Friday, July 30, 2010

A Falconry Post . . . . Sort of!

It's the summer months . . . and there is not a lot of falconry news to report. For those who are intermewing a bird (that is, keeping a bird over the summer while she moults) they can at least report about the changing feathers. My bird from last year is hopefully changing into his adult plumage in the wild, enjoying the gulf breezes in Corpus Christi. Yesterday, however, was a beautiful summer afternoon . . . and I did get to engage in a little hawk watching. There is a resident pair of red-tails who have bred on the farm for the last several years. When I arrived back in May, Rich and I walked out to the nest tree, and were glared at over the lip of the nest by one of the parents . . . so I knew a new season of hawk rearing was underway. Our trip to Norway then took us away for several weeks. Some short time after we returned we took a walk again out to the back pasture where the nest tree is tucked into a grove of trees. I could hear the distinct food cries of at least one young eyas in the nest. Getting settled into my new home, and starting my new job again pulled me away from farm wandering for about another month. In early July Rich and I took another walk, this time to assess and possibly gather black caps (wild black berries) from a fence line that runs away from the grove of trees that holds the nest. The berries were abundant, and this time the eyases were what we would call "branchers". They were sitting alongside and moving among the branches of the nest. Our walking under the nest tree spooked them, launching them into two different directions. The older hawk sailed down over the valley and landed in a tree. The younger bailed out the other direction, and hit the ground up the hill by the fence line. We walked up and looked at it, but left it alone. If it's going to jump out of the safety of the tree, it had better learn soon how to get back up into safety pretty quick, or it won't survive. One of the parent hawks was flying overhead screaming her displeasure. Several more weeks passed before our next visit. Over the last couple days Rich's father and brother have been cutting and raking the next crop of hay. We've received reports of hawks sitting prominently up in the trees, and occasionally coming down after the farm equipment passes by, catching a mouse teased out by the rakes. We returned from some errands, it was warm but not overly so, and there were no afternoon plans. Cletus, Richard's father, was out bailing hay, making large round bails. I asked for us to drive out in Rich's big farm truck to see if we could see the hawk family. As we exited the farm yard, we passed by the first stands of field corn. The ears are starting to come in, but it will be a long time before they are harvested. The ground is still a little muddy in places from all the rain we have been getting lately, and a gathering of yellow and white butterflies were sipping moisture/minerals from a small puddle. I saw it too late, and also did not have my camera along, for it would have made a great picture. Maybe they will gather again tomorrow. They flew up in a large cloud over the truck as we passed. We made our way out to the back pastures. At one point the road seemed to end at an embankment with a brushy mass . . . but with a quick switch to 4 wheel drive, Rich plowed over and through it all, into the ditch on the other side. With a little spinning of wheels in the sticky mud, we passed through and up the other side to meet up with Cletus, who was stopped and putting more twine into the bailer. All this time, the fields are absolutely filled with butterflies. It is almost magickal! They flutter over the corn and the soybeans. They are everywhere! As we made it to the tractor, which was still running, Rich pointed out all the butterflies caught by the air intake. As we visited, I went over to the intake and started to pull the insects away from their trap and release them. Rich saw what I was doing, and climbed up into the tractor and turned it off. As I stood in front of the machine, the sudden end of suction freed all the butterflies, who flew up and away over my head. I laughed at the experience! A few were still stuck in the grill . . . gentle pulling allowed them to join the others. These are good summer memories! We then got back into his truck and continued up the hill to an overlook of the nest grove. A single parent bird screamed her red-tail hawk scream from time to time. In a neighboring grove, at the tops of a few old snags, two juvenile hawks sat in the sunshine, crying their juvenile hawk cries continually. We stopped and watched them for about a half hour, with me climbing out the window to sit on the edge, for a clear view over the roof of the truck. It is at these times I wish I had a better camera. Perhaps soon I shall treat myself and buy one of those spotting scopes with camera attachment. The three birds stayed where they were, with only one of the juveniles moving to another location, but still visible. I watched them with my binoculars, and listened to them cry back and forth. Even if I had a camera, they were too far away to photograph. The fields were alive with butterflies. The tractor plodded along the valley scooping up the raked hay, occasionally stopping to plop out a large round bail. I hoped maybe one of them would fly down after a mouse, but they did not while we watched. The summer moves along, and soon it will be trapping season. These are exactly the kinds of birds I will be looking for . . . . juvenile hawks. Our Eastern birds sparkle with their white bellies. To watch them, to look forward to the upcoming season . . . . it is a delight! At heart, this is what falconry is to me. I love these birds! I love everything about them. I like to watch them, even if they are just sitting around doing nothing. I love even more interacting with them, and getting to see them perform their aerial maneuvers. It is a sickness! But it is a healthy sickness . . . and I'm glad we can practice it here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Barn Quilts

