"Beavering down" trees
In Teddy Roosevelt's autobiography, he writes with great good humor about his various life adventures. The following quotation is from his tale of building a house from cottonwood logs on his North Dakota ranch:
The Elkhorn ranch house was built mainly by Sewall and Dow, who, like most men from the Maine woods, were mighty with the ax. I could chop fairly well for an amateur, but I could not do one-third the work they could. One day when we were cutting down the cottonwood trees, to begin our building operations, I heard some one ask Dow what the total cut had been, and Dow not realizing that I was within hearing, answered: "Well, Bill cut down fifty-three, I cut forty-nine, and the boss he beavered down seventeen." Those who have seen the stump of a tree which has been gnawed down by a beaver will understand the exact force of the comparison.
The term, "beavered down," has now entered my vocabulary. I can relate. I've taken the ax and beavered down a few saplings myself, trying to get them out of the hedge where they've been let go too long. There's nothing like chopping down a tree to give you great respect for strength and stamina of the pioneers.
And as for the beavers -- well, I simply can't imagine chewing down a tree! I have a lot of respect for them too!
Related: Flickr photo set from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in southwestern North Dakota