Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Making Talons

I have been working on a large Montagu's Harrier Hawk. Most of today was spent making legs and talons. The legs are bronzed copper, and the talons are forged brass. Brazing the different metals together can be very frustrating, as each metal behaves differently under heat. In  the simplest terms, brass is brittle and bronze is elastic. More importantly, when too hot neither the brass or bronze will accept the brazing rod. It's like coaxing a stubborn child. If you linger too long, the brass crawls back on itself like curdled milk, whereas the surface of the bronze gets a sort of glazed skin whilst underneath the metal is actually so mushy it usually slumps with the weight of itself.
As the Montagu's is now nearly done, I have left a small hole in the head of the bird, for adding  weight for ballast. The talons and legs still need some fine tuning, and the wings and tail need edging, but it's very close. This stage of construction is a bit of a marathon, with the torches constantly on, and a lot of upside-down brazing and strange, difficult crevices to get the tip of the torch into. Knocking off at 4pm is an absolute necessity when the work gets this intense. So, we have taken to letting the pigs out for a run in the big field every afternoon. They absolutely love the open space  & are terribly funny to watch running full pelt with their ears flopping and legs kicked out. Well, funny for us...the sheep aren't of the same opinion. I am sure Trixie (who is the trickster of the three) chases them for the thrill, she even chased the cat today. She has the disconcerting habit of trying to up-end you. The cows find it all a fine distraction from grazing, and  come crowding to the fence to enjoy the show. The pheasant and his harem just find it annoying.

Someone mentioned farmers using pigs to herd sheep. Is that possible?

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