"Murder", she cried. "Fighting", he replied.

Moles are delightful furry animals. Quite small even though on the pudgy side. They do look weirdly funny with their rather big hands and small feet.

If you get to see one... Alive, I mean. Moles are rather blind and not really prone to run around in the open. They dig tunnels and spend their time trapping earthworms which they hoard up by hundreds, so people say since I have never been inside one of those tunnels...

In Brittany and elsewhere (except in Germany I think), moles are pests. They are lurking about in the gardens and in the fields and along the roads. Everywhere... Right below your feet but invisible until one day, you take a walk on the lawn and you feel some unusual softness here and there. It hasn’t rained in a while so you really wonder what is going on... but only for the first time it happens in your life.

Because you learn fast. The following morning when you open the shutters, your beautiful lawn has turned into a battlefield. Molehills everywhere!

And then what?

Well, our lawn is not beautiful. It looks like an oldish and quite worn rug and it is currently waiting for a facelift, this fall. So no worries about our lawn.

The thing is that we have set off on a new adventure, garden-wise.

Its latest version I wrote about last year was unsatisfactory since it still left too much space to the worn-out lawn. This became obvious last fall and we started planning a new version.

Planning and designing a garden filled with flowers. Flowers from Brittany and from exotic places as well since our friend Yves loves to try out strange plants, especially in our garden. We wanted bright colors, fascinating and unusual shapes, and above all, plants that would attract hundreds of insects and passerines.

Color, beauty, scents, buzzing and warbling.

As usual, it will take quite a few more months and probably years to reach our dream! But we are patient and ready to plant and wait and plant again and wait... Nature is a slow worker and needs to be acknowledged as such.
Upon his arrival to Les Tertres, by the end of July, Popeye had a fit... Lots of molehills everywhere... but confined to our “lawn”... It was exceptionally rainy and wet and the ground had turned very soft. Earthworms were having a field day. Not for long though.

Moles adore earthworms. But they also have a weakness for young and yummy roots... And one day, they invaded (creating their own underground passages) the forbidden zone -- our very young and fragile flower garden.

“This is unforgivable”, said Popeye who knows how to stop them.

I hate this kind of situation where we have to kill and destroy... well, hornets are different. We act pitilessly whenever hornets build a nest in our chimney (which happened this summer too).

But moles...

Popeye called the mole-catcher who answered that he was overbooked... Rainy days, soft grounds, earthworms and... moles! (And our village boasts one of the most extraordinary golf course in France... which is the reason why our mole-catcher was very busy. Molehills are not welcome on a golf course.)

Popeye is a very good sailor but he has more than one trick up his sleeve. He's spent years watching the mole-catcher and he felt he was ready to set traps on his own.

Setting traps is not this easy. You have to discover which way the mole is going and re-create the tunnels using your imagination. Remember, everything happens underground...
First traps and no results. More molehills everywhere. But Popeye is as stubborn as a mule.

The moles were very bright. They sensed the traps and they steered clear of them...

Until Saturday night, quite late...

From the far end of the garden, someone started whooping with unconcealed joy. Popeye had made a kill!

I am not squeamish about blood nor dead animals. I have lived in the country long enough to face harsh reality but... it really bothered me to listen to Popeye being so jubilant about his “victory”.

Actually I think he was mostly happy because now he could tell the mole-catcher he did not need him this bad anymore...

I ended up walking to the scene of the crime. She looked perfect. Asleep, sort of. And I was mesmerized because I had never seen a mole in all my life...

And of course, being a photographer... I could not resist... even though I was still upset! Photographers can be real vultures, I know!

Popeye checked his traps, straightened a couple of them which meant that a mole (or two or three) had been there and was still having a good laugh about the whole thing...

Not quite though because on Sunday morning, right after breakfast, there were new whooping sounds... One more mole. Two more moles. Three more moles.

It started looking like battlegrounds with corpses lined up... Not very pleasant.

But so interesting to study moles very closely after all. Beautiful fur and extremely efficient paws.

Impressive shadow of one hand!
It was quite a surprise to discover their strong jaw and perfect sharp teeth... I had always imagined that earthworms would be quite easy to gobble down... sucked up like a strand of spaghetti! Obviously not. Moles do chomp.

Popeye had to go back to (real) work on Sunday night. 
I am not a mole-catcher. Our friend Bernard came to check the traps. He was quite impressed with Popeye’s cunning. (He knows how to trap moles, being a farmer.) The traps were empty though. And new molehills had come out... So our garden moles are still alive and well. Most of them that is.

Except for the three casualties. Let me reassure you. They did not suffer. The traps work speedily and very efficiently. One click and they are dead.

I know because I was there when the third one got caught... Not that I was waiting for the kill. I was watching Popeye while he was setting the trap. He was getting ready to set a stone above the opening when she ran "blindly" into the trap. And she died instantly.
And thus I got used to watching my mate making kills to protect our territory, just like in prehistoric times.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Very interesting! We saw our first mole this summer—found it dead in the garden. Our backyard had been all tunneled through previous to our find. But I don't think they're considered too pesky here. And they're gone now...

Best of luck reclaiming your lawn!