Tuesday, 7 September 2010
First attempts: Jesses
I've been learning so much with the position at the barn, and I've only finished my third day of work!
There is so much to know and yet so much more of my development will be through instinct. I'm provided with formal knowledge of knots, feeding and weighing, handling techniques and training as well as maintainance and making of equipment; yet I am learning more and more that my mentors know what they do based more on experience than anything you can read in books. I've decided to keep a diary of the things I pick up along the way, maybe others will be able to use this... if not, I'm sure my feeble memory will appreciate it! Its also a fun way to capture the days spent in a somewhat personal dream job!
So without further ado; today I spent a morning and most of an afternoon with the leatherworking tools out. Some of the larger birds (harris hawks, falcons, barn owls) are in need of new jesses, either due to hardening with age or bathing, elongation as the leather gives and is bated on and in a few cases twisting of the leather. The twisting is common with kip leather jesses and can be particularly irritating when the birds bate from the fist, tangling and making things fiddley. Kangaroo leather does not do this, it remains straight even when aged, stretched out and repeatedly wet. It also happens to be very expensive, which means sometimes thin cow hide is resorted to; in the hopes good treatment and maintainance will suffice.
It was raining very heavily today so I was set about producing somewhere near to 10 pairs. We should have plenty to last us for a while, kangaroo leather or non.
Here are some photos of the jesses prior to oiling with neatsfoot oil. They are a first attempt and the tapering of the tips, spacing of swivel holes and thickness of the stop knots are still being tuned up! However, having had a burly man reef on the knots today makes me think our birds won't be breaking these anytime soon.