Beaver Pond

Bever dam - with 1 x 6 in the middle
Behind our home there is a bottom.  It's the suck-your-shoes-off-your -feet type of bottom.  My kids have lost a few pairs of shoes.  Fortunately, I've not lost in kids back there. Mark and I traveled back there today to check on the beavers' progress.  It was a vigorous walk (sramble at times).  Our beaver friends have made much progress since our last venture back.

These beavers likely colonized from a beaver pond about 1/4 mile west.  That beaver dam has been there for at least the 30 years I've lived in my home.  It is a pond that flows under a trestle (the tracks are to the right and UP from this picture on he left.  The beavers have tried from time to time to dam that egress; but the railroad has thwarted their plans. If you look carefully, among the sticks, there is a 1x6 board.  Who knows where that came from!  Lots of gnawing activity, as you can see from the two trees in the background.

Demands for a new frontier for offspring of that well-established colony.  I'm unclear why it took so long for them to come this way.  We welcome their activity.  The bottom in unusable, and by their creating more wetland, they will encourage greater use.   Beyond the bottom is the railroad.  Only about two trains a day come through. At various places the trestle is steeply embanked.  And looking down, there is truly a bottom, which seems far away.  The fire break on either side makes for a good walk way, but the last two hurricanes have made it almost impassable in places. So many off-path hikes were needed.  Scrambling is good exercise.
An Unfortunate Possum

Beaver activity --rising waters
The bottom (sounds like a Stephen King movie) is a formidable place in the summer time.  The skunk cabbage and ferns are dense. I spent two terrifying times back there looking for Heidi, who was but 10 weeks old and thought that venturing back there was a good thing.  (She followed Lucy and her father, Dieter, back there).  I surmise she got tired, took a nap and then was "Where is everyone?".  She didn't bark or anything.  So I traveled back there braving the fern-covered ground, thrusting thoughts of serpentine critters out of my mind.  Truthfully, I was just short of being paralyzed by fear of stepping on a snake.  Thankfully, Tim, my neighbor showed up with her in his arms just before dark.  I'm amazed that she never barked.  Maybe she was never scared. 

The brown water snakes back there will take your breath away if you see them.  Also, there are copperheads and black snakes.  I've only seen 2 black snakes, and that was while I was running.  One I nearly stepped on.  Another 1/2 inch and I would have nicked him, and he likely would have nicked me in the ankle with a quick bite.  The other black snake was traveling along the rail trestle bank, and neither of us was bothered by the other. 

Gnawed Trees
Once I was sitting back there and Dieter was walking about and found himself over top a large brown water snake sunning itself.  He was startled and let out a big "Woof"! I happened to be sitting down on top of a cut off log, and looked down to see a lovely, shiny black widow.  Time to go with those two nature encounters.  It was a long time ago, but I still remember it.

Old beaver work near old dam
The industry of the beavers is nothing short of amazing.  I saw some poison ivy vines clipped in a 3 foot section.  When Hurricane Floyd came through, we had torrential rains.  In addition to taking out a 100 year old dam, it took my neighbor's dam out and down stream, took out two other dams.  The ponds that existed were gone, and their gnarled bottoms exposed.  Still to this day, the water has not been refilled into those basins.   The picture to the left shows some of the older beaver work down by those original basins.  If we have a hurricane, that backs up water, our beaver's efforts will be overwhelmed.  But they are tenacious builders.

It was a vigorous walk back to check on the beaver pond activity.  While it is right behind our house, there is no safe passage across the bottom unless one does not value their shoes.  The terrain is rough, and shoes are a necessity.  The exercise was good.  I wish the day were less overcast, though.


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