“Survived potential dangers…”
I’d survived the mustering camp. Survived all the potential dangers posed by snakes, crocodiles, feral cattle, and water buffalo. I’d even survived booger bread at dinner that first evening. It felt so good to be safely inside the house back at the homestead where I could sleep in a bed instead of a swag on the ground.
Although I’d be alone at the house, I’d brought my Australian cattle dog with me – a Blue Heeler – to keep me company. The men made such fun of the name I gave her – Fifi. But she was the only female dog of the five we had. So what if her name sounded a bit silly? It was feminine. And she was my dog. Besides, Fifi seemed to like her name.
A couple of days after we returned home, Fifi was barking like crazy. I figured she was probably at a stand-off with my brother-in-law’s fighting rooster. He had beautiful feathers and a red crest. We had a dozen hens, but as the only male, he was king of the flock. And he knew it. Without another male to spar with, maybe he felt his oats and he’d take after people. First, he started by pecking at people’s ankles. As time went by, he’d started flying up and pecking people on the back of the neck. I had managed to avoid him, so I had not become one of his victims. Not yet anyway.
Fifi’s barking continued, so I grabbed a broom to protect her. Without the men at the homestead for the rooster to harass, he was probably fighting my dog.
Outside, I stared at what Fifi had found. A snake! Not just any snake. It was a brown one and it looked like a King Brown, one of the most deadly in Australia. I ran inside for the pistol. When I returned, it had coiled up, probably ready to strike at Fifi. I pulled the trigger, hitting it. It started to slither away. Two more shots and the snake seemed dead. Just to make sure, I shot it again.
Taking a long pole, I spread the snake out, maneuvering from a safe distance. It was the longest snake I’ve ever seen. Growing up in Mexico, I was accustomed to rattle snakes. But this one was much longer. I started shaking, thinking what could have happened. Pacing out steps, I was shocked it was roughly seven feet in length.
The good thing is that it had not bitten Fifi.
The bad thing is that the safety of the homestead evaporated. And I thought I’d left the dangers of serpents behind at the muster camp!
When the men returned three days later, they saw the snake’s remains. One of them said it was definitely a King Brown. By now, I felt I’d been fully initiated into life in the Outback.
Next installment: More Adventures at the Homestead
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This blog is based on my recollections of my life in Australia many years ago. My own photographs of Australia are not only limited, they are old 35mm film in dismal condition. To make the series more appealing to the reader, I supplement with photographs that are similar to the experiences and locations I’ve described in this series. I’m often dependent on pictures from the public domain, Visual Hunt, and Creative Commons. All photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner.
Dog: Photographer Unknown/Australian Cattle Dog Breed Pictures/Getty Images
King Brown snake and rooster: Public Domain
My Life in Australia blog – Installment 7 – brought to you by Tortuga Publishing, LLC