishful thinking. Mine and his.

Brown snake at Sally's property

No snakes were harmed in the taking of this photograph. Photo: Sally Hopman.

I quickly rang a friend who said, what every snake rescuer/wildlife carer/decent human being says when you report a snake sighting: “don’t worry, it’s just passing through”. I pray I never end up in that town called Passing Through.

Then he said the second thing people always say: “don’t take your eyes off it till I get there”.

I only took my eyes off it long enough to wipe the dust his ute had sprayed across the yard, me and almost everything else. I turned back and yes, of course, the snake had gone. We looked for ages, trying to find this thing which was as long as a hose but as wide as a front-end loader. OK, maybe not exactly that big, but close.

Then I heard a word, a rather loud and even ruder word, emanating from the other side of the back fence. Then a louder version of that word. Then a gunshot.

Yes, I know you’re not supposed to kill them, but when they look like they’re coming towards you or yours, there’s no option.

So, I’m thinking that this slimy bloke has now spread the word from above about What We Did Last Summer and has told his relatives I’d welcome their early arrival. If nothing else works, sounds like a great title for a movie. Might watch it on the plane to wherever it’s just becoming winter.

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