No, no! Not that kind of beaver!
I meant the other kind – Castor canadensis.
Maybe I’d better start with the beans first…
Beans are big business. Soybeans, that is.
Most of us are pretty far removed from the source of our food. It arrives on our plate almost magically. All the hard work of gathering, processing, storing, and long distance delivery are invisible to the average consumer.
But when you live on a farm, like we do, the elaborate business of growing crops is on full display. For us it doesn’t take much work at all. We have farmable acreage and a local enterprise that will crop our land on a lease basis. So all I have to do is stay out of the way and let the big machines till and plant in the spring and harvest in the fall. It’s farming from the comfort of my porch swing.
This year I watched with keen interest as giant combine machines harvested our soybeans. The big harvesters are 36 feet wide, move at a surprising clip, and can glean half the farm in a short afternoon.
These monster machines are a marvel of modern engineering. In one swift motion, moving faster than you could trot alongside, it cuts the stalk, strips off the beans, splits the pods, collects the soybeans, and grinds the remains into mulch which is spewed out the back in a wake of dust and debris. Corn is harvested in much the same way.
Every 10 acres or so the combine stops to empty its load into a grain buggy, which is another large piece of equipment trundling across the field. The buggy then empties its load into a tractor-trailer grain truck waiting at the road, and that load is hauled off to a grain silo somewhere out in the county.
We kept a bucket of soybeans to use at home. They’re a crunchy snack when cooked in an air fryer with some spicy seasonings. Gotta soak them overnight first!
All this leads me to the beavers…
As we were pilfering our bucket of beans from the grain buggy, the gentleman who runs the harvester said, “Did ya know there’s a beaver dam across your creek?” We did not.
Imagine our surprise to discover a family of busy beavers has moved onto our farm! It’s like Wild Kingdom out here.
In less than a month the beavers had built a 30’ dam across our creek. Talk about a marvel of engineering! Expertly constructed of sticks, stones and mud, this dam created a small pond behind it.
And on the banks of this newly formed pond, within eyesight of the dam, is a tidy beaver lodge. A rounded mound of mud and sticks that makes a cozy home for a family of beavers to winter over and raise their young.
The beaver lodge has entrances beneath the water, keeping them safe from predators. Beavers are monogamous, mating for life, and will raise young in a family group until the teens are old enough to branch out on their own. A family of 6-8 beavers usually occupies the lodge, and beavers can live to be 15-20 years old. They all work to maintain their dam and lodge by gnawing trees and saplings and floating them downstream to where the branches can be carefully tucked into place. That’s the source of their food too, as beavers are herbivores.
I read that beavers are fond of apples, so I’ve left a few outside their lodge in the hopes of becoming friends with our new neighbors. Beavers don’t hibernate. They’re active all year, swimming under any ice on the pond. But so far we haven’t spotted any beavers yet. That’s not surprising, as they are mostly nocturnal and we are mostly not.
We’ll keep you posted on the beavers. And I’ve warned the neighbors to leave them alone. As long as the beavers keep the creek flowing downstream we shouldn’t have any trouble, and they’re welcome to make their home here for as long as they want!
Maybe they’d like some roasted soybeans?