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Wednesday 28 December 2011

Fire From Fir

When out in coniferous forest one of the easiest and most relaible methods of lighting fire from whats around you is to use the resin that comes from the trees, all resinous trees produce good quality fire making fluid and this Fir tree is one of my favourites

This particular Fir produces little blisters of resin on it's bark, this stuff is brilliant for lots of things including great medicinal properties which we will talk about at a later date, fire is the thing we want to discuss today

I've punctured the blister with my mora and you can see the resultant resin running out and down the blade

After taking the resin out of about 6 blisters we end up with about 10mls of fire starting sticky stuff, I've collected it in a green leaf to prove it's the resin that burns and not the leaf!

Get your ferro rod and strike a spark onto the resin and away you go

A few more seconds collecting some more resin and away we go again, the ground was soaking, it was raining quite heavily, dry tinder was hard to find but we can still easily get fire from whats around us, and there we have it, Fire From Fir.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas to all Buzzard Bushcrafters

Went out to gather some wild things to make a christmas wreath as you can see it's no masterpiece but I'm happy with it,
 and I'd just like to thank you all for reading my inane writings, a very merry Christmas to all who visit these pages and I hope the new year brings new dreams and new friendships..

Wednesday 21 December 2011

An unusual Fungal Find

when out recently I came across this beauty, I should have out my knife against it so that would have given you a sign of scale, but it's a beauty and one I only find very rarely

Can you tell what it is? It was a big one weighing about 2 pounds!!!!

I cut in half as the outside was looking a little rough, the inside was starting to turn but would probably have been edible, after all it is a cauliflower fungus!

Sunday 18 December 2011

Blue staining Boletus

I found a great cluster of boletus mushrooms recently, I'm not exactly sure what species they are but I think they might be Boletus Erythropus but don't quote me on that and if anybody can positively identify them please get in touch.

Lovely and velvety on the outside and a gorgeous sulphur yellow inside when first cut

Staining green/blue very quickly on exposure to the air,the reaction is glorious to see and very impressive to those who haven't seen it before, keep your eyes out for these great fungi.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Yew Berries

Went out for a little walk to see if there were any wild edibles about. It's been very stormy and plenty of sleet and some snow lying on the higher ground so I was interested to see if there was anything sweet about.

There's a nice yew tree were I often walk and it always has a pile of berries on it, lovely and sweet and slimey

Always remember to spit the seeds out as they are poisonous. Unusually most things about the tree are poisonous except the juicy berries,but always take care with any wild food and never eat what you're not 100% sure off.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Bird from palm fronds

At times I just like to make little things, nothing complicated just simple depictions of things from nature, after all nature should be the reason we all love bushcraft so much..

Very simply made as you can see, this one is about 2 1/2 inches long, but I thought I'd like to try and make a small one so..

I made this little one using the knives I made recently from the the hacksaw blades, as you can see this one is the baby about 3/4 inch long!

While I was at it I thought I'd make the whole family and here we have it, the three little birds.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Bloodberry Sauce

I froze a couple of pounds of elderberries so that I could make a sauce suitable for use with the christmas turkey this year as I'm getting fed up with cranberry, and elderberry has a great rich flavour which complements turkey meat very well

Berries defrosted and in the maslin, just to add a little sugar and some lemon juice then strain to form a nice jelly suitable for most why have I titled this bloodberry???

Well, when I was growing up along the Co Down coast and foraging with my grandfather he would always call these bloodberries and only when I brought them home to my grandmother and she showed me how to make jam with them did I realise why this was so, clearly once it's ready to set it looks just like blood, as a matterof fact I often find myself calling them bloodberries and have to remind myself that thats just a little colloquialism I share with my family

But it brings back great memories for me..

Sunday 4 December 2011

Wild Woods Day Out

Sometimes all you need is to get out and have a bit of craic to get the batteries recharged, as always learning bits and pieces but always having fun and not taking things too seriously

We set up an easy camp in some lovely Birch woodland, just a few tarps as rain had been forecast but luckily enough the showers seemed to pass us by

Got the beginnings of a long log fire started as we intended a part for flame for heat and boiling water and a part for embers as we had some game to cook.

On went a nice fare of rabbit and a brace of partridge

Took no time at all for the game to be perfectly roasted over a cracking deep bed of embers

All big jessies together behaving like big kids!

Unfortunately at this time of the year light fades all too fast and it wasn't long before we had to break camp and head for home as the sun sank at the western end of the woods.

Addendum.. as we got home tonight it had started to snow, lightly of course but this is the first fall this year!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Fox Moth Caterpillar

These pretty hairy fellows are hard to miss and when we were out recently there were hundreds of them about, so many we had to be careful were we walked as we could easily have stood on them, apparently the reason for this is that they like to sunbathe a lot!!

Huge big brown and black hairy critters they are very impressive indeed!

They have a tendancy to curl up when disturbed

But give them a slight and gentle tickle and they unravel to a serious 3 inch length!

They feed on heather, brambles and bilberries and are found on heaths, bogs and coastal dunes and are one of our most impressive native moths after they have hatched.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Harlequin Hedgerow Baskets

I'm the sort of person that needs to practice something before I forget it, so after the basket course I went out to find wild hedgerow growth that would be suitable for simple baskets

So over the past couple of trips out I've been gathering bits and pieces like dogwood, willow, dog rose and bramble all with the intention of invention!

