It was a pleasant spring afternoon. The family (visiting for the week) were enjoying the cross-breeze and relaxing on the verandah in the early afternoon.
It was fun watching Michelle’s puppy, Gregorii, socialising with our three feral piglets. Though the pigs were small, they felt confident in their territory and numbers and thought it great sport to terrorise Gregorii. They would charge at her snorting and grunting before safely retreating under the house. Gregorii could only nudge her head under the bearers and stare and growl at them, waiting for them to come out and charge her again. It was great sport.
When Michelle noticed Gregorii’s barking turn a little frenetic she was quick to respond. Gregorii had discovered a big brown snake stretched out on the garden bed – another playmate!
“Oh my god! It’s a snake,” Michelle yelled and scooped up Gregorii and held her safe. The chit chat on the verandah came to an abrupt halt. Everyone jumped up to get a better view, peering into the garden from a safe distance.
I knew just what to do. Pulling on my gum boots I retrieved the rake and spade from the garden shed. Not that I’d ever killed a snake before, but I thought I could handle it.
Lauren stood bravely near the garden bed, watching the snake in case it moved. We needed to know where it went, if it did move. We needed to chop off its head. I wasn’t sure which weapon to use first but decided on the rake – if I wasn’t successful in piercing his neck with one of the teeth, I felt confident I could pin him down at least.
Everyone was quiet, watching. I suppose they assumed I was experienced at this sort of thing.
Careful to get my footing secure, I aimed the rake. I paused holding it like a sword ready to pierce. I wanted my thrust to be powerful and sure. I meant business. Taking a deep breath, I rammed the rake down on his head. His body reacted to my attack, writhing. The rake’s teeth had not pierced him but I managed to hold him pinned.
“Here, Lauren. Chop off his head with the spade while I hold him.” I passed the spade to her with my free hand and leaned my chest into the rake, holding him firm. Lauren lifted the spade and brought it down hard on his head. “I got him,” she said.
“Don’t let him go,” yelled Grandma her voice tort with anxiety. “Hold him, hold him! He mightn’t be dead yet.”
Lauren lifted the spade gingerly. Still holding him tight with the rake, we leaned forward to inspect the damage. To our horror, his head moved. It looked a bit flattened and he was stunned but he was definitely still alive!
“Here, you take the rake and hold him.” Lauren took over the rake, holding him pinned. His body was writhing fighting to get free. I took the spade and raised it ready to strike.
Something happened at that moment. I’m not quite sure what. I think the vision of our beautiful bull lying dead, a few weeks earlier filled my mind. Had a snake got him? I was pretty mad about that. Something came over me as I brought that spade down. I attacked yelling, “You f…ing mongrel! You f…ing mongrel!” I was as one possessed.
But no matter how many times or how hard I struck, I couldn’t get that head off. He was tough. We moved him onto a rock to provide some resistance to my strikes. That helped. We succeeded. His head was off. He was dead. All heaved a sigh of relief.
But he didn’t look dead. His torso continued to writhe and slither in graceful purpose. It was eerie. In fact it was quite horrifying. I kept looking back at the separated head. He must be dead. We must be safe. But his body just kept moving – creepy.
Sure that the intruder was dead, Grandma came into the garden. “Now look here,” she said to me, the experienced snake defender. “This is what I do.” Taking the spade from me, she demonstrated bringing the spade down on the snake’s neck in one sure strike. “Then you hold it there. Hold it there as long as you have to. Hold it until you are sure that it is dead.”
NOW I knew what to do. The adrenalin subsided, the excitement passed. The chit chat started up again.
We are never sure when the next visitor will pop up out of nowhere. My eyes scan the garden every day, just in case.