Spring has sprung and so have the moles
Published 12:00 am, Friday, April 21, 2017
The treaty has been broken.
Negotiations have failed to produce a compromise. Shared mutual destruction is no longer a deterrent.
War seems inevitable. I blame the other side. I hold the moles responsible for breaking the truce and bringing us to the precipice of front-yard Armageddon.
Their stealth invasion was discovered in early April after the snow had melted. There was no disputing the evidence that a sneak attack had occurred, and the assault was underway: the network of crisscrossing tunnels, the holes, the mounds of fresh dirt rising in patterns suggesting an artillery bombardment.
Making a mountain out of a molehill? How about making a molehill out of a mountain?
The mole is a worthy adversary. In its relentless pursuit of grubs and earthworms, it can move dirt at a one-foot-per-minute rate, tunneling 100 feet in a day. And in devastating the landscape it can turn the terrain into a minefield of treacherous footing for anyone venturing into its no man’s land.
In the annals of mole history, no event is more celebrated than February 1702, when a mole, or moles, was indirectly — or possibly directly — responsible for killing a king of England. According to lore, which I assume is passed down from one generation of moles to the next, King William III was riding his horse at Hampton Court, when it stumbled on a molehill, tossing the monarch to the ground. William sustained a broken collarbone in the fall, developed pneumonia and died two weeks later.
My first engagement with moles occurred several years ago. It began slowly and steadily escalated until it was a take-no-prisoners war of attrition. You have to understand this was not a fight I wanted, having just come off a losing campaign against a flock of geese that had turned my backyard into a unisex restroom.
After deploying decoys, foil strips and assigning the family dog patrol duties, all to no avail, I found myself charging out the back door early one morning, screaming and waving my arms at the loitering gaggle of loose stools. It wasn’t until I was a fair distance from the house that I realized I was in my underwear. I gave myself a Section 8 and surrendered.
When the moles first arrived, I dropped mothballs into their holes. Nothing happened.
Next I stuck the garden hose into the tunnels and tried to flood them out. This met with about the same success Bill Murray had with the gopher in the movie “Caddy Shack.”
Someone suggested chewing gum, the rationale being it would wreak havoc with their digestive system. I swear I saw one blowing a bubble.
After that it was an application of castor oil mixed with water. Nada.
At this point it got real, and I went full out into “Game of Thrones” mode. I bought a trap at the hardware store that had a spring-triggered spike. The moles amused themselves by springing it.
On the advice of a guy I got talking to at a bar one night, I followed tunnels to their end point and repeatedly jabbed with a pitchfork. I nearly impaled my foot.
Finally, I tried to force them out with smelly smoke bombs. The only thing this accomplished was to get my neighbors up in arms and on the moles’ side. As a repentant war criminal, I am going to take a more humane approach this time. My plan is to capture the moles in humane traps and then relocate them.
Let’s just say I have a list.
Jim Shea is a lifelong Connecticut resident and journalist who believes the keys to life include the avoidance of physical labor and I-95. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jimboshea.