Friday, September 27, 2019

Furniture day

A couple of weekends ago, Jessa and I embarked on an annual task that is at once routine and somewhat nerve-wracking: kitting out Stekoa with his new furniture, "furniture" in this context referring to the leather equipment with which the hawk is, well, furnished.

And here it is: Aylmeri jesses and Noble bells on button bewits, cut, oiled, and ready to be put on. All the leather is kangaroo—the best material for the application, but quite dry, it takes a fair bit of oil to make suitable. As you can see, I like Obenauf's.

Stekoa stood calmly and bare-headed while I carefully cut off his old anklets (after a full year in the elements, the leather takes on nearly the consistency of wood) and then affixed the new ones, with only a single bate to release tension in between doing the left and right legs.

A perfect fit...

The next step—the nerve-wracking step—was to cope Stekoa's beak. We didn't take a good "before" picture, though you might be able to see his overgrown hook in the second photo above. He's not trained to the hood (from now on, though...), so I have to hood him in a hanging bate. Once hooded, he stood for a few well-aimed snips with the clippers and the job was done.

After taking a few minutes to unwind with a glass of Jameson's, we unhooded Stekoa, gave him a well-deserved quail, then put him in his box (as usual, he leapt right in) and made some needed repairs to the mews. It'll be another month, most likely, before conditions are conducive to going afield, but we're on the road to being ready.

And now, having written this, I shall go read a favourite passage from Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie, in which a falconer and his daughter furnish a jack merlin.

Bill was smiling with Allison, and at first he thought it was all because of her. But there was more. He held his hands to his face and smelled the neatsfoot oil from the jesses. It was a rich and poignant odor that he had always loved. He breathed it deeply and it smelled so good that he took one hand and held it up to Allison's face. "Breathe," he said.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Previous post notwithstanding, we do occasionally make an effort at housekeeping.

J: "Hey, would you help me open this box?"

M: "Why, what is it?"

J: "It's our new vacuum."

M: "Damned heavy for a box with nothing in it."

J: "Innit?"

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Also a verb

"I've been reliably informed," my old dad used to say, "that 'dust' is also a verb." (This would have been when he was living on his own after my mom passed away. Her mom, of Pennsylvania German extraction, verbed regularly enough that the noun was never to be seen.)

Our own household, two people (and sometimes three) plus a fair number of furred and feathered critters in a 99-year-old house, generates a fair bit of the noun, and we're sufficiently busy that the verb is seldom prioritised. But there is occasionally beauty even in neglect, and I think my dad would appreciate this dust-shadow feather atop our chicken coop. (My grandmother, of course, would be appalled, and my mom amused at both of them.)

Disturb the dust
if you must
only just
please don't write in it.