Filed under:General — eric @ 11:07 am

Chris discovered a family of beavers living on our stretch of the river the other night. We’d thought we’d heard the tell-tale tail slap a few weeks earlier, but I couldn’t find any evidence of them — nibbled trees, cut saplings, a lodge, etc. But she saw them firsthand, and told me about them. She ran to the store for a few things, so I went down to see. As I got to the river, I shut off my flashlight and walked as silently as I could to where she saw them. I guess I was quiet enough, because I kicked one sitting on the shore guarding the group. It was as startled as I was, and it leapt into the river, slapping its tail on the water as it went. Several other splashes followed around me, and when I focused my light in the river, I saw five little heads looking back at me. Three more were on the banks. They swam around for a little while, and then I left them to continue their work.

Two of the beavers’ main predators are the coyote and bobcat. I’ve seen bobcat several times on and around our property, and every so often a pack of coyote loudly make their way up and down the river. I guess we’ve got a complete ecosystem on our little farm. So far our chickens have stayed out of the foodchain.


  1. My first and main contact with beavers (why is there the urge to say something inappropriate here?) was in Canada in the summer of 1994. The most difficult camping trip of my life, a ten day canoe voyage though the Quetico Wilderness, featured two memorable beaver moments…one tail slap late on the last evening of the trip (scared me to death, luckily, my companion was more wilderness saavy) and an unexpected portage mid-way through the trip…seems the beavers didn’t like the natural layout of things and had set up a dam right where we intended to be canoeing…so we had to get out, climb over the dam, and set back in on the other side. I think that I lost a girlfriend on that trip, but I gained many wonderful moments. Can’t wait to meet the little engineers at your house…

    Comment by M — 3/19/2002 @ 11:16 am

  2. Wow, I’ve never seen a bobcat! Are you particularly worried about your chickens, Eric?

    Comment by Matt — 3/20/2002 @ 9:17 am

  3. There’s plenty of animals around that would love to eat our chickens. The biggest threat is neighborhood dogs. Shortly after we moved in, one of the birds was killed by a neighbors dog. I complained to the owner — a fresh-out-of-college frat boy — but he didn’t care. (I threatened to shoot the dog [not that I would], and he responded, “You can’t do that. That’s a $5000 dog!” His daddy later paid me some money for the bord and told me to just beat the dog if it came back. That’s typical.)

    There’s also the coyotes, bobcat, and foxes that want a piece of the action. And also animals you might not think of: raccoons, opossums, and rats all can and will kill chickens.

    And on top of that, hawks will dive down and grab chickens right off the ground. It’s pretty gruesom, too — the force of the dive decapitates the chicken, and sometimes the hawk can’t carry it off, so the leave the headless bird lying on the ground.

    Right now, I’m having to save the baby birds from each other. We lost two Sunday and Monday, but I can’t tell how they died. Chickens are cannibals, you see, so there wasn’t much left when I discovered the bodies. We did rescue a third who was being eaten alive (not a pretty sight). We almost put it down, but at the last minute decided it might be saved. So far, she’s doing OK.

    I’ve made a pasture they’ll all be moved to shortly. I planted it with clover, ryegrass, and turnips, and the seedlings are coming in nicely. We’ll be building a barn (it may or may not be started by the time the party rolls around), and I’ve surrounded the pasture with electric poultry netting. This *should* keep the predators out (except hawks) and the birds in.

    Comment by eric — 3/20/2002 @ 9:40 am

  4. You would think a body would take better care of a “$5000 dog,” doncha think? What are you going to beat the dog with? ;^)

    Comment by Matt — 3/21/2002 @ 9:10 am

  5. I can’t imagine anyone paying a dollar over $1500 for any dog of any kind…in fact, I can’t imagine paying even a DOLLAR for a dog I intended to let roam the neighborhood and that I would encourage neighbors to beat. I suppose a hunting dog complete with training could put one back many dollars…but I’d agree that it would merit a better protection of investment…

    Comment by M — 3/21/2002 @ 9:51 am

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