I’m at war. Well, war might be a slight exaggeration. Let’s call it a localized skirmish between me and my lifelong nemesis…ground moles. I thought that I had driven them out two years ago when I waged a three month pitched battle in my back yard. Apparently they merely fell back to regroup and are now testing my perimeter again. The three trails that I found last week when I was mowing the grass are unmistakable signs of their incursion.
Alright, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way right now. Moles are not cute furry creatures that occasionally pop their heads out of a hole in the ground to say, “Hi.” They are not a cuddly, near-sighted, version of a hamster and they do not look like this:
They actually look like this:
If moles would limit themselves to digging tunnels in fields or in the forest, I’d be fine with letting them dig away. But no, they insist on tunneling across the middle of my yard. If they just killed a little grass here and there in their search for grubs and earthworms, I could live with that. But they aren’t satisfied with that. Instead, they dig eight lane super highways that leave soft spots just the right size to trap my size eleven shoes and send me plummeting to the ground in a fall that more often than not ends with a sprained ankle.
I’ve tried a variety of mole deterrents over the years. Being basically an animal lover, I try to avoid methods that shorten the pest’s life. One promising one was a battery powered stake that you pound into the ground at strategic places around your yard. The stake emits a periodic thumping noise that is purported to scare moles away. It worked for a while. Then, I noticed that the mole activity was actually increasing around the stakes. Curious, I dug around one of the stakes and found that the moles had constructed what I can only describe as an underground amphitheater that circled the stake. I think they were using the stake to provide the percussions for a rock concert.
I’ve tried live traps and relocating moles but, while they might be ugly little creatures, they’re brighter than they look. For every one that I relocated, I think that I missed at least five. One mole is more than enough to ruin a lawn, so a sixteen percent hit rate is not going to be very effective at reducing the damage.
I’ve also given a go at using pesticides to kill what I’ve been told is the mole’s major food source…grubs. That was a dismal failure. Either the pesticide that I used was ineffective against grubs or moles have an alternate food source. The only thing that the pesticide appeared to help was the profit margin of the local hardware store.
I did have a neighbor once who had an interesting, and apparently effective, method for controlling moles. I’ll tell you the story but, for reasons that you’ll understand later, I going to change his name. I’m going to call him Billy Bob. I won’t tell you where we lived at the time; let’s just say that it was a state where low to medium yield explosives were often used for a variety of household chores.
One morning, just after breakfast, I was looking out of the kitchen window and saw Billy Bob standing in the middle of his yard with a propane tank that had a long section of rubber hose attached. I saw him stuff the hose down a hole in the ground, open the valve on the tank for a few minutes, close the valve, move the tank and the hose away about thirty feet , drop a lighted match into the hole and then run. I was too far away to hear anything but, from my vantage point, it appeared that the ground in the area jumped an inch or so.
I watched Billy Bob repeat this activity twice before curiosity got the best of me and I had to go ask him what was going on.
“What are you doing Billy?” I asked innocently.
“Oh, I’m just gettin’ rid of some moles,” he answered.
“That’s kind of an interesting method. How’s it work?”
“Well, ya see, propane gas is heavier than regular air so, when I poke this here hose down in the ground and turn that there valve, the propane fills up the mole tunnels from the bottom up. Then when I drop the match down the hole and light the gas, well, things get a little crispy down there.”
“Does it really work?”
“I can’t tell ya that I git them all but, whenever I dig them there tunnels up, there’s always some left over evidence that it did the job.”
“Isn’t it a little dangerous?”
“Not really. I don’t do it close to the house and I stay away from the underground utilities. But, there was that one time,” he said cautiously.
“It’s a bad mem’ry. I really don’t want to talk about it. All I’ll say is that it wasn’t my fault. How was I s’posed to know that the septic lines went that far out from the house?”
I’m not up for using combustible gas to control my rodent problem, so I guess I’m going to fall back on live traps and relocation. But, while I was thinking about where to put the traps, something made me wonder. What if humans are the galactic equivalent to a ground mole and someday, after we learn how to tunnel through space-time, we find that we irk the powers that be in the universe just like moles irk us. The conversation might go something like this:
The Galactic Lord stomps into the kitchen and the outside door slams behind him. Startled, his wife turns, gives him a piercing look and says, “I have asked you time and time again to not slam that door when you come in.”
“Sorry,” GL replied angrily. “But, I’m mad as a hornet. I was moving a few stars around outside and caught my foot in a stray wormhole. Damn it, we’ve got humans digging tunnels out back again.”
“I thought that you cleared them out last year.”
“So did I. This must be a new pack. I don’t know what to do with them. I tried blocking their path with a super nova, but most of them just went around it. It didn’t even slow them down. You can’t believe how fast they can tunnel through space.”
“That didn’t stop any of them?”
“Well, a couple of them tried to go through the super nova and I got them, but the rest of them were too smart. I guess all I really accomplished with that was culling out the gene pool.”
“What about trapping them?”
“I tried that too. I put a spring loaded trap over one of their space-time tunnels. It worked, but it cracked open that little pod they use for tunneling and all of the ugly little human creatures inside spilled out. I had to gather them all up and dump the bodies into a star to clean up the mess. Ugly little things with their arms and legs flailing all over. And that face they have, beady little eyes and big ears…they’re disgusting. I thought that I was going to throw up.”
“Well, what are you going to do? We can’t have them digging up the entire galaxy. They eat up all the anti-matter and you know how much time it takes to re-seed that.”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll live trap them and relocate them this time. I’d have to take them to a parallel universe though. I don’t want them to find their way back.”
“A parallel universe isn’t far enough. They might be able to dig back from there. If you’re going to relocate them, put them in a parallel universe in another dimension.”
“You’re probably right. I’ll be back later. I’m going to Galactic Depot to see if they have any human traps.”
Hmmm, there might be a short story in there somewhere. I’ll have to think about it. For now, I still have a mole problem to resolve. Does anyone have a large wooden mallet that I could borrow?
One response to “Wanted to Buy: Large Wooden Mallet”
When The Bride or I step in a mole hole we say ” Damn prairie dogs”, a line we borrowed from Tremors the movie. Though we have less of them now thanks to Butterfly, our outside cat, and her mad hunting skills. Let’s just say most of the moles got the memo, those who didn’t are not swimming with the fishes but joining the mole,rabbit or anything- that -is- slower- than -the -speed- of -light bone yard out back. Great piece JF! ~ John