Well, the invasions haven’t stopped, for I’ve been entrenched in battles over hills ever since I returned to the US in 2012! Five years ago I moved into a one-plus-acre site with a lawn that took two to four hours to mow, depending on how long the grass was. One important factor that made the difference between a two-hour mowing and a four-hour mowing: the number of mole hills.
(For readers unfamiliar with moles, read: http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/moles.html)
My first time mowing the lawn, I counted well over a hundred mounds of dirt across the entire lawn. They were too big to run the lawn mower over them, so I had to flatten each one of them out. That took time. Lots of time.
So, I engaged them in battle. I tried smoking them out. I tried flooding them out. I tried a sonar spike—an instrument that emits a high-pitched bleep that moles are supposed to avoid. I bought mole traps and mole bait. Nothing worked. Then, my friend Jerry taught me how to trap them. We set traps, and within a month, I had caught over thirteen of the pesky creatures. After relocating them, I spread the excavated dirt around, reseeded the earthen patches, and soon, the lawn began to actually look nice. Unfortunately, the moles from the adjacent soccer field migrated over the following spring. Knowing I was moving, I gave up on the mole invasion.
Our new house had been an overgrown area of trees, bushes, and blackberry vines. It took me well over a year to clear everything and plant a lawn, leaving a perimeter of trees, ferns, huckleberry bushes, and other natural forest growth. For the first two years, the lawn was pristine—gently sloped for good drainage, well-fertilized, and cut regularly (by none other than me).
But, two weeks ago, mole hills started appearing in the lawn’s northeast corner. I ordered four new traps from Amazon (like the ones I had used at the other property), and last week I set them. Only, I couldn’t catch any moles. The package promised a catch within 48 hours. That didn’t happen. Nor did it happen in 72, 96, 120, or 144 hours. In fact, my first trap was sprung eight days later (last night) without a catch.
That really made me mad! This has now become an all-out war between man and beast. And beast is winning. Drats! Already, I have pounded back fifty mole mounds, and beast keeps reopening them or digging new ones.
Yesterday afternoon, I noticed movement in one of the mole hills, so I ran outside, grabbed the shovel, and waited until I could see exactly where the mole was working. Then, in one daring move of pure manhood, I stabbed the shovel under the mole tunnel and flipped a huge chunk of dirt and grass onto the lawn. I had caught nothing. Double drats! Last night while I was sleeping, in retaliation, Mr. Beast did more damage to my lawn than anything he had done in the previous ten days. It was clearly revenge for its harrowing escape from my shovel. So, this morning, I pounded the mounds back into the ground, stamping on the tunnels to collapse them as if I were throwing a temper tantrum (don’t tell anyone, but I really was having a tantrum!)
On Saturday, a friend came over and asked the obvious, “What happened to your gorgeous lawn?” We explained our problem with the moles.
“Don’t you just love these little frustrations in life?” she laughed. “Like, the mole is thinking, ‘This was my forest, I was here first, and I’m not leaving.’ It’s saying, ‘And you have no say over it.’ It’s so funny.”
Well, maybe some day, when every mole in Washington State has been chased into neighboring Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, or the Pacific Ocean, I’d laugh at the frustration of today. And if I laugh, it will be an evil cackle of victory over the forces of greater evil. But in the moment, I smiled at my friend, nodded, and thought, “NO I DON’T LOVE THIS FRUSTRATION AT ALL!!!!” It’s NOT funny. It’s not even hilarious. I find nothing humorous about being confounded by a little critter. Hehehe. Besides, no mole activity had been seen in the front yard for the three previous years. It’s clearly an INVADER from beyond the confines of my property. I was here before (this) beast!
My father was over at our house a couple of days ago for Father’s Day. He had asked my advice last year about how I had caught moles at the first property because they had been eating up his lawn. My method didn’t work for him, but the sonar spike method worked. He suggested that the moles on that first property were large moles, and the ones invading my lawn now were a smaller type and therefore escaped the traps. “Just try the sonar spike.”
Well, I went online and found out that Washington State has two kinds of moles. Sigh. Of course, I’ll try the sonar spike, if nothing else to honor my father, for he swears by it.
Just so you know, I’m hardly at wit’s end about this. In fact, I have as much persistence as the mole does, and I believe my brain size should give me an advantage over beast. Advantage me. Only, I’m not available 24/7 like the mole is. Deuce. By the way, do moles ever sleep? That question has been nagging at my mind. I wish the critter would sleep when I did. Then we could resume our daytime war on a level playing field. Oh, wait…the “field” is no longer level. It’s rutted. And, by the continual digging activity, I’d venture to say they don’t EVER sleep. Advantage mole. I’ve got to think of something real quick before babies are born. Then, it would be game, set, and match—me losing.
Meanwhile, the battle rages on as I pound mole-mound-excavated dirt back into the mole tunnels, “tantrum” on the grass and dirt to collapse the tunnels, install the sonar device, and pray that one day, the elusive worm-and-grub-eating garden pest will tire of the battle. Did I ever tell you that I write fantasy novels?