Spring, the grass is growing and it is time to bash the mole hills. This period of dry sunny weather has made the mole hills friable and easy to spread, so I have been out in the hay field armed with a rake and doing just that.
While raking, I have been thinking on the benefits of the mole. There must be some, surely??! Over lunch I decided to have a quick search and see what other people thought.
First off, I found out that I am probably not the only person out in the field, rake in hand, meditating on moles – Moles, a Permaculture Perspective
Then I came across this article. It contains a nice summery of the mole and it’s behaviour, as well as some of the benefits of their incessant tunnelling. There were the usual ones, indicator of good earthworm numbers, drainage etc, but a couple of them stood out a bit more.
There are the moles of Haughton Castle, Northumberland. They are thought to have bought the seeds of Alchemilla micans, a rare member of the lady’s mantle family to the surface and provided an ideal site for the plants to germinate. I have often thought that mole hills may provide a similar service for Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor ), which requires bare soil to germinate.
But my favorite were the archaeological moles of Whitley Castle in west Northumberland. They burrow in the old Roman site of Epiacum, a scheduled ancient monument where no digging or excavation is permitted, and have brought artefacts to the surface including a piece of Samian ware pottery and a jet bead.
Inspired by the archaeological moles I kept a closer eye on the mole hills after lunch. After all, there is a ancient site at Penboyr Church, just up the road, so you never know what might turn up….
Later in the year when I am mowing in the hayfield and hit a mole hill with my blade that I only sharpened two minutes ago, I will try not to curse, but instead remember all the work achieved by the humble mole.