Monday, February 11, 2008
Mole and Ratty
It is the Year of the Rat. I knew that. I did not need the children coming home with Chinese lanterns, fortune cookies and an astrological chart to tell me that. Of course it is the Year of the Rat and the revolution started here. Not only are they eating up our foodstuffs and setting fire to our cars, I believe one of them may have infiltrated the underneath of my house and died there a martyr to the cause. I have a horrible smell in the kitchen. You catch it as you walk into the door from the farmyard or as you walk into the kitchen from the lounge and the smell is in an arc. If I am lucky it is a mouse which will take less time to decompose.If I am less lucky it is a dead rat. I believe he may have strapped explosives to himself, tied a bandana round his head and am daily expecting his video to appear on YouTube. The smell is disgusting, slightly cheesy, slightly off, slightly dead. We have done the things you do - pulled out the fridge, tipped over the sofa, emptied the dresser then refilled it. Still the smell. There is an outside chance it might be a dead mole. We have now called a mole-catcher in courtesy of the large number of hillocks splattering the common grass in front of the cottages. He arrived yesterday with a small, curved spade about 80 years old and a large satchel with two mole traps in it. Mole traps are steel contraptions made of half a tin can and a deal of wire rings. The mole catcher used to be in the army he told me. I suspected as much. He inspected the hillocks for fresh earth which is drier looking than old earth, looking for the most recent mole hills. He dug his heel into the ground between two of the hillocks. When the heel of his boot sank into the ground, he knew there was a tunnel below. Carefully he dug out a round of grass, "washed" his hands with soil to remove his scent, dug through the soil to the tunnel, set the trap, placed it in the tunnel and filled it over with soil. He said moles were quite clever and sometimes filled the trap with soil to set it off then dug themselves a way around it. Apparently they dig their tunnels in the hope worms will fall into them and then they can eat them next time they are passing that way. The mole-catcher came back today and as a true professional seemed disappointed that the moles had indeed triggered the traps but escaped to dig another day. I felt like telling him: "If you think moles are clever, you should meet the rats round here - they want talks with the Scottish Nationals."