Along the Nowood River exist many industrious beavers. While the Nowood wouldn’t qualify as a river in most other states, it does in Wyoming because it flows a large amount of water for this dry country. Probably because of the Nowood’s size, these beavers have developed into “bank” beavers instead of the usual “dam” beavers which most people know. Instead of damming the river with sticks and mud, the beavers build their homes into the steep banks that edge the Nowood. They burrow an entryway and then create a lair where they can eat, sleep, and have babies.
At some point, the lair is abandoned and sooner or later, the mighty erosion that is typical in this country opens the large hole to the surface.
On one occasion, a lair opened next to our calving shed.
The hole was perhaps 12-14 inches wide… not large… but I had noticed it.
While checking heifers one night… I was ready to leave the shed and return home.
Sometimes if a heifer calves during the day, we leave her and her calf on the west side of the shed, instead of the east side where we usually put the heifers and their new babies.
The hole was on the west side.
You know where this is going, don’t you?
I believe it was my Custer dog that chased this heifer away from the corral gate as I was ending my rounds. I yelled for him to quit, but the heifer was immediately back and ready to fight him. He quickly obliged her and they stood nose to nose, neither wanting to back down.
It was unusual behavior for our calm heifers.
I called Custer off of his assault.
I stood there while the heifer put her nose to the ground and bawled. Huh?
You’ve gotta be kidding me!
I walked to the hole, turned the beam of my flashlight downwards and there he stood. In about a foot of water, a 2 day old calf shivered in the beaver’s lair. He must have fell with 2 feet into the hole and just slid in as the hole seemed barely big enough for a 90 pound calf to fit.
I laid down on the ground and stretched my arm towards the calf. I could barely touch his ears.
Sighing, I knew what I had to do.
I returned to the house. I woke Vernon from his sound sleep. We grabbed a rope from the pickup and both of us proceeded back to the beaver’s lair. Vernon laid down, threw the rope over the calf’s head and pulled until he could grab his legs and together we hauled the wayward calf out of the hole.
He was extremely glad to see his ma… and she was happy to have him back as well.
Vernon had noticed the heifer earlier hanging around the corral… we have no idea how long that calf had been there, but since he seemed almost hypothermic, we surmised it had been a while.
We were lucky.
We saved that one!