River Wissey Lovell Fuller


November 2009

Dr Ian provides another of his humourous dissertations.

Are your moles as confused as mine?

You may recall that, earlier in the year, I wrote about how all the local wildlife seemed to regard our garden as a playground. A cock pheasant, exhausted by his eight hens, rabbits, local cats and, of course, moles. Now, male and female moles live apart most of the year, only coming together during the breeding season. I tried to discuss this arrangement with management but she didn't seem very keen. I never did work out whether it was the idea of living apart or of breeding which put her off! Anyway, the breeding season is from February to June and, during that time, the male moles tear about, digging over large areas in search of a mate. Moles are about six inches long, with a cylindrical body, and each one weighs about 4 ounces. During normal existence, each mole inhabits its own underground tunnel system covering an area or 400 to 2,000 square metres (2,000 sq metres is an area roughly half the size of a football pitch) and they can dig 20metres of tunnel every day, creating up to 15 mole hills, each with 5 litres of soil. So, the potential for disruption is significant! The collective noun for moles is a "company" and their collection of burrows is described as a "citadel".

I have noticed over the years that moles are no trouble when there is drought and the lawns are hard. Perhaps they operate deep underground at such times. We had the usual problem in the spring but, with the long, hot, dry summer, there have been no moles. However, the first rain after the summer led to chaos. There is obviously one mole which, intoxicated by the moisture and the soft soil near the surface of the lawn, has reacted to his jumbled hormones and gone looking for a mate! I awoke to see the lawn covered with mole hills and went ballistic. Closer inspection revealed a myriad of superficial tunnels, all standing proud of the lawn. I rescued my two ultrasonic mole "movers" from the shrubbery to discover that the batteries were exhausted.

This occurred on a Wednesday morning, the day Deannie and I usually go to Melbourn, near Royston, to help out with son Angus' and his wife Lizzie's twins and two-and-a-half year old son, Oliver. Head Office looks after the twins and I take Oliver out. A pattern has emerged. Oliver jumps in the car and climbs into his seat. I do up his straps. He asks for Chaz and Dave to be played loudly and for the sunshine roof to be opened. Some days, we go the a garden centre where there are fish and cage birds to look at and a superb little cafe which does an excellent all-day breakfast. Usually, we visit the market in Royston. We visit the adjacent hardware shop, on this occasion buying another pair of mole "movers", and then tour the market for batteries, cheap tools, etc. At this point, Oliver usually says "Grandpa, my tummy is empty - Shortbread?" while looking over the road to the WI market which sells home-made cakes and, of course, shortbread. Over we go, and give him just enough shortbread not to spoil his lunch. Of course, I manage to eat the remainder.

Back home in the dark, I renewed my defences. There are now four mole "movers" emitting sound waves every 30 seconds at 400 to 1,000Hz and I am happy to say that the old boy has given up and moved away. I suppose he could have gone off to find his deaf old uncle who would not be troubled by my ultrasonics.

I was mightily amused by the American attempt to determine whether or not the moon has water. They shot two rockets with the same mass as a transit van into the moon surface at 5.600mph, aimed at the spot where they believe there to be water, causing a crater about the size of a house. I had a picture in my mind of a little moon-man, perhaps with his wife and friends, kneeling over the only pool of water on the moon, washing his smalls when, suddenly, WHOOSH (twice) and they find themselves covered in dust and blown a couple of hundred yards away!

Humour across the North-South divide has been in the news recently - one joke I enjoyed concerned the southerner driving around a town near Wigan. He developed a slow puncture, drove into a garage and enquired "I say, my man, do you have an airline I could use?" The pithy reply came back "Airline, mate - we don't even have a 'bus station"

I have discussed Indian trains in the past. They travel slowly and carry more people on the roof than they do inside. When in India, I have fun trying to explain why we Brits are not allowed to travel on the roof of our trains. Head office drew my attention to an article: A girl called Rinku Debi Ray was travelling on the slow train to Bihar, in northeast India, when she inadvertently gave birth on the train WC. The unfortunate baby fell down the hole and on to the track. Rinku leapt from the train and recovered her child from the track. Both are now well.

In the same paper, I read about a German man who suffered serious burns after mistaking a flask of petrol for an alcoholic drink. He took a swig, spat it out onto a lighted cigarette and burned down his house.

Best wishes to you all

Ian G. Nisbet

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