The previous night I’d opted to not set my alarm and instead rise with the sun. I didn’t account for the fact that it’s mid-winter in the Pacific Northwest, so there wasn’t enough light to wake me up until 8am. That’s terribly late if I’m planning to get anything done.
Fortified with a few cups of La LLave I headed out to get to work. The remains of the nursery building and the trash pile had been really bothering me yesterday so I opted to start there. Some of the bones of the old nursery building needed to be cut up and a bonfire pile built. In addition I wanted to consolidate the garbage piles. The pile on the far side of teh tracks is huge, but it’s also not visible from the road. The near pile is also sizable, but not as big as the far one. Since it won’t be until I get Mongo back up here that I’ll really be able to deal with the trash I’ve decided that I’ll store it all on the far side of the tracks. That should help to make the area where I park the RV look more presentable. Initially, just knocking down the old building looked good. Now to my eyes it won’t look “good” until the trash is gone.
The first step was cutting up and removing the huge sheets of plastic that comprised
the original covering for the nursery building. As I was extracting those from the
mess a packrat popped out of his nice little home in there and scared the willies
out of me. I wasn’t quite prepared to have him running across my toes. It took a
surprisingly long time to get the plastic sheeting gone. By midday I was tired, in
need of a few other tools, and very hungry. I stopped for a break in the RV first
and tried to find my notes on the Culvert guy from the Railroad. I couldn’t find his
name or phone number anywhere. I then called my wife back in Phoenix to check to see
if I’d left those notes in Mongo.
So, we couldn’t find any evidence of the notes. So I had no way of contacting the
railroad. Then I went over my blog from November and realized exactly when the
fellow had called me. We then cross referenced that with the call logs on my cell
account and bingo! We found a number. With the number in hand I headed up to Sultan
to hit the local Ace hardware for a couple things I needed and grab lunch.
While I was waiting for lunch I was able to get a hold of the fellow from the
railroad. He informed me that they had been managing/monitoring the culvert, but
apparently my farm is beaver mecca. He told me he’d come on up to the farm. So I
finished my lunch and headed back.
Back down on the farm I looked up at the railroad track. I saw a work truck down
where the culvert is. I walked down to the truck and met the fellow in person. We
was down by the culvert trying to knock loose the plug from the beavers. The water
level was so high that his pole had to reach down three feet under water to get to
the plug. By the time I’d reached him he’d managed to get a chunk of it loose and I
could see a fair amount of water shooting out the other side of the tracks into the
river. As he worked he caught me up on what they’d been doing. They had removed the
culvert plug three or four times while I’d been gone. The massive pile of debris on
the side of the stream was obvious evidence of that. The fellow from the Department
of Beaver affairs had also been patrolling the farm and had removed six or seven
He continued to work at the plug, but with the amount of water weight pressing
against it there was no way he would get more removed until some of the water had
flowed out. At this point he was also running out of track time. The railroad has a
maintenance window between train times, and it was about done for the day.
Thankfully he gave me a ride back up to my private crossing spot and saved me the
nearly mile walk. As he was dropping me off the Fellow from Beaver Affairs (some day
I need to learn the proper name, but Beaver Affairs sounds really funny to me)
called him. It turns out he’d been out to the farm multiple times and had actually
removed 13 beavers! It looks like this will be a continuing challenge until I can
fully establish myself on the land. Humans and animals, in combination with the
removal of tasty trees should eventually scare them off.
With permission from the railroad and the beaver guy, as well as the loan of the
beaver dam removal tool, I went to work on the dam close to the private crossing. In
short order I managed to cut a deep cleft into the dam. Water progressively pushed
out faster and faster until I had some issues balancing the tool against the flow of
water. With this section moving well I decided to go back to the culvert and see if
I could do any more damage. I should have known better.
I climbed down where the fellow from the railroad had been working. I could tell by
poking the special tool into the water that the culvert/plug was a good three feet
blow the water line. I poked and prodded, but wasn’t able to increase the water flow
that much. Despite the railroad fellow having much more experience I was convinced I
could do better. I decided to move from the right side of the culvert to the left. I
figured that since he hadn’t tried from that side he was obviously missing the
pressure point necessary to sent the whole lot out the pipe. I reached in and poked
and prodded. I felt a small portion give and the water flow increase. I knew at that
point that I’d found the solution. So I jammed the special tool back into the dam as
hard as I could and started giving it a vigorous shake. I knew that any moment
something was going to give. What I didn’t realize was that the thing to give was
the soil under my feet. Next thing I know I am rapidly sinking into the stream and
uselessly clutching at the dam removal tool.
When I hit thigh deep my brain finally kicked in and I clutched at the grass on the
bank. This helped keep me from sinking too much further. A wiggle and a scrabble
later and I’d managed to drag my sorry soaking self out of the stream. The knee high
rubber boots that had previously kept me high and dry now served as a pair of
swimming pools encasing my feet. No matter how many times I dumped them out I still
felt like I was floating. This is one of those times where I wasn’t actually filming
what I was doing and I have learned my lesson: film everything. I can only imagine
how many views me nearly drowning myself would garner online. I also bet there were
some fantastic expressions crossing my face at the time. Alas, all I have to
evidence the event is a rather soggy photo back at the RV after squelching nearly a
mile back to get high and dry.