A couple of months ago, I noticed something strange as I entered through the gate at my creek farm. A natural spring that surfaces in the yard of that homestead was backing up to the point that it was flooding the rather sizable lawn. Since it had rained a few days before, I assumed that that was the cause. But, after a week of observing what was beginning to look like Everglades North, I decided to investigate.
The spring forms a pretty little pond that was constructed by the previous owner and it empties into a creek via a metal culvert they installed. There, at the outlet end of the pond, was a neat, little structure that had been constructed of twigs, mud and watercress intricately woven into an impressive dam. It was about 8 feet wide (the entire width of the outlet end) and so expertly built that it took me almost an hour to deconstruct it with a pitchfork and shovel. When I was finished, the water level dropped to normal and the picturesque lawn was drained.
After performing the strenuous task, I sat on a stump and rested. Looking out across the embankment, I detected a large pool of water in the adjoining creek that I had never noticed before. I stepped across the barbed-wire fence and walked over to the edge of the creek. There, I could see the problem. A large, 30-foot dam had been constructed out of limbs, logs and mud and it had the creek backed up into a pool that was 10 feet deep in places and extended to a length of nearly 150 feet. Now, it was obvious – I had previously just been working in the suburbs of Beavertown and was now in the big city.
As I walked upstream, past the bridge on the county road that crosses the creek, I found the unmistakable signs of dozens of small trees, so expertly chewed off that it looked like the process had been performed by a master logger with a razor-sharp axe. I knew something had to be done before the critters flooded the entire creek bottom shared by me and my neighbor. Even though I was exhausted from my previous chore (cut me some slack – I’m old) I knew what had to be done. The stream was too deep for me to do anymore than tear out each end of the beaver dam. After another couple of hours of backbreaking work, I had managed a 4-foot breach at each end of the structure. The water came rushing by in torrents as the pool began to slowly lower and I felt a very satisfied sense of accomplishment.
The next day, I walked down to the creek to make sure my message was received by the furry rodents. “What the…” the dastardly critters had completely rebuilt their dam to the point that one couldn’t even tell I had ever been there. Now, this was war. Angry, I tore out the ends again and vowed to come back after dark… and armed.
I spent the next few evenings at the creek with my flashlight and rifle without ever, even once, laying eyes on a beaver. The next morning of each of those days, however, the dam was always rebuilt and I’d tear it out again.
Finally, I called my neighbor that owns the land on the other side of the creek and told him of our mutual problem and what I had been doing. He laughed and said, “Let me take care of them.”
Within an hour, he was in the creek with his large, 4-wheel drive tractor with a front-end loader, disassembling the entire structure. I sat on the bank and watched him load bucket after bucket of the wood and mud mixture. He expertly maneuvered the creek and carried the building materials far away from the location of the dam. When he was through, we both agreed that this would finally teach the varmints a lesson, and it did. This time, it took them two days to rebuild.
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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