Sunday, February 28, 2010

Welcome to the Neighborhood

The pasture across the street from the Unfarm is almost equal parts grass and blackberry bushes, with a couple wild apple trees and several hawthorns sprinkled in here and there as well. There are also a couple of places in the southwest corner where poison oak has settled in. (This fact I discovered by accident a few summers back. It was quite uncomfortable and needless to say, I have no trouble identifying poison oak now.) In the far west edge of the pasture a small stream flows out of the forest and trickles its way through the pasture.

The stream is rather small - it doesn't support fish, or even any crayfish, that I have ever seen - and by the middle of summer it is often just a trickle in places. Which is why I was surprised to discover, two summers ago, that some beavers had taken up residence there. Where they came from I have no idea, as the forest and pasture are a sort of island in the middle of suburbia and I wasn't aware that we had any beavers anywhere in the area, let alone near enough to consider immigrating to our neck of the woods. But immigrate they did - although I suspect they did not go through the proper governmental channels and are residing there illegally - and they promptly began altering the area to suit their tastes. It was actually somewhat amazing to watch the transformation. Every so often during the spring and summer I would shimmy between the wire fencing around the pasture, and amble down to the edge of the pasture to check out the renovations. Over the course of the last two years the beavers have built at least one impressively sturdy dam, taken down well over twenty trees, made a large clearing, and created two small lakes where the stream once was.

The beavers have been great neighbors so far, even though they are elusive - I have yet to spot one, but I did once come upon a deer enjoying a drink from the lake - but tonight I have discovered an unexpected bonus. Apparently the creation of a new lake, however small it may be, is big news among the locals. Word has gotten out and a multitude of frogs have taken up residence alongside the beavers. I love the sound of the frogs croaking away in the spring but up until this year the only frogs we ever heard were the one or two tree frogs who have found their way onto the Unfarm. Not that I didn't appreciate their attempts, but there's something about the sound of a chorus of frogs that is sort of comforting, in a way. It reminds me of the country, I suppose.

So welcome to the neighborhood, little ones. Now if only I could convince a bat to move into our bat house. I wonder if they work through a realtor...

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