Sunday, December 27, 2009

Supporting your local Farm

I have always had a fascination with home grown foods and it's no wonder with a little bit of inspiration from others I got my own hands dirty. Nevertheless farmers are struggling to keep their businesses and way of life above water. Fortunately, for them the home grown revolution and organic eating has gone viral. But their still seems to be a huge gap for revenue that could be generated coming from the local farms into our kitchens. If I had my way I would have our Public schools purchase local food from our farms and institute an intern program for aspiring chefs to provide healthy meals for our kids. Ok this is my 2 cents, probably there are many holes in this way of thinking for it to work effectively, but the good idea fairy just couldn't keep quiet. Nonetheless, I found a great website to support local farms in your area . I was surprised by the number of local establishments in my area that provided everything from honey and canned goods to free ranged birds and cattle. But with all this said, I am glad to see the increased interest of city folk wanting to eat more healthy. Hopefully, this all transforms into tangible evidence that supporting locally grown is here to stay

Over winter transplanted pepper plants Flowering

Sooooooo after filling water bottles for the rabbits, filling up there feed trays, feeding the chickens, feeding the hawk, feeding the dogs, spreading hay over the raised beds growing my onions, garlic and snap beans, watering all the plants in the sun room, I look up and see this, a flower from one of my transplanted pepper plants that I pulled out of the garden to over winter. Even though I live in the south it has been cold here lately and my sun room is not insulated. But nonetheless, it is facing south and gets sunlight from the morning to the mid afternoon. This little guy brought a smile to my face. I guess they just don't want to give up. I have high hopes for my transplants this up coming year and the best thing about all of this is the fact that I don't have to start from seed again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Falconry Weight Management Ups and Downs; Literally

These past few days I have been getting antsy because I would rather be hunting with my hawk, instead of just waiting for his wait to drop. The key to hunting with birds of prey is proper weight management. There are several trains of thought on this idea, but everyone agrees that weight reduction is key to hunting with your bird of prey. Birds used for falconry like my Passage Red tail Hawk are motivated by food and the drive to hunt. But when they are full, they don't have much desire to do anything except sit there and look into space. When Delta was trapped he was 1020 grams, in order to get him to respond to me I had to drop his weight gradually. Everyday I would weigh him and record his behavior. He didn't respond to me until he lost 120 grams which put him at 900g. It was only then that delta accepted me as his provider and source of food and at this weight he was very keen and making unbelievable progress. This training came to a temporary halt when I had to travel to Oklahoma. I had my wife feed Delta for 3 chicken necks every other day. I figured this would be enough feeding for him to maintain his health and still keep the keen hunting spirit I desired for a hunting hawk. Ohh Boyyyyyyy to the contrary; when I got back Delta was Hog Fat, He was a whopping 1160 grams, that's right ELEVEN HUNDRED SIXTY GRAMS!!!!!!!! I just shook my head. I thought at this weight It will take forever to bring his weight down. He was trapped at 1020g and he had to go all the way down to 900g to even want to eat and now he was 1160g. This was fatter than he was trapped. But something happened over the course of several days that led me to rethink my position on weight loss. Even though Delta was Hog Fat he was still responding to the fist when bigger pieces of meat were presented. Of course I didn't give him the reward of a big hunk of meat, but I did reward him with a tidbit once he came to the fist. So over the course of several days I offered him a mix bag of small tidbits, tirings of fur and feather that can't be digested but will give him that sense of fullness as though he has eaten and washed meat; meat that has been rinsed in cold water over a period of 24 to 48 hrs in order to pull out all of the nutrients so that he can still eat and lose weight. (Maybe this can work for me too) So finally I got Delta back down to his Trap weight which is 1020g and although he is not as keen as he was at 900g he is definitely showing interest, by flying to the fist when called. This leaves me a bit perplexed about weight management because conventional thinking would suggest that he must reach the magic number of 900g in order to respond as his hunting weight. I have a feeling that Mr. Delta may start flying way before the 900g mark. But then again I really don't know, he is still truly a wild hawk I don't know if we will ever share the same relationship as I did with my other hawks. Ours may just be a mutual respect that predators share amongst one another and nothing else. If Delta could talk he would probably say to me " Hey buddy, Don't take this personal, It's just Business."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meet the Natives

We love watching the travel channel. Im a huge follower of Bourdaine and Zimmerman. But tonight I have found a show that has them both beat and its 'Meet the Natives". Talk about refreshing. A few years back I saw an episode on the Natives of New Guinea and instantly fell in love with such a happy folk. What draws me to this show is how innocent and pure they are in there thinking. I have been laughing hysterically at their interactions with "Us normal Folk" (YAWN!!) To say the least there have been great moments of the show but when they went to NYC, I felt really embarrassed. You don't realize the depts of ignorance people have until it comes out in subtle ways. Things we take for granted and think as normal makes no sense to them. For instance, on of the men from New Guinea asked a family, why do they just have grass in the backyard. The man replied, it's because it feels soft, the man from New Guinea could not understand how anyone could have land with sun and not grow vegetables. I understand that not everyone would like to live that way but this show really brings it back full circle as they travel the U.S. Brilliantly done!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lamb Fries anyone!?!?

