is that still a thing or
HAH HAH HAH IT'S BEEN SO LONG I JUST--
So I'm going to pretend it's not been like thousands of centuries since I did an essay
i don't even do essays any more, they really are journals again
So in the middle of November Hircine fractured his* wing - we're not exactly sure how, but it was a small split in the upper bone of the left wing. I could see that he was dropping his wing and wasn't sure why - it could have been a LOT of things, most of which ended in death, so I was suitably... Anxious
i had 3 panic attacks in 2 days and a mental breakdown in college
I noticed the issue on Saturday, and we booked to the vets on Monday. The vet he's actually registered with wouldn't see him until Thursday, and I couldn't (quite rightly) cope with that kind of a delay, so the receptionist whispered a recommendation of a different vet and we booked with them instead. When I looked on Google Maps for this 'new vet', it recommended three routes: the short but slightly dangerous one over Pendle hill; the longer but sensible one along the motorway; and the really f*cking laborious one around Pendle hill and then like back over it twice and across the entire Yorkshire Dales and up to the Lake District with a small sojourn into Wales.
Guess which one the SatNav picked
Dangerous British roads are the best. They even have melodramatic names. We have a bend called The Devil's Elbow
nearby. Up until last week, I was the only one on the college bus who wore a seatbelt - this is possibly because I have been taken around The Devil's Elbow in the snow by the same parent that managed to crash the car into her own house. This was up until recently because last Tuesday it sort of snowed. By sort of, I mean that it snowed but there was already rain and hail on the roads so it just sort of got wet and dangerous, rather than cool and pretty. And it was the Friday driver.
The Friday driver worries me. Especially after Tuesday. He's usually up to half an hour late to pick us up in the morning, and once forgot to take us home
. For some reason, he was also driving on Tuesday this week.
Just after Whalley, the slushy not-snow started to fall a little thicker and I was basically like "Ah fuck, yep, here we g--
" at which point the van skidded 90o
in the road and nearly caused a pile-up on the small, borderless country road on the edge of a small cliff we were driving along. The terrified three remaining on the bus without seatbelts (I should clarify, by this I mean that all others had removed themselves safely at Whalley, not that they were chucked screaming from the windscreen (yet)) were now clinging to the sides of their seats looking vaguely terrified. Yet not, as it happened, doing up their seatbelts, hence when the bus several seconds later careered into a hedge S-an hit the back of the driver's seat, A-ex travelled the full length of the bus, and L-iv had a chunk of hair pulled out as I yanked her back to the staying-alive region of being inside the bus.
Everyone's worn a seatbelt this week.* vet says he
Well that was a nice diversion in order to try and drag this out long enough to class it as another comic essay and not a half-hearted excuse of a Journal.
But anyway, we arrived at the vets after a couple of near-death road skids with seatbelts, and went in and met Johanna.
And in conclusion Johanna is amazing.
Apparently a lot of people when they hear her on the phone think she is the receptionist. This is because of her accent.
When she was looking to become a vet, she was told not to go to the US. Why? Because she was born in Mexico. A Mexican woman with a degree from one of the world's most prestigious medical colleges is a cleaner in the US.
Johanna was born in Mexico and raised in fluent Spanish and English. She was taught German by a childhood friend, and went on to learn animal care at Germany's best university. She worked in the Mediterranean for fifteen years with birds and reptiles until she met her husband, who looks after marine animals; she is now one of five of the worldwide-renowned International Zoo Vets, and spends a month each year working at no charge rescuing injured birds in the Indian kite festivals.
In other words f*cking worship Johanna
But anyway we got him out and she casted him from behind and she felt his wing and said "This feels like wingtip oedema
" and basically my entire everything fell out.
Wingtip oedema is a condition that affects the wings with no known cause. Johanna's theory (and to be honest I'm given to take this as gospel truth) is that it is to do with temperature change - a sudden transition from heat to cold, or vice versa, like damaging your nerves by putting them on a radiator straight after playing in the snow. Effectively, it does a frostbite from the inside-out; the wing tissue becomes inflamed, bloodflow stops, and the muscle decays, eventually destroying the bird's internal systems. Treated within 24 hours the bird might live. Hircine had been dropping his wing for 3 days.
And then she did an x-ray and it wasn't wingtip oedema.
It turned out to be a small fracture on the upper part of the wing and I am literally too lazy to Google what part it is in order to try and appear educated about these things or even pretend I looked it up in one of my fancy falconry books (occasionally I do look in one of my fancy falconry books rather than Googling something in order to make myself feel sophisticated and hard-working, but it's 10.30pm and they're in a cupboard behind a chair). She let me take a photo of the x-ray, which was awesome (and in the same style of looking things up in one of my fancy falconry books rather than Googling it, I recently used it as reference for a drawing rather than just finding a bird skeleton on the internet) but asked me not to post it on line (specifically she said "Facebook or one of those things
" but I think that covers Tumblr too) and I am a naïv
e creature who did not question why but merely nodded and made a solemn promise. People have since looked worried about this statement, however I have faith in Johanna. I also understand that by this point I am starting to sound sarcastic about my admiration of her. Please do not read it as such.