Start with the base in the usual way

Upright stakes added and begun weaving with the 3 rod wale, now this is were I started to differ from conventional teaching, instead of adding 24 stakes I only put in 12, the reason is simple, the first basket I made took 8 hours, way too long to be of much use in the field, so I cut the uprights down in number to half and this saved time and resources

First hedgerow basket I made  (on the left) was done with 24 uprights and french randing, total time to make was 4 hours, not bad but I still want something faster, so next one made was the one on the right using just 12 uprghts and english randing, this I found much more convenient for hedgerow materials as it's difficult to get very uniform lengths and thicknesses from the wild, the weave is not as neat but it's faster, this one was made in 2 1/2 hours, I nicknamed them "Harlequin baskets" due to the colours and mix of different materials used in their construction.

Last one made was the slightly bigger one in the middle using 12 uprights and English Randing, total time to make 1 1/2 hours!!! Now I'm very happy with this, the right amount of time to make using natural materials in a simple fashion, they may make most professional basket makers blanch but I just want something simple and easy, when Bushcrafting it should always be FUNCTION OVER FORM!! They also seem plenty strong enough, I actually sat on the small one and if it can take my weight it must be tough!! The good thing about the English randing is that the lengths of material can be quite small yet still usable and if I need to repair one or if it shrinks and I need to add extra weavers in it should be simple enough..
My mum actually stole the big one and put a pot plant in it, so I know I've done something right if she lets me put something I've made on public display!!

Thursday 24 November 2011

Bamboo fish spear

Thought I'd have a go at making a quick bamboo fish spear, nothing technical or beautiful just something functional

I split the bamboo, separated the tines with twigs and bound it with lime bark cordage

Sharpened the tines and tweaked them to make sure there was one in the centre and 7 all around the outside

One easy peasy 8 ft long bamboo fish spear, dead simple and about 15 minutes to make.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Woods Walking

We went out to a new spot today just for a look see as we tend to get very fed up looking at the same trees all the time, as the old addage says a change is as good as a rest and we at Buzzard certainly find that to be true.

There's a path on the way into this place and it has a great wee apple tree on it, still had lots of apples left and we knocked a few down as we intended to roast them in the fire with a little sugar and cinammon for a lunchtime treat, however as we were picking we found out we were being watched...

These two friendly neighbours looked at us longingly each time we got an apple from the tree and we noticed that the braches that overhung their field had all been stripped bare of fruit so these lovely animals had obviously got a taste for apples

so we did the honourable thing and fed our apples to the horses, I think they wanted them much more than we did!

last apple greedily being chomped!

Further on we found an old beech that had some fantastic artists fungus on it, and some of them were huge!

We only took the one specimen but it weighed 9 pounds!!!!

And it ended up producing over 6 pounds of amadou!!! I don't think we'll have to worry about fire lighting for a while!!!!!

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Sea Aster

One of the prettiest seashore plants and a useful one for the forager as it tastes great! Aster comes from the greek meaning Star referring to it's flower, as a result it has also been called Starwort..

A beautiful shade of purple, it really lights up the shore line almost reminescent of a hippy daisy.
This plant along with samphire is actually classed as a sea vegetable and has a pleasant light flavour and not at all over powering like some wild greens can be.

Folklore.. Gerard said that this plant changed the colour of it's petals "thrice a day"
In ancient Greece the leaves were burnt to ward off serpents and evil spirits while Pliny the elder said a tea of aster cured snake bites while wearing a sea aster amulet prevented sciatica. The plant was supposed to have appeared on earth after Virgo looked down and shed tears each one falling to the earth and turing into the sea aster flower.. Virgil wrote an ode to the plant

There is a useful flower
Growing in the meadows, which the country folk
Call star-wort, not a blossom hard to find,
For its large cluster lifts itself in air
Out of one root; its central orb is gold
But it wears petals in a numerous ring
Of glossy purplish blue; ’tis often laid
In twisted garlands at some holy shrine.
Bitter its taste; the shepherds gather it
In valley-pastures where the winding streams
Of Mella flow. The roots of this, steeped well,
In hot, high-flavored wine, thou may’st set down
At the hive door in baskets heaping full.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Shoreline wander

I need my monthly fix of salt air and seaweed so we headed down to portmuck to see what we could see! The sea kale was gone so either it has died back or someone has dug it up, but this is a good place for flint and we found loads.

It's a lovely wee place and sort of a spiritual home to me as I love it's history and placidity. You can see the old lime kiln in the background (some say it was a fire house to show the herring fleet their way home) and in days gone by a small herring fishery thrived here using old sail boats to catch their prey.

The mainstay of the pebble beach is chalk, flint and basalt, but I have found some granite, jasper and quartzite here also.

Logan wanted to have a go at flint knapping but as it's something I have no interest in I wasn't able to help him very much

I think he did very well for a first time and certainly much better than I could have done!!

We were visited regularly by the Rock Pippits who skitted round about us, feeding and keeping a close eye on us

As I was combing the beach I noticed this nice stone, it had a small indentation right in the centre and fitted perfectly in my hand

A quick dip in the sea and it's revealed in all it's glory, this would make a perfect bearing block for the firebow, not something I will use very often but it's nice to see that mother nature always provides for any need you can imagine.