How much wood could a beaver chuck? About 400 trees per year

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nature’s World by Al Batt

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

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“Everything is nearly copacetic. My socks don’t match, but neither do my feet. My dentist, Phil Eng, told me that one of my old fillings is caramel. I still believe that if a guy really wants to be happy, he’d eat a live toad first thing in the morning. Then he’d know that whatever he did the rest of the day would be easier. I just got some bad news about my aunt Cassandra. She has something called, ‘too many cats.’ I love Christmas. When I was a boy, I spent many a sleepless night worrying about what Santa might know. Then Pop gave me a goldfish named Sushi. Sushi disappeared mysteriously right after Pop flushed the toilet. Speaking of Pop, he believes a place for everything and everything in its place. Especially if that place is in one of the umpteen pockets in his bib overalls. The kids gave me some high-tech electronic stuff for Christmas that I’ll never be able to figure out and will eventually give to them. At least that’s their plan.”

Joyce Street of Hesper, Iowa, took this photo of a sphinx moth. – Provided

Joyce Street of Hesper, Iowa, took this photo of a sphinx moth. – Provided

“What did you give everyone this year?” I say.

“I didn’t buy any gifts. I just gave everyone my opinion. It’s priceless.”


Nature by the yard

Birds flew here and there. They went this way and that way, each a wondrous gift for this watcher.

When I was a boy, tethered to territory, I’d watch the geese overhead as they winged their way away from me. I wished I could fly with them — to see what they saw.

I no longer wish that I had wings. I glory in the flights of birds. Each day that I see a flying bird is a day worth bookmarking.



Wayne Sather of Albert Lea wrote, “I was thinking of buying a good pair of binoculars. Could you give me any advice about what to look for?” I have endless advice. Some of it good. I’ll cover a few basics, without delving too much into the details, as they are where the devil lives. Two numbers identify binoculars. The first is the magnification power and the second is the diameter of the front lenses in millimeters. For example, 8 x 42 binoculars make objects appear to be 8 times closer than seen with the naked eye. Higher power doesn’t always mean a better look. Binoculars with higher magnification amplify movement, making steady viewing difficult. Lower magnification provides a wide field of view and is easier to hold steady. Although high magnification sounds attractive, 7 and 8-power (and maybe 10) binoculars are easier to use and often more practical. The second number refers to the diameter of the objective lenses (those closest to the object being viewed). The 8 X 42 binoculars have objective lenses measuring 42 millimeters. The diameter of these lenses largely determines how much light binoculars gather. More light means a brighter view, particularly in low-light conditions. The bigger the objective lenses, the heavier the binoculars. Compact binoculars aren’t as bright as full-sized bins, especially in low-light conditions due to their small objective lenses. Porro prism binoculars offer good optics for the money, but lack the durability and compact styling of roof prism models. I find roof prisms more user-friendly. You get what you pay for in optics, but $500 binoculars aren’t necessarily twice as good as those costing $250. A premium is paid for minor incremental gains in optical performance. Advances in optics have created outstanding binoculars in the $200 to $500 range. Most are designed with longer eye relief that allows viewing comfort for eyeglass or sunglass wearers. Eye relief refers to how far back from an eyepiece your eye can be and still see the whole field of view. If you wear glasses look for binoculars that offer at least 15 millimeters of eye relief. The eyecups can be folded, twisted or slid up and down on the eyepiece of the binoculars. If you’re an eyeglass wearer using binoculars, you’ll want to have the eyecup in the down position. Glasses create a buffer between your eyes and lenses of the bins. Retracting the eyecups puts your eyes at the right distance from the ocular lens. This gives the widest field of view. If you don’t wear glasses, the eyecups should be fully extended to touch your face comfortably and block unwanted light. Adjusting the focus on one eye (usually the right) with a diopter compensates for differences between your eyes, providing the clearest image. Shut your right eye (or cover the objective lens with your hand), leaving your left eye open. Use the center knob to focus on a distinctive object (I use signs) about 30 feet away until it becomes sharp. Next, shut your left eye and leave your right eye open. Look at the same object and turn the diopter ring until the image is sharp. Note the setting. The binoculars are now correctly calibrated for your vision. This will keep your eyes from having to work too hard. From that point, use the center focus to adjust both eyes while viewing. It’s important that you find a pair that fits your hands and eyes comfortably. Use a strap or harness when employing the bins. Avoid zoom and fixed focus bins. Take prospective binoculars for a test drive. A good brand name is a good idea.

“How many trees does a beaver cut down?” According to material from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a pair gnaws down about 400 trees per year. Makes you wonder what kind of toothpaste they use, doesn’t it? University of Alberta researchers found that beaver ponds had nine times more open water than other ponds during drought years.


Thanks for stopping by

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” — Thomas Fuller

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Do good.


Happy New Year.


Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at