A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Busy As A....

When I went back to the creek to see how high it was running the other day (going back there for the first time in almost a week), I discovered the scene above.  A tree or shrub had been cut down - presumably by a human with a tool, not by a beaver with its teeth.  At one time, Fall Creek was dammed in several places by ambitious humans with mills, including the one that I've posted about a few times on this blog.  But for centuries or even millennia before that, the creek had been dammed by beavers.  There was lots of life along Fall Creek, and this attracted humans....not as a place to settle permanently, but a place to visit for the hunt.  Long after after the Cayuga had established this as part of their territory, , the French and English fur traders penetrated what is now the Freeville area.  They sought the furs of not only beavers, but also foxes and minks.  Now, the mammals that I see around here are limited to deer, skunks, the occasional dead opossum on the road, and a couple of feral cats.  I know there are foxes in the area (a friend recently spotted one at her home a few miles away), and I've heard coyotes howling in the night just south of Ithaca, not too far away, either.  But the hunters and subsequent settlers seemed to have wiped out the beavers and the minks.  It's a shame they aren't around here any more.

Note: Click on the "history" tag below to read other entries in the Freeville history series.

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