Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Playing Jenga with beavers

A recent light but steady rain raised the creek level a bit:

The sound of rushing water made tiny light bulbs appear over the heads of several beavers:

This is a bad, bad, bad location for a dam. Flooding here could affect the neighbor's property, and would likely damage the gate that (sometimes) keeps their cows from visiting.

So one beautiful day last week I decided to do some deconstruction:

When I told my husband what I'd been doing he had a "Are you insane?!" sort of reaction, since I'd been having so many back problems lately. And especially since it was beaver-dam removal that had initiated his need for $25,000 worth of back surgery a few years ago.

But this partially completed dam was in such an open area that I really was able to approach it just like playing Jenga: slide the sticks out, rather than lift. No back pain at all.

In fact, it felt so nice outside that I went back in the afternoon and worked some more:

You can see at lower right that I conveniently left all the sticks just lying there for easy retrieval by the beavers. But no attempts were made to rebuild, since (as I suspected) this dam had already been abandoned... they must have switched all their labors to that mammoth 8-foot tall one downstream.

And I was right, it didn't cause any more back pain. What I hadn't counted on though, was the fact that I was doing a lot more bending from the waist than normal. Using leg muscles that did not normally get so much of a workout... those sadly neglected muscles screamed at me about that for about 3 days straight.


One of my tracking books said that you rarely find beaver scat, since it's almost always left underwater. The beavers left me an educational exhibit, but just in case not everyone is interested in examining beaver poo, I've linked the picture here.

I want to save some of these nice straight sticks to use in the garden. The shorter ones will go to a neighbor of my sister's, who uses them in her artwork.


meresy_g said...

Oh wow, you have beavers too? I know that they can be destructive, but the dam building process is just so interesting. Glad you didn't hurt your back. And glad they gave up on that dam. They can be determined little critters.

Rurality said...

Oh boy do we have them! Since people don't trap them for the pelts any longer (because they bring almost no money), the population has soared. The otter populations are increasing as a result too. And due to that, the fish population in our pond is decreasing!

pablo said...

When my sister-in-law and her husband wanted to remove a beaver dam on the property in Washington, they were told they would have to apply for a permit, have an inspection, and then, maybe, be granted permission to remove the dam.

They didn't. They hired a man to use his backhoe to clear some stumps and "accidentally" knock down the dam.

The beavers built it back in place.


mon@rch said...

It is amazing how quickly they can build up a dam. Love your post and good luck.

Rurality said...

Pablo, maybe they are more rare there? Or maybe it has something to do with wetlands? This was obviously not a long-standing beaver dam here so no wetland destruction.

Thanks Tom! Yeah one man I know told me that he tore down part of a dam on his property, then took a lunch break. When he went back they'd already rebuilt the area he'd cleared!

Here is the story of why you never want a dam on your property to affect your neighbors. $30,000. Ack!

KFarmer said...

We have beavers too, ahem, and have to put barriers around our trees near the lake if we want to keep them. Interesting picture of poo- now I know what to look for. Thanks :)

Rachel said...

Amazing how beavers can build those things and do it so neatly and quickly!! I guess that's where that saying "Busier than a Beaver" comes from!

Thanks for the picture of beaver poo! LOL

Rurality said...

KF I'd assumed it would look a lot like otter poo, but it doesn't. By the way my sister-in-law thinks I'm obsessed with animal poo. But sometimes it's the only way to tell which critters have been around!

Rachel, I believe that's exactly right. Especially in the spring!