Houston County, where I am living, in the South-East corner of Minnesota has begun a barn beautification / tourist project. Several landowners have consented to have some colorful "Barn Quits" placed on their classic (and sometimes not so classic) barns. Out of curiosity, I've started to look for several of them and will take pictures. I may not quest to find them all, but some will make for a nice post . . . . while I am still bird-less. Speaking of birds . . . the chicken chicks are growing and thriving. I should post about them soon too! As best I could, I have framed these objects when I took the picture . . . however these are all on private land, so the view is from the road. Some give a very quaint slice of Country . . . as many of the structures they are attached to are working barns . . . sometimes complete with farm animals. This sunflower quilt is quite distant from the road . . . I do like the look of the tall corn all around! And speaking of chickens . . . here they are! It's hard to capture all 7 of them in the same frame, they move and run a lot. Currently, my husband and his brother and father are making them a "Chicken Tractor" . . . . which really is going to turn out to be more of a "Chicken Palace" . . . it's quite a bit larger than most of the designs I've seen. But my girls can not run free . . . the farm has too many dangers that would end their lives quick, so they will have to live caged. However they are getting an enclosure that can be moved around the yard and grassy areas, so they can sort of free range, in a safe fashion.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


OK . . . right now this blog is just not about falconry at all! It's the off season, and I don't have a bird to take care of. Well . . . I don't have a "falconry" bird that is. I do have 7 chicken chicks that I have set up in a brooder. They are one week old today, and doing well. I am going to post a recipe here. It's not that I want to share it with the world . . . only . . . I'm forever wanting to make my favorite scone recipe, but frequently finding myself away from home in someone else's kitchen, and don't remember the exact ingredients. If I post it here, all I need is a computer connection, and I can consult the recipe. So . . . here it is! It's actually quite a good scone recipe . . . I highly suggest folks try it! Oatmeal Fruit Scones Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix together: 1 1/2 cups flour 1/4 cup sugar 1 Tbsp baking powder 1/2 Tsp salt Stir in: 1 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats 1/2 cup fruit . . . usually dried . . . I like to use raisins or Craisins (dried sweetened cranberries) Sometimes if you have fresh fruit like black caps or blue berries, use those, but know that the fresh wet berries will make the batter a lot more sticky, and you may have to bake a little longer. Mix then Stir in: 1 large egg 10 Tbsp of melted butter (Yep . . . I said TEN! This is not a dietetic recipe!) 1/3 cup milk Mix it all together, then scoop out a very large Tablespoon of batter, and I like to roll it in my hands and then flatten it somewhat onto a baking sheet . . . so it makes a biscuit like shape. If you have the wetter dough, just scoop out for drop biscuits. Bake for 10-12 minutes . . . . watch it . . . 'cuz at 450 degrees, it will burn easy! After baked, remove from oven, and transfer over to a cool surface, like a sheet of aluminum foil. You can either eat it straight, or mix a bit of confectioners sugar with a little water or milk and drizzle that over the top. ENJOY!!