Wednesday, December 1, 2010

busy as a beaver. for real.

I don't even know where to begin.
I have never had to deal with wildlife in any other way than admiration.
My house even has a bird watching porch that is perfect for looking out
over the pond, 
with a clear view of the two dead trees 
that are homes to the blue heron that visit quite often.

I have some beautiful white birches nestled on the left side
in a Twin Towers sort of stance.
Strong, forgiving, vulnerable.

I have two aerators in the pond also, to keep air flowing
for the fish, and vegetative life, the lily pads.
And now i have beavers.
A whole mess of them.

I really knew very little about beavers as of a couple weeks ago.
I knew that i had occasionally seen them out on hikes
in Minnewaska and Mohonk rivers.
And i had definitely spotted several damns in my life time,
tho never wanting to get close enough to startle them,
but always close enough to try to sneak a peak.
Maybe one day i would even be able to snap a picture.
Little did i know that i would soon be the beaver expert extraordinaire.
Back at the end of September, before The Band left on tour,
i was brought outside by some very unusual barking by Sir Riley.

take particular notice of the large tree and large boulder on the right side of photo.. and at how handsome rye bread is!
He is a beagle mix and has a very childlike bark,
almost a "c'mon guys, come look at this" approach.
But on this night, his bark took on an
"holy s*%#t mom, come here now!" hysterical rhythm.
So i grabbed the flashlight and trotted outside to see what that silly dog of mine was doing,
only to discover him barking at a huge boulder.
Before my laughter could slice the air Nelson Muntz-style,
 the boulder turned and looked at me.

This was by far, the biggest 'something with eyes"  i had ever seen,
or imagined that anyone else had saw!
:::my thoughts were confirmed at a later date that, yes, said beaver was abnormally HUGE:::

After yelling for the Red Cat and visiting friend to come help me,
and "bring leashes",
Little Bukowski was front and center joining in on the rhythmic barking.

Little Bukowski and Aslan nappin... not on said night, however.
Anyone who thinks dogs don't communicate should have been present for this conversation.

And then, just as the dogs were finally leashed,
i realized what this 'boulder' was
because it turned towards me and started to run.  quickly.
I finally got a good look at this thing and it was definitely a beaver.
His tail had chunks taken out of it,
his coat was thick and shiny,
and his eyes were not moving off of me.
This dude could move too! And fast!
Fortunately, i know the lay of the land better and we all got inside safely.
But i learned a few valuable things:
1. Beavers are huge.
2. Beavers are not afraid of me.
3. Beavers are not afraid of my dogs.

Fast forward a month later:
There have now been at least 7 beavers spotted together at a time.
They are still not afraid of the dogs.
After realizing that they are building their home for the winter
i did about 7 hours of beaver research online.
I am now a beaver expert. Ask me anything...

The animal lover in me really wanted them to stay for the winter and then be
relocated somewhere more appropriate in the spring.
But it's illegal to reloacate beavers in this area.
So i took a walk, and discovered about 150 trees had been taken down so far.
This is food for the winter for them, as well as lodging.
I'm starting to understand busy as a beaver...

But in reality, they have to go.
They carry giardia and rabbies.
They can flood drinking water supplies and septics.
They can kill my dogs in 5 seconds with one bite.

The following pictures were taken one week ago.
A lot has changed since then.
More down trees.
If you are weak at heart for the tree family, 
please sit down with a cup of tea before you look at these.
you have been warned.

This is their lodge, "home". It is on the right side of the pond and is quite large.. probably 5 or 6 large trees on top.

the arrows point to the dark mud that they packed all around the lodge.

remember the tree and boulder in the photo above with Riley? This is the same beautiful tree in bloom. It's a crabapple tree...


it's literally chewed down to a toothpick. this happened overnight. everything you see here, over night.

looking from the 'top' of the tree. the branch in the top of the photo was the only one remaining. they took it off also, 3 days later.
this is a picture from this spring. the pink tree is the one above. and the large 'hourglass' tree is pictured below.  It has since fallen over and into the pond. It comes almost all the way across.

i can't even wrap my arms around this tree. and now it's gone; into the pond.

over on the left side of the pond, their lived another beautiful, pink blooming, crab apple tree
that was shorter and rounder, but just as full and majestic as the one in the front of the pond.
It is now just a reminder as well.

i have no words.


there are trees all over like this one.
but not used for a home.
just a snack, and a teeth sharpener.
beaver eat the thin brown lining in between the bark and the trunk,
water vegetative plants, and lily pads.

they collect small yearling trees to horde as food for the winter in their lodge.
they stick them down into the mud, so as the pond freezes,
they have food below and above.

the final decision on what to do did not fall to me.
it's such a shame when nature and domestication fight each other
instead of quickly learning to adapt.
My love for my dogs
and their safety just slightly outweighs the emotional response
to save every life, no matter what.
It's a hard pill to swallow,
but i know that i tried as many options as were available.
and i haven't been down to the pond since i shot those photos.
it will be a path less taken
for a while to come.

during the holiday seasons, it is easy to overlook thankfulness of
creature comforts.
A roof over our head,
heat that has an 'on' button,
a constant
::and sometimes overindulgent:::
food source.

i combat the holidays blues by reaching out to those around me
in ways that are helpful to them,
not me.

what do you do to remember
to not take the little things for granted?

i must go polish off a large pot a tea.
my rotator cuff is abnormally on fire,
and i feel a seasonal cold coming on.

i hope everyone bundles up and takes good care of themselves this winter.
scarves and hats!!
gloves too.



  1. Your picture(s) of the world is amazing.

  2. thanks Daniel. i do like to look at the world around me with open eyes. glad you enjoyed your visit. xx

  3. where's the lorax when you really need him?

  4. ooo! now that would have worked, right?!


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