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19 Oct 2010 - 3:23 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

There’s a serpent in Eden. At least in my garden, there is. Not just the one, either, most likely. Snakes are the reality of living in the country in Australia, and my farm is no different. Since I moved, I’ve only spied a few, but I know they’re there, and every time you stumble across one your heart stops and your body freezes and time stands eerily still.

I was on my way to the chicken coop when I realised that I probably shouldn’t leave my infant son unattended in the house. It was a warm, dry day and all I wanted was a couple of eggs for lunch. Dippy eggs, which I love as much as my boy, with sourdough from the cooker. I carried him out and sat him on the grass while I ventured into the chicken coop. Out of harm’s way, I thought his tuffet would be, away from power points and scissor drawers and those stairs he adores to climb.

A fully-grown, slow moving, deathly dark, venomous tiger snake was in the chicken coop when I turned. So instead of venturing in, I scooped up the boy and held him tight. There are plenty of risks early in life, I’m learning, perhaps more on a farm.

Snakes don’t seem to bother the chooks. They like chicken coops because so do mice – the rodents forage in the gloom looking for fallen seed or scraps of food. The snakes eat mice. And eggs, if they can get them.

Quolls, on the other hand, do bother the chooks. And twice in a week there’s been a quoll in the chicken coop after dark. A small hole has appeared in some of the old, fine bird mesh, and the quoll, who seems to enjoy eating bacon rind and eggs by the signs, forces its way through. It hasn’t yet discovered the chickens, however, and the hole is patched. It’s unlikely to be a permanent solution, though, because the same weak wire surrounds the coop. it’s another job to add to the list.

Bella gave birth this week. Her piggies are glossy and tiny compared to Tinkerbell’s, despite there being only two weeks difference. Already Tinker’s young ones push through the dividing fence and steal (share?) her food. Their tiny tummies fill quickly and before long a few of them are bunking down with the new litter. A wriggling, squirming mass of black and white with the occasional snout or trotter poking out.