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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Dirty Campaign

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Originally published November 7, 2008

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay.

It has been a dirty campaign. I’m not proud to say, in an effort to beat the mole digging up my yard, I’ve used some questionable tactics.

First, there was the garlic that I stuffed into the mole’s tunnels, the same way you stuff garlic into the cavity of a chicken before roasting it. Someone recommended garlic when I was looking for a humane and environmentally friendly way to get rid of the mole in my lawn.

Apparently, moles aren’t fond of garlic. As the thinking goes, the mole will be so repulsed by the garlic, it will seek more pleasant surroundings elsewhere, sort of like my preschooler who refuses to step foot in the kitchen if there are any strong food odors.

I decided moles aren’t as fussy as preschoolers, because the garlic didn’t have any effect. It also led me to scrutinize my preparation, as I do when my kids complain that my chicken doesn’t taste the same as when grandma makes it, the standard by which all food is measured.

When I first used the garlic, I simply crushed the cloves before putting it into the mole’s tunnels. I concluded that greater culinary finesse might be necessary, perhaps mincing the garlic and then sprinkling it.

But when that didn’t work, I decided to follow the lead of the great chef Emeril Lagasse, someone who knows finesse isn’t always enough and, at times, you need to turn it up a notch. So, I opted for something even more distasteful, a combination of castor oil, liquid soap and water, another recommendation I received for repelling moles. Modern gardeners, it seems, look to old-fashioned ways. I couldn’t easily associate foraging moles with naughty children, but if washing the mole’s mouth out with a foul-tasting liquid could shame it into leaving, I was prepared to try.

I can rarely claim success when it comes to slicing or mixing anything and it came as no surprise that my initial efforts didn’t chase the mole away. As my next step, I decided to leave the kitchen for the workshop, so I could construct windmills, something else recommended for getting rid of moles. It felt a bit like I was back in high school and, having flunked home economics, I was moving down the hall for shop class.

Moles are said to be sensitive to vibrations, so by placing several small toy windmills on my lawn, I might be able to drive away the mole. I went online and found a variety of kits for making windmills. I couldn’t help but be intimidated as I read the lists of parts and assembly information in the kits: “rotor, front housing with gear and rotor shaft, back housing, two half-screw caps, generator, LED unit, eight small screws, and detailed assembly instructions”.

Also, the kits had different ages indicated for use. There were some kits for kids 6-years-old and up and others for kids 14-years-old and up. Based on my experience helping my kids with their math homework over the years, I knew enough to choose the kit for younger kids. If I was no longer capable of helping my 12-year-old with her math, the way I used to do when she was younger, I figured the same rules applied to building windmills.

In the end, like Don Quixote, I was just tilting at windmills, because they had no apparent effect on the mole that continued digging up my lawn. Thankfully, Don Quixote had Sancho Panza, and I’ve also had support in my campaign to beat the mole. Similar to any campaign, there are people with strong opinions on both sides.

In reading the online postings of Georgia Gardener Forum, I found there are plenty of people who say moles should be left alone, because they are insectivores that eat only grubs and, in moderation, they do no harm. But others complain about the moles’ unsightly tunnels and how squishy the lawn feels over the tunnels.

Sometimes, in the heat of a campaign, someone from your side says something altogether disagreeable, in the process hitting a real hot button issue. Then, you have to question to which side you really belong, as I did after reading one of the Georgia Gardener postings. In response to the mole supporters, someone wrote: “If any of you mole lovers need a few more, come on over and take mine. I am looking to deport some.”

I didn’t like the sound of that comment. It made me think I needed to reconsider my whole position on having a mole in my yard. Perhaps it was time to ask the mole to stay.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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