Hah hah wow I still sound sarcastic.
By this point I was in a kind of delirious state of gratitude and relief, so as she explained the procedure and risks of anaesthetic and cost and recovery time I just kind of agreed and thanked her when she paused for breath. The operation took an hour and a half - she put four pins into the bone, one below and one above each side of the fracture, then blu-tacked them together and put a bandage over it.
We got home just before eleven and then I still had to do the first lot of medication she'd given me, so basically I was dead in college the next day and cried at my Biology teacher.
He was on four types of medication twice a day for the next two weeks (Hircine, not the Biology teacher), which was... Wow. It was... Just... Wow. He was also a sulky little sh*t because after the whole wingtip oedema scare I was keeping him in the house more, which for
the fact he can spray sh*t six feet laterally
hygiene reasons means that he's in his travel box a little more often than he'd prefer. He was pretty much sulky until we had the pins taken out on Wednesday, although his mood started to improve when I assume he'd accepted that he wouldn't be flying for a while, and the pain started to fade.
Fortunately we tricked the SatNav on the return trip to the vets by making it think we were going to the motorway and then SURPRISE ATTACKING IT BY REDIRECTING TO THE VETS FROM THE MOTORWAY AHAH~ which resulted in a much longer journey but hey no country roads in the pouring rain.
And we met a 5'3" iguana in the waiting room.
An iguana that is taller than my mother.
It has free roam of their house. They have a heat lamp above their bed. It uses the tortoises as pillows.
I love the kind of people who keep 5'3" iguanas.
Then Johanna took the pins out and I got to operate the x-ray (I stood behind a wall and pressed the button when she yelled "PRESS THE BUTTON
") and then we went home.
She also let me keep the pins and the blu-tac that came out of his wing c: I didn't ask for them, but she just kind of suggested that I might like to keep them so I was like "Um YES
("bitch, who's gonna' win show-and-tell in form this week")
so she put them in a pot no-one can open (it's not supposed to be people-proof, it's just too good at its job) and let me keep them. In fact, Johanna 'let' me do a lot of things I didn't know I wanted to do...
"Do you want to take the syringe out of his mouth?"
"Do you want to operate the gas-and-air machine?"
"Do you want to see me do this bit?"
"Do you want to hold this for me?"
"Do you want to take a photo of the x-ray?"
"Do you want to build a snowman?"I'M SORRY I COULDN'T HELP IT THE OPPORTUNITY WAS RIGHT THERE AND I JUST
We hadn't expected to fly again until the new year, due to the theory of four weeks with the pins in, a few weeks to recover, plus it's kind of cold and rainy at the moment - but Johanna said that the wound was looking really well and because of his age and general health he should be all right to start building his strength up again right away. It gets dark even before the bus gets into town every day by this point, let alone walking home and getting the equipment ready, so we couldn't go out until Saturday at the earliest
BECAUSE YOU CANNOT SIMPLY PUT A FLASHING COLLAR ON HIS F*CKING LEG AND FLY HIM IN THE DARK LIKE A F*CKING DOG AND IF ONE MORE PERSON F*CKING SUGGESTS THIS I WILL F... IND SOME KIND OF COMICAL THREAT TO MAKE
- unfortunately, I hugged someone who had the 'flu on Tuesday
hah hah c-er i'm gon' kill you
and I basically couldn't get out of bed on Saturday so that didn't happen.
But we went out on Sunday and I was kind of worried because even Johanna couldn't make an accurate guess about what his ability would be - he'll be weak again, but knowing that bloody bird he'd be equally as likely to decide this is the first day he wants to fly to Pendle hill as he would be to fly-limp a few feet from glove to glove. I put the transmitter on in a... Hopeful
kind of way (in-joke of falconry: everyone secretly guiltily wants their bird to get lost just once
so that they can use the most expensive piece of equipment they got just as a back-up just in case in the unlikely event)^, then loaded up the jacket and the food pouches in a way so lost to me it brought such a heart-wrenching nostalgia I felt as if I was watching Christopher Eccleston play the Doctor again. Of course, not only was his health now different and his stamina unknown, but Hircine's behaviour had also changed dramatically since he was last flown. In the last week he's been less impatient, friendlier, less likely to bite
and claw your f*cking nipples
, and much less screamy. This seems like a behavioural improvement, ja?
Come on, guys, if a coyote's nice it probably means it has rabies.Don't trust the nice animals
He used to get excited when he got put in his box because it meant going flying. I think now he's realised it means either spending 6-18 hours inside, or a very
erratic journey over the Yorkshire countryside to the nice woman who admittedly keeps making him go to sleep.
But I think something about him at least recognised being taken out...In a field
I try to remind myself constantly not to anthropomorphise him. Unlike a dog, you can't even pretend
its facial expression means anything. There's no wagging tail and ears that can set in different positions and eyes that can be wide or narrowed and lips that can smile or snarl or grimace. There's just these sharp things and some feathers.
