There was some commotion early this morning and I soon learned that the Machinist had almost trodden on a mauled possum as he passed under the arbour on his way to the workshop. He put the cold, stiffened creature into a plastic bag and carted it off to the garbage bin... where yesterday's dead hen lay - also in a plastic bag. We weren't sure what caused the death of the hen, but the Machinist was certain that one (or both) of our cats had caused the demise of the possum. The cats prowess, followed by the Dutch courage of our puppies...
The girls and I spent the day on the continuation of Project Sort Barn. Uncovering, moving, carting rubbish to the utility, wheeling other items to their rightful places, establishing a 'U' shaped set of shelving within the barn - that we intend fitting out with containers of 'electrics', 'plumbing', 'hoses', 'motors', 'garden', 'hardware' etc, - seeing as we now have the two properties to upkeep. As the barn grew emptier, I would rake the 'moving out' mess and place it in the dustbins. The only thing left was to move a pack of corrugated iron sheets to another location in the garden.
Emma stood with the sturdy rake, lifting each sheet, while Sarah, with gloved hands, slid the sheets out of the barn, one by one. I went to ask the Machinist where exactly he would like us to put the galvanised sheets, and when I returned to the barn, the girls were excitedly debating about something Sarah had seen - which had retreated under the last sheet. Emma slammed the rake on to the metal, and several frogs jumped out from under it. Relieved that they were only frogs, Emma proceeded to lift using the rake.
Then we saw it - despite 'it' being in a state of semi-hibernation, a Tiger snake lifted its head and reared up. That's when the action began...
I just stood outside the barn, screaming. I surprised myself at the sheer fear in my voice. Sarah retreated down the garden path shouting "Dad! Dad!". When she got to the workshop door, she began doing a jig (later to be called "the Snake jig") while shouting "there's a snake in the barn. A snake!" Emma had moved swiftly backwards, in her calm manner, and stood ready for battle. I had screamed some more, and Emma was trying to calm me down. "It's all-right mum, I'm watching it..." I saw the Machinist slowly walking towards me. Slowly. Why was he walking so slowly?
"Where is it?" he asked.
"Over there, near the wall. Can't you see it?"
"Let me just get my eyes focussed.."
Why was he taking so long?
"Do you want me to pin it, Dad?", Emma asked.
"No, it's fine. You just stand back..."
"Have you killed it yet?", I asked hysterically
"Helen, calm down. I've got it."
"Why is it still moving then?"
"They always move like this when you whack them. It's a nerve reaction. I'm going to burn it. That's what they do in Africa. It sends off a scent and warns the others to keep away..."
And with that, the Tiger snake became Guy Fawkes.
That'll teach 'em to come on our property. Threatening my family and pets. Hummmph.