Archive for May, 2010

The Misunderstood Quirks Of The Mole

May 29, 2010

We don’t have any moles in Ireland.  I don’t know why really, as they are fairly common in the UK.  Perhaps they are a late species and came along after the Irish Sea was formed.  They certainly don’t look like powerful swimmers so unless they are introduced in a similar manner to the grey squirrel (an unwanted wedding present that escaped) Irish gardeners can rest easy.

That’s what they’re famous for really isn’t it? The debris earth they spurt to the surface as they make their way through the land looking for dinner.  Humans have always assumed they own the world so when a harmless animal like the mole has the cheek to do what is natural to him, he is called a pest and is trapped and killed.

Moles are in fact not pests.  They do no damage to the land they populate and apart from the “unsightly” presence of a few molehills, do no harm to a garden.  In fact educated gardeners tend to just tidy away the molehills and leave them be. This way their garden will have a metro of underground tunnels and any future moles that come along will have no need to dig up any more Earth.  How simple is that?

If however, a gardener simply cannot put up with such a sweet little animal making an eyesore, there is a much more ethical (and simple) way to deter unwanted moles.

Step 1: Find an empty 2 litre coke bottle (or 7up…it doesn’t really matter)

Step 2: Fill it half way with water

Step 3: Dig a small hole in the garden so the bottle will stay upright

Step 4: wait

Remember when you were a child and you discovered the sound a bottle makes when it is half full with water and you blow on it?  Well, that sound is like nails on a chalkboard to a mole. Whenever a breeze passes the neck it will send vibrations throughout the earth and any mole within range will leave out of irritation. Problem solved, and no moles harmed at all, just a little peeved.

Still you must ask yourself which is worse. The natural sight of a few molehills that shows your garden is a healthy ecosystem, or a plastic bottle sticking out of the ground?  Your choice.

As I said Ireland don’t have moles so molehills were not part of my landscape. The first and only time I came across them was in a park in Munich a few years ago. I got so excited I asked a passerby to take a picture.

Readers of this blog will know that I have bitched previously about how native (or nearly native) animals are often ignored by Zoos and Wildlife Centers.  I don’t understand why animals that live on the other side of the planet, like meerkats and koalas are much more familiar to people than more common animals such as the mole.

I realize, as an underground animal the mole is hardly an ideal exhibit for a Zoo, however I still strongly feel all Zoos should have a section devoted to local wildlife where we can actually benefit from the education in providing for our local environment.

Still, perhaps it is in the interest of the mole not to be shoved into an artificial atmosphere.   I’m sure they would much rather reside in their cozy tunnels harming nobody except for the occasional earthworm.

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I Need Your Help…..

May 18, 2010

When I was a child my father discovered opera.  Like most fathers he dabbled in diverse interests and only settled on a few, but opera stuck.  I didn’t know who Pink Floyd was,  or even the Beatles, but I did know Puccini and Wagner intimately.  Tosca was his favorite and every evening while cleaning the kitchen he would blast a warbling Italian Diva from the stereo and duet with her. I never found it strange. My friends did.


So ingratiated was Tosca in my young life that I used to “play” Tosca. This involved forcing my friends to play Mario (Tosca’s doomed lover) and play dead while I imitated the firing squad. Then like the multi tasking actor I was, I switched roles to Tosca, and, discovering my dead buddy, screamed and jumped off a wall…pretending to kill myself.  This seemed like the most natural thing in the world to my 6 year old self and when I finally twisted my parents arms to buy me a puppy,  the only name that we could possibly call the dog was, can you guess?  Tosca.

Tosca was a lovely little Cairn terrier who gave us 15 years of joy before she passed away in her basket last summer. It was heart breaking but she lived a ripe age and we were so glad she didn’t need to be put down by a vet.  She is now buried in that same basket underneath a Rowan tree in our garden.  A plaque that used to live on her kennel is now nailed to the tree. It says “Tosca”, with two theatrical masks painted on, one smiling and one frowning.

Now we think its time to move on a get a new dog, but we face a major dilemma.  How do we top a name like Tosca?  It’s so easy to come up with a good name for a male dog, but when it comes to a female dog…shit it’s hard. You want something that is feminine but not soppy.  Catchy and short, but it also should be original and witty.

Anne Boleyn

So I need your help. We’re trying to think of a name for a female dog (possibly a cocker spaniel though that could change) and we want it to, like Tosca, have some roots in culture (at the moment we’re thinking Boleyn, as in Anne Boleyn.  I like the reference, but I’m not sure it’s catchy enough).  If someone comments on this with an awesome name suggestion that we end up picking, I will give you a reward. I’m not sure what it will be yet…but I promise it will be something awesome.