3rd February 2009
Now I have a funny story to tell you about snakes and cows so settle in.
Our Brahman cows have been busily having calves of late and are usually the most excellent mothers. However, for unknown reasons, one old girl decided to abandon her calf and we had a long-eared orphan in need of rescuing. Brian and I spent days looking for it but hidden by the long dry grass it remained elusive .
Several days later I was on my horse (Desley – still going strong) and had my dog (Bo – still growing strong) and we set off through the paddock until I came to a gate where Brian had seen a brown snake. The brown snake was living in the strainer post, right where you have to unchain the gate, so I was a little nervous. Anyway after careful inspection of the post I passed through without incident and was just about to move some cows when I saw the poor little orphan calf, looking very thirsty and very tired.
I knew I had to catch this calf but I also know how protective the Brahmans can be and therefore I was on shaky ground. I was pretty sure that it didn’t have a mother but was about to find out if this theory was correct. I snuck up and caught the calf and it didn’t make a sound. The cows just watched. So far so good.
Then I had another dilemma. I hadn’t come prepared for calf-napping that day so had nothing to tie it with or stuff it into. But I did have my horse.
Desley is a special horse. She is ridden only with a halter and rein, never a bridle and bit, and she is exceptionally quiet and well mannered. I took off her halter and rein and put the assembly on the calf. Can you picture this? I have a calf in a halter on a rope, a horse standing saddled but otherwise naked and half asleep, a dog looking bored and a group of Brahman cows overseeing it all. I figure if I can get the calf through the gate I will be safe and can then come back for Desley.
Next I am half walking, half carrying the calf to the gate when it lets out a loud Brahman bellow. This instantly ignites the once placid cows. Aunty Brahman comes out of the mob looking ready to charge and the only thing close for me to climb is a strainer post housing a brown snake.
Let’s stop for a moment and consider. The brown snake is the second most venomous snake in the world. The venom is fast acting and can take effect within minutes. One bite contains enough poison to kill 2500 mice. The brown snake has killed at least 25 people in the last 30 years.
And I have a bawling calf, stuck between a brown snake house and a charging Brahman.
I take my chances with the snake.
Snake and Brahman free on the far side of the gate I struggle the calf to the ground in the shade and regain my breath as Bo sidles over to take charge. He says he is quite happy to guard the calf if I want to go home and get the ute. I retrieve my horse, take off my belt, sling it around her neck and gallop off to the house.
Shortly afterwards the rescue has been completed and the calf has been delivered safely to the Coolatai Calf Orphanage.
The brown snake remains at large.