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This tale takes place about fifty years ago, a tad before my time. I can assure you it’s a real story and I promised not to use true identities as the star of the story is still with us I’m happy to report.

One hot summers day our young stock man, 30 years of age and very handsome, had been mustering his sheep all day. They had been taken up to the shearing shed to be crutched. Now I thought crutching was just clipping around the nether  regions, but apparently it is used to refer to “topping and tailing” the sheep.  Another term for it is  “wigging” and “crutching”. So, clipped around both head and nether region.

Now I’m trying very hard not to laugh at all this information, for a city slicker the mind was just not able to cope.  Come to think of it there are a few Judges that could do with wigging and a crutching or two might bring them into line, but I digress.

He had helping him his two, very well trained sheep dogs, Major and Darky and was riding his best stock horse, Blossom. After a long and tiring day he was moving the sheep back to the paddock and he was looking forward to a nice cup of tea and a bite to eat.

At that time there was  quite a bit of trouble with brown snakes in the area, nasty bad tempered creatures. Definitely to be avoided.  As they were traveling back he heard an odd sound near the horse’s front hoof and looked down. Blossom had picked up a King Brown snake with her hoof as she walked forward and it had wrapped itself around her leg. He could hear the snake whipping back and forth as she slowly walked along. A very good stock horse.

image from bushbelles.blogspot.com

So our stock man dropped the reins of the horse, which told her to stand and as he dismounted the snake slithered off into the grass. Over his shoulder was his trusty stock whip. He was pretty good with his whip and it was the best method to stop a snake before it could get close to you. Since this one was about six feet long and rather angry at it’s ill treatment he wasn’t about to take any chances with the dogs running around. The farmers lose more dogs to snakes than anything else.

He shrugged his whip off his shoulder and as he walked slowly forward let it trail out behind him.  Searching the grass in front of him he was suddenly startled to hear a slithering behind him! He whipped around to see, not the brown snake but his stock whip slowly trailing over a dry saffron thistle, for all the world sounding like an angry snake slithering after him.

image from http://www.arkive.org   King Brown Snake

Well that was enough for him for one day.

Looking a trifle green and feeling a little sheepish (I couldn’t help but include that) he gathered his reins and set Blossom on her way back to the home paddock after the sheep.

It was a good day. Sheep, all 500 had been wigged and crutched, Major and Darky avoided the snake, as did Blossom and the stock man got to ride home, pride a little the worse for wear but able to tell the tale to his family. (I hear tell he said, “It frightened the sh*t outta me!”)

As a point of interest the Western Brown snake is a shy snake and will avoid human contact. The Eastern or King Brown is very aggressive and will go out of their way to attack anything which moves near it, even more so during mating season.  As such the farmers cannot afford to take chances if they are seen and have to deal with them in the safest way possible for livestock, human and animal.

I swear it’s a true tale as tall as it may sound.

 

Cheers, Susan x

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