I am a woman falconer, enjoying the Great Outdoors with a hawk on my fist.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Fox's Little Slice of Paradise
I've had a long standing invitation to come out to Foxfeather and Roman's "farm". It is a work in progress. They purchased an old run down farm a couple years ago, and have been slowly rehabilitating it. As so many old farms are, there is abundant junk that clutters the land. Slowly, they are working on cleaning out the junk. They have begun a garden, and harvested a great deal of organic produce from it this last summer. Last year they set up a couple of bee hives, and I was able to see some of the working girls come to the door and peer out . . . the hives are healthy and full of honey and brood. There are many broken down buildings, and an old barn which is in still pretty good condition. Eventually they want to build a home there, but for now it is a place to plant dreams and toil in a long term healing process. There are unwanted bunnies there that slip into the fenced off garden and steal produce. I was warmly welcomed to bring the hawks and catch as many as we could.
To enter their property you must cross the creek, which Fox tells me has trout. At this time the water level is low, making crossing not too difficult a task. Eventually there will be a bridge, but for now the creek keeps many of the occasional visitors away. The land has been abandoned for a great amount of time, thus trespassers are having to learn that it is now owned, and their presence is not welcome any longer. Around what used to be the old house (just a basement pit and a chimney now) as well as the old barn are quite thick brier patches, where the bunnies hide. Within a few minutes of starting our walk Hit Girl came crashing in and caught bunny #1. She made it look all too easy! We dispatched bunny, rewarded her with just a small treat, and kept hunting. Our path took us up the hill, and into a small field overlooking the creek. Here there is another thick overgrown patch which was apparently inhabited by several rabbits. Hit Girl flew and dove at several, but they seemed to elude her. As we were coming down off the high field, a random whack into some bramble kicked up another bunny, which she quickly flew down, for #2 for the day.
She was fed up after her kill, pictures taken, and then we returned to our car to trade her off to let Sassy have her turn.
I offered the rabbits to Fox for her table, if she wanted, but there was signs of possible parasites in both livers. She declined the offer, allowing us to make them a part of the increasingly full freezer for later eating for the hawks.
You can see the creek behind us in this picture. It really is a nice place! Eventually Fox wants to build a facility for corvids. She has extensive experience with crows, and has two hooded crows of her own. She has done rehab before, however does not want to direct her energies into this avenue. She would like to work with the University of Minnesota to possibly have a rehab for release site, where students could come and help condition birds. Fox makes her primary living as an artist. You can see some of her work here!
I have one of her Tagua pendants with a bee on it . . . as a sponsor of their Bees and Trees project this last year. Their Kickstarter project was very successful and they were able to purchase the bee hives and many fruiting trees for the land. I enjoy participating, even in just a small way, with bringing this little patch of paradise back from destruction.
Sassy was enthusiastically ready to go when it was her turn. As we returned across the creek we first focused on the old barn. Upon approach we apparently flushed a rabbit which made a hasty retreat into the barn, with a hawk following closely. She went into the barn and flew around a bit, but the bunny knew the place better and had found some escape route. We pushed the brier around the old farmstead and then into the grassy places between it and the creek, however the word must have spread that there were hawks on the hunt that morning. Looping back around to the bee hives she flew across the field and made a stoop into the grass. A moment later a deer popped up and ran up the hillside. Sassy is quite confident, but I don't know if she actually made contact with the deer or just flushed it. She remained in her high perch as we continued walking across the filed, working the brush, and then quickly made a hasty dash back towards the house and garden area. We heard a crash, but no bunny cry. We paused, waiting, to see what would happen, and if she missed at whatever she had been aiming at, and would get herself back up. A couple minutes passed. OK, so we'll walk towards her. What we found was the picture above. The crash was her hitting the tin on the ground. She had a hold of the bunny through the fence. That wire at the bottom right corner is a live electric fence line. Fox went to turn off the electricity, and we then retrieved Sassy and her bunny. What a Great Catch!!
Sassy too was cropped up, and then plans made for lunch as we made our way back to the cars. Fox told us about a Taiwanese restaurant in Rochester, which Rich and I have actually been to before. They have good pho, which is a noodle soup. It was a good morning cleaning out some varmints from Fox's little slice of paradise . . . slowly becoming a much more idealistic retreat.
Returning home we were greeted, as always, by our two boys, who always insist they are starving. When we moved into our new home I decided I wanted to adopt a couple kitties for the garage/pole barn. The one on the left is Rum Tum (named after Rum Tum Tugger from the musical Cats). He grew up on the farm of our Wednesday night 'movie night' hostess, Laurie. She actually had quite a few kittens this year, many which got stomped by her horses. Rum Tum was one of the few that survived. He's a really cute and friendly tiger with white socks. The Kittie on the right is Skittles. He was a rescue from Illinois. My friend Darla had a neighbor who moved away, deciding the mamma cat and her kitten that they had previously sheltered would be abandoned. Darla took them in. She told me about them, and I indicated I would take the kitten. Skittles was just a bit skitish when he first arrived, but he settled in fine, and now both boys are buds. Rum Tum is a rough and tumble tough boy, who has already caught several mice. Skittles is a bit of a 'mamma's boy', having had his mamma all to himself for a long time. Darla thinks mamma cat was pregnant again so she is keeping her. She volunteers with a doberman rescue that also places cats. Mamma and any more future kittens will go to the rescue once old enough. Soon, very soon, I will get the two boys neutered. They are great to have around the house, even though they think they can eat the two big birds that are occasionally tied out. The big birds think the same thing as regards the cats. I hope we never find out who would win that fight.
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.