A Canada Day Beaver Tale

A friend of mine was attacked by a beaver.  Now, don’t laugh, it’s true.  He told us so himself.  We were at the cottage and there were a few of us, outdoor types, sitting around the campfire exchanging bear stories, when he joins in to tell us how he was nearly mauled by this plump rodent.  You can imagine our mirth at his little yarn – we all shared a good laugh.  He was serious though, and visibly shaken recalling the experience.

This friend is a forestry worker, a consultant.  As such, he spends much of his time in the outdoors.  He is in the bush through all seasons and in any weather, sunshine, rain and snow.  Until the time of the attack, his only worries were the occasional black bear, and the black flies and mosquitoes that torment him each Spring.

He has a dog that accompanies him on his wilderness treks, a Siberian husky that loves the outdoors, the adventure and the exercise.  Well, not too long ago as he was busy working in the bush, our friend heard the dog barking nearby.  Now huskies are not natural barkers, so he deemed the disturbance worth investigating.


He found the dog facing off with a rather large beaver – the beaver was confidently eyeing the canine.  Fearing for the beaver’s well-being, this caring forestry worker called off his well-behaved husky and ordered it to stay at a distance.  He was fascinated to see this beaver so far from any water.  There was no pond, lake or river in the near vicinity.  As he was admiring the pluck of the adventuresome mammal, he was shocked to find himself under attack.

The beaver charged, and our poor friend was quickly back-peddling.  The awkward looking attacker darted in with more speed than seemed possible.  Our hero dipped and dodged, weaved and wobbled, until he found himself with his back to a tree.  The beaver gnashed his large front teeth.  It seemed like curtains for our friend, but like a well-written movie, he found a large stick lying by his right hand.  Just in the nick of time, he stuck out the broken branch and held the ferocious creature at bay.

The beaver backed off a little and, seizing the opportunity, our brave forester sprinted off.  He did not look behind him, did not worry about his dog, did not stop until he had reached the safety of his truck.  You can imagine how we laughed when we heard this campfire tale, giggled until our bellies hurt.  I feel sorry for laughing now.

I have shared my friend’s scary account with others around the lake, and in turn have been given several similar stories of suspense involving the ferocious flat-tailed tree-eater.  One poor fellow required stitches in his backside.  A beaver had blocked his way over a bridge.  He left the safety of his vehicle to gently shoo the cute critter from his path.  The beaver charged and the man turned and ran.  The fleet-footed fur-ball caught him, pinning the man between truck and bridge guard rail as he struggled to open his door.   The beaver latched on to the startled victim’s posterior, gnawing on it like it was a poplar tree.

An old rancher friend from the west told me of his own experience.  When out riding his horse, repairing fence, he caught site of a beaver far from any pond.  Before the cowboy could spit a tobacco plug, the creature had lunged at his mount’s front legs.  The beaver put the run on the horse in such an expert fashion, that the cowpoke considered training the agile rodent for cutting cattle.

Now we all have our cottage stories of Castor canadensis – of the damage they cause, the trees they thin, the marsh systems they help create, or simply the sound of their wide tail smacking water on a still summer’s night.  What has put me in mind of these violent tales is that today, as I am writing this, it is Canada Day, a day when we salute our country and feel pride for our flag.  It is true we often complain that, as national symbols, the Americans have their bald eagle, the Russians their fearsome bear, and the Brits their king of the beasts, the lion.  We have our amphibious rodent. Though these buck-toothed engineers may be industrious, hard-working and skilled, they have never been credited as ferocious warriors.

“Well, now you know the rest of the story.”

Cottage Workshop – Building a Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder

I have built the ultimate squirrel-proof bird feeder.  I have defeated my arch-nemesis, Chirpy.  Finally, in the end, I have won our on-going battle.  I am victorious!

I know what you’re thinking.  What am I going to do at the cottage all summer if I am no longer battling with my sinister rival?  And, how will that rascal Chirpy actually win out again in the final paragraph of this column?  Well, obviously you haven’t read the title above.  This little narrative isn’t about duking it out with a bushy-tailed rodent, or about fighting with nature.  No, it is about the wisdom that I am about to impart to you, the reader, so you too can become the ultimate cottage do-it-yourselfer.  Or what I like to call D.I.Y., to save on my word count.

