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Of mountains and mole hills

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee with Mimi

There is an old saying which admonishes we should not make mountains out of mole hills. The wisdom teaches that a little ol’ mole hill is not a big deal. Take a step back and realize it is a little pile and mountains are very big piles, often including very large rocks.

Rocks which can come tumbling down at a moment’s notice and with great force. A well- prepared, mature person will recognize mountains are much more dangerous and difficult than mole hills and pose a much more complicated and often frustrating plan for correction and management. Solving mountain-size problems can be very daunting tasks challenging our physical, emotional and mental capacity, so don’t create them from little hills.

In life, it is all about mole hills.

Moles are ugly little creatures. Moles epitomize the rule of survival of the fittest. A mole’s body shape is somewhat flat with a pointy head, and frighteningly, disproportionately large front legs with long, thick, mean looking claws. The mole’s body shape and those claws are perfectly suited to burrowing around beneath the surface of your garden, wreaking havoc on your lawn.

For added insult, they operate completely underground, out of view of humans. Their food supply is found entirely within the soil, which is further enriched by human efforts to cultivate that soil to be so enriched. Research indicates moles work day and night. Evidence of their industrious behavior is most often apparent after a rain and early in the spring, when the ground is soft after the winter snows.

My research on the internet turned up multiple images of rich dark soil mounds dotting the surfaces of beautiful green lawns. Photos of the actual creatures posing on the edges of the mounds were surely caught by motion-activated cameras. With their claws spread out and heads held high over the edges of their mounds, they looked justifiably proud of their place in the world. They are the masters of their (our) yards.

They are not completely wrong in claiming dominance of the landscape. Who needs to be worried about the dangers posed by mountains when a little ol’ mole can cause plenty damage before anyone recognizes the evidence? It might be less problematic to have a mountain in your backyard than a mole in a hole, creating little hills all over the place — this, I know. 

I like to hike on larger than average hills and trails through the countryside. I have yet to sustain an injury from any of these activities. I did, however, break my ankle while playing in the yard with my puppy. My boot heel got stuck in a mole hill, which was not even visible in the winter lawn.

Moles are natural engineers. Their life-sustaining operation involves silently, creating a system of intricate and connected layers of tunnels. Some of the tunnels are dug to find food, luscious insects and worms. Other tunnels are used for the displaced soil from the food-generating digging. Research indicates moles work on a timetable — they prefer to work during quiet hours, such as early morning or late evening, and apparently work about four hours on and four hours off.

In the winter, they do not rest. They just go deeper in the soil where it is warmer.

Moles are hard to eradicate. It appears a professional approach may be needed, as there is a lot to manage from the identification of the breeding chamber hill in comparison to the run-of-the-mill mole hill. There are mole traps which are intimidating and complicated, to be used with caution involving hair triggers. Successful implementation of a mole trap results in, well, a trapped mole. Your imagination can run with that image. Refer to the description of a mole above.

Your trapped mole may be injured, dead or alive and kicking. Now, what are you going to do with it? Animal lovers would prefer a humane option such as releasing the critter elsewhere.  Seems that is just passing the problem along and isn’t too neighborly. Besides, moles worked awfully hard in their underground world, so they might be motivated to return home and then you have an angry mole on your hands and underfoot.

I acknowledge the existence of moles in residence in my yard. This is nothing to be ashamed of as most of the videos detailing mole eradication or management techniques feature beautiful green lawns with multiple tell-tale dirt piles and suggestions of tunnel runs. It is not being judgmental to say moles exist in every yard and every situation.

In my research, it is generally agreed there are different approaches to managing your moles.  You can be lethal, humane, aggressive or experimental. You can become bent out of shape or laid back.

I have chosen the method which gives me satisfaction.  I stomp on the hills and runs when I mow the grass. True, the moles are still there, but not evident and unsightly and the soil is firm.  No mountains growing in my yard.