Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Springing Forward...

...after "Fall-ing" back.

As is the routine, it's been a long time between posts.  My last post was elk hunting in the fall. Winter has now come and gone and spring's on the near horizon. It's time to spring back and catch up. Here's what happened over the winter:

First, here's how we ended the fall- LOTS of old grass.  This might be the best end-of-season I've seen in a decade.  All of this grass is still here come spring and it held the winter snow in place.

Sitting in a sea of grass

We got a wood stove installed last fall and it was GREAT!  It's a Lopi Endeavor re-burning wood stove.  This is not your grandad's wood stove where most of the heat goes up the chimney.  This one recirculates gasses and reburns them, for a near 90% efficiency rate.  It cut our propane bill by 2/3 and, while it didn't keep the entire house toasty, it did give us a "hot spot" in the living room where we could sit and be warm.



Falconry-wise, I started the season with a fresh-taken female prairie falcon.  We didn't get along well- to be fair to her, I was trying a different training technique- and ended up parting ways.  After some effort, I trapped a passage redtailed hawk- only my 4th RT in 30+ years of falconry- in December and flew her for the rest of the season.  She's an interesting bird in that she follows and flies beautifully, but doesn't seem to know what bunnies are.  Because she tries to swallow all of her food whole, I think she'd mostly been a mouse hawk until I trapped her. I'm going to molt her and fly her another season and then probably let her go. I have a Cooper's hawk in mind and possibly another prairie falcon.

2 weeks out of the trap.  She loves me (not).
5 weeks out of the trap

Falconry was mostly a disappointment this year, but that's also mostly my fault since I was fooling around with the prairie falcon and didn't get the RT until December and trained until mid-January. By then, the surviving bunnies are smart and hard to catch and we don't have that many anyway. We had some good flights but ended the season score-less.  We did make it to the North American Falconer's Association Meet in Lubbock TX and I was hoping for a good week of hawking there, but Derek took ill the first day and spent the whole week sick in bed.  Because of this, we bailed mid-week and came on home where he continued to run a 100 deg fever for a full week.  So that was a bummer. At the meet, though, I did win the pole perch I'm using in the above picture, talk to a lot of people about the upcoming revision to "Falconry Equipment", visit with friends, eat some good food, and more or less relax a bit.

January and February rolled by with the main excitement being the birth of our first grandchild via Quenten and Brianna in February. In January, the ranch got a new 2014 Polaris Ranger XP 900. I've been looking at these for years, and the time seemed right to get one, so we did.  It arrived Jan 2 and between then today (March 12), I have started the ranch Ford F250 a grand total of 3 times.  If the Ranger stays reliable, it should prove to be a very useful vehicle.

Cutting firewood from the new Ranger

In March, our friend Heather, falconer/horse/dog trainer stopped for a visit on her gypsy way from Texas back to Montana.  It ended up snowing nearly the entire week, trapping her here, and we played games, talked training and music, watched movies, and had just a generally good time.  Derek made a new friend and learned a lot about training animals. We really enjoyed having her visit and were sad to see her go.

Derek and Heather compare falcons

Also in March (the 7th and 9th, to be exact), Georgia and I observed our 29th wedding anniversary and I passed 53 years old.  Here's what I said about that on Facebook:

As of today, Georgia and I have been married for 29 years. That's, like, almost 3 decades. There are countries that haven't lasted as long (I don't know which ones, but it sounds good on paper). We've been thru celebrated births (3 kids), tragic deaths (buried one of them), cross-country moves, dramatic career changes, a lawsuit, poverty, (relative) prosperity, cancer, conversions, college, drought, near-disasters, a few easy years, and more (that I can't remember), and are still kicking along. 
Also on the radar, on Monday, I will be 53 years old. I long ago ran out of the good years for Martin D's ('34-38) and am now fixing to run out of good years for Telecasters ('50-54). After this, I'll be living in Stratocaster Years ('54-64). If I make past those, I suppose I'll have a few years of Fender Blackface amps ('64-67), the volume of which I'll undoubtedly need at that point, providing I can even hear at all by then. I don't know what I'll latch on to if I make it past the Blackface stage. Guess I'll cross that bridge then, if. None of this will make the least bit of sense to non-guitar-weenies, of course, but it's how I put history in perspective.

This past week, Derek's cows started giving birth, bringing more excitement.  We lost the first one- whether due to a still birth or the snow storm, I don't know.  The 2nd was one born the next day and is doing well, as of this writing.

Derek is now a cattleman

The cow that lost her calf tries to claim this one.  We separated her out.

And now, having caught up, let's take a look at Ranch Life in the next post!

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