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Sunday 29 January 2012

Faugh a Ballagh

Clear the way - and that's what we are doing. It's been a terrible day with non stop rain and this can lead to a lack of motivation sometimes but we need to get this new spot cleared to enable us to have a less restricted area to practice in

It's Jungle like but its all laurel and Birch and very dense so we need to put a lot of work into this place

Everybody,even the kids hard at it, clearing the ground and gathering wood for a fire which is sorely needed on such a wet day as this

Ivor getting his tarp prepared but you can see how wet it is just by his jacket and this happened on the walk in

Tarp up, ready to have someone tucked underneath and prepare for the worst of the weather..No fair weather bushcrafters here, if it's not raining you're not training!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Hard Times Hobo Stove

It's really one of the first bushcraft things a newbie ever makes and the poor things get a real hard time of it on the forums and amongst "professional" Bushcrafters, but when all is said and done they work,and they work well!!

It's been misty and damp lately but I still need my outdoor fix but I didn't want to bring a lot of gear and I didn't need a large open fire,so the hobo stove is a good fallback..

The ubiquitous stainless cutlery drainer cut and ready for action

The fuel...birch bark, dried hogweed and dead sycamore twigs

and a soft focus to catch the flames. Boil time for 3/4 pint was 6 minutes, now thats as good as many top brand multifuel stoves, and this one costs nothing to run!

Saturday 21 January 2012

Scouts Show and Tell

We spent another fun evening down with our local scout troop trying to expand their knowledge on the adaptability and practicalities of Bushcraft and survival, we brought down a number of crafted items that could be usable in the field if you were put in a difficult situation

All sitting in rapt attention, ( I don't know why, I'm not that interesting!!)

All the items I'd made on the table including cutting tools, arrowheads, harpoon heads,antler digging sticks, baskets, hides, cordage and steels, and spears and atlatl's against the wall behind

Even after nearly an hour the guys were still showing great interest and asking very intelligent and well thought out questions,working with a group like this makes all the effort very worthwhile

It seemed to go very well with a number of requests made for a few "courses" to be run over the next few months and especially over the summer when the schools break, so we look forward to running "From Bone to Broadhead" , "Constructive cordage" and "Basic Knife construction and sharpening techniques"...I think Buzzard will be very busy over the next year or so!

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Drying some Jelly ear

January has always been a good month for me for Jelly ear fungi, and I found a great crop recently, I had some for lunch but wanted to keep a few for future use

Some lovely fresh jelly ear

I brought home about 1lb of the mushroom and had about 4 ounces for my lunch and the rest went in the dehydrator

end result was 2 1/2 ounces of dried mushroom, I think I'm gonna need a lot more if I want to make a game and wild mushroom stew when we head out sometime

Sunday 15 January 2012

A Day Out with Alan

Our good chum Alan made the trek up to see us today and we had a nice wee time practising and chatting about bushy techniques and kit..I collected some resin to start the fire..

Gathered in a dry hogweed stem,the resin to be the accelerant and the hogweed to be the initial fuel, however Alan had set himself a challenge to get a fire with a single match, which can be a tricky scenario

He'd gathered a nice bundle of spruce twigs and put the flame to it

The flame well established he added dry hogweed and dead nettle stems and successfully completed his personal challenge.

He also made some very nice Bannock, very tasty indeed!!

A little impromptu tracking produced some great badger tracks

and finished the day practising knots and tarp set ups, good fun all round!!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Signs of an early spring

I haven't seen any snowdrops and yet the bluebells are already starting to show

and their arrival being attended to by all the Lords and Ladies of the wood

Won't be long till my favourite wild edible is up!

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Pouch for my Tinderbox

My lovely son bought me a Hudson Bay tinderbox for christmas and I'm well pleased with it, so I thought I'd make an animal skin pouch to keep it in

Skin measured and cut to size to fit the tinderbox on the left

Bag finished with an antler toggle to keep it closed, all in all it's not too shabby and will keep the box plus extra tinder all neat and tidy

Sunday 8 January 2012

Hard day on the coast

We spent some time on a lovely stretch of the county Down Coast as a gorgeous wee place that has great potential for some seaside foraging in season, however it was really wet and we fought the elements as long as we could

There were huge swathes of sea beet,still quite small at this time of year but it tasted lovely and has great potential for later in the year when the leaves have grown and become all
the more cabbagey like that we're all familiar with

Lots of alexanders in all stages of growth, here you can see last years plants that have gone to seed and the black seeds are very recognisable

The weather was so bad and Davy looked like a soaking sponge that we ended up taking refuge in a lovely little cottage by the sea, and a brew was put on to keep us warm and toasty

View out of the cottage window over the Irish sea, we will be back when the weather is a bit more clement and the foraging has more to offer

Thursday 5 January 2012

Char cloth

I know most people know how to make this stuff but I'm still surprised by how often I see or hear someone ask for tips,it's the easiest thing in the world to make

It has been very wet and stormy of late so I thought I'd put myself to the test and get a fire by friction

Two attempts and no joy, getting plenty of dark dust but no ignition point, the damp air,surroundings and the wind were all conspiring against me, but the set was now warm, any residual moisture had been driven from spindle and hearth and I knew I had to bow a little longer and faster in such conditions to get an ember

third attempt and I had an ember,but..when I tried to get it to flame I lost it,seemed just too damp, but never give up!! fourth attempt produced an ember that I got to flame

Ember bundle down and covered with hogweed stems to get a small ember bed

An old tin with a small hole in the lid allowing the gases to escape and filled with old cotton cloth,here it's an old tea towel

Tin placed in the fire and you can see the gases escaping, don't let these gases ignite!

Once no more smoke is coming from the little hole, remove the tin and allow to cool, and here we can see the end result, this char cloth takes a spark easily and helps create fire the way the pioneers did!

A quick spark put to it with a flint and steel to prove it works well and we're all set to go

Sunday 1 January 2012

Fallow, Finally..

Sort of !.. We have been out 3 or 4 times over the past months looking for fallow deer and they have proven most elusive, now I know I could go to a country park and get great pics but thats not the same to me as a wild shot. Sometimes it's a matter of months or years for the right pictures ( like with the sika) and these pictures are not great either, I can and I will do better,eventually!

There certainly are plenty of game trails in this forest and it's quite easy to track the beasts

The bad weather had mudied the ground and provided very easy tracking of these animals and showing great prints,

as we made our way along we heard movement in the bush and as we moved towards the sound we found where he/she had been lying up, in the folds of a fallen spruce, it was well sheltered and even protected from cold from the ground due to her lying on the spruce boughs, a human couldn't have made a better shelter!!

A few feet further on we found droppings so fresh there was still steam coming off them,we knew we were close and probably pushing her on in front of us

As we came to the edge of the forest we heard the undergrowth breaking and just knew they were breaking cover and heading into open ground

Only then did we realise that the noise was made by two fallow!! and unfortunately we didn't have permission to follow onto this land so we had to leave them here, disappointing to come so close yet not close enough, one day I know we will do better,all it takes is time and a little luck.