The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Obsessive editing

Bays Mountain Lake in the snow

Black VultureA month ago, I wrote, "If editing takes much longer, we'll have to go back [to Bays Mountain] for another round of nature meditation."

Editing did take much longer.  In fact, I've still got two thirds of my fourth (and final) polishing round to go before I can give the manuscript to my publisher.

(Yes, I know it is a little overly obsessive to go through four drafts before I even give the manuscript to the official editor.  There's something about the permanency of a print book that makes me leery of letting the least tiny problem slide.  On the plus side, the final product should be something I'm actively proud of.)

Hanging beaver tree

Suspended beaver logMeanwhile, Bays Mountain gave me a very interesting thought problem to take my mind off the book. 

See the dangling tree on the right side of the photo above?  Clearly a beaver had gnawed it off its feet, but the stump is nowhere to be found.  We could see down to the bottom of the little pond, and there's no pointy stump beneath its waters, nor is there one anywhere within a ten foot radius.

Any ideas on how a beaver-gnawed log came to be suspended in the air?

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock occupied even when it's too snowy to leave the coop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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My best guess would be that the log got there via flood waters at some point. We have a small stream that bisects our property, and most of the time it's very tranquil and pleasant. However, two or three times a year it turns into a raging torrent and deposits all kinds of strange things (including entire trees and once an old water heater) in all kinds of random positions. While I've never seen a beaver log tumble down it, we have had dead trees end up "planted" next to live ones when they got hung up. :)
Comment by Ikwig Sun Feb 12 10:35:21 2012
I'll give a stab at it. I would be interested to see the height and fullness of the tree and the trees around it. My thought would be that maybe the beaver gnawed it a good bit away from where the tree is now but then as the tree fell its limbs got tangled up with the limbs of the other tree (or trees) around it, therefore causing it not to fall to the ground but just swing over and be suspended above the water. Not sure if this is the case but I'd be interested to hear what y'all found.
Comment by Justus Sun Feb 12 11:15:59 2012

I like the wall of water theory, but the tree is a good 25 or 30 feet tall, and it's in a small beaver pond fed by a slow seep, and not even in a ravine, so it's hard to imagine enough water to do that being there.

I couldn't find a stump within at least 30 feet all around either, so if it fell it was from a higher height and then got gnawed post-fall.. But that's a very strange thing for a beaver to do.

Bored park rangers is my best guess. But it's a big tree.. It would have taken more than one.

Comment by joey Sun Feb 12 12:28:47 2012
Is the suspended portion of the tree long dead? It's hard to tell from the pictures for certain without making assumptions. Any who, beaver only gnaw on live trees. If this thing is dried out with the bark peeling off then I'd say it was done years ago and the stump that was in the water simply decayed faster.
Comment by Heath Sun Feb 12 16:41:36 2012

I love all the hypotheses. :-) Justus seems to be thinking along the same lines I did, and I didn't search too far out into the woods in search of a stump.

Heath --- Nope, it looked relatively fresh. I'd say a month or less.

Comment by anna Sun Feb 12 18:07:31 2012

Can you describe its support from above? It appears to lean quite a bit so I wonder if it is really tangled in branches or rather wedged among some substantial limbs . . . ] j [

Comment by Jeremiah Mon Feb 13 19:47:44 2012
Jeremiah --- I suspect you're right that the lean is a clue. I can't for the life of me remember now whether the tree is just tangled or wedged. I'd guess tangled?
Comment by anna Tue Feb 14 07:51:57 2012
All I know is I would hate to run into the beaver that put it up there!
Comment by ken Thu Feb 16 11:29:05 2012
ken --- Your comment gave me quite a mental image....
Comment by anna Thu Feb 16 13:11:27 2012

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