Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017

Where will you be on August 21st?

Rich and I plan to be in Nebraska, chasing the 2017 total solar eclipse.  Nothing like a sky event like this to make me drag out and dust off my old telescope, and then go ahead and buy a solar filter for it. I asked for vacation time off last year.  I'm approved, and we plan to have a party "in the shade" . . . hopefully it won't be cloudy.

This will be the view of the sun through my telescope with a special Baader AstroSolar safety film solar screen attached to my 8" reflector telescope.  I will have Rich bring the GoPro, and plan to record the entire 2 minutes and 36 seconds the total eclipse will last.

If you want to find out where the path of the eclipse will follow, and information about length of time, check out this really cool 2017 Eclipse Link.

Now we need to hope and wish for CLEAR SKIES!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kid . . . Kid, Kid, Kid . . . Kid, Kid, Kid

With these "lazy days of Summer" there is not much hawk related going on.  Birds are molting like mad in their chambers.  I would like to weather them if I could, but they would get eaten alive by the biting flies, which take a fair chomp out of me when I go out with the dogs.  I'll spare them the discomfort until the bugs die back a bit.

What has been going on around here . . . is a lot of goat births.

For now, I have three breeding females, and they gave me one kid, triplets and triplets, for a total of seven new kids.  With the exception of one, they are all doelings (females), so my herd is going to get quite a bit larger.  This coming fall I have three of my doelings from two summers ago ready to join the breeding herd, so little by little, I'm becoming a "goat Baron".  They are not being able to keep up with the pasture for now, as it is the height of grown.  They will catch up as summer wears on and the plants don't grow as fast.

This year's kids are going to be named after nuts, or have the word "nut" in their names somewhere.  Here is the start of the rundown.  I'll finish this posting as I bring them all out from the maternity barn to join the rest in the pasture.

Oreo was the first one to deliver, on May 30th.  She had a single female kid.

She is already out in the pasture with her mamma.  She's also already figured out she can slip through the fence.  This is a typical problem for us during the early days of the kids, until they get big enough that they can't squeeze through.  Recently, handling her, I can feel she has horn buds.  I don't have a disbudding iron, and frankly don't care if some of my goats have horns, so she will be allowed to grow hers.

Her name will be Pistachio!

The next goat to deliver was Biscotti.  On June 1 she had our first set of triplets.  I will be moving her and her kids out to the pasture tomorrow, so will get some close-up pictures of them at that time.

And here are their pictures and names.

The first one is the only brown colored kid we got this year.  Also, you'll notice that all three of Biscotti's babies have the long, floppy ears, which are a trait of the Nubian goat, of which I think Biscotti's dad was.  I've decided to name this doeling CashewI forgot to check if she has any horn buds, and now she is out loose in the pasture, so unlikely I could easily catch her and check.

Then there are two mostly black babies.  I decided to keep a kind of theme, with their mom being named Biscotti, and include a few of the ingredients you may find in that tasty, crispy snack you dunk into coffee.  The one above, that Rich is holding, is just about all black.  No horn buds on this one.  I shall call her Cocoa.  The one below has a big white patch on her belly, and I can feel horn buds.  She shall be called Almond.

Always, when we separate a goat, then put them back with the herd, there is some politics and head butting to establish the pecking order again.  Biscotti had to show this young wether born last year that she meant business, and to leave her and her kids alone.  

After awhile, they all moved off, and got busy with the important work of weed eating.

Our final goat mamma, Macaroon, had her triplets on June 9.  I'll post their profile when I let them out from the barn, most likely in a week or two.  They were born over a week later than the others, but look so much smaller.  Fortunately, they do seem to grow quickly.  I also checked them over today, and found two of them needed a little back side cleaning.  The first milk poops can be a bit sticky, and two were plugged up.  

Fun work . . . all part of goat keeping.

And now we are more than a week later, and I've let my last mamma goat out into the pasture with her triplets.

This baby below has very curly fur, which you really can't see well in this picture.  I am calling her Coconut.

Richard is holding the only buckling from this year.  I'm taking a suggestion from my friend Darla, and have decided to call him Wingnut.  He even has a white patch on his back that looks like a folded up wing.  He's not too happy in this picture, as I just "banded" him . . . that is, placed a tight band around his balls to make them loose circulation, dry up and fall off.  Don't need no stinkin bucks around.

The last, and smallest of this year's kids I'm calling Hazel.  She really is quite cute.

Again, there was some head butting and pushing when I brought Macaroon and her family back into the pasture, but they settled down quickly, and now the whole herd is back together.

Now if they would get busy on that pasture.  Even with all the goats, it is overgrown right now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Professionalism Makes All the Difference

Recently I had the privilege of participating in a professional photo shoot.  The woman behind the camera is Barbara O'Brien, and she makes her living photographing primarily animals.  She has kindly allowed me permission to post some of her work here.  Go visit her page and enjoy some of her quality work:  Barbara O'Brien Photography

The images in this post are copyright protected by Barbara, and use is strictly prohibited without permission of the artist.  If you like what you see, contact her at her web site. 

For clarification purposes, I was not paid in any way to bring my birds, with the possible exception of being allowed to post some of the images.  Also, it is clearly understood that no image will be used for any commercial purposes, other than demonstrating the skill of the photographer and her work.

There was a very beautiful model involved.

I got some really nice pictures of Kali before I released her.

Wyvern was looking a little rough in the feather department, even though she has yet to start her molt.

It is simply amazing what a very expensive camera can capture, especially in the hands of a skilled photographer.

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Recently I gave an educational talk to one of the local 4-H groups.  My mailman has been wanting me to come out for some time to do this . . . finally we got a day coordinated.  The kids were very interested, and asked some good questions.  Thanks to all of you for being a great audience!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Free Bird

Today was release day for Kali.  I was invited by some friends up North to join them for a hawk walk (Wyvern was along, pictures to come for that) and to then release Kali.  Before I cast her hood, I removed all her gear.

