Early last Spring, on one of our walks to Cotter Force in the Dales, I published photographs of the huge mole hills and did a blog about moles. On Sunday, on our way to a dinner date, we called again to walk at the Force (Yorkshire speak for waterfall) and saw that the same field had huge mole hills all over it.
Now there are those among us who feel it is cruel to destroy moles. They certainly are very pretty little creatures with their velvet coats, long snouts and shovel-hands. They are expert at digging tunnels and clever enough to know that as they dig those tunnels worms drop in their laps, so to speak - worms, their favourite food.
The hills of loam which they put up all over the place serve no useful purpose, they are merely heaps of soil which the mole pushes out of the way as he digs his tunnel. Gardeners love to collect this loam to fill their flower pots; it is usually delicious stuff for planting.
But, of course, the farmer finds these heaps of loam all over his grass field a nuisance. To start with where there is a molehill there is little or no grass, and secondly, when silaging takes place this soil tends to get into the silage bales, which is not good. So most farmers set mole traps to catch the moles on their land. I am torn two ways.
They are such pretty little creatures. In the old days gamekeepers used to catch them and skin them and have waistcoats made from the velvet skins. Often they would impale the dead moles, along with rats, crows and other 'vermin' on a string of barbed wire - to advertise to the world (and their bosses in particular) that they were doing their job properly.
Sometimes moles do come above ground and then they eat small dead vermin too. But mainly they spend most of their lives underground and are consequently nearly blind.
There is a little nature piece in the Times today, which says that they make a dome like mound under a bush for Mrs Mole to have her babies in May and they also use this little space to lay up in winter. But from our walk on Sunday I can tell you that once the ground loses the frost Mr and Mrs Mole are up to their tricks again - and long may they continue.
I know some readers in US are unsure of what a mole looks like. Later in the day, when I have a little more time, I will try to put a photograph on to go with this blog.