In cleaning out the tool shed upon moving into our home two years ago, I almost tossed out the funny looking, conical-shaped container of half-used mole poison left behind by the previous owner. Yet instead of seeing the yellow bottle as potential trash, I should have seen it as a prophetical forewarning of battles yet to come.
For though there was no sign of them in my lawn last year, the end of this summer and early fall changed all that. The attack started simply enough. I noticed a few raised areas on the edge of my property. Thinking little of it, I stamped them down and walked away with a smug “that’ll show them” attitude. I shake my head now thinking of how inexperienced at war I was!
For before I knew what had happened, their boots in the ground campaign turned my yard into what looks like someone’s idea of an upside down battlefield. Trenches pushing earth upward hiding the soldiers. Mounds of earth every few feet in certain areas forming upside down craters, as if small bombs had exploded underground. Supply lines of tasty grubs below fueling the troops onward. Exhausting my leftover bottle of poison in one area only to have them perform tactical maneuvers and open up new fronts on other parts of the lawn. By the time my lawn had crazy, ankle-twisting labyrinths running all over it, I realized I desperately needed a new battle plan.
Then I remembered how my dad used to fight moles. Our home in Michigan sat on land with cornfields on two sides. We would occasionally have moles in our yard. Dad would walk out as the sun began to set saying he was going out on “mole patrol.” He went out in the lawn armed with a pitchfork and our cockapoo named Pepsi at his side. My memory is of him watching the ground for a few minutes. He would then see a mole moving the earth a bit, swing the pitchfork down into the earth and toss out the mole, then watch as Pepsi with one crunch finished the critter off. Yet either the moles in Pennsylvania are more devious or, more likely, I am still not out of boot camp. For all my guard duty, at dusk or even at night with flashlight and Dad’s battle-proven pitchfork in hand, netted no sightings of the critters. Perhaps it is for the best, for even if I had unearthed one my dog, Oscar, would have been afraid of it.
Some research helped. I discovered that moles can dig through the earth at an astonishing rate of fifteen feet an hour. That may not sound all that fast above ground, but below it? Thus, a lawn can have an incredible amount of damage done by just a mole or two in a few days. This fact, combined with the knowledge they are basically solitary creatures, generally only finding others of their own kind during mating season (another amazing underground achievement), gave me hope that I was only battling a few culprits rather than the troop that it seemed. Further reading led me to a two-pronged weapons plan.
First, I bought a Tomcat Mole Trap. I went to YouTube to learn how to set it. (This instructional video is pretty humorous if you are not squeamish about a crushed mole. They are not paying me for this free advertising but I am a happy customer.) After numerous attempts, I am happy to report that I have caught three. Additionally, I learned the leftover pellets I was using was old technology, replaced with what amounts to poisoned gummy worms the moles cannot refuse. So I also put those in their tunnels throughout the yard. I am happy to report that the tide has turned. At the moment, it looks like I am down to just one remaining foe in the corner of my yard.
Of course, I know some of the pacifists out there would think the moles should be live trapped and released. After all, they are marvelous little creatures, one of the properly designated “creeping things of the earth.” Some would say they could be released in the woods behind our house. Yet at their tunneling rate, they would be back within a day or two. Besides, the Bible does remind us that moles were listed among the unclean animals (Lev. 11:29) and occupy a place where idols should be cast (Isa. 2:20). As such, they can represent worldliness, as John Bunyan captured in his little poem “Of the Mole in the Ground.”
The mole’s a creature very smooth and slick,
She digs i’ th’ dirt, but ’twill not on her stick;
So’s he who counts this world his greatest gains,
Yet nothing gets but’s labour for his pains.
Earth’s the mole’s element, she can’t abide
To be above ground, dirt heaps are her pride;
And he is like her who the worldling plays,
He imitates her in her work and ways.
Poor silly mole, that thou should’st love to be
Where thou nor sun, nor moon, nor stars can see.
But O! how silly’s he who doth not care
So he gets earth, to have of heaven a share!
Indeed, my meditations during my mole battles have instructed me with this very lesson. Sin can quietly tunnel in then quickly take over, first acting as an intruder but then becoming a possessor. To gain earth only to lose heaven is no gain at all. If it is better to have a yard rid of moles than letting the moles rid me of a yard, then certainly it is better to have salvation rid me of sin than have sin rid me of salvation. Indeed, diligence is needed, in the words of another Puritan, “to be killing sin lest it be killing you.”