He doesn't love me he doesn't love me he doesn't love me. He comes back for food. That's it.
All right yes he might have imprinted. But still. It's not love. It's just... A worrying kind of Oedipus Complex.
He doesn't like flying he doesn't like flying he doesn't like flying. He just associates it with getting food.
He doesn't have loyalty, he just has... Trust. Respect.
No love no love no emotions no emotions DON'T ANTHROPOMORPHISE--
And suddenly I'm stood crying in the middle of a field because of how much he loves me and loves flying and how amazing it all is. THIS IS WHY THE STEREOTYPE OF FALCONERS IS HEARTLESS OLD MEN. EMOTIONAL TEENAGERS WITH A DRAMATIC FLARE WERE NOT DESIGNED FOR THIS SHIT.^ p.s. next birthday i intend to invite everyone to the nearest large wooded area (possibly in the dark) and take it in turns to give one person the transmitter and the others have to hunt them down with the receiver because i am f*cking ace at imagination and i now have equipment to do this kind of cra'y sh*t.
I was a little worried he'd try to fly straight to his favourite tree, really high up on the other side of the field, which so soon may not only harm but also demotivate him. However, I kept a tight enough grip that the one bate he did make just ended in some turkey-dangling+
, then cast him off about ten feet to my partner, who had some beef. The flapping was a little hard - before, for that distance he would have been more likely to dive to a few inches off the ground, glide until he was a few feet away, and then beat up hard to land on the glove; this saves energy in the long-run, but the last part requires enough muscle strength and energy and birds know when they don't have that. And he made it.
We did it back and forth at that distance a few times - I had nine pieces of food in all - and then I started to increase the distance a little. The last one was a bit too much; he really struggled the last couple of feet, and when he made it he dug his claws in and gave me a COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS LOOK THAT ABSOLUTELY DID NOT MEAN ANYTHING BECAUSE HE IS NOT A SAPIENT CREATURE AND ONE MUST NOT ANTHROPOMORPHISE so I did one more short one to let him earn the rest of his dinner.
We won't be able to fly again until the weekend, maybe not even then because I think we're going away (I legit don't know any more. I've given up), and that's going to make it an even longer haul to build up his strength than it was last time. He started to fly free, I think, in early/middle October, and by then he could do a long flat with his new gliding technique he'd just worked out (that was one of the best things to see him learn, because he never saw his parents flying like that but I know it's a normal habit; it really was an instinct that shone through), but got tired pretty quickly and didn't like to go high. I worked on his courage for the first couple of weeks mostly - showing him it was okay to go a little further away from me, setting him into high trees, showing him quarry - before moving onto his endurance: letting him learn to go back to his favourite tree, then taking him further and further from it. By the time he fractured his wing, he could easily go the whole length of the field and to the top of the tree, went after quarry whenever he saw it (caught a lump of mud once, very pleased with himself), and had discovered puddles - but some of his behaviour had gotten worse, and no proper progress felt like it was being made.
Yeah, I'd trained a hawk
, great achievement, well done me, but... I didn't want it to be the achievement. I didn't want that to be the end of it. He wasn't doing much of anything new or spectacular. He wasn't excited and neither was I. We both knew the land I fly him on regularly too well. It wasn't getting to come home and see what Hircine could do next - it was, ahh, I should probably fly Hircine today, huh. And I started to hate that that was what it had become.
Now we're starting again. We have to do it all over. It's gonna' be hard, but we're gonna' do it.
I raised you from seventeen weeks old. Stupid d*ck-wad, you thought I was your mother. You taught yourself how to fly, but you also taught yourself to come back to me. You literally
broke your wing
and I used that as a metaphor so many times in Seeking
I feel as if someone is trying to tell me something - because now it's fixed. Your wing might always droop a little, your x-ray shows a slightly bumpy bone, and two of the titanium pins have to stay in your body for the rest of your life. But you learnt to fly once. Just when things started to go to sh*t, you broke your literal wing. That could have been the end. You let me be your lifeline for five weeks. Now it's time to learn to fly again.
Because wings heal. Feathers shed, bones break, pins stay in, but you'll learn to fly again.
You might live to 30 years old. I might be 47 when you go.
So we're gonna' do this together.
You non-emotional, expressionless, unloving, not-anthropomorphised little sh*t.+ turkey-dangling: when he bates (attempts to leave the glove whilst still held by his jesses, resulting in fruitless flapping for a few seconds) and then runs out of energy, and has learnt that rather than try and get his own footing on the glove again, it is easier to merely drop straight down so that he hangs upside-down under the glove like, as next door described it, "a dead turkey".why do my essays (yes, i have decided this can be an essay now) have this amazing thought-out philosophical ending and then i have a stupid bloody footnote i put in there right at the beginning that's the actual ending and it just RUINS THE ENTIRE DRAMATIC VALUE HHHH.