Snakes and Adders
While firearms are a must on a farm, sometimes a gun just won't do the job. We've all heard about the problemof a snake in the house, but what about a snake in the water tank? Or to be more precise, a poisonous tigersnake lurking in your bathroom's water supply.
Snakes may well be a protected species in Australia, but by cripes humans are a bit more protected in mybook. Bushies will leave the poor critters alone in the wild, after all they all have a right to live. But when theydecide to take up residence in a house full of humans, the place ain't big enough for the both of them.
My mate Jim had one such house guest, a lively tiger swimming about in his water tank, apparently cooling offin the hot Queensland sun. One of his kids had spied the snake as it disappeared through the filler hole on top.Unfortunately once it had made splashdown there was no way for it to get out. Except through the gravity–fed tapin the bathroom, of course.
This posed a few problems. The tank was too old to take the weight of someone standing on it. Perched on arotting wooden stand eight feet high, with the top of the tank just below the eaves of the highset house, therewas no way to see inside the tank except from the roof itself. This would be exciting, as it was angled at aboutthirty five degrees.
Jim made the dangerous climb, clinging to the guttering until he was directly above the tank. From here hecould peer through the inlet hole below the rainwater downpipe to see a swimming tiger snake of about fourfeet. Small enough to get through the plumbing.
His first attempt was to shoot it with an old Chinese air rifle his son had lying around. But with poor light, a targetthat refused to sit still and having to shoot one–handed while he clung on to the guttering made this nigh onimpossible. Step two called for a patsy, and guess who happened to be handy?
Armed with a hoe (not the rotary kind) I stood waiting on the ground below the tank. Jim had decided to fish thesnake out of the tank with a long length of wire hooked on the end, to drop it to the ground for swift despatch bythe deadly team of myself and a farming implement. Laughingly now known as the "Hoe Down" manoeuvre, inhindsight I reckon it was pretty dumb.
Everything went to plan. Jim snared the snake, shouted a warning and dropped it to the ground. Before the poorbugger had a chance to react I had his head pinned under the hoe blade. He would have died instantly from theblow, but this doesn't stop you from continuing to push like a madman just in case.
What I hadn't counted on was Ted. Ted was Jim's bull terrier, a pig dog with a big heart but a little short oncommon sense. Even for a bully. He decided to help kill the snake. Which involved grabbing its tail in its mouthand running off in the opposite direction. This had all the makings of a winning entry in Funniest Home Videos.Luckily for me we didn't have a video.
It all happened so quickly. I screamed at Ted, he must have taken it for encouragement as he pulled all theharder, arcing around as the snake took up the slack and wrapped around my left ankle. This was unlucky as Ihad made every attempt to have both feet off the ground at this point; gravity can be a bummer sometimes. Jimthought all this was most amusing until he almost lost hold of the guttering.
Eventually Ted won the tug of war, the snake's head whipped around my ankle and he ran off to claim his "kill".Leaving me unharmed physically but almost in need of a change of underwear.
That was not the only episode where Jim caused some consternation about a snake. I wasn't around when ithappened, but his neighbour had been complaining of seeing a snake's head appear out of one of the vents inthe cabin of his Toyota Landcruiser on his way into town. He thought it was a brownish colour, which was notreassuring. King Browns are deadly, and the coppery–coloured Taipans are so poisonous they say you shouldjust sit down and light your last cigarette once you've been bitten.
So he decided to take a look under the dash and try to coax the slippery little sod out of there. Jim was standingidly by watching while his neighbour climbed in and poked about under the instrument panel. An evil thoughtpresented itself as he noticed an aerosol can of engine start sitting on the garage floor.
It must have been funny seeing a bloke 6'3" tall trying to move every limb on his body in every direction at oncewhile lying in the confined floor space of a Landcruiser's cockpit. Jim, his mate, had sneaked behind him, putthe can of engine start beside his ear and hit the button, the resulting "ssssssss" making his head ricochet offgear knobs, levers and steering wheel like a pinball.
Funny it was, the next week I saw him he was driving a new Cruiser. Must have traded in the old one...
About the author:
I am a 34 year old gun dealer living in Brisbane, Australia. I have writtennumerous stories and reviews over the past six years, mainly for localshooting magazines. For eight years I lived in country Queensland where Ifirst encountered bushies telling real Aussie yarns. There's a larrikanelement still living out there that seems to have been killed off in thecities. I'd take a night under the stars around a campfire swappingoutrageous stories any day over dinner in front of the television. Butthat's progress.
These days I live with my family and Floyd, the only bird in my life, awhite cockatoo. She's affectionate enough, but doesn't have much of avocabulary. Doesn't bite either, but that's another story.
I'm available for any suitable freelance work. You can find further storieson my web site at http://www.potfire.com.au as well as my contact details.
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