If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em

Yesterday I hauled about 9 barrowsful of molehills offa my front pasture, probably another couple to go– but wait!! apparently the moles went DEEPER to avoid last night’s low temperatures, now I’ve got NEW hills atop previously cleared locations… DEFINITELY 2 more barrowsful.  >>SIGH!!<< 

Moles were here to greet us when we moved in 18 years ago.  The soil’s perfect for burrows, about 38% clay: that means when the guy from Ag Extension comes out and picks up a handful of your garden dirt, he can widge it out between his fingers 19 times before the widge falls over.  I spent YEARS hauling stable cleanings, and pilfered leaves ahead of street sweepers in Eugene, to help loosen up this mineral-rich soil so as the plants could get to it.  Gardening was a duckndodge with the moles, Townsend’s moles, moreover, who not only tunneled and mounded all over but felled 3-year-old fruit trees by eating off all their roots– we’d attempt to straighten a listing tree and actually pull it up with ease!!!!

This was WAR.

 The trapper next door came over and showed my husband a trick or 2— we caught ONE mole in a trap and went out triumphantly to purchase more traps, but hey!!!  word had apparently spread thru the entire mole population and we never caught nary another one.

Smoke bombs were spectacular but whoa, they DESTROYED all organisms in the soil.  Not cool.

Sticking Wrigley’s JuicyFruit Gumsticks down the tunnels seemed somehow sophomoric.

Michelle from Perelandra Gardens back East said to just get in touch with the moles and ask them to move elsewhere.

This seemed worth trying on the morning I discovered ALL my peas had been pulled underground.

I sat down in the middle of the garden with the intention of getting in touch with the Mole King.

Me (propitiatively):  “Uh, Sir, could you kindly move your people over there into the woods, or at least SHARE?  I’d be willing to go half-&-half…”

Mole Potentate (dripping with disdain):  “FUCK YOU!!” 


So… We’d been ‘putting up with them’– planting in LARGE containers, squashing small mounds underfoot and pretending they were never there, gritting our teeth at occasional destruction, gathering the tailings with resentful smugness to mix for potting soil.

Until yesterday.

It took me a couple-few hours to clear the front pasture of all those mounds.  Gives one the time to settle in and contemplate matters… If you use a trowel to swipe the mounds onto a dustpan, it’s pretty efficient.  The grass underneath was just WAITING for me to come along and let it out to continue growing… and occasional mounds even had small gifties top center!  I collected a tumbled yellow jasper, a red jasper, two rusty bottlecaps and an unidentifiable piece of plastic trash.

Got to thinking about these little guys…  I always SAY  I  honor the unassailable wisdom of Mother Nature…  What about moles?? Here before me, hard at work… hard at work AERATING MY 38% CLAY SOIL with their little tunnels, that’s what!!!!!  Doing their natural best to improve matters for all things great and small.

My attitude did a 180: now I’m ‘way busy with gratitude, thanking them and blessing them (and collecting their tailings (and gifts) for human purposes).

Could’ve named this blog entry “Live & Let Live” just as well…

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  1. I totally relate!! We have been battling with pocket gophers for four years! Plus our soil is so bad, can not even find a worm. So we decided to put in raised beds and then we can make our own soil in the boxes, we made them out of scrap lumber and put a row of chicken wire around the top, the first year we did that the veg. were great. But then they crawled under the beds so last year we had to dig down around the sides of the bed and lay down chicken wire and covered it with soil…..so far so good. One morning when I looked out the window I could see mounds of dirt in the llama pasture……the moles moved in after the gophers……but we did have great vegetables……..if the moles are back next year I will do as you did and just scoop up the mounds of dirt and put it in the raised beds……thanks for the great idea!! Love your blog.

  2. I read Wind in the Willows many times when I was young and I think a good river rat might be able to lure the moles away.
    Was I the only one who soaked the page with tears when Mole had to choose between his old home and his friendship with Rat?
    But he left and chose the river. Right on Mole!

  3. I planted my moles there own garden full of everything they loved and they left me alone. root crops were especially appreciated broadcasting radish seeds works well

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