Saturday, December 26, 2009

Running the gauntlet

The past few years, I have wised up and only asked for one or two things for Christmas. Sure I could tell people that I want socks, and clothes, a gadget that helps me find my keys, and an automatic bra warmer*. But I have learned that to make it easier for people who care about me, I just say I want ONE THING.
Last year, I wanted a Garmin. And Geoff delivered. Easy.

This year, it was simple. I wanted a triple-layer, 17-inch eagle glove from Mike's Falconry. A glove that has three layers of cowhide from the elbow all the way down to the tips of the fingers.

If you are new to this blog, I handle some rather persnickety birds of prey and my arm resembles the arm of a person who indulges in heroin. I was tired of putting my limbs in mortal peril every time I took out one of our red-tailed hawks (big females with attitudes that defy any words to describe them).
So that's all I talked about....the glove. The eagle gauntlet. My arm and how much I like it to remain sealed in its protective covering.

My Mom delivered this year. It makes the decision easy for your mother when all you want is something that will protect the skin that she used to rub baby lotion into.

I lovingly rubbed melted Jess Grease into the new, beautiful masterpiece of leather-making.
The first bird I tried it on was my Lucy:
Lucy new glove 3
(Photo taken by balancing my camera on Lucy's rock perch, among the feathers, guts and feet of the previous day's meal of quail)
I tried it on Scarlet, one of our Red-tailed Hawks. She jumped around too much for a photo (I got lots of hawk-shaped blurs).

Priscilla the Barred Owl was next...
Priscilla new glove

And let me just say that this glove, in all of its triple-layer glory, is overkill for our smaller birds.
A simple, single layer is all that is needed. Their feet, while armed with pointy ends, are not really strong enough to puncture more than one layer of leather.
But I will be using the new glove anyhoo.

I couldn't even feel Storm's feet through all of that leather. For all of his bravado, his feet are small and dainty.

I enjoyed watching those dainty feet scrape and gouge the new leather:
Storm feet new glove
The more I use the glove, the softer and more pliable it will become.

It was time to try it on Isis, our leucistic Red-tailed Hawk.
Isis is a very large RTHA. A rather strong RTHA. A rather jumpy RTHA. A RTHA who squeaks like a dog toy.
I went in to get her today, and after a minute of fake-out jumping and squeaking, I got hold of one of her jesses and lifted her. She was NOT coming quietly, and struck out with her free foot.
And she found the only vulnerable area on the entire glove...the tips of the fingers. All of that leather needs to be sewn together somewhere, and just one of her eight talons sliced through the seam on the end of my third finger.
I got her off my hand and went to the barn. I took off my glove and there was a nice ribbon of blood unfurling from the end of my finger.
Deep and messy. Not serious, but..... I got to thinking that I hadn't had a tetanus booster in a while. Like 20 years or so.
When I first started at RAPTOR, someone suggested that I get a booster, because I WOULD get hurt at some point. That was nearly four years ago. Did I listen? Nooooooo.
So I spent the afternoon today waiting in an Urgent Care office to get a booster shot.

Sylvester and me new glove
"I disapprove of you bleeding."

Come to think of it, that's not a bad gift idea.


Dave said...

Nice glove. We require all volunteers to have their tetanus shot up to date with a record of it on file. When I got taloned by an eagle a few years ago, the hardest thing I had explaining at the er was it was a eagle, not a beagle.

Mary said...

It's a good, wonderful glove. Thank you, Susan's Mom!

No more bleeding, OK?

I wanna hug Sylvester and breathe into his feathers.

KGMom said...

OUCH--and tips of fingers are already soooo sensitive.
Maybe someone could make steel finger caps that you could slip on first.
And you DID get your shot, now?

Beth said...

Did the shot hurt more than Isis slicing into your finger? I agree with Mary - Sylvester is gorgeous and looks like he needs a hug and a kiss.

Gail said...

Fantastic present and the birds are incredible. I got a tetanus booster after being bitten by a neighborhood dog.
clay and limestone

NatureWoman said...

Ohhh, I love the photos, Susan! Sure glad you have your new glove, except, no more bleeding!!

babbler said...

I was flapping through the blogs and found your wonderful site! The largest bird I have ever had was a budgie, I have had 3 of them and loved every minute of every one. Even though I have a frog pet now, I am still a bird person!!
Love, "Mrs. Slug"

Susan Gets Native said...

Sylvester is my second fave, after Lucy...just a perfect program bird. Unflappable (bad pun), unimpressed.
And yes, the tetanus booster hurt a hell of a lot more than Isis and her bad ass feet. Lasted longer, too.
And yes, I did get a booster, MOM. :)
Dave: The nurse's face was priceless as I tried to explain that I got hurt by a RTHA. She kept saying, "You STEPPED on a hawk???"

Vickie said...

Beautiful, beautiful birds and their loving Mom. Glad you got your booster...and that dedication doesn't fade with the strike of a talon. Enjoy your new glove.

dguzman said...

Yee-ouch! Take care of that boo-boo, and congrats on the new glove! Wait until Earl pukes on it before you call it "broken in," though!