Posts Tagged With: beaver problems

Quill Gordon’s Obligatory One-Year-After-Irene Post

It was one year ago this week that Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a “mere” Tropical Storm and kicked Vermont’s ass anyway. Cowardly wench that she was, Irene didn’t stick around for what she had coming to her, and made it clear across the Atlantic before finally fizzling out somewhere over Europe, leaving us with nothing to do but try to pick up the pieces of our tiny, flood-ravaged state.

Photo by Victor Salvo

Repair and replacement of roads and bridges continues, though not nearly on the scale of the first few months, and here at Fish in a Barrel Pond we patched up what we hope is the last of Irene’s wrath just a few weeks ago.

The aftermath of Irene in this neck of the woods was covered in these pages for over a month and there is a tab at the top of this page that leads to a post with links to those stories, all neat and orderly, for a good look back at what she did to us. Most of the photos in those stories were taken by Victor Salvo, who in some circles is quite notorious. He is also an accomplished photographer and a good friend. He came to Vermont after Irene to help and to document what he saw as recovery efforts got underway. Take a look at the stories in A Project: In Vermont, After Irene. I think you’ll enjoy Vic’s work very much. You can also view some of his other work on his web site

One year later it is obvious that, while amazing effort and incredible expense have been put forth, thanks to Tropical Storm Irene, some things will never be the same. Continue reading

Categories: Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Quill Gordon Can Take His Job and …

The disappearance of Quill Gordon, shortly after Tropical Storm Irene, meant I was able to take over this blog for a while but it also meant covering for him at work. I met many members of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society and the majority of them are terrific people. Some are even a lot of fun to hang out with. For a few of them, however, it is a wonder that no one has punched them in the nose. 

I don’t know how he does it, working from the end of April through the end of October — on call 24/7 — taking reservations, making beds, bailing boats, unclogging toilets, stocking firewood and all the other things that go into running an old fishing camp. Add the human element, in the form of the aforementioned members and their guests, and it is easy to understand why Quill Gordon seems a little tired and cranky by the time the leaves begin to turn.

One might ask how hard it could be, scheduling simple tasks like bed making and toilet scrubbing but, as I found out, there is a lot more to Quill’s job than toilets and beds, and few things go as planned around here. Every day brings new surprises and challenges.

Quill Gordon has returned home safely and wants his blog and his job back. He can have them. But first, one last post from me.

~Ken Hall

There was plenty of warning that Irene was coming and heavy rain was likely to fall. Quill used some of that lead time to make sure the culverts he maintains around the property were clear of debris and flowing freely. Even so, the amount of rain that fell was more than they could handle and one of his roads was over-topped.

Acres of woods upstream from the culverts were flooded.

Because the pair of 24-inch culverts beneath this section of road were clear, the water drained away fairly quickly, with minimal damage. A few trees brought down by the rushing water were cut back and Quill was able to move on to other projects, like chainsawing a path down the main road to town.

After surveying the damage in Weston — Town Office flooded, mill stream dam collapsed; back wall of the Playhouse imploded and a 1,000 pound piano flipped on its back; foundations and roads washed out; the village market and fire station full of muck, with all sorts of mud and debris everywhere else — the quick over-topping of a small road was nothing, and Quill gave himself a little pat on the back for remembering to clear the culverts.

As soon as he was gone, however, the beavers gave him the finger, or whatever passes for a finger on their stupid, webbed, rodent paws and, in less than a day, the local subsidiary of Nature’s Little Engineers, Inc. plugged the culverts and stopped the flow.

It was a hit-and-run operation, their workmanship shoddy. Quill said they hadn’t worked these culverts at all this season and I don’t think they expected the major obstacle to success they encountered, which turned out to be me. Continue reading

Categories: nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Note to the CEO of Nature’s Little Engineers, Inc.

From: Quill Gordon, Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society

To: Bucky Beaver, CEO Nature’s Little Engineers, Inc.

Dear Mr. Beaver,

I thought we had an agreement. Several years ago, your grandfather moved his operations to a previously abandoned dam and pond, raising water levels to the point they threatened to inundate one of the roads I maintain on behalf of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society. Evidently pleased with what he had done, he then invited several families of muskrats to move in with him and they began digging tunnels into the road bed.

I understand that these are things beavers and muskrats do but these activities created a potentially dangerous and expensive problem for me. I pleaded with your grandfather and the questionable elements he associated with to cease and desist but they would not listen and I am sure your family has shared with you the story of what happened next. Please accept my belated condolences. Continue reading

Categories: Humor, nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Looking for Trouble

So there I was, sitting on the dam with a cup of coffee, watching the ice melt and searching for signs of spring when I saw something swimming in the open water along the west shore. It ducked beneath the ice before I could focus on it but a moment later it surfaced less than 20 feet away and I could see it was a young beaver, striking out on its own, looking for a place to set up shop.

I watched as it followed the shoreline, working its way through the ice floes and, as it swam along the east shore of Fish in a Barrel Pond, I had a feeling I knew exactly where it was headed. My suspicions were confirmed the next morning.

Last spring, with some help from the state, I installed a “beaver baffle”  in a dam along one of the roads I maintain. You can read about it HERE. The baffle allows water to flow through the beaver dam and the theory is that the beavers will never figure out that they are losing water through the large pipe twenty feet back from the dam. It worked well and the water level stayed where I wanted it but then the resident beavers got ambitious and began expanding their empire into territory strictly off-limits to beavers. If only they had stayed where they were.

Their removal worked out pretty well for this new, young beaver. He (we’re assuming it’s a he) turned the corner, followed the outlet of the pond and wound up in what must seem to be a beaver paradise. The little guy doesn’t have to do a thing! There’s already a dam in place, an abandoned lodge, and there are several stashes of food his predecessors never got back to. What luck!

The thing about beavers, though, is that they can’t just sit there and enjoy what they have. They must work, work, work, and this particular beaver is no exception. It didn’t take him long to start “improving” what he’d found. Scooping, digging and pushing, he has undertaken an expansion of the dam which, with the baffle in place, would normally not be a problem. 


I won’t say he’s any smarter than any other beaver. Maybe another beaver would do the same thing, blindly doing what comes naturally. Maybe another beaver would lift a twelve inch pipe (full of water, no less!) up out of the muck and pack debris underneath. Maybe another beaver would shove a four foot wide cage made of stock fence from its place, even moving cinder blocks with it. Maybe another beaver would try to add a six foot culvert pipe just downstream to his holdings. I just don’t know what another beaver would do but this one is starting to make me mad. 

Categories: nature, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Baffling Beavers

Once in great demand for their fur, beavers were close to extinction not so long ago but, thanks to a decline in their value, fewer trappers and more conscientious recovery efforts, they are now numerous in many places, even to the point of becoming pests. Unable to tolerate the sound of running water, they dam streams and plug culverts, flooding roads and valuable stands of timber. Their activities can threaten property and even lives when their numbers become too great.

Changing the landscape and altering the environment to suit their needs, the wetlands they create provide food and shelter for a wide variety of wildlife. Turtles, frogs, ducks and other animals take advantage of beaver ponds. Dragonflies and damselflies dart over the water, resting on cattails and reeds while native brook trout rise to take mayflies, mosquitoes and midges. Muskrats take up residence in beaver ponds, eating plants that thrive in the warm, slow water and digging tunnels into the soft banks, expanding the wet edges and increasing the potential for property damage.

There are several robust populations of beavers on the property of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society and when the road to one of the camps along the shore of Fish in a Barrel Pond was threatened by rising water and muskrat tunnels, the search for a solution fell to me. Continue reading

Categories: nature, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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