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Sunday 31 March 2013

Stormy Sea

I went out today for a wander along the shore, there have been reports of octopus and lobster being washed up due to the storms we've been having lately, so I wanted to see if I could find anything useful!

This is Blackhead bay on the Antrim Coast, some great wildlife about here, I've seen seals, dolphins, porpoise, minkie whales and even a basking shark!
water was choppy and a high tide so not much chance of finding anything washed up,but a forage along the shoreline revealed...

sea beet
and rather weather beaten, but still resiliant wild thyme..I've often used this to flavour the mackerel I've caught underneath the lighthouse! Those were good days.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Pistachio Tinder, Nuts or what?

Certain nuts have lots of fat in them which makes them combustible under certain circumstances, however you can also use the shells of Pistachio nuts which actually have flamable oils in them too

if you look closely you can see the oils escaping from the shell as it burns
and as you can see they burn quite well, another food with a useful dual purpose.


Saturday 23 March 2013

Cedar Fire in Wet Weather

It's been very wet over here lately and most recently very snowy, so when conditions are like this it can be difficult to get a fire going from natural materials found on the day

rather than spend ages making feather sticks from rather knotty spruce branches we found a fallen cedar and took off a strip of bark and scraped up the inner fibers
once we had a small tinder bundle we were ready for ignition..
..which was char cloth
already to go
nearly there
and we have flame, easy fire on a rather hard day.


Sunday 17 March 2013

St Patricks Day Trees!

We went out for a dander today and it seemed even mother nature was celebrating the venerable saints day!
Have a happy St Patricks day all you woodsmen and women!

Thursday 14 March 2013

Fake Fallkniven

Look closely, is this a Falky F1??

Looks good doesn't it?
etching looks good, but look at the bevel

is that a convex edge of the F1?  Obviously not but it would be easy to rectify
the edge is good and the steel holds it's edge well as you can see it chopped through this branch easily enough..
But beware, I know people who have bought F1's to find out thery're not F1's, but when you consider a Fallkniven F1 is around £100 and the one above is £10, you can see why the market is being flooded with wary!!

Sunday 10 March 2013

Spruce Root Basket

I've seen baskets like this made by various indigenous people but can't remember what they're called! We just call them tuck baskets as you can tuck them into your belt or waistband or even in the crook of your arm to free up your hands for filling the basket with what ever you're foraging
they are made from ribs of whatever you can find, dogwood in this case, then just wound round with spruce roots..
I suppose some people would call them cornucopias but regardless what they're called they are simple to make and a very effective handy basket
An easy basket to make, rough and ready, fast and functional, one thing I will say if you want to make one of these is gather as many spruce roots as you need then double it, cause you'll be surprised to see just how many roots are needed for this.
You could make one in about an hour or two depending on it's size and they are a good alternative if you can't find willow, dogwood or any of the ususal basket weaving materials.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Irish Soda Bread

This is a type of bread commonly eaten in Ireland, however in the North of Ireland it's mostly cooked on a griddle rather than in the oven as it can be in other parts of Ireland and so it's perfect for out round the campfire and a good alternative to regular bannock..It's easy to make and always a great favourite with most people in these parts where it's normally referred to as Soda Farls.

you will need soda bread flour and buttermilk..if you can't get regular soda bread flour you can use self raising flour with a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate and a half teaspoon of salt, and if you can't get buttermilk then you can mix 3 tablespoons of natural yoghurt with full fat milk and leave it for a few hours to let the cultures grow..

mix 3 cups of flour with enough buttermilk to make a bread dough
put the griddle on to a medium heat
pat the dough out into a circular shape about 1/2 inch thick and cut into triangles
put them on the griddle for about 7 or 8 minutes per side or until they form that lovely leopard spotted colour on the baking surface
split them open and add a lump of butter, and taste one of the greatest wonders of the world!!

Monday 4 March 2013

Wych Elm cordage

This is a good time of the year to practice your winter tree ID, and just as the buds are starting to appear is a good time to find Wych Elm
these are the buds of Wych Elm
not too difficult to ID,at this time of the year the bark is easy to remove from the branch
it comes off as easily as willow bark but I find it more pliable and usable than willow
it can be retted like traditional barks or used as an immediate binding
It was handy for me as I was cutting a couple of walking sticks,one of which just happened to be wych elm.

Friday 1 March 2013

Vinegar etch on a Mora Blade

Most of us all know that a patina on a carbon steel blade can help to protect against serious rust problems, it won't prevent it but will help slow it down. There are a number of different things we can use to achieve this most of them are acid based, one of the easiest ones to use is vinegar..

here is a new mora blade in carbon steel ( this one is the discontinued Mora 521, the big brother of the 510)

and here is another blade after a 24 hour vinegar etch
and here are the 2 blades side by side,


 you can see the graphite colour achieved by the forced patina which produces that lovely satin finish, I really like this and it has a useful purpose too!
(by the way, I've modified the etched knife by removing the guard and dropping the point on the blade)