Sunday 17 January 2016

The "Mole catcher" forty years on

Rooting around in the loft this morning I unearthed a forty four year old photograph of a mole-catcher at work. The long hair, sideburns and donkey jacket with string round the waist gives you a clue to the date, nineteen seventy two. It's not just work clothes that have changed Health and Safety legislation just would not allow it now.

The Ministry of Agriculture gave you a licence to buy strychnine, one of the deadliest poisons known,  to kill moles in pasture land. After getting enough strychnine to kill an elephant or a pack of hyenas you mixed it quite literally in a can of worms. The only safety measure was to have the can on a string, no rubber gloves you'll notice.

Next you found the mole run, scraped away the soil above the entrance and used a small twig to lift out a worm and then drop it in the run.this was repeated across the field. Next day, no more moles and no new mole hills to blunt the blades of the mower or to contaminate the silage. He did wash his hands afterwards and placed the can along with the strychnine on a high shelf  in the workshop for the next time. This was hazard and safety awareness at the time.

The mole-catcher survived but the haircut is now a number four all over and he's about ten kilos heavier.

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