Ok, he does look wet, there was a little rainwater in the bucket. And he looks unhappy, but the court was fair I thought. Bear with me and it will turn out well in the end.
A few days ago I was out shoveling dirt into another of my “Intensive Trenches!” and when I turned to get another shovel full I saw Moleman and a smaller Moleman battling for supremacy out in the open, just as though this whole place belonged to them. It seemed to be mostly about whose nose was the biggest, there was lots of shoving going on. I said, “Hey! I live here too!” and instead of smashing them both to pulp I scooped up as many moles as I could carry (one) and took him to the bucket prison on the porch.
Moles have a horrible reputation these days, among both gardeners and lawn-owners. I’ve found that moles are actually good companion animals to have around, if you garden, although I’ve never been able to get Moleman to walk with me on a leash. He’s too independent and his head is very small. Most people object to moles because they have lawns, and a mole sees a lawn as a fantastic source of worms. So the lawn gets a maze of mole feeding tunnels, plus mounds of dirt the moles pile up, because being moles they assume no one up there cares about dirt, it’s open country. If you like flat grass just three inches, tall, you hate moles. I mowed lawns for a living for decades and even though I tried to talk people into planting corn or watermelon, no one paid attention. Now, me and Moleman are partners.
Moles get a bad rap, blamed for eating plants and all sorts of garden mayhem. If you see a mound of new dirt in your yard with no exit hole, that’s a molehill. If you see a mound of dirt with an opening and a fan-shaped mound in front of it, that’s a gopher. I cannot coexist with gophers, but I’m ok living with a mole, and there’s usually only one here because moles are very territorial creatures. I’m one of the few living humans to actually see a battle between moles, above ground, and actually it wasn’t all that exciting. Moles usually go around plants, but their feeding tunnels do open access to other creatures like field mice or “voles.” Then it’s the Disney cartoon thing where the plants disappear into the ground. Gophers also do that, and if you have gophers the only real solution is to bury an underground fence. If you just have moles, step on the tunnels, they won’t come back through the same feeding tunnels again and it seals out the mice. Moles eat insects and worms, they love gardens because they are little tiny lions and little tiny antelope/worms are their prey. It’s a balance of nature thing.
I have heavy clay here. Moleman aerates the soil, improves the drainage, totally loves the ditches I dig and is busy all summer long digging them up again. We work together.
Still, I do get irritated when for the third time! I come out in the morning to find that someone has uprooted the birdhouse gourds FOR THE THIRD TIME! and even though it was the coons the first two times, I will focus on Moleman if he’s the third offender. I’ve caught him twice. Both times I have considered terminating him with extreme prejudice. Both times I have realized he does more good than harm.
So, Moleman’s sentence was to confess to digging up the birdhouse gourds, and then ten minutes in bucket prison before I released him into the compost heap. I don’t think prison reformed him one bit. He sniffed the air, said, “Worms!” and off he went into the Mole underworld. Now the gourds are so big they don’t actually care what he does.