Living with the Wildlife | Part 2

Elise StimacFarm Life, Storytelling, WildlifeLeave a Comment

A bottle of Three Feathers Blanc de Noirs at the lake in Oregon summer 2019
Three Feathers Blanc de Noirs for Oregon summer picnics by the l
A bottle of Three Feathers Blanc de Noirs at our man-made two acre lake

Living with the Wildlife | Part 2

Three Feathers is blessed with an abundance of water. We have two, year-round springs on the property. The main spring fills the man-made two acre lake that is used to irrigate during dry summers. We also use it for recreation after long days of hot work haying or working on the vines. The water is always refreshing and our dock allows for hours of fun.

The second spring was once used as drinking water for the farm house. They had an elaborate system between the well and the spring that they could switch back and forth. The spring creates a small pond, filled with willows, reeds and other aquatics near our planting of Pinot Gris.

I am sure that we are not the only ones using all of this water. The main pond has a large colony of salamanders and crawdads. There is always the occasional duck family, heron, kingfishers and flocks of swallows in the summer. Of course deer, and sightings of bear and bobcat. And recently a few goldfish, gone “native”, are flashing occasionally yellow or white under the surface.

A rare crawdad sighting

In the past two years we have had a couple of not so welcome guests. The telltale signs of a beaver started showing up in the spillway. There are many beavers on the mountain and we have had several dams at another sites on our property.

This one must have tracked the overflow from the pond and settled in along the bank. As long as the water was high we did not see any signs of beaver activity but as soon as we removed the sluice gate to allow excess rainwater to flow out during the winter the level dropped and it instinctively started to try to keep the level high by peeling sticks with its teeth and placing them across the mouth of the overflow. No matter how many times we remove the debris the “busy beaver” comes back and puts in more sticks.

Beaver activity in the spillway

This summer our foreman told me that there was a mystery creature in the smaller pond. Trails leading in and out of the water – occasional brief sightings and chattering noises – but nothing identifiable. Then trees started to fall. No longer a mystery – another beaver! This one has an easier time of it and he has blocked up the flow of water raising the level of the pond to overflowing into the vineyard. This is not funny anymore!

We’re not sure what the solution is but I doubt there is a chance for peaceful coexistence. My next question is do beavers chew on grape vines?

Cetacean Stranding
Cetacean Stranding, from the series Wild Wild West © Elise Prudhomme

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