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The countryside can be cruel

On a farm not far from my home, evidence of a gruesome practice that still continues to this day - dead moles hung from the barbs of a barbed-wire fence. These "little gentlemen in black velvet" were toasted by Jacobites due to the part they played in the death of William of Orange ( his horse stumbled on a mole hill and he died from his injuries). Portrayed as gentle little characters in popular fiction with tiny eyes, old-man hands and snuffling, pointed snouts they are well adapted to their subterranean lifestyle. Eating almost their body weight in earthworms every day, they excavate an impressive amount of soil as they dig their tunnels and hunt for worms using sensors on the end of their snout.


And therein lies the problem - not only are the resultant molehills unsightly but the soil mixed in with hay or silage may carry listeria that can kill sheep when they're fed on this in winter.

Some think the moles are hung there to deter other moles. The actual reason is more prosaic - the mole catcher employed by the farmer to trap the moles is paid by the animal. Stringing them up avoids any dubiety.


As James Rebanks wrote in an opinion piece in the Guardian

"Two generations ago, everyone killed at least some of the things they ate, or saw them killed at close hand. Think of Seamus Heaney's poem about a the killing of a pig when he was young - animals being slaughtered in public was considered normal , and still is over much of the globe. But in may parts of the western world we have become ashamed of death. In this strange imaginary countryside, farmers have become the worst version of us, the people with bloody hands who do our dirty work."


I'd love to hear your thoughts on the forum.

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