As we pass the two year mark of borrowing this particular farm, it’s worth taking a moment to look back at the jobs done, instead of the ones ahead of us. (One list is smaller than the other, admittedly, but let’s put that aside for the moment, shall we? Although, if I count the mowing and the vacuuming…perhaps not.)
We have become smarter about using the time we spend away to still move forward. While on our most recent and much needed lazy Queensland holiday (what a deliciously lovely place to be lazy), we had the circular driveway around our house and the bungalow resurfaced. This had the immediate effect of making it look like people other than 4WDers lived here, and really finished off the previous retaining wall and carpark work done earlier in the year (six truckloads of Tynong Quarry gravel will do that).
The garden beds thus framed properly, the roses decided to revive after their lengthy stay in the wheelbarrow and we have quite the rainbow of flowers at the front/back/side door. (As I’ve said previously – our house is around the wrong way and everyone comes in through the laundry door).
In addition, the outlook as we turn through the new driveway has been improved immensely with 300 metres of post and rail fencing around three neat pony paddocks. We put up these fences in the full gamut of Melbourne springtime weather – in the torrential downpour on Cup Day, we didn’t need to add water to the concrete. In the weeks before we went to Queensland, as we worked in the early spring heatwave we did need to add icypoles to the freezer.
With some perfect rows of bare timber just waiting for Hugo to chew, we had to patiently wait for the rails to cure before we could paint them (and at the same time hopefully make them unpalatable to troublesome ponies). Again, we relied on the goodness of friends willing to pick up a roller, while ostensibly celebrating my birthday. With the added incentive of 12 hour smoked pork and chicken wings, a few drinks and some tunes blaring across the paddock, we managed to paint all million kilometres of railing in one day – a huge achievement given it would have taken Dave and I about six weekends of lying on the grass and painting the underside of rails one and a half feet off the ground.
Add to this some judicious use of some recycled doors in the carport, and Dave spending the weekend with our stockpile of weatherboards, and we might have some form of usable carport.
In animal news, we’ve nursed a sick budgie back to health, after finding a thriving mouse nest in the aviary. After a quiet week in a warm, dark noodle box, the reunion between the two of them was actually quite touching.
The alpacas have had their annual dayspa treatment and have returned looking suitably ridiculous. Case in point…
If these things are not achievements, I don’t know what is (and that’s not even mentioning the rangehood and dishwasher installation, the huge pile of cleared tea trees, the removal of the snakey woodpile – more on that later, gates put across the driveway for the white house so the alpacas can graze in and on the garden, and the massive job of clearing the fallen gumtree in the alpaca yard…phew!)
Breaking news in the middle of this post was Rosie’s Adventures with Venomous Visitors.
We came home to find Rosie being all waggy and focused on a ‘thing’ in the grass. As we ventured closer to see what it was (‘please be a lizard, please be a lizard’) we were suitably horrified to realise it was a snake… a very still but very large snake. In the house yard, just metres from our back door. Rosie was all ‘Look, look, hey guys, have you seen what I’ve got, huh huh?’ and we were ‘GET AWAY FROM IT!’. I grabbed her and took both her and Wally inside to inspect them for bite marks (really not that easy at the best of times let alone on the world’s fluffiest dogs), while Dave circled warily around the snake trying to detect a sign of life. He threw something at it, and it flinched, but didn’t retreat, so it was clearly not in good shape although we couldn’t see what was wrong or if it was just unwell (and weren’t that keen on getting close enough for an intimate examination!)
Luckily, I’d taken notice of a post on a community Facebook group, where a snake catcher had shared his details, which I’d saved into my phone in the hope of never having to use it. But thankfully I had, so I scrolled through to ‘SNAKE GUY’ in my phone and gave him a call. He was around in about 10 minutes, the snake still hadn’t moved, and he picked her up easily with his hooked pole – the poor thing had very little fight in her, and was sporting a couple of serious Rosie-inflicted bites. He identified her easily as a tiger snake, and a fairly mature one, and cheerfully said ‘There’d be 50-60 on this property, you’d just usually never see them’! (*cue nightmares forever*)
He took her back to his place, where he attempted to save her (note that snakes are protected as native wildlife, so while many people prefer the shovel dispatch method, that is not the right thing to do, and further upsets our already fragile ecosystem). Her injuries were too severe however, and he had to euthanise her.
Meanwhile we were madly Googling snakebite symptoms in dogs and wondering why Rosie wasn’t showing any of them. How could she not have been bitten? She is fast but she’s also very reckless (see her dashing in front of the quadbike at 60kms/hr for some heart starting footage) and considering she thinks thunder is something to be attacked, her logic is sometimes wanting. But it seems she escaped unscathed.
For the record, snakebite is usually fairly fast acting on dogs and causes paralysis, vomiting, and bleeding. Rosie showed none of this, but if she’d even blinked strangely, we’d have hauled her off to emergency. As it was, we had a fairly sleepless night, what with the dog checking and the ‘what ifs’ of a venomous snake on our back doorstep, where our 5 year old little farmer plays. Rosie looked askance at us each time we woke her up, and in our confusion and gratitude we paid the snake guy twice but all is right in the world again now. Rosie protected her territory and family, and our newfound habit of stomping everywhere along the yard boundaries probably does very little to determine the further snakes but makes us feel a bit better.