On the screen of her phone, she quickly observed how the Instagram reactions grew. Although the photo was amazing, she hadn’t anticipated that it would elicit this many comments.
She turned to face her daughter, still beaming and adorably posing for her. However, when she read the remarks, her blood began to boil.
On the vast ranch owned by Bianca Dickinson in Western Victoria, Australia, spring had just arrived. On the trees, green shoots had already started to emerge. In breathtakingly magnificent contrast to the drab and dry landscape, the clear blue sky stretched overhead.
Bianca decided that the settings were ideal for a few pictures on this unusually scorching afternoon. After everything was said and done, she would no longer want to take pictures.
The day appeared to be typical. At the bus stop at the end of the ranch’s drive, which was far from the home considering the size of the property, the mother of four was waiting for the school bus to drop off her two older kids.
She would get into her SUV each day and head down the rocky road to meet them and take them home. But today, she made the decision to change things up.
Harry and Molly, two of Bianca’s younger children, were placed into the car with her. Prior to the arrival of the bus transporting Imogen and Mitchell, she had an idea and some free time. She had a brand-new iPhone with a fantastic camera that she was eager to try out, and the weather was perfect.
She was unaware that a perfect storm was being prepared by fate, though.
She moved slowly down the arid driveway in search of the ideal location. Right at the boundary of her land, she halted under a twisted old Bluegum tree that had been bent and broken into strange patterns by years of wind.
Molly, her youngest child, spoke up from the rear as she parked the car in the shade. “Why are we doing this? She enthusedly questioned. Bianca sang, “We’re going to shoot some pictures, baby.”
She got Molly out of the car and asked her to take a picture for her while keeping an eye on the bus stop. She instructed her to take a position facing the wind next to the fence.
Her angelic tot was captured with the ideal backdrop of a whispering wheat field and Australia’s Big Sky. But there was something in the background that she didn’t see.
When Bianca took the photo, she immediately realized it should be uploaded to Instagram. The joyful parent enjoyed how quickly her happy picture could be uploaded for everyone to view on her new phone’s rapid connectivity.
While waiting for more instructions from her adoring mother, Molly remained motionless. She was obviously enjoying the attention.
Bianca raised her palm up, aware of how challenging it would be to convince her toddler to hold this still once more. “Stay there honey… just a few more,” she replied as she brought her lens back to Molly. She caught movement out of the corner of her eye.
She mistakenly believed it to be a piece of tree bark that had been blown off, but she was way off base.
She quickly uploaded the fresh photos, but then her phone started acting strange. Her phone vibrated in her grasp and pinged with notifications.
She grinned as she swiftly scrolled through them, but her smile vanished as soon as she noticed what was being written on the photo of Molly. They had noticed it right away.
When Bianca turned her head back to look at Molly and saw it for herself, her expression grew into a mask of fear. Almost at her daughter’s feet, something quietly moved. Unaware, Molly cast a longing glance into the distance.
Bianca sought to engage her kid as her instincts went into overdrive. Her life was on the line.
With fear knotting her insides, she shakily motioned for Molly to be very still. Thankfully, the toddler seemed to understand, but she had no idea that her mom wasn’t playing a game.
Bianca felt the scream welling in her throat, but she pushed it down. She couldn’t let Molly see that she was about to crack. There, close enough to touch Molly’s boot, was an Eastern brown snake.
Eastern brown snakes are common in the region of Western Victoria, but Bianca had only seen two on her farm in all the years they had lived there. And she had never been in such a harrowing situation before. Knowing that these snakes can pack a punch strong enough to knock out 20 fully-grown men, she had to act quickly.
She remained absolutely still, never breaking eye contact with Molly.
Bianca knew that if she or Molly moved, the snake might get spooked and strike. They were trapped in a potentially deadly stalemate. Molly, to Bianca’s relief, copied her and didn’t move a muscle.
But it was only a matter of time before the spell Bianca had over her two-year-old was broken. What would happen then?
“All my instincts wanted to run and pick her up and scream and run away,” Bianca said. But she had to fight against the massive adrenaline rush pumping through her veins. Then, the snake began to move again and Bianca shuddered.
But, to Bianca’s massive relief, it quickly slithered away — back into the tall grass that it had come from. Just then, she heard a commotion behind her.
The bus had arrived and her other children were walking toward her. But they stopped dead in their tracks when they saw their mom’s panic-stricken face. Then, Bianca began to yell. “Get in the car!” she screeched.
Even with all four of her children safe in the SUV, her hands were still shaking when she started the engine.
Imogen, her thirteen-year-old daughter, broke the eerie silence in the car. “What happened? Did you see a snake, mum?” But all Bianca could do was nod. After she had recovered somewhat, she added: “Yes. It was at least two meters.”
But Imogen wasn’t convinced. “Oh mum, it wasn’t that big!” She exclaimed, trying to lighten the mood. But when she saw the photos, her eyes widened in disbelief.
When she and her kids were all safely at home, Bianca showed her children the now-viral photographs and all the comments that had alerted her to the enormous snake. She couldn’t believe that she had been so distracted that she hadn’t even seen it.
But reviewing the photos revealed something even more gut-wrenching for the shaken mom.
The Eastern brown snake was there in not one, but three of the photos! And with every shot, Bianca saw it moving closer to her helpless toddler. And, in the photos, it was clear for everyone to see just how big the snake was.
