News Letter: Summer & Fall 2006

The Beaver Dam Revisited ...

Some of you may remember our newsletter from 1999 abut the beavers and their dam work in the river bottom? As it turns out, in times of drought the beaver follow the water, wherever they may have to go. They may walk as far as three miles to find more water. As the drought worsened for us all, the beavers were forced to leave and as the creek has been somewhat dry in the years since then, they have never returned.

Their dams have proved to be quite a bad thing after all. When there is little water flow and low water, the dam restricts what flow there might have been. Over the years of drought this has created a bog of willow thickets and poison hemlock. The river (or creek) had become completely choked.

the beaver dam

Arrows point to the beaver dam, blocking the water flow. Note the dense growth of willow and hemlock.

opening the dam

Opening the dam

water flowing in original channel

Water flowing in original channel

With the permission of the Corps of Engineers, we were allowed to remove enough of the dam to allow the creek to flow back into its original canal ... when there is any water that might flow.
The theory was, with some rainfall the flow of the river into its original channel would make the bottom more open and less of a bog. The only difficulty has been the lack of rain. There has been just enough for the poison hemlock and mosquitos (think West Nile virus) to flourish.

May grassfire

In late May there was another grass fire fairly close to the farm. At that time the fire danger was posted as "moderate" and one of our oblivious neighbors burned trash on a high wind day. "What WAS he thinking" ... the answer: he wasn't.

This has proved be yet another dry year with hay scarce. The hay farmers with barns have taken to hoarding, hoping to wait everyone out, then force us all to pay $7 to $9 per small bale. For those who are lucky enough to buy hay by the ton and think in hay-tons, this is equal to $250 - $325 per ton. We were forced to buy hay trucked in from southern Minnesota. Not the thing we wanted to do, to say the least. The quality is poor, and not the varieties of grass the sheep are used to eating. Its not going to be a happy winter for the sheep. We supplement with alfalfa pellets, but the answer is rain and growing grass. It seems these are gone from this part of the country and not inclined to return?

Keith moving the MN hay

Keith moving the large bales of Minnesota hay

If we could buy better hay we would! Come for a visit ... bring HAY!!

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