Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Hawks and Hope

When I last wrote there was no working plumbing indoors and I was coming off an intense storm and deluge of rain. Since then the plumbing has been repaired thanks to my amazing friend Chris, who came over with his partner Miriam to spend a night of hanging out and board games in celebration of running water. They brought a bottle of scotch, a roast chicken and vegetables and he showed me how to remove and repair the shark bite plumbing fixture I didn't have the right tool to budge. So I have water again! And I have amazing friends who came to spend time at the farm and teach me some new skills while we sipped hot toddies.

They arrived at my farm around 4PM, right when I was finally hiking down off the mountain. I had started hiking there at 11AM when my friend Caroline from Sandgate came over to hunt with Dash and I. Ten minutes into the hunt Dash saw a rabbit, took off, caught some of the wind and suddenly was over the ridge and out of sight and shouting distance. I spent an hour calling for him, Caroline being a real sport helping, as we hiking toward the directions we thought we heard bells. I walked up and down that mountain all day. No sign of him. Some times hawks simply fly away. It's part of falconry. They catch a swell of air and soar, they get chased off by territorial raptors that already live there, or they chase game out of earshot and it takes a while to find them. So far no luck. I notified the DEC and filed all the right paperwork about it and hope I can find him. Right now he's out there. He's healthy and a good hunter and all the equipment he is wearing to hunt is designed to be safe and come off eventually if he stays wild. But what a gut punch of a day...the bittersweet nature of his flight over the mountain and friends there to hug you and show you how the hot water is back on tap and spend an evening playing Lords of Waterdeep via candlelight.

That was Sunday. Yesterday I woke up early and returned to the mountain at dawn. I drove all over the area looking for him, too. No luck yet. My thighs and calves are so sore from the hiking it was hard to stand up this morning when I pulled myself out of the sleeping bag. Today the truck refused to start and I stood there in my driveway with my neighbor (a town sheriff) and another officer as we tried to troubleshoot what was wrong with Taylor. The consensus was possibly the manifold, but start by replacing spark plugs because it's electrical and that's cheapest and easiest to do. Work from there. SO I called my mechanic and he should be over to tow her away tomorrow. I'm without a bird and without a truck. OH! And a polar vortex is sliding into town! GREAT!

Enough of all that: here is some good news. When the truck was running, yesterday before this storm hit, I was able to get plenty of feed and supplies. I was also able to source some local dry firewood to carry me through a few days until I can figure out a larger delivery. I set out a seed bell for the songbirds. I baked some bread and defrosted a pork butt from the bottom of the freezer and even though it was in there a little longer than comfortable it roasted just fine with honey and sauce. So I had an amazing farm-raised meal beside a roaring fire and if I wanted to I could have a hot shower RIGHT NOW. I'm not sick like 90% of this area seems to be with a killer cold and when I did wake up earlier today to one hot water line frozen I was able to defrost it in time. The pigs got fresh straw bedding. The horses are comfortable. The dogs and cats are too.

I am okay. I'll figure out the truck, the wood, and this harsh cold that is coming over the next few days can't last forever.  May has to arrive eventually and as long as I continue to budget, plan, work, and figure out pork and lamb sales, soap sales, and the occasional help of freelance - I can use the skills of farm and art to keep this homestead going. I've done it for nearly a decade now, as this May marks 9 years at this home. That is no meek feat. And it's okay to be proud of doing that alone, and figuring out one problem at a time, and knowing that when May comes you may find me back in the saddle with the hawk that returned to me after a few weeks in the wild. That's what I am holding onto tonight. Wish me luck.