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Sunday 31 July 2011

Nutty for nettles

We decided to spend a little time in the woods this weekend, not doing much but the nettles are quite large at the minute so I thought I'd gather some for a future cordage project

We set up a very simple camp, with just enough kit to make us comfortable

I then found a nice nettle bed, some of these being 5 feet tall!! I do think however that some of these are still a little green and I normally use them when the leaves are dying and the stems are purple, still if you don't try then you don't know!

Cut and ready to process

Then stripped of all their leaves

Then a couple of hours stripping the fibre produced lots of potential cordage material, I was a bit worried as it's still slightly early to be harvesting them but the fiber did seem to separate very well, we will see how it goes. It just needs to dry without becoming brittle (fingers crossed) then it's cordage time!! And there's loads more for more attempts later on in the year.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Fun afloat

The weather has been relatively decent of late so we decided to take a trip out to see if we could catch us some supper!!

a nice pollack!!

Nice dogfish

and a bit of a surprise!! Not really, we've had lots of octopus from this particular spot but have yet to eat one..

Sunday 24 July 2011


This is one plant that I'm sure everybody is well aware of, especially because of it's lore and it's medicinal properties..It's name in Irish is Athair Thalun and it has particular relevence in Ulster as a love charm. A girl would gather 9 sprigs of yarrow after sunset and repeat the verse

Good morrow good morrow fair yarrow
and thrice good morrow to thee
come tell me before tomorrow
who my true love shall be

it was then taken home and placed under the sleeping girls pillow and she would then dream of her future husband.

In Ireland it was also believed to be the first herb Jesus took into his hand as a child and thus it had great medicinal properties and warded off ill fortune and bad luck. It has also been called "the father of all herbs" and "the herb of the seven cures" and the obvious one going by it's latin name is the herb used by Achilles to staunch the wounds of his soldiers..

One of the best ways to utilise Yarrow is as a tea or infusion, some say the pink variety is blessed with even more curative powers!!

For a tea or infusion gather a few yarrow leaves ( these have a peppery taste raw and are good in salads)

Dry them thoroughly then store for use,

Infuse 2 teaspoons in half a cup of warm water for 10 minutes, then drink as a digestive tonic and blood cleanser, also good cold as a wash to cleanse wounds due to it's antiseptic properties . It tastes quite strongly and somewhat reminiscent of Chinese green tea but more floral, one of my favourite brews, but only in moderation.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

The search for Sika

With our red deer day having had a good ending we decided to concentrate on seeing some Sika deer. there aren't many of these herds in the country but we were able to find one..

First problem of the day was to locate fresh sign, there were a number of game trails but most seemed not very well used till we came across this..then our hope soared!

As we moved cautiously up the hill we spotted this young buck, seemingly not perturbed one bit to see us!!!

He seemed so at ease I circled the hillock we were on and came down from above him to try to get a better picture, but unbeknown to me he was making his way up the hill and we nearly eneded up coming face to face!!

It wasn't long before we saw another, and this one was a hind, we moved round from different angles to get closer and get some better pics when something magical happened

Her fawn stood up beside her!!!

I was feeling so sure with these deer that i pukered up and tried a squeeking noise to see if they would respond, mum walked away, but baby..

Came right up to us for that once in a lifetime bambi moment!!!

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Deer oh Deer..

We wanted to try to get some pics of wildlife for the blog so we thought we'd start big and go for red deer. Now most deer in Ireland are on private land and estates and only a few herds roam wild so that made the challenge a bit trickier. I wanted a pic of a stag in velvet as I've never got one before so that was the priority

It was a good few hours before we saw our first and it was a hind, still nice to see. The wind was swirly and although we were well hidden you can see she scented us straight away

Amazingly curiousity got the better of her and she came trotting over to see what the kerfuffle was in the bushes , this was way better than we hoped!!

She eventually stopped just infront of us!! Pity I didn't have my recurve with me!

We were happy enough with our sightings but I was a little disappointed not to get the stag in velvet as we walked back to the car, but as we came down the hill into the last pasture I saw movement out of the corner of my eye..and there he was - and in velvet too !!!

But as we were so open he spotted us straight away and made off into the forest behind him, still we were well pleased.
 We still had another day of deer spotting planned and the best was still to come!!

Saturday 16 July 2011

Horn Spoons

Thought I'd have a go at some horn spoons after being suitably inspired by Mantas, I made mine a little more of a traditional shape,

Started by cutting the horn into usebale lengths

Heated the horn then sandwiched it between 2 spoons in a vice

Then cut around the bowl using a coping saw and a file

Then file the handle to shape, very smelly and dusty work!

a quick polish to shine it up

Then I made some more, it's quite good fun doing these!!

Friday 8 July 2011

Wee Blue Blossom

Sometimes when I'm out I will see something that stops me in my tracks and that has just happened with this wee flower, it was growing at the side of the path and I've never seen one before and thought it was just gorgeous, I don't know much about it, whether it has any edible or medicinal properties but I seem to remember reading that it is highly ultra violet and therefore very attractive to insects, well it certainly appealed to me too..

Sheep's bit

Wednesday 6 July 2011

First of the Summer Jam

A good friend of Buzzard kindly gave us a few pounds of redcurrants and asked that we make some jam for her and in return for a few pounds of the fruit I was more than happy to

Washed, and ready for the pot

Slowly simmering to allow the fruit to release all those lovely flavours

Fruit reduced down and sugar added then brought up to setting point

All bottled up and ready to munch, this should do a round or two of toast!!

Sunday 3 July 2011

Wood Wandering

We went out for our usual weekly foray to a spot we use often and had a great day, just being with the kids and doing "dad" things..first thing we spotted on arrival was a predator kill

I checked the feathers and they had been plucked off not chewed and the tail feathers had been nipped off cleanly, this was obviously a winged predator, the most perfect of all predators!
Difficult to say exactly which one and as I've never seen any peregrines around this area so it was probably a sparrowhawk...

...Although from the carcass it's more like a falcon kill !

Fire was expertly lit as usual and man food cooked, consumed then we went for another little dander

when Davy found this fox skull. It's always the same it seems to be that foxes grow old and die all sad and alone.

we also found evidence of wood wasps

The boys were getting bored so we made them bows and arrows and duck taped some fletchings on them like Dave and Cody used on Dual Survival, and as you can see they were incredibly accurate up to a distance of about 6 inches and made short work of this rotten old stump.

All in all, a great and very enjoyable day.