Friday, January 27, 2012


I’ve been thinking about goals lately. I’m a goal-oriented person.  Generally, when I have a "big" specific thing that I want to accomplish, I'll also have intermediate goals that need to be accomplished between now and The Big Goal.  In other words, just accomplishing The Big Goal usually isn't enough.  There is a certain order or certain steps that I also want to accomplish.  I like to do this, then do that, then build up both of those, and so forth, all the way to the final goal whereupon I proclaim “Mission Accomplished!” and immediately lose interest.  Well, not always… sometimes I take the skills I’ve developed on the way and head off toward another goal.  The more of these sub-goals that I accomplish, the happier I am with the final result.

I’ve achieved a few major goal in my lifetime.  After years and years of trail riding on dirt bikes, I wanted to ride a real motocross bike on a real motocross track and make all the jumps and obstacles.  And so, in 2005, I bought a used 2001 Kawasaki KX125 and set out to accomplish this.  It took a few months, but I eventually did clear all the jumps on that bike, and it was followed shortly thereafter by a new old-stock 2004 Yamaha YZ450F.  The jumps were easy on that bike and just "clearing the obstacles" was no longer a challenge.  I sold the 450F, backed down to smaller bikes, and repeated the goal on several other bikes- a 2004 KTM 200sx, a 2005 Yamaha YZ250, and a 2005 Kawasaki KX125.  Then the tracks got too hard for my KX125 and I didn’t want to keep up.  At this point, it was Mission Accomplished and I could’ve set up a new goal (like, “finish in the top 3 at a race”), but I was getting old and fragile and so I called it good and sold my bike and gear.  But, no regrets- I rode tracks (several of them) and I cleared all the jumps.

I achieved another major goal when I took a cow elk 2 years ago. Hunting for me is not just shooting an animal.  That's part of it, for sure, but only part of it.  For a hunt to be truly successful, several intermediate stages have to happen.  I need to reload and develop my own loads.  I have to find the game myself- no guides.  I have to hunt for the animal- if there are mountains and draws and tough terrain, all the better (in moderation!).  I have to make a good shot which for me means I get closer- I do not like to take long shots.  I’m happiest when it’s 1 shot, 1 kill.  And then I pack the meat out and I prepare it.  I eat it.  If all those steps come together, it’s the perfect hunt.

The elk under the tree

Almost no blood at all!

Packing the meat out- final trip!

My first cow elk hunt was a perfect hunt.  I hunted for 2 days w/out seeing anything and then on the 3rd day, I found the elk.  I stalked into them and made a 250 yard single-shot with my hand-loaded ammo.  At first, I couldn’t find the elk but I was confident in my shooting and in my equipment and I kept looking.  I finally found her piled up in a juniper about 600 yards away, downhill.   I packed out one load, called for help, and ended up packing most of the rest out that evening, getting back to the truck in total darkness with the aid of a GPS and my trusty daughter.  We got a little lost in the dark and after the 4th or 5th canyon, I was exhausted so I ended up climbing a tree and tying off some of the meat, carrying out what I had in my pack and leaving the cart behind.  I GPS'ed the spot and the next day, Georgia and I went back to retrieve the meat and cart.  The next day it snowed a blizzard.  That was a 100% successful and satisfying hunt.  Building on this, I want a bull elk now.  It’ll have to be no guide, public land, and economically feasible.  As far as antler size goes, I just want a 6x6- it doesn’t have to make book or anything, it just needs to be a “good” elk and by "good" that means I have to go thru all the intermediate steps I've set up for myself.

Last Thanksgiving, I went to the North American Falconer’s Meet and the idea was planted in my head that I should take a wild peregrine falcon.  I’ve never done that and the idea was intriguing.  It would involve getting the permit, finding one, rappelling, and finally training it, all worthy goals in and of themselves, but to reach the goal of the taking of a wild duck with a wild-taken peregrine was why Aldo Leopold said “all in all, falconry is the perfect hobby.”  You can read all about the search and the eventual successful taking of the peregrine in earlier parts of this blog.  As long as I was doing this, I decided to get a prairie falcon, too.  I’ve had an eyass prairie, but I didn’t rappel into the nest for it.  

