It's a miracle his pants survived

Animals are interesting things. Some are beautiful but not useful. Some are useful, but not beautiful. Some are not beautiful, and not useful. Some are just so stinking annoying that you don't even notice if they're beautiful or useful. (I'm just now realizing that this applies to people too. Hmmm.) Falling squarely in the "stinking annoying" category are: our dog (don't ever let Santa bring your kids a dog - ever), woodpeckers that mistake your roof for a giant red wood tree, Nancy Pelosi, (seriously Nan, I can't understand what you're talking about 99% of the time, and I'm pretty sure it's not me) and ... moles (any size, any kind).

Moles are the Howard Dean of the animal kingdom -ridiculous looking and without any apparent purpose other than to agitate the landscape and drive self-respecting suburban property tax payers to the very edge of sanity. Also, there is no way to get rid of them. You think they're gone and then... they're back.

My family's obsession with mole eradication is one of the things that binds us as a people. There are four principle mole hunters among us and they have had varying levels of success.

1. My husband: We used to live in a house that was situated on a large corner lot. Behind us was a huge field (good for privacy, not so much for vermin control). When we moved in, the entire property was overrun with knee high weeds, and creeping vines and very aggressive flora of every other sort. My husband worked for a long time on that yard and finally got it looking really lovely. It had green grass and everything. He was proud. He was a content lawn gardening putterer. (You know - he went out and dug around in the dirt and admired his tulips and lilies and whatever.) Then came the great mole plague of '05... and '06 and '07. My husband turned into a hunter. It was a little scary.

The first thing he tried was to drown them. I was skeptical of this technique as I didn't believe that one could actually flood real life mole tunnels like might be done in an episode of Winnie the Pooh. (All I could picture was that little mole guy with the miner hat and the lisp stomping up to angrily confront my husband about the goings on in his tunnel system and how he was behind schedule now.)

Next he went for the "stalk and smash" approach. I found him at 2am in the back yard with a headlamp and a shovel, poised over a section of earth which he had determined as the spot most likely to host the mole's next appearance. I was pretty certain that the only people (other than my husband) that wandered around in the middle of the night with a head lamp and a shovel were those that made a living farming the kind stuff that gets them thrown into the pen, and since I didn't fancy seeing myself on the next episode of "Cops" made him go back inside the house.

Some of the other things he tried were - chewing gum down the holes (I think this operates on the same concept that your mom had when she told you it would sit in your stomach for 7 years if you swallowed it), maybe poison of some kind, and these strange devices that he borrowed from my brother in law. They were like cylinders that you'd bury down their holes and then at random intervals (both day and night) would vibrate and hiss. Apparently I have better ears than the mole. The "audio deterrent approach" made me want to leave my husband, but the mole was willing to go into counseling to save their relationship.

(Just for the record the only mole I think we ever caught was caught by me. And when I say "caught" I mean I found it dead on the driveway and picked it up with a shovel while saying "iiih". I suspect he may have caught a glimpse of my husband in the head lamp and laughed himself to death.)

2. My sister A. I'm not sure that her mole capture should count in the family tally as it was actually her rat terrier that made the kill. Poor mole. What he learned that day is that you can't outrun good breeding. (Also, I think this is the only reason that she keeps that dog. Santa got her too.)

3. My mother. She actually caught a mole with her bare hands. Or rather a cup that she was holding in her bare hands. Moles might be fast with the tunneling, but with the running - not so much. For reasons best known to the mole, this one was making an above ground dash for my mom's flower beds when she trapped it in a cup and then, as any logical woman who suddenly found herself holding a cup containing a live mole would do, flushed it down her toilet.

From there on out, my mother hired a mole removal service.

4. My brother in law. My sister and her husband own a piece of property that is like 3 acres or something. 3 acres can hold a lot of moles. My nieces actually came running inside the house one afternoon yelling that there were 2 moles wrestling on the lawn. My sister and her husband were skeptical, but upon closer inspection actually found 2 real life moles wrestling around on their lawn. (They weren't doing that kind of wrestling. They were actually wrestling - a territorial dispute I guess.) In a move that I think made my husband a little bit jealous, my brother in law grabbed a shovel and - there's no easy way to say this- bashed the little suckers. He does admit to being slightly concerned at the impact that this act of brutality might have on his little girls, who were onlookers to the attack, but don't worry - they cheered him on. Literally.

Like I said, moles don't leave. I'm not sure if it's reincarnation, resurrection, or reproduction, but there's always one ready to step up and take the place of its fallen comrade. So... despite the shovel incident, where he got two in one blow, the mole problem persists and my brother in law has resorted to traps. Lots of traps.

Which brings me to... mole karma. The mole traps are usually covered, for obvious reasons, but yesterday they were uncovered so that my brother in law could mow the yard. My 3 year old was taking turns with his cousin (waiting for his turn actually) riding the lawn mower with his uncle and I was sitting talking to my sister. That is when I looked over and saw my son, holding in his beautiful man sized hands, a fully armed mole trap. I yelled. He dropped the trap, but because he is going to be a valedictorian some day, leaned over to pick it back up. I yelled again and went over to pick him up before he succeeded in losing at least 7 of his 10 fingers. (At this point my sister said to me "Don't you pick it up". Apparently she thinks I'm a valedictorian too.) I explained to him in as graphic language as I could think of why picking up a mole trap was a bad idea. (I didn't feel like it was a time to wax poetic.) Unfortunately for him he's three, and his uncle was coming back toward him with the lawn mower. He thought that it was his turn for a ride.

In reality my brother in law was coming to disarm the mole trap. My son ran toward the spot where he would traditionally wait to swap with his cousin ... right toward the still fully armed mole trap. I screamed for him to stop. He kept running. He stepped on the mole trap. The trap snapped. The trap missed.

Call it what you want. Call it luck. Call it a miracle (I do). Maybe it was because my husband never actually executed a mole and therefore its blood did not cry out for vengeance. I grabbed my son and hugged his trap free foot/ankle/leg, made sure he was okay... and then I yelled at him about obedience and listening and how hard it is to run with crutches. I yelled. I yelled loud enough to scare those pesky little moles into saying to each other "Man, that girl's crazy. C'mon, I heard some guy's trying to flood us out two doors down. I could use a laugh."

And if I can get rid of moles, I'd consider myself both beautiful (most days) and useful.

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Nika, Travis, Ayda and Zander said...

Let's hope Mom and Matt never step on a trap...they will be goners!

The Laundry Queen said...

A lot of people would have just recounted the mole-trap-incident that their child experienced and called it good. Very boring. Your story, and all of the mole trapping history of your family contained therein, was anything but. Loved this post, Pixie.

grammy said...

Some of us grew up on farms and trapped a lot more than measly little moles. And for the record -- my mole guy gave up!!

Boomer Pie said...

Moles are not your friends and they can't read. But I can and I like your way of looking at things. Click on this link for a rewarding surprise for your creative blogging.