If you know an animal, do you sometimes see people you know in that animal? This fun animal-to-human association game is one of the unexpected benefits of having an accidental farm. (If you missed the post you can read it here (The Accidental Farm).) What animal do you think you might be assigned? Donkey? Chicken? Goat? Please don't say a drake (male duck). That's the next blog post. You may have heard my recent rants!
This past weekend, my husband took me on a little drive to see a hidden beaver dam. We have been talking about it ever since. The beaver dam we saw was pretty impressive. We imagine the beaver thinking about it and planning it out. "I am going to put the big pond here, build a wall here and let the water flow through here just perfectly. My house will go over there and will be so cozy." Then there's the matter of the trees. The beaver chews them down with their teeth, fells them perfectly in the right place, cuts them into the right size and drags them into place… while swimming. Are you with me? Riveting.
My husband says I have a “random chore generator” and it's true that I rarely just sit. If you follow me on IG you know I am always painting the barn or inventing a new farm girl hack or building garden beds or something... just fill in the blank. I identify with the beaver and marvel at her all the same. I am going to dive deeper into beaver lore, so this might just be the beginning of an obsession. If you know a beaver expert or are one, let me know!
Here are some key beaver facts I collected for you:
They are from the Castor genus and that made me think of castor oil, the omni-elixir of yore. Castor oil is made from a castor bean, not beavers.
Castoreum (from Beaver glands at the base of their tails) has been used as a flavoring for the past 80 years. It's used to make vanilla flavoring among other things. No more vanilla creamer as an occasional treat in my coffee.
They are the second largest rodent in the world. Have you seen a capybara?
Their reputation as environmental engineers is on the rise. They are becoming known for restoring water systems and were one of the first animals back on the scene after Chernobyl.
They can stay under water for about 5 minutes.
Their teeth grow their whole lives.
I am lucky to live near three beaver homes (and found a 4th today) and have gotten a good look at the beavers swimming within their fortresses occasionally despite them being mainly nocturnal.
xoxo Farm Girl
PS I have been avoiding the slang usage of beaver in this post, which actually comes up more than its fair share when you mention the amazing, semi-aquatic rodent and makes it difficult to define one's spirit animal as a beaver. But, yes, I looked it up. Apparently, etymology points the first gynecological references of the beaver to British slang dating from 1927. The comments on various sites about this association are hilarious and extensive. But don't look it up if you are easily offended. Or just skip it. I just didn't want you to think I didn't know. SMH.