So far, this goal is only partially met.  Both birds were flying well and taking free-flying pigeons, but with these young, inexperienced birds, I couldn’t close the deal on a duck before it got cold, the ponds froze, and the ducks left.  Then, sadly, the peregrine contracted a virus, probably thanks to stress from the eagle attack, and died.  Duck season closed, thus slamming the door in my face.  Completion of this goal will have to wait until next year, but at that time, having (hopefully!) taken my prairie falcon thru the molt, I should have an older, wiser, and more experienced prairie falcon who already knows how to fly, knows how to “wait-on”, and all that good stuff.  I’ll be raising some captive ducks this summer and I’ll “enter” her on those so that she knows what ducks are all about.  All in all, I’m confident that I’ll get this goal accomplished.  And I won’t be sitting around all summer, either- I’ll be out looking for more prairie falcon nests and I hope to take a tiercel prairie this year.  That’s my goal for this year!  That, and re-build my pigeon loft and end up with close to 100 birds by summer’s end.
On the Davidic front, for those of you not keeping up with this on Facebook, we have some VERY good news!  David’s been on steroids for, what, two months?, as I reported last entry.  In spite of lower doses of steroids, his hemoglobin has continued to rise and he was 9.1 g/dL on his 1/25/12 test.  We were SO thankful for this!

In other news, we bought a new, used car.  We need a car.  We have a ’99 Suburban with 190,000 miles on it and 3 pickups.  We don’t have anything that gets better than 20 mpg and we need something more economical for our trips to ABQ and, soon, to Denver for David’s medical work.  Even just going to town is a 65 mi round trip.  So, after much research, and some butt-planting, we settled on a Chevrolet Malibu and ta-da… I found a good one in Santa Fe.  Long story short, we bought a 2011 Malibu LT/1LT with 19k miles on it.  On the drive home, we got 38 mpg at 75 mph!  That’s what I’m talking ‘bout!  Our mechanic checked it out and pronounced it good and so here we are!  We’re hopeful that I’ll be a good reliable car.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter Won!

We were waiting on winter and a few weeks ago I announced that the wait was over.  Well, that was only the opening act.  On Dec 20, we got hammered by a storm that rivaled The Big One of '06.  This storm left 8-12" of snow and was accompanied by 40-50 mph winds.  Snow blew into every building we own except the storage container.  Our hay was buried in several feet of snow, the skid steer was buried in snow, drifts reached up almost to the roof, the propane tank was buried, snow got under the roof in both the house and shop, and so on and so forth.

Here's a video taken during the storm:

I had to crawl up on the roof during the storm to knock ice off the heater vent.  That worked for awhile but around evening, the heater started short cycling.  Nothing we could do then but shut the heat off.  We only got down to 50 overnight and the next day, with the storm over and the sun shining, I climbed back up and removed the vent cap to find the pipe full of snow and ice.  I really need to figure out a way to keep this from happening again, but the only way to really test solutions is during a storm.

I try different things during each storm and this time I tried putting a horse trailer in front of the hawk house to see if it would change the swirls and keep the hawk house from filling up with snow.  It didn't work.  What happened instead was that the horse trailer got pinned in by drifts and I couldn't get it away from the hawk house.  I had backed it in, but after the storm there was a huge drift in front so I couldn't get the truck in to pull the trailer back out.  I could pull it at an angle but it was going to pivot and there was danger of the rear hitting the hawk house.  I wanted to move the trailer because it was blocking the sun and a) the falcon needs sun, b) sun helps the snow inside melt.  Long story short, I got it out although I creased the metal a little.  Oh well, I can take that panel off and straighten it up.

Inside the barn!

The hawk house and trailer

Back yard drift
Derek on drift against house

Scale house full of snow

Bryan on the roof

Fortunately, after the storm the sun came out and the temperature went up to the 50's.  There's still a lot of snow out there but a lot of it has melted (creating a muddy mess everywhere!).  Life's just always exciting here!

On The Davidic Front we have good news!  David has been responding to steroids and his blood levels have remained stable and actually increased a little bit, for the first time EVER.  He dropped to about 6.8 g/dL but at the next test was up to 7.5 and stayed there for a week.  Our doctors said to let it go 2 weeks and then test him again.  He certainly feels a lot better and his appetite has literally tripled.  Steroids, of course, are not a cure but they have bought us some time and breathing space.  The plans are still to do a bone marrow transplant.  A very few people go into remission after steroids, though, and we're hoping for something along those lines.  For now, though, we're grateful for this improvement.