If you are looking for your own motivational cheer squad, perhaps you should consider moving into a chook shed, where even the most routine happenings are cause for raucous celebration!
Still on holidays at the farm at Newrybar, we were feasting on mulberries out on the back verandah soaking in the incredible greenery when we we heard a crescendo of feverish clucking emanating from the chook shed.
My immediate thought was snake. After all, the chooks were making a hell of a ruckus and after spotting the venomous Black Snake in the garden only a few days ago, I’ve been seeing snakes everywhere since.
“To him who is in fear everything rustles.”
SOPHOCLES, Acrisius [fragment
Of course, a snake in the chook shed seemed like quite a feasible possibility. After all, what kind of snake wouldn’t be partial to a bit of chook and from the numerous stories I’ve heard, they’ve nabbed chooks in the past.
Meanwhile, the kids’ uncle, always keen to educate the kids about things on the farm (a process I call “farmification”) asked them: “Why did the chooks make that noise?”
Right on queue like a primed quiz contestant, Mister piped up: “A chook laid an egg”.
He was right on the money and I felt a little bit disappointed that I’d got it wrong and wondered whether I was starting to get a bit too paranoid about the snakes.
At the same time however, I had to wonder about the chooks making so much fuss over simply laying an egg. Hadn’t they seen an egg before? That’s certainly how it sounded. Gee, I’m not sure whether chooks are like goldfish and only have a 5 second memory but you’d swear they’d never seen an egg before.
Or, that their team had just scored the winning goal in the footy grand final.
However, Geoff, who never lets my love of hyperbole get in the way of the facts, said: “But what happens whenever you see a group of women huddled around a new baby?”
Humph even I had to admit they could get pretty raucous as well!
However, it turned out that the chooks didn’t have a monopoly on melodrama. That night, the rooster who is never one to hide in the shadows, pushed passed the hens and back onto centre stage.
I was half-asleep when I heard noises outside. First, there was the spooked rantings of the Guinea Fowl whose call sounds something like a duck impersonating a donkey. This was followed by a series of very mournful crows from the rooster. This didn’t sound good. It didn’t sound good at all!! Guinea fowl are very territorial and defensive and therefore make excellent snake alarms. Given the sequence of sounds, I figured the Guinea fowl had seen a snake which had got into the chook shed and eaten the rooster’s harem and now he was now singing “All By Myself”.
It wouldn’t be the first time that a snake had invaded the chook shed or perhaps it was a fox which had attacked with such devastating results but either way, I suspected that all the chooks were dead.
So there I was lying in bed while the chooks were under attack and a snake was on the loose. Did I finally hear that heroic call to action and leap from my bed and grabbing a huge, humungus stick, run yelling and screaming and probably barefoot through the yard finally coming to the rescue ?
Or, did I stay put. Go back to sleep.
Of course, I went back to sleep. Who do you take me for? Some death-defying Bindi Irwin or Crocodile Dundee scaring off snakes in my bare feet? Not on your life. While I might be a firm believer in the Golden Rule and not one to ignore the sufferings of others, there are times when nature simply has to take its course. When you don’t want be rescuing the rescuer as well.
Besides, I told myself, it was probably already too late. There was nothing I could do anyway. The chooks were already dead.
Eventually, I went back to sleep.
The morning after the carnage, I sheepishly asked my brother-in-law how many chooks they’d lost overnight. I braced myself for the worst and dreaded having to tell him that I’d heard it all happen and did nothing about it. I did nothing at all to help save those poor, innocent chooks before that fiendish snake snatched them away to their death. This amounts to some kind of personal treason because I really try to live and breathe by the Golden Rule and if I was a chook being swallowed by a diamond python, I’d definitely want someone to get out of bed and whack that @#$% snake with whatever it took to save my life. That’s what you do.You don’t ignore it!
After all, it’s an ancient farm motto: “The only good snake, is a dead snake”.
However, my inquiry and incredible guilt were met with blank stares. Once again, he’d thought I’d gone stark raving mad and was probably rethinking whether city relatives should be allowed anywhere near the farm. It was like I was reporting back about a foreign film. The sort which don’t have sub-titles and the meaning somehow gets lost in the translation.
I explained how I’d heard the Guinea Fowl barking and the rooster howling during the night and suspected the worst.
Fortunately, everyone in the chook shed and the Guinea Fowl had been accounted for. There had been not midnight massacre in at all and definitely not the dire snake attack I’d envisaged.
It had simply been a full moon.
Please don’t ask me why the full moon sent them all troppo. It’s not like I can go and interview them demanding a “please explain!” I’ll just have to file this under one of life’s many, unexplained mysteries…especially as we don’t have Internet access and I can’t go and consult my Google Guru.I’m on my own.
know all this thinking about snakes and shadows sounds like the product of an over-active imagination but the snakes are real.We know they’re out there. I’m not talking about make-believe shadows and imaginary monsters. This is real. However, it is a matter of learning to live with the snakes, developing respect and watching where I’m going. Indeed, given the snakes are a known threat, they’re actually not so great a risk. It’s what we don’t know we don’t know which is much more likely to get us!