Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CSI: Cherry Creek - Attack of the Mole People

First thing every morning I walk out into the garden yard to roll up the beach mats on the garden boat. The sun is shining beautiful and bright; the sky is that blue only an Island sky can be; there is a soft breeze kissing my cheek. I am entranced with the view of Mount Arrowsmith in the distance, across Cherry Creek.

I meander slowly around, checking the tomatoes, the peas that are left, the flowers, the herbs. Make a mental note to bring the loppers out later and trim back the weeping rose bush that is crowding the boat. Inhale the sweet scents. Get lost in the view again.

Gradually I work my way across the yard, checking various pots, until I get to the shed where the tomato and pea patch is. I untie the strings on the mats there and roll them up so the sun will warm the ground and entice the peas and Scarlet Runner beans to germinate quickly. And come to a screeching halt.

Let's back up a few hours...Before rolling down the mats over the pea and bean patch last night at dusk, I noticed that a few of the peas and one of the bean seeds had "popped" out of the earth. Hmmmmm, must have had the water from the nozzle turned up too high and washed the soil away from them. I poked them back into the earth and mounded some soil up over them. Still, it didn't seem like the spray of water was that strong.

Flash forward to now...Not only are those same pea seeds and that one bean seed popped out of the soil again, but a couple of the pea seeds have been.....CHEWED! I squint my eyes. Is that...footprints? Tiny little footprints and is that a HOLE AT THE BASE OF THE WALL!!?!! I follow the tiny footprint trail. There, to the right of the McKenzie Sugar Snap seed box and at the base of the wall, another hole! Is it a rat? The holes at the base of the wall are pretty small. A mouse? Then why didn't the mouse pack the seeds away? Could it be......MOLE PEOPLE???

Naw, we don't have moles on the Island. Do we? We have rats, and field mice and shrews. No gophers thank goodness, and no ground squirrels. But MOLES? On the prairies years ago we had trouble with pocket gophers. The little beggers would dig up under where your plants were growing and in the blink of an eye, your plant was gone. Pulled down into their burrow for the family stew pot. But back to the Mole People. Something had dug the holes, popped the seeds out of the soil and chewed some of them up.

Richard comes home from stacking bales and I nag him out into the yard for a look at the mystery. "Do we have Voles here?" he asks. Hmmmmm, Voles. I go to the internet to check. Yes, it says, we have Townsend Voles, which are a rodent not as large as a rat but larger than a mouse and they usually burrow near water. What it doesn't say, however, is if they have an appetite for pea and bean seeds. "Do you want me to set a trap?" Richard asks. "Not yet" I reply. But I am thinking about it.

What I really wish is that I had what my dad always referred to as a "ball-bearing mousetrap". That would do the trick. It's quick, efficient, humane and environmentally friendly. Safe. Leaves no carbon footprint. That should keep everyone happy.

What's a ball-bearing mousetrap, you ask?
Felis Domesticus.

I still think it's Mole People. I'll keep you informed.

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