here are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
Aldo Leopold

23 February 2009

Beavers have arrived

Last fall while deer hunting in our gully, subtle signs of newly arrived beaver (or perhaps just passing through) were observed. A small beech sapling "skinned" and spear-like, floating in the creek; a handful of chomped off dogwood and poplar in the flats near the creek.

The beaver sign came up in a conversation around the dinner table, replete with recollections from my childhood in Minnesota. Throughout the winter, the possibility of beavers on our farm has generated considerable excitement among our budding naturalists Charlotte and Victoria.

So, with the thaw and resulting loss of snow, combined with a growing case of cabin-fever, we decided on an exploration. We tracked to the creek, built a fire as a kind of central rallying point (quite a challenge in the soggy conditions!), and had a brief discussion about beavers and their habits. I set it up so that the children were in charge of locating evidence, and then building a case, that beavers actually were taking up residence in our gully. My what a ruckus... shrieking over here on the discovery of a Carpinus caroliniana all chewed up, whooping and hollering over there upon locating a perfectly preserved set of tracks. "Daddy, over here!" when the beginning of a damn was discovered, and also the holes in the bank that we all hypothesize serve as quarters for the new beaver family as they continue work on impounding our creek. What a blast.

It was interesting to me that the preferred food did seem to be Carpinus caroliniana, followed by Fagus grandifolia, despite the presence of poplar and willow relatively near by.

I have posted a few pictures, and will continue to update the status of our beavers.

09 February 2009

Bluebird Day

We have had quite a thaw in the last few days... the ice on the lake is showing signs of its inevitable demise. The snow is losing its grip on our fields, our pastures, and today I heard, then saw, a blue bird. The most simple kind of hope is found in the song of a late winter bird on a sunny day.