Background: Last week (September 18) we arrived at dusk and walked to the First Pond to see the beavers. As we approached we could tell that the sound of running water was louder than usual. We thought that it was because the irrigation ditch was shut off, now that the hay had been cut and baled. But then a fetid odor reached my nose - the smell of wet mud from a pond bottom. And sure enough, as we emerged from the woods into the little meadow beside the pond, we could see that the water level was way down. Probably, we thought, the beavers had intentionally lowered the water level to work on the dam. But then we saw that the entire center region of the dam was entirely missing! The dam had failed, and the pond had entirely emptied, and we had arrived just minutes afterwards. And there, in the remaining squalid little mud puddle that remained near the lodge was the family of five beavers, looking like so many squirming mud puppies.
The next morning we saw the extent of the damage (unfortunately we had no camera). A stretch of more than ten feet of the dam was gone, some of it resting semi-intact in the pond below. Every dam below also was taken out, and the grasses far outside of the stream bed had been flattened. Clearly it had been a catestrophic event. Bill cut seven aspen and dragged them to the breach; they were entirely incorporated in the growing dam by the next morning. We left, wondering if repairs could be made in time for winter - after all, the dam was more than four feet thick at the base, and had grown steadily over many years of work.
Today. When we arrived this weekend, we rushed to see what progress had been made. The meadow above the ditch showed impressive cutting activity, and a Beaver Interstate marked the logging road from the aspen stand, across the empty irrigation ditch, and down to the pond. To our surprise and delight the dam had been almost entirely repaired, at least in its height. It was a remarkable feat, and bodes well for their survival this winter. Those kits received some valuable training, no doubt. We left some aspen branches for them and hummed a few bars from "Corgi and Betz", in honor of today's centennial of George Gershwin's birth.
Later in the day we harvested the fruits of June's profuse rose blossoms, in hopes that the Rose Hip Fairie will return and magically turn them into jars of jam. Then we walked up to the Upper Ponds, and made a little photographic survey of the ponds, which are in pretty good shape.