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Wednesday 31 August 2011

Lime Bark Cordage

We went out to a place we know to get some lime bark to make cordage from

We stripped the bark from a Lime branch and kept the wood for future use, the bark comes off in great long strips

Tied up in coils to bring back home to ret

Most people say you have to put it in a river to ret, but anybody who knows anything about bacterial retting will know that this can cause extreme damage to an aquatic environment, so it's best to find either a stagnant pond or put it in a barrel (which we have done)..
With the summer drawing to a close the bacterial action will have slowed so it may take a few weeks to ret properly, I'll update the post when it's done!

Sunday 28 August 2011

Raspberry leaf tea

We are planning to get some nice natural teas in for the winter when pine needle tea gets boring so at this time of year it's good to harvest some choice flavours. Having already stored some Yarrow, it's time for some berry leaf teas..

Choose your leaves and leave them for a day or two on a south facing window ledge

Once dry crush them loosely and store them in a sealed bag to prevent moisture spoiling them, easy as that!

Raspberry leaf tea is a traditional remedy to ease childbirth and apparently very reliable in easing menstrual cramps, it also contains vitamins A, C, E and B, magnesium, calcium and iron so is also a great alround pick me up. One of the most important teas to keep in the Bushcrafters arsenal.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

The problem with Pollack

A certain celebrity chef who's name is something like Huge Furry Whittling tool has a fish thing going on at the minute telling us not to eat cod but instead go for mackerel and pollack

Well, above is the reason why you shouldn't eat pollack, they are full of flesh worms, now I don't know whether these can do any harm to a human or not but I certainly wouldn't like to eat them..NOTE these are not gut worms that can be disposed off when the fish is gutted, these are FLESH worms, they live in the meat!! Nearly every pollack I have caught have these in the flesh if you look hard enough, some are white so are hard to spot..He didn't tell you that on the show did he !!!!

Sunday 21 August 2011

Malayan Ember pit

Occasionally on an online forum we will get a sarcy comment about the content of our blog from somebody we know pretending to be someone we don't, this we find utterly hilarious!! So on with our food and fire post! We decided to do the pigeon breasts in a method we try only rarely, the Malayan ember pit..

First thing to do is dig a shallow depression in the ground and fill it with hot embers from your fire, just big enough to heat the full size of your pan

Put your pan on the embers and allow it to heat up then add your meat

Once the meat has cooked add your choice of bread and heat it gently

All done and ready to serve.
The best thing about this method is that it offers a very even slow cook, it's rare to burn anything and is great for just simple cooking and brilliant for Bannock , Pancakes or Drop scones.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Breasting a pigeon

I made a very simple knife from a hacksaw blade and managed to get a couple of pigeons so I thought I'd use the knife to breast out the birds

A nice brace of birds

First remove the feathers from the breast

Make an incision along the breast bone and run your knife along it using the bone as your guide

ease the breast from the bone and cut down and out

and just remove the meat from the carcass, then do the same to the other side

and here is the result, ready for cooking...

Don't forget about the rest of the bird, keep the feathers for craft projects, use the bones for needles and use the rest of the meat for soup..If this isn't practical or possible give whats left back to nature, foxes, Buzzards, Corvids etc will all be very glad of an easy meal or failing that even bettles and other insects will soon reclaim what you've left.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Davy's shotgun cartridge matchcase

This is a wee thing thats in Mr Mears book and is a handy way to recycle cartridges and use them for matches or cotton wool and vaseline tinder, they're also handy as wee survival kits containing fish hooks and shot and other small items, very easy to make and handy if you find a load lying around when you're out

You will need 2 used cartridge shells,

Place one in the fire and burn off the plastic casing just leaving the brass cap, cut the other one down until it's the size you want

hoke the cleaned brass cap out of the fire, let it cool then squeeze it over the end of the cut down shell

and finished product, easy peasy lemon squeezy..

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Wild carrot

When out recently we came across quite a few of these plants, all called by different local names but wild carrot seems to cover them all. It's a pretty plant but somewhat similar to hemlock so be very careful if you try to identify any umbel

This one is easier to distinguish as it has a scarlet blossom right in the middle of the umbel (although this is not always present!), Botanists don't know why this scarlet flower is present although some think it may be for insect attraction however it's certainly one of the prettier members of this family.

here is a closer view. I have read that this is the originator of the cultivated variety but further research seems to be that it is actually a subspecies of this plant that is the forefather of the "domestic" carrot. I do know that the root is supposed to smell like carrot so lets take a look and see...

It's not overly carrot like, and I wanted to replant it without harming the plant so I snipped a little off the bottom of the root and it does smell exactly like domestic carrot, I was quite surprised! However the root is extremely woody and in no way edible (maybe when it's younger) so maybe the subspecies idea is correct..

Folklore -
The plant was often used in medicinal lore, being a diuretic and it was also supposed to help cystitis and prevent kidney stones. It has also been used in cases of diabetes..However ancient folklore said that to cure epilepsy you should eat the scarelt middle flower. This little flower was also used in ancient spells to increase the fertility of women and the potency and sexual arousal in men.
One myth says that this plant (also called Queen Anne's Lace) got it's name when one day the queen was making lace and pricked her finger causing a little drop of blood to fall in the center of the lace.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Zen and the art of Cordage Construction

Well over the past week the nettles have dried out and the cordage construction has been started

Once dried the nettle fiber loses a considerable amount of diameter, one of the main reasons not to use them wet as once it dries the cords end up loose and separating, so make sure they are perfectly dry before use

Half way through the coil, I've got about 20 feet of cordage here and you'll notice that I haven't soaked the cordage before use, do that at your peril!!! The easiest way is simply a slight scutching before starting.

And the finished Skein, 36 feet of approx 5mm nettle cordage..It's surprising how little cordage you get from such hard work, I enter a zen like state when doing cordage as I thoroughly enjoy it and can easily do it for hours at a time. But itcertainly gives me a new appreciation for the stuff, 1/2 hour to cut them, 1/2 hour to strip them, 2 hours to take the fibre off and 7 hours to make the cord !!!! So 10 hours for 36ft !! I certainly don't take it for granted..