Wednesday, June 11, 2008

beaver pond?

By the way, I apologize for the late newsletter but it really wasn't my fault. Our electricity was out from Wednesday afternoon until late last night.

Actually that was nice. Most people complain about the electricity going out because no electricity means no water which means no flushing the toilet.

Out here on our farm our water is electricity free. The water comes to us by gravity, flowing down the mountain from an artisan spring up near the mountain top.

This means when the electricity is out, unlike our neighbors, we still have water.

And our hot water?

We heat water (and our house) with wood.

We have a wood 'gasification' boiler that during the summer I fire up once a week for all the hot water we need.

The only things we need now is for me to finally get around to hooking up that micro-hydro generator so we have enough electricity for things like freezers and the computer to send out newsletters.

But then, not having electricity has its advantages. yesterday, for lunch I had the excuse to slurp on a quart of lemon sorbet that had started to turn into a sort of slurpy.

It was so tasty that when I had finished I was kind of wishing there was more sorbet in the freezer, maybe some peach or strawberry.

Oh well.

Without electricity it was enjoyably quiet. No motors humming. no stereo, no fans.

The only sound besides the chickens, geese and the dozens of birds flying in and out of the forest was my neighbors generator.

When the electricity went out their generator kicked on.

These neighbors are, by road, a good mile away from us. But by crow, they are half that distance.

As I heard the generators rumble I had two thoughts. The first one was of a gas pump clicking off dollar after dollar after dollar.

The other one is a generator in my distant past that was just as noisy.

It was part of the permanent equipment of this advisory team I was the medic with in Vietnam. I have a short story about that generator I wrote a couple decades ago that I might freshen up this week and put on the blog.

But, let's get back to the world of background motors, stereos and computers, tractors and greenhouse fans for long enough to hear the story that was originally going into he newsletter.

It took place on our evening walk.
Wednesday just as it started turning dark.

We were coming back up the bottom road.

Down by the 'swamp'

We had walked the mile on the quiet road back to the log house with the generator and were on our way back when we stopped and were listening to the bullfrogs croak and looking out in the pond to see if any goldfish survived the rainstorm.

How many goldfish stayed in the pond, and how many washed down stream?

"Maybe we could walk down the creek with a bucket this weekend and bring back the goldfish that washed through the drain?' I said.

Wenonah gave me one of those looks. This one plainly saying: "That sounds like the pre-teenage boy in you, and not something grown women do."

I know that look well. Even with me being almost 60 years old, pre-teenage boy activities still sound like fun.

"I wonder how far down stream the goldfish went?" I added.

Wenonah just shook her head and didn't bother to engage my thoughts.

While this was going on we were both standing there at the water's edge looking far out in the pond. Back to that place where the old tree has fallen in the water. This time of evening that's where the goldfish usually hang out.

And that's why we didn't see it.

We didn't see the animal that was almost at our feet.

A large rodent sitting in the water, actually, standing on a partially submerged tree. It's body also half submerged.

It couldn't have been more than three or four feet away.

A young beaver.

One that had apparently struck out on its own (adult beaver, the book says, Keep their young in the home pond for the first two years. babying and feeding and loving them. Showing them the ways of the world.

And then..

And then they are kicked out of the nest (or should we say pond) Forced to go out on their own and make a living without any parental support.

Either that, or starve (there's no asking mom and dad for money to go back to school. No graduate school for these beaver and cheap government loans and grants have mostly disappeared with the 60's. And we're not even talking about housing or preserved habitat).

So that's what I think we have. probably, if the books are correct, at first a young male. working on the pond to show that he has potential. That he has the makings of a real family man

A few years ago we had a young male in the same pond. He kept on stopping up the drain pipe where the water went under the road rather than having the water go over the road as I'm sure the beaver wanted.

And after a couple weeks, I guess the improvements showed promise (he had built a lodge and cut down a couple trees) there was a couple. He had apparently attracted a wife (beaver, the book says, mate for life). And the couple worked at making the lodge stronger, and had started preparing for winter (if you look down in the water of an active beaver pond there are sticks with the bark still attached stuck into the mud of the bottom of the pond.

That was about the time that our Great Pyrenees realized wild animals had set up housekeeping on land that they were guarding. (this was back before the deer fence and before we limited the area we let our gp's patrolled).

I don't know what happened, but I did see the gp's digging on top of the lodge (it was built close enough to the bank that the dogs could jump to it) and then one day there were no beavers.

they were gone. (I think I have a neighbor farther down the valley who has a thing against beaver on the creek, but... I'm pretty sure they moved out or it was the gp's doing their perceived duty).

That was ten years ago.

So if you come out this weekend, when you cross the creek take a look over into the swamp. do you see any beaver activity? (sticks with the bark chewed off, gnawed down trees, mud and stick dams, a lodge, a beaver swimming around).

Oh, and I forgot, we grow flowers for shareholders that visit the farm. They've started to flower. Not too many and stems that are still short, but if you are coming out, bring a pair of scissors and cut 20 stems. The zinnias and calendula are flowering. The stems won't be long enough for a nice vase for another month, but still, they need cutting and if you don't mind a 4 or 5 inch stem. This is for vegetable shareholders only.

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