Beaver darns

Beaver darns

By LEON YOUNGBLOOD

I am impressed by the volumes of knowledge a person can gain by simple observation.  Slopping around in a swamp with son Mason, for example, I learned from observation, beavers are nocturnal.

I learned water moccasins and alligators are nocturnal, too.  Most importantly, I learned not to go along with Mason on his job-related assignments to inventory alligators in the middle of the night.  It is interesting, I admit; but not in a pleasant sort of way.

BRIAR CIRCLE

We’re scant on alligators around the Briar Circle vicinity, and the supply of moccasins seems a little short this year as well.  But we have beavers.  Whether this is good or bad depends upon who is giving their opinion at the moment, but for now, the “for” and “against” parties seem to be 50/50.  As for myself, I like beavers.  This does not stop them from being aggravating, though.   Also, our Briar Circle beavers seem to be eccentric.

For example, I always thought beavers built dams along slow-moving streams to create beaver ponds, then built dens or mounds in the created ponds.  Our Briar Circle beavers won’t have any of that.  Our beavers find existing ponds and build their mounds along the shoreline.  Doris’ Pond has two such mounds that were vacated long ago.  More interestingly, neighbors Kevin and Julia have a recently built beaver mound on their dock. 

The beavers should not have built in that neighborhood.  It’s not that their human neighbors are bad people, it’s just that they’re busy people.  They often step down to their pond, as do many of their friends when they visit, and it is humanly impossible to not thump that damp mound of decaying limbs and branches with something (I use my cane) when you pass it.  When the beavers are inside, you hear an unwelcoming growly hiss, or a splash if the beavers leave through the submerged exit.  Apparently, there are little beavers, too, and it’s no place for little ones to be when you don’t know who’s knocking at the door.

Neighbor Larry has beaver vandalism at his pond, too. Towering old pines have large areas on their trunks where beavers have removed the bark.  I have seen the damage and do not think these magnificent trees will survive or be used for beavers’ building projects.  It’s true they do not always build on a large scale, nor is wood their only building material.  Back at Kevin’s, a shallow, narrow trench allows pond water to flow gently over his pond’s spillway.  Running water being an abomination to beavers, the little fellows patch it up every time it’s cleared with an earthen dam.  Upon seeing it I asked, “Is that lump of mud a beaver dam?”

“No,” Kevin answered, “that’s a beaver darn.  It’s too small to be a dam.”

Well—you don’t have to laugh, but I thought that was funny.

It looks to me that beavers are never quite satisfied with where they are, and eventually move on to other areas.  At Doris’ Pond, I appreciated them clearing out some of the trees, especially ones that were on the dam.  After a while, they left; but I have two nice hiking-sticks they made, and I’m very proud of them.

Beavers are always welcome on our land.  Being strict vegetarians, they pose no threat whatsoever to fish, birds, frogs or anything else that swims, flies, walks or crawls in any aquatic environment.  And did you know, besides any benefits beavers may or may not possess, beavers are edible?  Here is a very basic recipe I found someplace or other and scribbled down with no sincere intentions of ever using it, but who knows?  Times are getting tough.

So, for BAKED BEAVER:  First, clean and prepare 1 whole beaver.  You will have to figure out how to “clean and prepare” the varmint yourself, but when you do, also peel and slice 4 medium potatoes, chop 2 onions, gather up whatever kinds of seasonings you like, and have 2 cups of water handy.  These items are essential to the recipe, and a lot easier to get than the beaver.

Next, generously season the prepared beaver inside and out with the assembled seasonings you selected.  You have to get personal, here, and rub the seasonings into the meat.

Place the beaver in a large roasting pan. Then add the potatoes, onions and water, and cover with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake the beaver for 2 ½ hours or till it’s well done.  The last 5 minutes of cooking, remove the lid or aluminum foil to let the contents brown.  This makes enough servings for 4-5 people to enjoy.

Or it might make enough servings for 335 people to enjoy, if they don’t like beaver.  Whatever one’s opinion is, it is generally conceded that beaver is usually better enjoyed if guests don’t know what they’re eating.  Incidentally, this rule applies to other varieties of wild game, too.


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Craig Hall
Publisher, writer, photographer and teacher.
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