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Snakes, too close for comfort!

Grafton, Australia

Our work varied over the day, starting generally around 9am. It involved a fair amount of weeding and mulching, but generally in different gardens or areas around the farm, which kept it fairly interesting. We also planted out herbs and tumeric, filling and planting seedtrays, feeding the pigs, and, joy of joys, heading out into the forest to collect cow poo for fertliser! We'd pile into the ute and bumpy along the steep and often muddy and rocky tracks up to an area Hayden had decided would be rich pickings. Then, a wheelbarrow to each pair and a shovel apiece, we'd shovel and shovel until both the back of the ute and trailer attached were full. Then, usually, someone would have joy of riding back to the farm in the back of the ute, balancing on the pile of poo (and often with a dog lying luxuriously in the softness next to them)! One day, after days of rains, we had an exciting poo-quest when the ute starting rolling backwards down the hill, out of control! Luckily Hayden managed to prevent us ending up embedded in a tree, but that particular route to the poo was ruled out after that.

In addition to poo missions and planting, there were also SNAKES. Many of them. Our first day of work was pretty hot and sunny, and Hayden discovered two giant red-bellied black snakes under a pile of tin at the end of one of the gardens. These he, erm, encouraged away, with the help of the whippersnipper... they writhed off across the grass, towards the dam wall we had to cross every day to our cabin! I ventured to ask whether snakes were active at night, but luckily got an answer in the negative. Hayden also had to kill a snake which wouldn't leave the garden, because it would pose too much of a risk to everyone working in there.
But our best/most exciting/terrifying (take your pick) snake encounter happened after work. Nik and I had just taken our generator-powered showers at the bunkhouse, and he'd left before me to head back to cabin. As I came down the slope towards the dam he was standing there on the dam wall, waving slightly at me. Not understanding I approached close, only to spot what he was transfixed by - two blacksnakes (the ones from earlier) coiled round each other in a hynoptic mating dance (we only found this out later after descrbing it to Hayden - we half-thought they were fighting). It was amazing but creepy... and I crept around them, giving them a very wide berth, to join Nik at a safe distance on the dam wall. We watched them for a while - then suddenly they uncoiled and shot with that surprising speed snakes have in a direction that looked worryingly like 'towards us'. I, being the level-headed and calm person that I am, promptly broke away to run across the dam wall to our cabin - only to be pulled up short by the sight of ANOTHER blacksnake, right in front of me - less than a metre away! Luckily for me it jerked in fear as I pulled up in horror, and shot off away from me, into the dam. I'd nearly stepped on a red-bellied blacksnake, and the other snakes hadn't even come towards us in the end! ...The adrenaline kept pumping for a while after that, I'll say.

And then Hayden, after being told excitedly by us that at least two of the snakes had gone for a swim (yes, they swim) in the dam, promptly stripped to his swimmers and dived in for his planned afternoon swim. "The ripples I cause'll scare them off" ... Aussies.

permalink written by  LizIsHere on October 10, 2010 from Grafton, Australia
from the travel blog: New Zealand & Australia 2010
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