Julie Lovell, 2002
The days were getting shorter. The nights were getting colder. One afternoon, as autumn started falling, Mum asked Sophie and Lou to help gather firewood on the farm. There were plenty of dead trees and logs lying around. "It will be winter soon," Mum said. "We need to stock up on firewood to keep us warm."
So they put on their gum boots, long trousers, hats and gloves to protect their hands from splinters. Sophie grabbed the chainsaw and Lou got the axe while Mum started the ute. Along the fence near the house paddock was an old dead tree. Beside it, a log was lying on the ground. "That'll make great firewood!" said Sophie.
Mum stopped the ute. Sophie and Lou jumped out. "Be careful of snakes," Mum warned. "They often hide in logs." The kids nudged the log with their boots.
Out of one end popped a gecko. An echidna peered out the other end. "What are you doing?" the gecko asked. "Oh!" said Sophie. "We're going to use this log for firewood."
"You can't do that," said the gecko. "I live here." "So do I," protested the echidna. "Logs have life inside, you know." Just then a Carpet Python slithered by. "What'sss going on?" it asked. "These people want to chop up our home and burn it," the echidna said. "I live in one jussst like it," hissed the python. "If you take my home, I won't be here to eat the mice that feast on the grain in your shed and creep into your kitchen at night." "We're sorry," said Lou. "What if we chop down this old tree instead?"
"This tree?" asked a possum, who crept out of a hole just above Mum's head. "Please don't chop down this tree. It may be old but it's my home".
Higher up a Gang-Gang Cockatoo screeched. "I live here, too," it squawked, raising its red crest. "Do you want to burn our houses in the fire in your house?" "No!" said Lou. "I never thought of it like that."
"Don't worry," said Sophie, "We won't take your homes." "Good!" said the Gang-Gang Cockatoo, ruffling its feathers. "We won't take yours either." And away it flew, screeching all the way.
"So what now?" asked Mum. "What will we do for firewood?" "Use branches rather than logs," said the possum. "Branches are too small for us to live in." "Yes," said Lou. "And there's the old fence we pulled down near the chook yard. That will light a few fires." "We can plant some more trees by the creek," suggested Sophie. "You know, where we planted those gum trees last spring. If we plant trees every year, we'll always have firewood."
"Great idea," said Mum. The three hopped back in the ute and headed for the chook pen. They gathered up the old fence posts and palings and loaded them in the ute. By the time they returned home, it was already getting dark.
"Can we unload the ute tomorrow, Mum?" Sophie asked. "I'm starving." "Me, too," said Lou. "Me, three," laughed Mum. So they left the firewood and went inside to eat dinner, exhausted.
Later that night, as Lou and Sophie fell asleep, an echidna and a possum crept out of their hollows to forage for food under the starry sky.