In mid to late March I usually get very tired of the long winters that sometimes happen here in Minnesota. It is then time to make a trip up to the Cities to the Como Park Conservatory and enjoy the Spring flowers in the Sunken Garden. This year I was going to share this with our friends Foxfeather and Roman when we were in the Cities attending a museum attraction (see later in this posting), but we failed to notice the times the park is open in the winter, and were too late after our lunch. Well, I made up for that mistake and returned the following weekend, catching up with my niece and her boyfriend.
Como Park's Spring Show can always cheer me up, even if there were a whole hoard of people there getting their early flower fix on. I was not the only one tired of Winter. My niece Sarah and her boyfriend Sam joined me, having shown them my favorite Mexican Food restaurant there.
Of special note I am going to conduct a little experiment. Every year I seem to get a late start on the fall hunting because my Harris Hawk is just not done with her molt. Her window to hunt is limited as she can no longer be safely flown once it gets below freezing. Well, because our season ends at the last days of February, I set up her mew's lights to come on for 14+ hour days, and this year added a "happy light", a full spectrum lamp to simulate the Summer sunshine. Let's see if all this extra light will kick off her molt early so she will be done in August for conditioning to start the hunt when the small game season opens.
I don't plan to weather Wyvern outside as she is just wild crazy in her mew when her weight is normal, never mind when it is high. It is just easier to bring the light to her, than to take her outside to the light. Hopefully this will work.
On Saturday, February 9, 2019 I accepted the invitation of Molly Kelly, the Wildlife Coordinator at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, to come and fly my hawk(s). The snow is deep, although not nearly as deep as it is going to get before the end of the winter. We had a nice day out, and the folks who came along did get to see some good slips and hawk action, thanks to Chimera. Nothing was brought to the bag, but a good day was had by all. They have extended the invitation to allow me to return in the future. I think next fall would be a better opportunity, before the snow is too deep.
Pictured above on the right is Molly Kelly, Wildlife Coordinator, in the middle Colleen Foehrenbacher, Education Director, and to the left Mason Keel, Environmental Education Fellow.
Sumi was also given a chance to fly. She followed well and came back to the lure. I'm afraid I am not going to be able to actually get this girl on game this season, mostly because I have had some health challenges with her, and have had to coddle her some. It is my plan to intermew her and try again next year. I so want to see what her adult colors look like.
Unfortunately, I must report that, just like the phantom for which she was named, Chimera has slipped from my life. I flew her for the last time on Friday, February 22, in a field just across from where I live. It is good for a bunny or two, but was picked this time for the possibility of squirrels. I had to use my new snowshoes to get around the already deep snow. At the very back of the field, far from my car, I looked up and saw Chimera at a distance, her very bad habit of not keeping near me, as a resident hawk came in to bump her. She flew and disappeared beyond my view, North, over I90. By the time I got back to my car, to my receiver and yagi, I confirmed she was no longer in the field I was in. Swinging the lure did not bring her to me. I then spent the next two hours trying to get a triangulation on her, made difficult because where she flew has few roads. I had to give up the search, needing to get home and get a little sleep, as I was scheduled to work that weekend.
She picked a very bad time to take her freedom, as over the weekend we were hit with the worst blizzard I have experienced here in Minnesota, second only to the Blizzard of 2014. If she survived the storm, the battery in her transmitter probably did not. Once I could get back out on the roads I picked up no signal. Hopefully she did survive and will just pick up her wild life again.
As for the blizzard, I did return home on Saturday morning, prior to it kicking off, to sleep. It began in earnest on the Saturday evening and overnight. I should have packed extra clothes, but did not. I watched the road condition site here in Minnesota, MN511, as the conditions were slowly changed from Partially Covered to Completely Covered to Travel Not Advised. They had not yet been changed to Absolutely Closed when I attempted to go home on Sunday morning, which was a very stupid move on my part. I was just lucky I too did not get stranded.
I left from work on Sunday morning, taking 52 out of town, and did make it to the onramp for I90 heading East, but a truck and car were stranded, mired in deep drifted snow, blocking my path. I was able to continue on 52 South so did so, for only about 3 or 4 miles before I stopped, due to the devastation in front of me. I could see deep drifts, and about 5 cars stuck. I turned around, deciding to try and make my way back to Rochester. I did get stopped in a line of people, with some large tow trucks in the distance trying to free some cars. Here too, I was fortunate that behind me a moderate sized tow truck came up and cleared a path down the exit ramp, and then back up onto the freeway beyond the bottleneck in front of me. I took it and was able to get back to the hospital, where I stayed.
My employer had issued a weather emergency, which allowed for vouchers to local hotels. Because I was a night worker I was able to snag one of those rooms on Sunday, where I did get some sleep and a shower and was able to easily report to work on Sunday night. I had to work late on Monday morning until my co-worker was able to make it in. Fortunately, the weather emergency was still in place, so I got a room again, same hotel, right across from the hospital, easy walking distance. I was not scheduled to work Monday night, but because I was there and the roads out of town were still closed, I volunteered to work on Monday evening for a few hours. After getting off, and my husband now confirming my path home was possible (still treacherous, but possible) I got home. Rich had held down the fort, keeping all our animals warm and fed.
Here is a link the Minnesota Department of Transportation put out to demonstrate just what kind of effort it took to clear the roads. This was West of Rochester, but our roads were no better.
The next day I took pictures of myself and Rich around our home, just to remember this snow event. Overall, I think we got about 12 inches of snow, but it is the wind that causes the problem, piling up the snow in some areas into incredible heights.
All over the front porch!
Up along our Pole Barn!
This path to my Hawk Shack was covered up to those piles you can see.
On the path to the goat and chicken out building.
Rich, in the driveway. He got some help with these drifts from a friendly neighbor with a Bobcat.
Me, in our front yard, by the road. Where is the mailbox??
Gryphon a couple days later, when the sun came out. It is over her head. She is thinking: "Where do I go poop?"
Rich worked very had to clear all these paths. I was stuck at work and could not help. Spring can come now, PLEASE. Unfortunately, we still have possibly two more months to get more snow.
Sumi is ready to fly free! Now I just need to find the time, and also not be right in the middle of a polar vortex that is plunging the nighttime temps down below the -20s. She comes immediately to a fist call, and is very much wed to the lure. She is ready!
She is a beautiful bird who I hope I can get onto game before the season ends.
Chimera has been flown many times, but has a habit of flying great distances from where I am kicking up bunnies, which makes her miss them. She returns to the lure, thankfully. Maybe a little lower weight will keep her closer.
Over the weekend of January 25 - 27 I traveled down to Illinois to join my sisters to celebrate the first birthday of my great niece, Audrey Nora. Her mamma, Erica, is here with us. The party was a tea party themed event, which is why we are all wearing hats.
The Birthday Girl!
Of course she got her own cake to enjoy!
Happy Birthday Baby Larkin!
Erica had the help of all her aunts and friends to set up and then clean up. It was a fun little party!
Grandma "Gigi" with Audrey, and the gift her Aunty (me) brought her.
Grandpa with his little "Nugget".
Later that evening, we girls got together for a Mexican Food dinner, complete with drinks.
Falconry! Or more appropriately for me, Hawking! It is a passion, and a way of life. I happily pursue this sport, with the loving assistance of my husband. Come along with me for our adventures with the birds. Primarily we actively pursue it in the colder months . . . the rest of the time I try to make this blog as interesting as possible. Come let me share my stories, and feel free to contact me. I always enjoy talking about my obsession with this sport.