Monday, June 23, 2014

Birds, Bows, and Bouteloua

I'm just terrible at keeping up with this blog and you can blame Facebook for that.  It's so much easier to just spit out little comments over there whereas over here I feel like I have to actually write something and I don't know if you've noticed, but writing is hard work.  It's work digging for the right words to describe situations and events and to think of interesting things to say in the first place.  But, well, here we are again.

I took another wild prairie falcon.  My other prairie- the one that was going into her 3rd year, the year when she'd really turn on and become A Real Hunting Falcon- got injured at the beginning of the 2013/14 season and lost use of her wing.   I placed her with an educational group in the Dallas area and decided to get a tiercel (male) prairie falcon, something I've never had.  For the first time since 2004, falcons nested on some cliffs in the NE corner of our ranch so Derek and I started watching them. We went out to check them one day and were surprised to find 2 large white chicks on the nest- I was expecting much smaller chicks at that date.  There was a big storm with "damaging hail" on the way and the nest was pretty exposed on the cliff face.  I would've hated to come back after the storm and find dead chicks.  Fortunately, this didn't happen, but I can't see into the future and I made the snap decision to go ahead and take a chick.

Having snapped a decision, we went back to the house, gathered up the gear, and headed back to the cliff.  I anchored to a Grizzly 660 ATV and went down the rope.  I was a little disappointed to find 2 females when I really wanted a male, but, hey, there I was and "a bird in the hand...", and all that.  Into the bag went the female with the largest feet and done.

Here's footage of me taking the falcon chick:

And for fun, here's the view from my helmet cam:

And here's the falcon chick eating about 2 weeks later:

For better or worse, ready or not, it looks like I'm back in the falconry game.

The other big activity I've been up to is archery.   Derek is the defending State Champ and I'm trying to add my own plaque to the wall.  So far, I've shot 5 State shoots and won 4 with a 2nd place in the other.  That sounds good, but in my class there's not a lot of competition and I'm not shooting as well as I'd like.  So,  I've spent some serious time and effort (and a little $$$) working on my form.  I started videoing myself again and as a result of that, I sold some bows, bought some bows, and made some changes to my draw length.  All this paid off.  Here's some MORE video!

After doing this work, I shot an indoor round and shot my best score ever by a significant margin.  Here's my target from the 2013 State Indoor round for reference:

296/300 w 37 x's

And here's the target I shot after working on my draw length:

300/300 w/ 54 x's
The State Grand Field is coming up in mid-July and I'm looking forward to shooting it.

Bouteloua gracilis is my friend.  That's the blue grama grass that grows here and provides the bulk of our cattle forage.  In order for it to grow, there must be rain and... you guessed it!!!... it's been raining.  The difference between this year and last year is astounding.  Last year I recorded huge dust devils.  This year, it's green and lush.

Bouteloua gracilis in its prime (from late 2013)

Rain clouds

We're keeping stocking rates down to help the grass recover from the past 3 years drought, and right now, it's looking good.  I don't think we're out of the drought for good, but we're sure happy to have some relief.

And now for the cancer report.  Georgia's finishing her radiation therapy this week.  It's been a much better process that we feared and she's done very well.  The "burn" and associated pain has only just now shown up and it's expected that she'll continue to- just like a microwaved burrito- cook a little longer after the radiation stops.  We'll be glad to have her home and we're very, very, very thankful to have friends in Amarillo where she's stayed during these six weeks.

Upcoming- the 52nd Sierra Grande Rancher's Camp Meeting.  I've been Chairman/President/Organizational Czar of this for 6 years, I think.  We're on Facebook.