The photographs, which have been shared hundreds of times, have caused many mothers sleepless nights. Not least of all, Bianca.
It’s not surprising that Bianca can’t bear to look at the harrowing photos. “I haven’t slept since it happened. Every time I shut my eyes I see that big snake and what could have happened,” she said shakily. “I see Molly being taken away in an ambulance.”
But what was Molly’s reaction upon viewing her dangerous encounter?
“Molly didn’t notice the snake,” Bianca explained. “I think that was probably a good thing, because she may have run screaming if she did.” She added: “Molly still doesn’t understand what happened. Which is good, and maybe in years to come she’ll have a look at it and see how lucky she was to escape.”
When her mom showed her the terrifying pictures, Molly studied them quietly for a few minutes. Then, she said, “That’s me!”
The innocent toddler had no idea what she was actually looking at in the picture. Bianca thought it was a good idea to try and use this as a learning experience. That’s right she told her baby girl. “Can you spot anything else in the picture? Maybe something hiding in the grass”
The little girl held the phone close to her face and turned it around “Snakey!” she said happily.
She seemed almost happy to have seen the reptile hiding in the grass. Like she had done something good. Bianca knew that she was still too young to understand what getting bitten is or poisoned was. The worried mom thought about how she was going to teach her children about the dangers of snakes
She had to educate her children on different snakes. When they had first moved in she did give them a lesson on Farm living and animals. But, considering the latest event, perhaps it was time for a recap.
As they pulled up to the ranch farmhouse Molly was now kissing herself on the phone.
“Come on guys,” Bianca said “Watch yourself as you get out.”
She huddled her children out of the car and into the house. As she helped them wash and change she thought about her safety plan. She would have to tell her husband what happened today. He was not going to be impressed.
Her husband was a kind man but he was very busy and he didn’t have time for games. He expected his wife to have things under control on the ranch. She dreaded what her in-laws would say if they saw the picture.
They already blamed her for being a bad mother because she worked so much. She didn’t need any more blame or guilt.
She was literally like a single mom with her husband being away for work all the time. It was so difficult raising the kid on her own. She had a housekeeper but it was not the same as having her husband around.
He loved his children and he provided for his wife but he was absent most of the time. Bianca felt neglected and she was always tired.
She thoroughly gave herself to her children and tried to protect them from the dangers of the outside world. One of the reasons they bought the ranch was to have a big family. Her husband always wanted a mini soccer team and the ranch was the perfect place to raise them.
The children also enjoyed living on the ranch.
They were all very adventurous and enjoyed playing outdoors. The older children had a fondness for the horses and helped the groundskeeper to maintain the stables. The younger children enjoyed helping around with gardening and smaller chores.
It was a happy, healthy functioning system. Living on a ranch didn’t come without its own set of problems.
There was always something breaking or needing to be fixed. Maintaining the grounds was a daily task. The animals required a lot of food and attention and unfortunately accidents and injuries too. The list went on and on.
If it wasn’t for a great team of helpful staff, Bianca wouldn’t be able to survive at all.
That night at dinner her husband video-called them as he usually did. He was chatting to children about their day while they ate. She hadn’t told her husband about the incident yet and she had hoped he hadn’t spotted it on social media.
He hadn’t mentioned anything as yet so maybe she was in the clear. He seemed to be in a cheerful mood as he laughed with his children.
The children too seemed to have forgotten about the scary incident from before. But Bianca hadn’t. That snake was still somewhere on the farm. It could be anywhere. It could even be in the house right now and they wouldn’t even know it.
She was scared about their situation but she didn’t want to cause panic in the children.
She had a few options in the meantime. In the morning she would call the snake catcher. He could have a look on the grounds and on the barn just to make sure. If there are any more snakes then he can catch them and relocate them.
I don’t want to harm any snakes, but I really don’t want them to harm me she said to herself. Her mind was a million miles away.
Dinner was pleasant and the children seemed to be in a good mood. The elder kids were busy clearing the plates when all of a sudden Imogen screamed “Aaaaah!” Bianca’s heart froze. This was it. The snake had picked up their scent and followed them into the farmhouse.
She was livid as she ran into the kitchen to check on her children. What she saw made her open her eyes in terror.
Mitchell was rolling on the floor in madness. Tears were streaming down his face. He couldn’t control his laughter. The silly boy had placed a fake snake on the floor where his sibling was washing the plates.
Imogen didn’t see this and screamed in fear. The toy snake looked real. It was a great replica and looked like the common brown snakes found on our grounds.
“How can you be so immature Mitchell!” his mother scolded him “This is not the time to be playing pranks, especially after what happened today” Mitchell tried to keep a straight face as his sister hit him with the toy snake.
“Sorry mom, but come on, it was the perfect moment” Imogen laughed at her brother “You did get me good though”.
Bianca was relieved to see that her children were brave and in such good spirits, but she was still worried. She had to take extra precautions to protect the smaller kids, they wouldn’t know how to handle an emergency situation like that.
She knew she raised her kids to be brave but she also protected them a lot and they didn’t spend much time exploring outside.
The concerned mother spent the night doing snake research on Google. She found a few interesting books to share with the children and some fun games to help them learn to react if they saw a dangerous animal.
She was feeling slightly better about the situation. She was ready to teach her children all about safety and reaction responses in the morning. If anything happened, her children would be able to protect themselves. That was her duty as a mother and she would always put her children first.