Notes From the Bird House – Tastes Like Chicken

In 2005 my husband, daughter, son and three dogs moved into our family built home. At first, we had construction ground. Ya know, dirt, grass, dirt, grass, bump, tree, dirt, grass, etc. My father in law did all the excavating and to his credit he left more grass than dirt. This lead to a full grass lawn within a year and a half. And that is when it all began.

One afternoon my husband and I were cutting the grass. Every time I got off the mower, I would fall into a hole. These holes would always have an underground tunnel attached to them which was evident from the turned up dirt on top of the ground. Some of the holes were small and some, like the ones I kept falling in, were huge. I could not figure out what type of animal would make both large and small holes. Finally, I decided it had to be moles. Being from the south, that was a critter I was familiar with. However, these trails were so much longer and wider than what I had been accustomed to. I hike a lot around my neighborhood and I would spot thousands of tiny holes with underground trails attached to them. DANG! We were infested. When I hike I almost always take my dogs, Mutt, Jeff and Lucy. (Their names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.) They love to go any place outside and I like their awareness, it keeps me on my toes.

This particular day I was trying to get home before the rain started. I was hootin’ and hollerin’ for the dogs to keep up. As I got to our driveway, I looked around for the them. They were no where to be seen. Lucy was my oldest, at 17 pounds she was one of the smallest, and the love of my life. We were perfectly in sync with each other so for her to not be at my side was unusual. There had been some sightings of mountain lions close to our neighborhood and I was not about to lose one or both of my dogs like that. I had to back track. They were not on the road so that meant getting back in to the woods. I followed my footsteps back until I spotted them, well one of them. As I turned the bend, I noticed Lucy jumping up and down into the air then she would dart back and forth like an out of control wind up toy. I could see her stop and run back over to the other dog, Mutt, and soon after it would start all over again. I had never seen either of my dogs act like this before so to say I approached cautiously would be an accurate statement. As I got closer, I saw my Lucy covered in dirt. I’m not talking ’bout a little dirt; I’m talking dirt stuck to her wet nose, in her runny allergy eyes, in her ears and all over her body. It was stuck to and in every cavity she had. Then I saw why she was in such a state. My big dog, 70 pound Mutt, was digging in the dirt like a high speed auger. Dirt was flying as far as four feet back and at least 2 feet high. I watched them for a while to try to figure out what they were after. I would notice that every time Mutt would tire the little one, Lucy, would run to the big hole and start sniffing. It was not one of those dainty sniff, sniff, kind of sniffs. It was the kind that you would see on the cartoons. Ya’ know, the animal would sniff the hole so hard it would suck up everything under the ground into its nose. Hence, all the dirt on her nose, which was now caked so thick that she’d lost her nostrils. As soon as they saw me, they went into a frenzy. Mutt jumped up and started digging like the wind with an occasional pause to see if I were watching her. Lucy was running after the dirt trying to catch it in mid-air. Then all of a sudden I saw some kind of critter fly by as if it had been shot out of a cannon. Lucy was all ready in flight when she caught it. Then she ran like the devil under a bush. Big dog, Mutt, had no idea that Lucy had claimed the prize and was off enjoying the fruits of Mutt’s labor. Mutt was still digging, digging and Lucy was munching, munching. It was not long before Mutt stopped to smell the hole. Immediately her head pops UP and she looks around for Lucy. She knew she had been duped. She starts running in circles trying to find her. Soon they were both in the bushes. Out they came, Lucy was caring what looked like a big ole’ fat tailless rat with Mutt hot on her paws. I made her stop and drop. UGH! A half eaten something. It looked like a grayish, stubby tailed ratlike-thingy. I gave Lucy the go ahead and by the time we got home she had eaten it all. Poor Mutt couldn’t do a thing but watch all of her hard work go down Lucy’s throat. Lucy was looking at Mutt, with those cute twinkly eyes, as if to say, “Tastes like chicken.”

After I got home, I asked my husband, a native born Cloudcroftian, what the heck it was. He called it a Vole. It turns out these critters eat tree roots. They leave hundreds, if not thousands, of holes and trails all through your yard. It is suggested that a trap be used to catch them. Or you can use poison….UGH! Or you can do like me and turn your dogs on them. No ucky traps to empty, no killing of innocent critters with the poison, just good old fun for your dogs. You may even experience a decrease in your pet food budget. Of course, there is that little “large holes to fall into” problem. But hey, the dogs are happy.

As for the moles, I’ve been told you should place pinwheels in the ground. It’s said that the vibrations from the pinwheel spinning will disturb the moles and cause them to search out food in other areas. We carry a large selection of pinwheels both large and small at The Bird House so come on in and check them out. They will not only be chasing away the moles, they will look awesome in your yard.

A sad note: Kazooie, aka Lucy, died November 20, 2010. It is a hard thing to lose one’s shadow. I still love, remember, and miss her antics. The best dog I ever had. I love you sweet baby girl.

Until next week,