Kewanee visit

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Ty came home from Florida to go hunting with my Dad. It had been a while since we’d seen Ty or been to Kewanee, so James and I decided to go for the weekend.  We also decided to surprise my Mom while we were there with her Christmas gift.

The last couple of times we were in Kewanee, both James and I noticed my Mom struggling with her computer. It was my old laptop from 2003 and it was really old and dreadfully slow.  I also knew that it had gotten so annoying that Mom had stopped getting on the Internet except when she really needed too. So, on the way to Kewanee, James and I stopped in Peoria and picked up a new laptop and cooling pad for my Mom.

We got to Kewanee Friday night and were rendered speechless (or at least I was) when I saw Ty with a full beard! It was thicker than my dad’s and made Ty look like a crazy backwoodsman.  After I got over my shock (and good natured teasing of my baby brother), it was great to catch up with everything going on in his life.  James was amazing and hid out in our room while he set up my mom’s computer.  We wanted to make sure the new computer a fun gift that didn’t require any additional work on my mom’s part, so we decided to run all the updates and install the programs my mom uses on the computer before we gave it to her.

The next morning after Ty and Dad left to go hunting, we decided to surprise Mom with the computer.  We had her sit down on the couch and we started with James giving her the new cooling pad.  He told her he got it for her because he knew her old one wasn’t in that good of shape.  Mom oohed and aahed over it and got up to try her old laptop on it, but before she could, I jumped up and surprised her with the computer (put back in its box).  At first she seemed a little confused, but once she opened it up and realized what it was, her expression was priceless!  I then sat down next to her on the couch and showed her some of its bells and whistles.  Wow was she happy! Especially when I showed her that she could now use Kindle for PC! It think it’s new favorite thing!

The rest of the weekend went well and even Ty enjoyed Mom’s new computer!

Ty enjoying Mom's computer while James works on his... What can I say, we're a techy bunch!

Exploring the creek

Today wasn’t the nicest out weather wise, but James decided it was decent enough for him to go out and finish clearing the creek of all beaver dam paraphernalia. Even though the beavers appear to have left the area, there is still a lot of their busywork left in the creek! Initially I stayed inside (warm and cozy), but when James came back and said there was a muskrat swimming around the creek where he was working I decided to go back out with him and take some pictures.

When I got there the muskrat was nowhere in sight, so I decided to sit quietly by the creek and see if it would come out.

Sitting along the creek

After sitting for a while and enjoying nature, but not seeing any wildlife, I decided to wander around in and around the creek while James continued to pull out branches and muck (a mixture of leaves, mud, and small branches).

After walking around in the creek and along both sides, I decided to meander even further and check out the far edge of our property.  Neither of us had ever gotten that far because it is impenetrable during the spring and summer, but with the crops out of the fields I was able to walk the fields along the tree line.  Surprisingly enough, I actually found an old bridge along my trek, so I crossed it and headed back to get James!

Bridge along the creek

James was pretty surprised to hear about a bridge, so he used the tractor to clear out a path for the tractor to get to the fields, so we could go see it together.

Taking the tractor made it a much quicker trip to the bridge and once there we got off of the tractor to check it out a little.

After checking out the bridge, we headed back to pick up the chainsaw, chains, etc… and made our way back to the house. What a full November morning!

Time in the creek

For all of the time we’ve spent outdoors around the yard this year, we really didn’t spend any time in the creek.  That is until recently…

We have beavers. Well, at least I “think” we have beavers, but it might just be one beaver. We don’t actually know how many beavers we have because we’ve never actually seen the beaver (or beavers), only their handiwork up and down the creek!

One of the many beaver dams along the creek

We first noticed what we thought might be a beaver dam about a little over a month ago.  At first it was hard to tell if it was just some sticks and mud that happened to clog up a narrow spot in the creek, but after the second dam went up and the first one kept getting bigger, there was little doubt.

Now in some cases having beavers in the creek would be a good thing. The higher water would mean less erosion and a better environment for fish.  Yet, it just so happens that are septic system links to the creek (don’t worry, it is treated and “drinkable” by the time it reaches the creek).   Thus if the water gets high enough, our septic would get backed up and that would be a very very bad thing.

So what did this lead to? Plenty of time in the creek pulling out beaver dams!!

We even had the guy who was preparing the site for the new barn help out! He had the big machinery that allowed him to really dig in and pull out all of the weeds, twigs, mud, and branches the beavers had used to build their dam.

Yet the beavers kept building (and rebuilding) and James has become slightly obsessed with pulling out the dams and trying to eliminate all favorable locations for new dams.

The following pictures document James tearing out one of the dams!

James playing in the creek!

Luckily after some minor set-backs… Beavers build, James tears out, beavers build even more, James tears out even more, beavers laugh and move into a harder to get to area, James takes the tractor and the chainsaw and clears out around the creek to get to the beavers… the beavers appear to have left the area!

We haven’t found any more new dams in the last week, so we’re “hoping” the beavers have moved further upstream and well off our land!

**Note: No beavers were harmed (or even seen) in the tearing out of the dams**