It started with a brilliant idea, one that I stole from a neighbouring cottager.  He had several bird feeder stands built judiciously around his grounds, easily visible from the back deck.  The feeders sat atop four by four posts dug into the ground, while old stove piping fixed halfway up prevented squirrels from climbing.  “We (meaning me) could build that,” states my darling wife.  She often says that about intricate building or renovation projects around our cottage, though I usually think it is her devious way of making me look foolish.  Here, however, was a project that perhaps I could take on.  It looked simple enough.  And with a few minor design modifications of my own, I could take ownership of this little project.  The Ultimate Cottage Daze Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder Stand!  It kind of has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

So, off I went to the local lumber yard to pick up a twelve foot, four by four post and a handful of wood screws.  I had some old metal ducting stored in the shed that I knew would come into use one day.  So I dug the post into the ground, tacked on the metal to make it rodent-proof, and built a cross-piece on top from which hung too well-stocked bird feeders.  Then I headed indoors to witness Chirpy’s agonized reaction to my wonderful invention.

As I peeked out of the cottage window, I watched Chirpy survey the situation, from all different angles.  He looked up with his paws on his hips.  He scratched his chin.  He nodded his little head.  Then he climbed up a nearby maple tree, walked out to the end of a branch, and let his weight droop the spindly limb down to the top of the feeder.  I dissembled the post, dug it out of the ground, and moved it far from any tree or shrubbery.  I put the stand back together and hid in the cottage once more.

Chirpy returned, and took in the new situation.  He paced off three metres from the base of the post, turned, and sprinted up, his momentum taking him past the slippery metal (like a snowmobiler skipping their high-powered machine across an expanse of open water – for whatever reason).  I dissembled the unit again and added a cone shaped metal cap.  The squirrel repeated the same process and then just used the cap as something to push off of, catapulting himself higher, in a circus-like trapeze manoeuvre, grabbing the base of a feeder before swinging himself aboard.

I dissembled the unit again and added a length of stove pipe.  Chirpy climbed up between the stove pipe and the post like a mountain climber scaling a chimney-shaped crevasse.  I dissembled the stand for the forty-third time, and closed in the bottom of the piping.

Then I waited, peering out secretively from my window.  I waited and watched and waited.  I got thirsty while I watched and waited, so I grabbed a beer from the fridge and then returned to watch and wait some more.  Chirpy came out and surveyed the situation.  He gave it a try, but he slipped backwards and fell to the ground.  He tried a couple more times, but failed.  Chirpy went off to the trees.  I had won – I had finally won!

For the next few days I returned to my secret spying window to marvel at my great invention.  I hadn’t seen Chirpy for a week.  Hard as it is to believe, I kind of missed him.  So I decide to take a stroll along the forest trail telling my wife that I want to find Chirpy and gloat, but when I do see him he ignores me.  I can’t help but notice that he is looking a bit thin.  And is that a whole chirpy family that he has in his hole-in-the-tree home?  Perhaps he has to provide for all of them.

I return to the cottage and dissemble the feeder stand one last time.  I strip it of the metal, the stove pipe, and the copper cap.  I build a miniature wooden ladder up the side for easier climbing and then fill the feeders with Chirpy’s favourite seed, suet and peanuts.  After-all, squirrel watching is just as much fun as watching silly birds.  Now, I am angered when I notice that the birds; the sweet chickadees, tiny sparrows, colourful jays and handsome woodpeckers are using Chirpy’s feeder.  I run from the cottage screaming and chase them away.

So stay tuned to another season of Cottage Daze, and particularly for my next cottage workshop project, the Ultimate Cottage Daze Bird-Proof Bird Feeder!  I have a plan.


Just like they do in those fancy cottage magazines – read on for the step by step design and building instructions, made easy, for squirrel proofing your bird feeders and annoying your squirrels.

Cottage Workshop – The Ultimate Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

Materials:  one 4×4 twelve foot post,  a handful of wood screws, some 6 inch bolts salvaged from the last dock repair, two dock boards left over and stored under the bunkhouse, a three foot length of dented chimney pipe from two years ago when you replaced the old cottage chimney with a new insulated one, a couple pieces of two by four that had previously been used to level the barbecue, a few bent and rusty nails – (for hanging feeders), a spade with a broken handle (that you snuck to the cottage from home when your wife tried to take it to the dump), the new bird feeder you got your wife for Mother’s Day instead of flowers – (which only caused one or two problems), and some bird seed – (which your wife served you for dinner as a result of the previous miscalculation).

The Plans:

  1. Dig post 3 feet into the ground – preferably sitting straight, kind of.
  2. Fasten old chimney about three feet off the ground – paint to taste.
  3. Cap the chimney section with an old metal dome-shaped roof cabbaged from a previous squirrel-proof feeder that cost a lot of money but didn’t work.
  4. Bolt old dock board at top of pole, braced by odd pieces of two by four.  Put in a few extra screws to secure, and add a couple of bent nails from which you can hang feeders.  Should be in a ‘T’ shape.
  5. Hang feeders and fill with bird seed.
  6. See squirrel on bird feeder, so disassemble entire unit and try again, making minute adjustments to design until you succeed.
  7. Repeat as often as necessary, or until it is the cocktail hour on the dock.