Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rabbits Lucky Day

The Holidays were a blur of friends, excessive calories, and hunting. The past few days have been getting out of that routine and back into the normal schedule of farming, hunting, and work. I don't consider farming (chores, feed pickups, hay hauling, water buckets, etc) work. Work is what is has been most of my life - sitting in front of a screen. That is where I write, design, or watch something while I illustrate. But that time outside - the checking on pigs and goat hoof status - the hay deliveries, farrier visits, and praying the chickens get back to laying eggs - that isn't work. That's my love affair.

I have discovered falconry might be who I am cheating with farming on. I have never had a bird this good. She comes when called, every time (so far) and seems to trust me. This week she was chased off by a mature red tail and I was certain she would never been seen again. Then she came back to me, first just a small dot in the distance and then landed gracefully above me in a tree branch. She knows where her bread is buttered. The second time another bird harassed her she simply came right to me. Who needs to be scared of 4lb hawks when you have your very own primate bodyguard ?I try to take Aya Cash out to fly several times a week. Today we went out twice - over three hours of exhaustive hiking, thorn scars, talon marks, and chasing rabbits. She dove after seven cottontails total. Today the luck belonged to the rabbits. Everyone got under cover or thorns before Aya could snag them.

A serious snowstorm is coming mid-morning tomorrow. I am mostly ready for it. I could have more firewood inside. It will be morning work to get everyone extra hay and feed, but I have what I need to get through the storm. I might even take Aya out to try again before it hits. That really depends more on weather than anything else, but even here on the mountain a few flights before coffee might be the energizer I need to face the storm.


Blogger sarah e blog said...

its not the facing but the enduring i love..the feeling of being prepared but the exhilaration of knowing what to do when you are not..the thrill and drive of it.

December 28, 2016 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

Hi Jenna,
Could you please write a bit about the process of releasing your hawk (when the time comes)? How and when do you release them? How do they know they aren't to fly back to you when you do release them for good? And are they adversely affected - upon release- from having been temporarily "tamed" by a human or do they welcome their release back into the wild without regret or harm? I am not intending any judgment regarding falconry - I know it's a very long held tradition/practice - I'm just very curious to know how you get a wild animal to respond to you at one point in time, and then, at another point in time, to ignore you and embrace their wild life again. Thanks!

December 28, 2016 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Hey Kira, thank you for asking! So unlike other species of animals, red-tails can't be domesticated. They learn to go from fearing a single human to trusting her - but it isn't much more than trust. She sticks with me because it is beneficial relationship. She knows I am safe and help her find food. But she isn't tame.

That's important to know because that is why we can release them. I fly with Aya when she is hungry - not starving or meek - just hungry. This means that she either catches food or returns to me for food after flying free. If we caught a rabbit today and she filled her crop, tomorrow I took her hunting I would never see her again. She would fly away - find a sunny spot up in a branch and nap. Every time I take her out to hunt I may never see her again, actually. Even birds at hunting weight sometimes decide they just want to hunt alone. It's a crapshoot.

The mark of a good falconer is a healthy bird that takes game. This is the best hunter I ever trained with, and I am sure when I release her she will be fine! The only sad one will be me. I might keep her 2 seasons? I don't know yet.

December 29, 2016 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Sarah, do you mean the storm?

December 29, 2016 at 7:20 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

You have what you need to get through the storm - Love that line, so very metaphorical

December 30, 2016 at 7:24 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Hi Jenna,

I am a friend of a neighbor and have noticed your lovely home and animals. You live one of my dreams and we have a couple of things in common. Anyway I wanted to ask what is the breed of the gorgeous off-white hen you have trotting around? Thanks for writing!
Vicariously ;),

December 31, 2016 at 12:41 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Morning E, which neighbor?

December 31, 2016 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

The Somervilles

December 31, 2016 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

the white hen is an American Bresse

December 31, 2016 at 11:57 AM  

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