The Housesit Begins

Housesit NSW

“Just last week we found a king brown in the woodpile,” our housesit owner told us. “It was only a baby, though.”

Excellent. One of the world’s deadliest snakes had recently been found at the farmhouse where we’d be living for the next month. Great news.

On the plus side, I was now less edgy about the prospect of mice in the kitchen.

“And not that long ago there was a black snake in the house,” he continued. “I thought I was seeing things, but there it was, right on top of the photo albums.”

“So if we saw a snake, what should we do?” I asked, attempting to appear nonchalant.

“There’s a hoe outside the front door,” he said. “Ideally you would chop its head off.”

I nodded. As if I would be chopping the head off of a snake. I was so grateful for the $15 gumboots I’d bought on a whim in Mudgee, the boots I immediately vowed would not leave my feet for the duration of this housesit.

rural New South Wales
Think of all the snakes hiding in that field.

“I wouldn’t worry. You’d be really unlucky to see one. It’s not the right time of year for snakes.” He paused, thinking. “Sometimes I have a feeling there’s a python in the roof, but they won’t hurt you anyway.”

“If you go outside in the dark, take the spotlight torch,” his wife said, her voice catching in her throat. “But I’d avoid going out at night. Three months ago our terrier disappeared. We’re not sure if it was a python or a wild dog. That’s why these two sleep in the house.”

We looked at Gus and Mack, the two kelpies we were now responsible for. Sprawled on their bean bags in front of the fire, tearing the stuffing out of their beaten teddy bear, they were unconcerned about the threats surrounding them.

Red dog
Gus, who is always happy to be alive.
Kelpie Rottweiler cross
Mack, relentlessly friendly unless Gus breathes in the general vicinity of his bone.

It was then that I registered the weight of what we’re doing: looking after a farm 18km from the nearest town. Of course there are snakes and mice and bandicoots and owls. Of course there’s satellite internet and no mobile service. Sometimes, I’m going to step in cow pats. That’s part of the deal.

There are also books – just over a week in and I’m on my fifth book – to read, a fire to read them by, 100 acres of hilly farmland to explore, and two lively dogs who show no sign of slowing down. It feels incredibly rural, but we’re only 40 minutes from the coast.

NSW Missabotti
Jared has rapidly taken to country living.

To date I have seen the mouse three times, and he hasn’t attempted to climb up my pant leg or steal my food, so we’re living in relative harmony. I did see a dead wallaby while on a run up the road, which resulted in an unexpected sprint but that was the worst of it (for me, not so much the wallaby).

A rogue bull and a mystery steer have broken into the paddock with the cows, but they’ve been embraced by the herd. The chickens have been laying eggs like champions and we can’t eat enough to keep up.

I have not seen a single snake, but I always shake out my boots before I put them on, just in case.

So far so good.

Missabotti cows

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