The musings of a ponderous woman.

Tonight I was took a late evening walk, at the end of yet another rainy July day. Towards the end of the perambulation,  I was travelling along a path bordered on one side by shrubs and the other by grass. There was a migration happening, not of wildebeest but of slugs and snails, across the path from the shrubs to the grass. I don’t know why they chose to carry out this activity, perhaps they graze like cattle at night.

Being the animal lover I am, I trod carefully so as not to squish any, a common episode leaving an explosive mess of slug jam. I avoided walking on them not just to keep my shoes ‘jam-free’ but to actually avoid harming the little blighters.

But is it so wrong to kill a slug?

Slugs have been the downfall of my vegetable patch this year. Myself, along with thousands of other gardeners around the country, have a nightly routine of slug catching and a morning routine of groaning at the loss of yet another runner bean plant. With the relentless rain this year, I think we can definitely say that 2012 is the year of the slug.

But despite the loss of my precious hand-reared veggies, I just cannot find it in my heart to kill them. I have, until recently, resorted to beer traps, thinking that at least they will die happy, but the rain keeps diluting the beer. I hate slug pellets, a danger to wildlife and a no no in a garden hosting free-range chickens. I have had limited success with copper tape, until the plants grow too big to be contained within the ‘force field of electrical doom’.

I have, however, had some success with sweetcorn and tomato plants. Seems slugs and snails don’t like hairy leaves. (I feel an experimental cheaper alternative to copper tape in the form of ‘hairy stuff’ might be worth investigating). If we get another summer like this one, which I am sure that we will, grow sweetcorn and tomatoes guys, perhaps not the range of produce you might like, but at least it will still be there in the morning!

But back to the slugs. The other night (Sad story this) I was walking into town (rainy day again) and came across a slug going across the pavement. From it’s ‘what should be inside me is now outside me’ look (sorry if you are eating dinner), the slug had obviously been trodden on. Despite this slight set back, the slug was still determined to get across the pavement, and yes, it definitely had a look of determination on it’s face. I was rather impressed by this slug. It didn’t curl up into a pathetic heap awaiting it’s inevitable end. It was still adamant that it was going to finish what it had set out to so. Determined. Resolute. Dying. (yes, I know it was only a slug, yes, perhaps I am a tad too sentimental, or just mental).

So back to my original question – does a slug have a soul? A lot of people would argue that WE have a soul, or in-body energy presence if you like. Many would also argue that this is true of dogs, cats, horses etc. But what about sheep, or pigs? Does it ever cross the mind of Trevor the artic lorry driver at Heston Services that the full english that he is tucking into contains parts of a fellow soul carrier? Probably not. But why not? if we as living breathing animals on this planet can have a soul, why not a pig? or a rabbit? what about birds, fish, zooplankton? Where would one actually draw the line?


I have no intention of answering the questions that I posed. But I do think about the determination of that dying slug. Maybe he didn’t have a soul, but he certainly had guts!