The final step is to remove her Federal band.  Once that was done, I removed her hood.  I have been increasing her weight in preparation for release, so immediately she flew away and up into the trees.  It was a nice Spring day, high 30s, sunny and mild breezes.

I wanted to send her on her way cropped up with good, rich food.  I prepared one of the pigeons that was accidentally killed during last October's trapping.  It took awhile for her to be convinced to come down for her last free meal with me.

She did eventually come down.  One last good meal accomplished, and a hop up to my fist for the final bites, she was then sent on her way.

Fly Free Kali!  Live a Good Life . . . Thanks for the fun this last winter.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Eagle Falconry

Rich and I use a GoPro with our hawking, although this last season I didn't have a whole lot of days out in the field with Rich along to record much.  However, this mini documentary about eagle falconry is a very good demonstration of the technology.

A lot of this appears familiar, as last month I went to go see The Eagle Huntress.  It may have been staged, but was still a very picturesque window into a unique form of falconry practiced by the nomadic Kazakh people.

End of the Season

Monday, February 13, 2017

When the Falconry Demo Turns into a Great Day Hawking

Over the weekend I took the opportunity to fulfill a promise I had made to a young man who had contacted me last year wanting to see and experience falconry.  His girlfriend, Ellie, is the daughter of one of my fellow classmates from Respiratory school.  I combined this opportunity with catching up with a friend of mine who has access to some pretty good hunting.  This friend also brought along a couple of his nephews.  It was a bright, not too cold, although fairly windy day.  I had lots of brush beaters, and for their part, they all got to see some pretty good hawking.

Below is Deniska, who is holding Kali.

Another title for this post would be: "How I used a GoPro incorrectly, and instead of taking high image videos, instead took a gazillion useless .JPG photos, mostly of the ground the GoPro wearer was looking at so he wouldn't fall."

Seriously, Rich usually is my GoPro operator, but he was at work on this weekend day.  He gave me a quick lesson on how to use it, but I was surprised when we downloaded the data that it had gone into photo taking mode.  We were literally perusing through hundreds of photos.  Most did not catch any of the several exciting slips on this hunting outing.  I did isolate one of our slips.  Wyvern tagged this bunny in some thick brush.  Just as I arrived to help her, bunny got traction and kicked her off, to escape.  Here is a .GIF that I made of the action.  Later, we would flush bunny again, and I could see it was injured, with blood on its neck, but it was a very, very lucky bunny and escaped us again.

Our team for the day worked the brush hard, and at the end, when we had pretty much given up, we came across one last really thick brush pile on a slight hillside.  Oh, it looked SOOOOO good.  I had the kids go jump on it, and sure enough, a bunny popped out, and this time Wyvern caught it.  She then proceeded to play "Don't Catch Me", as I slid down the hill after her, and she kept hop-scotching away with her prize.  At the bottom of the hill I made one last dive for her, and grabbed her bunny, which is just as well, as she then let it go, and proceeded to pout for awhile and would not come to me to get her food reward.  I made my way back to the car, and there she joined me and allowed me to leash her in while she dined on the most choice parts of the bunny.

We moved to another location that Brandon had permission to hunt, but I decided it did not look as promising, nor did we have enough time as Brandon had some family obligations.  We parted after some pictures, and then went to an old abandoned farm owned by Ellie's family.

This location did look pretty good, as old abandoned farms tend to.  Kali was flown, and again, there was a really pretty stoop on a bunny which I so wish the GoPro had caught (it didn't).  We would work around the yard and off to a corner where I was about to call it a day.  Deniska had flushed a bunny in that corner but we did not see where it had gotten off to.  As I came up out of the ditch we were in, looking for Kali, who I expected to still be in the trees, I heard a strange squeak (not a typical bunny cry), and following that and the bells I then heard, we found Kali on her prize.

It was a good day for all.  My guests got to see some good flying and catching, and both birds scored a hot meal, plus more food for the freezer.

Friday, February 10, 2017

I Had Just Planned to Take a Walk

We seem to have come out of a rather cold stretch of winter.  The forecast is for much warmer days, which will melt away a lot of our snow.  It is only February, so the potential for more snow is always possible, but I am hopeful when this white crap melts.

I have found this winter to be a little more challenging than years past.  I have been diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee, and I share the same pain in several other joints, so probably arthritis there too.  Getting out into the cold has been difficult, and the coldest days I just have not been able to motivate myself to go out.  The birds have suffered some from this.

Friday turned into a really nice afternoon.  After sleeping a few hours, because I had worked the previous night, I packed up the birds and went in search of hawking opportunities.  For Wyvern, I chose a location which can produce a bunny or two, in years past, but for which I did not have a whole lot of expectations.  My goal was mostly to take a nice walk with her and let her fly, and maybe find a mouse or two.  Well, much to my surprise, this location produce slip after slip.  Wyvern has not caught a whole lot of bunnies in her career, but today she made it look pretty easy.  She has certainly learned that it is worth her effort to chase them, because sometimes if she tries hard, she catches them.

I then changed locations and flew Kali.  Her outing did turn into just exercise, with a few unsuccessful slips.  Flying both birds got me out and moving, and loosening up some stiff joints.  On the way home I stopped and picked up a couple of tasty sub sandwiches from a favorite small-town family-owned business.  It was a nice bonus to a good afternoon out with the birds.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Trying to get Back in the Groove

New Places

New hunting location . . . and Zac.  He helped us beat around looking for something to catch, but the bunnies beat us to cover.  Maybe if we visit in the earlier season.  We were invited to come again.