On a recent visit to Foxfeather's home, I got to visit with Severus, my "godson" of a vulture. He's almost all grown up and has all his feathers, with just a little remaining down, and is now very mobile in the house. In fact, when not monitored he is kept in the sun room, until his mew is all completed. He has his wings and is learning to use them. He is wicked smart, and none too afraid of people anymore. In fact, sometimes he is just a little too full of himself, which he was this night.
The seasons turn, and Autumn approaches. A new falconry season is upon us. On Friday, September 13 I spotted the first juvenile red tail this season. I know it is hard to see in this picture, but trust me, that is a passage bird. I tried to get closer for a better picture, but then bumped this bird who flew across the road and out of view. She was actively hunting. If I had a trap, and a desire to catch her, I probably would have been able to, easy.
That same night I slipped into Wyvern's chamber, after dark, and using a strobe light blinded her so I could catch her up. I have not had any hand on her since last March or April, when I set her up for the molt. She is looking sleek and beautiful in her fresh new wardrobe of feathers, but she is a fatty and we have a lot of work to bring her down and get her fit for the season.
Over the weekend I accepted an invitation from Foxfeather and her husband Roman and came up to Minneapolis to attend the Furry Migration. This was a gathering of mostly Minnesotan "Furries", which despite some bad press and misunderstanding in the boring mainstream community, are mostly creative, artistic people who love animals, and celebrate the idea of anthropomorphic animals (animals with human characteristics like walking on two legs, talking and dressing).
A convention allows furries to gather, and for those who have gone all out to create costumes of their "fursona", or furry persona, to walk around in costume, play games, and generally have fun together. It is also an opportunity to peruse through the Dealers Den and Artist's Gallery for anthropomorphic art, or just plain animal art. Foxfeather has been participating in this fashion for more years than she can count. It is where she makes some of her most sales every year. BTW, you can visit her web presence here: Foxloft
Most, probably all conventions, also select a local animal charity and help to fund raise for that charity. It is putting a love of animals into action to actually help animals. At this convention the charity was the Minnesota Pitbull Rescue. I made a donation by buying a shirt.
For myself, I think I have found my lost tribe! I used to participate in art, mostly sketching, and some experimentation in other medias waaaaaaay back in High School, and then I had a small scholarship for the one year I attended University in 1985. I quickly determined that I was not good enough to really make a living on it, so went on to do other things. However, over time I have allowed myself to get out of touch with art altogether. This is something I should change, RIGHT NOW.
I took a sketch pad with me, and then sketched from pictures I took at the Convention. Furry costumes are absolutely the best for quick sketches, as many of them are what is called "toony", looking somewhat cartoonish, which makes them very easy to render into quick drawings.
Please note, these are all really quick sketches. The point was not to go for realism, but to just dust off my skills of rendering onto paper what my eye sees, quickly. Most of these were done in quick minutes.
On a few I added color. After all, I lugged my bag with colored pencils to the Con, having to park like a half mile away and walk (OK, maybe not that far, but it felt like it).
I had such fun that I am already making plans to go to the Convention in Chicago, Midwest Furfest. That is, one day of it. I have already checked in with my girlfriend, Darla, and found out that she does not have plans for that weekend. So I will visit her, and we will attend the Saturday. I can take more pictures, and do more sketches.
Who knows, I even have a fursona in mind for myself, but that would be a whole other level of creativity, and would not be ready by the first weekend of December. We'll see how far this new zest for my art takes me.
A short time ago, my former apprentice, Foxfeather (I just advanced her to General this last Spring) achieved a life-long dream, that of acquiring a vulture. She is an advocate for all things vulture and has wanted to acquire one to begin being able to educate people about the value of these very misunderstood birds.
In mid July she was informed by a person who breeds these birds, Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture, a species found in South America, that a chick was available if she wanted it. She has been on the waiting list for a long time. She jumped into her car and drove to Alabama to bring home her new bundle of fluff.
Because this bird is destined to be an education ambassador, it is very important that it becomes human imprinted, as well as very comfortable being around human environments. Fox is raising him loose in her livingroom (vultures do not have strong legs so cannot be tethered like raptors), and is taking him to many education opportunities already for him to get used to what his life is going to look like.
I say "him" because she has now gotten a DNA test to determine his sex. He's a boy! She has named him Sev (short for Severus from Harry Potter).
I try to get over to her home and interact with the baby so he is familiar with me. He is still fairly shy, as most vultures are, and sometimes runs away when I come in and lay down on the floor and talk to him. Sometimes I bring tasty vulture snax (live mouse or rat pinkies or fuzzies), at which point he's my buddy. Like any good Godmother, I don't have to really do anything to take care of the baby, just come and dote on him some, spoil him, although his mamma does a very good job at that.
Sev will most likely learn some tricks to add in his appeal as an education ambassador. Vultures are rather intelligent, curious and social animals. They just have a bad rap because of what they do . . . which is to provide a valuable service in the wild. Where would we all be without the garbage man?
Fox has established the Vulture Conservancy. With time she hopes / plans to acquire other vultures, but Sev is going to be the first. Her site will become more active with time. You can link to her to read up more about this endeavor, or even schedule her to come and give a presentation. She can also be found on Patreon if you would like to support her work and get access to more backstories.
Spring 2019 has come and gone. I posted many pictures of goat babies but didn't put any text to them. I will correct that now. Total births this year were 19 kids. Just about all of them came in variations on a theme of white with black spots, as that is the color mostly represented by my herd. However there is some brown in there, and Cashew gave me two completely adorable doelings. She would go on and also give me some milk. Fuzzy was also brought to the stand and contributed milk.
Between these two descendants of my oldest goat Macaroon and the contributions of my two new Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Poppy and Marigold, I was getting a goodly amount of milk for awhile. However, milking every morning was quite the task. I did buy myself a milking machine, however later into June and the start of July I slacked off on my milking, and with the kids not taking as much either, my mamma goats are drying off. We did get some nice cheese while it lasted.
These three are Macaroons triplets this year. We would go on to bottle feed the smallest one, a little buckling we ended up naming Tiny Tim, as he needed a little help, his mamma not having a lot of milk, and his two bigger sisters drinking it all.
Rich is holding Biscotti's triplets. Some several weeks later we did lose the youngest doeling of this set. Something was not right with her, and in the terrible heat we had at the middle of July she succumbed to her weakness. Otherwise, all the others appear to be doing fine.
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.