November proved warmer than typical which has been much appreciated–a lot of good work was accomplished. Paul worked hard with some military friends installing tubing, substantially expanding the number of trees contributing to the syrups. Preparations for moving the school house have been moving full steam ahead, and though the actual move may not be completed until spring, all the ducks are lining up to make that possible. Jeri has taken on responsibility for a local whole share and has happily taken responsibility for sorting, measuring, and generally preparing the food for distribution. All of this work has been sprinkled with excitement of many sorts—planting, injuries, family visits, hunting, preparing for winter, and so forth. In fact, there has been such a level of chaos, it is difficult to determine what best to write about! Perhaps the most unusual bit of adventure was, however, the arrival of a pair of brown, furry builders.
As the excitement (stress?) of all the autumnal activities was rising, we eventually noticed the pond was as well. The “Ah ha!” moment came when the boys reported that a treasured golden weeping willow had been significantly gnawed upon by what appeared to be beavers. (Maybe it wasn’t all the rain?) With the aid of one more day and a stiff wind, down it came, whereupon it was–within 24-hours–fully incorporated into a new beaver stick-built lodge. The pond began rising in earnest.
We’ve not had beavers in the pond before, and their arrival was quite thrilling for some of us. They quickly constructed a substantial home along the edge of the pond and adjacent to the driveway. It was principally fabricated with tag elders, golden willow, mud, and some pond vegetation. In order to realize dreams and improve their lot in life, the beavers also quickly mudded up the overflow drainage. Interestingly, it is this type of ponding which slows erosion and assists in recharging the groundwater. In our ditched, swaled, and drainage-tiled world, the work of beavers can be very beneficial to creating habitat for birds, fish, amphibians, turtles, and all else that flourishes with a little wet and privacy. Time and place, however, and unfortunately this enterprising pair decided to settle up gradient to the driveway and near the well. After many days, each which started with the uphill residents clearing the culvert from the elaborate plugs built by the downhill beavers overnight, it was clear that a little extra work wasn’t going to encourage these beavers to relocate. “Busy beaver” is no joke!
The fun had to come to an end eventually. Grandma Pat became increasingly emphatic that it was her or the beavers. She was not impressed by efforts to discourage, and was convinced that any minute the driveway would be washed away, and with it any chance of leaving the property without aid of a canoe. Repeated references to them as “large, swimming rats!” were also fired off when Grandma didn’t feel she was instilling sufficient panic. After a visit from Paul’s conservation officer brother-in-law which confirmed Grandma’s admonition that total catastrophe loomed before us if we didn’t act quickly, and comments from the gravel truck drivers that we were one breath away from contracting “beaver fever,” we reluctantly agreed that the beavers should be removed, which they happily accomplished.
With that dramatic conclusion, and with the pond settling back to its traditional high-water marks, our attention is once again focused on sap and school houses, where it will remain until it shifts to snow shovels and snowshoes. It seems that this time of year is really suited to a high level of activity with the temperatures starting to drop and winter looming on the horizon. Take time to appreciate life around you. May you enjoy this busy season, and continue to count your blessings as we head into December…
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