So im visiting this Extreme cold state of Oklahoma and went out to eat and there I found the Infamous Lamb Fries on the menu. I had to try it. The thought of eating lamb scrotum didn't bother me a bit. It was really good. But than again everything fried tastes good. So Im not sure if they were prepared for lets say a "Puritan" if I would have appreciated them. I don't have very good memories of Oklahoma, the last time I visited I almost died of pneumonia but I did get to see my first ever tumble weed barrel across the road I only saw those on the movies and I also saw my first ever prairie dog in a real live wild prairie town. Being from NY City I was wishing I had that huge hammer to smash each one of them as they poked there heads out. But anyways here I am again in this frigid 17 degree F whipped air battling with another cold. It sux. My wife told me it was 70 degrees yesterday back home, Bummer!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Urban Falconry

Meet Delta he is a tiercel red tail hawk. He was trapped a couple of weeks ago and has been giving me hell ever since. This guy changed the game on me, I tried everything in my power to turning this little fella around and he still would not break. After two weeks and no progress I was faced with a decision to let my pride go and release him back into the wild. Sometimes the match between falconer and bird of prey doesnt mix. He forced me to pull out all of the stops. I had to dig deep into my bag of tricks to get this stubborn guy to respond. It was only a few days ago when I took another deep sigh and entered the dark room with my falconers glove and miners flashlight fitted on my forehead. I opened up the Giant Hood and he stared right at me. The process of breaking a falconry bird is delicate, because these are the moments in which trust is built and when dealing with wild birds of prey trust is all you have. One mistake can turn a good hunting hawk into Satan's spawn. Its important to move slow with the progress but it is also important to stimulate the hawk as much as possible in order to break his will. This may sound cruel to some but this is the process that Hawks and other Birds of Prey used for falconry must go through, because the end result is a hunting partner that has a mutual trust and is eager to hunt with you. Weight Control is the key to successful falconry. Every falconer knows that it is important to drop the weight to a point where the Hawk is responsive. In the past this has only taken from day 1 to day 3. However, with Delta it took 2 weeks. And so exhausted and frustrated I bend down looking into his Giant hood thinking that this is going to be another uneventful day and as I reach into grab him he looks at my glove, I push it up under his breast and he steps up. I think, hmmmmm, he seems quite calm today. I weigh him and he is 889 grams. I think to myself that this can not be good because that is very low. I trapped him at 1020 grams. The golden rule is to drop approx 10% of their body weight. With delta he had already exceeded that and showed no sign of breaking. But once again I would try and honestly this was the last time. Because I would rather have him flying free in the wild than starving to death, weak and nimble with me. So I would try one more time and I pulled the dead mouse out layed it on my glove in between his talons and he looked at me tilted his head and started tearing at the mouse. I wanted to jump up and shout "YES!!!!"" but I maintained my composure so that he would feel comfortable. I wanted him to know that eating from my fist is the best thing happening and he relished every bit of it. So there he was, I named him Delta after Special Force Operators who go through S.E.R.E School to endure the riggers of P.O.Ws and stay mentally tough to not break. That is the spirit of my new hawk. He is bold and although he finally broke, he pushed me to the limit of my training abilities can't wait to see with his angry ass will do on some squirrels and rabbits this hunting season.
Also in the News my buddy Jim trapped himself a "747" this girl was Big. I think she ate all her siblings and when they were all gone she probably ate her mom and dad. She is a beast. Jim trapped her today with that fancy mouse I bought from the pet store. I hear Jim has some females waiting back at the house for all of the good work he has done. But nonetheless, she is a beautiful bird and will be the envy for all falconers who aspire to hunt with a Dragon lady.
Jim Is going to have his hands full the next couple of weeks. I have to check on him regulary to make sure that girl doesn't eat him. Jim told me she wieghed in at 1462 grams. Considering Delta was 889 this girl is almost twice the size. WOW!!

Out Of Control Puppy

Jackson my new German Short Haired is on turbo all of the time. This little guy has so much energy that he leaves my wife and I whupped at the end of the day. Currently we are enforcing strict discipline with Mr. Jackson because if there is one thing that I know; cute puppies that get away with everything turn into not so cute adults who get away with everything. Not in my house. I have to put the smack down on Wacko Jacko and he is taking to it like a champ. He has learned how to sit and stay and come. He heels very well and I can place his food bowl on the ground and walk away and he wont touch it until I give him the command. All this training is so that he can eventually hunt with my hawk a year from now.
He is my first puppy with a whole lot of personality and is showing strong signs of a great hunting dog. Well, so far so good. We will just have to see how Tasmanian-Wacko-Jacko progresses;)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Make an easy trellis

Next year is literally around the corner; so we are prepping for things that we definately want to do differently and one of them is the use of a trellis. We love sugar snap peas, but I have noticed that the sugar snaps are very lethargic when trying to climb. For last years harvest I was constantly out there training the vines to climb and attach to something. It was a pain in the butt, but nevertheless, I didn't give up. I noticed that part of the problem was that the sugar snaps need to start climbing early. They always seem to protrude that one feeler that seems to guide the rest of the plant and if that guy doesn't get a hold of something it all of a sudden goes rogue. But anyway I came up with something that may work by using some left over material from the cottage. It consists of 2 stakes or poles and plastic fencing material. I cut the fencing material to the length of the stakes or a little longer and then thread the stakes in and out of the fencing material on either side until the fence is running the length of the stake and repeat the other side. I then took some twists and secured the fence to the stakes to prevent severe slippage and walla. I think this will work in theory for my small garden and best of all it is the width of the raised bed and very easy to make. I can also just pull them out role them up and store them when not in use. But this may just be my solution for weak climbers. We'll see.............