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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Shanes Castle 2017

We were very fortunate to be asked to attend this year's game fair at Shanes Castle, apparently after considering a number of other bushcraft schools we were the ones that came most highly recommended so we thank everyone concerned for that.

So we had to get there the day before to get set up and this gave us the excuse to bring out the big tent, it's 30x20 feet and 14 feet tall..this thing is a beast and only gets used when we have large events or really big groups. We also had Tipi's, Icelandics and Bell tents set up in the woodland behind

After we got everything organised we had a well earned rest and got ready for a busy weekend.

Lots of items out for display and to encourage conversation, and boy was there lots of it !I think some of the folks we met on the Saturday enjoyed it so much that they came back on the sunday and spent 3 or 4 hours talking to us!!

We had a really busy few days with 30,000 people through the gates so we were kept on our toes the whole time

It was tricky to get pictures as we were constantly talking or demonstrating but nonetheless we did get a few

We made loads of new contacts and set ourselves up for an interesting year ahead, we are going to be so busy!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Another day at the forge.

We managed to get the rest of the guys their chance at the forge last weekend. They'd all been looking forward to this for a while and this time it was decided to make Viking knives.

The weather was so good this time that we brought the anvils and forges outside

Didn't take long for everyone to get there forging heads on and start to focus on the steel.

There was great craic as everyone worked diligently and encouraged the friendly rivalry that was going on

Didn't take long for the knives to take shape

And after a couple of hours there were some great finished pieces on show

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Hummingbird hawk moth

Thought I saw a hummingbird fly past me the other day it was an incredible sight, though on closer examination it turned out to be some hummingbird hawk moths.

Very exciting to see and a wonderful wild surprise.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Willow bark baskets

As you've seen from a previous post I stripped some willow to use the bark and the wood.
The bark was too nice to take down into cordage so I thought I'd make a couple of small berry collecting baskets from it.

So bark was stripped all in one piece

An elipse scored in the bark to allow it to bend

Started making cordage from lime bark to tie it all together

But realised I didn't have enough so had to resort to shop bought jute instead

All tied together

And ready for berry picking season.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Stripped willow turns red

It's one of those unusual anomalies that sometimes happen. We know that boiling willow bark turns the fibres red but sometimes you don't even have to boil them.

I cut some willow recently as I need the bark and the wood

And as usual I stripped the bark carefully from the branch. Now in the past when I've done this there is often a red tinge taken by the wood surface as it dries but this time just overnight the change was remarkable

And here's a close up of where I scored the bark to take it from the branch

A lovely colour if only it stained the wood that colour permanently.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Sweet woodruff

This is a lovely little plant often ignored or even just missed when it grows on the forest floor..

Though not so much edible as more useful as a bush tea, it has been used in Germany to flavour wine. It is also slightly antiseptic so if other more medicinal plants can't be found it is useful for a wound wash.

Easily recognisable due to it's leaves as they circle the stem and also it's little white flowers, it's most traditional use was as a strewing herb. It's scent, of fresh hay, increases as it dries and it stays rather well over time.
It's very effective as a moth repellent so was often put in drawers to keep the cloth nibbling varmints at bay.

It was once hung in churches to ward off evil and it is often used to symbolise humility and coyness.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Elder shavings for your tinder box

I was doing a little work with elder recently and when you do a lot of fine carving you end up with a lot of fine shavings..

It's a shame to waste these as they can be stuffed in a tin and used for fire starting as they take a spark from a Ferro rod rather well, just sort them into a pile and light them with your Ferro rod..

Real easy.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Killrathi Northman Knife

I got this beauty just recently, roughly 9 inches long with a blade of L2 steel and a stabilised birch's a bigger knife in the hand than it actually looks in the picture but is comfortable to use and has an edge well though is harder to sharpen than other more simple carbon steels. It came in a nice leather sheath and it hangs well on the belt. This is another nice knife to add to the collection from a very decent maker.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Gnarly Stump

It's rare to see very large Holly trees but when they do get big their trunks take on a life of their own and they configure into wild and wonderful shapes, just like this beauty..

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Wildwoods Open Day

Buzzard is now closely affiliated with the biggest and best known bushcraft and Wilderness living academy in the country, Wildwoods.
Last weekend we had an open day to let people see just how much talent and skill is nurtured between the people involved. Literally hundreds of people turned up and each and every one had a brilliant day if the comments are anything to go by!
We put on a series of stalls, participatory events and educational workshops so people could see for themselves just what is entailed within the realm of bushcraft..
from primitive shelters..

To luxurious ones

From birds of prey

(especially our signature bird, the Buzzard, seen here)

To a hog roast

We also laid on basket and willow weaving, foraging, medicinal herbs, forging and blade making, a craft village and backwoods cooking..there was just so much to see that everybody wanted to come back for more or stay longer!

So a big thankyou to all who came along and especially to all the team who helped out specifically Ciaran who built the spit for the hog roast, Gareth and Torie, also Darren, Gavin, Brendan, Deccy, Jane, Little Aaron, Ryan, Amy, Dillon, Conrad and Ciaran and especially Tammy who went above and beyond..

Thankyou so much, your buns were gorgeous and a real big hit with everyone..

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Bushgear blog of the year 2017

Bushgear are again running their survival and outdoor blog of the year, and this year Buzzard Bushcraft are in the running, so if you could find a few spare minutes to vote for us here we would greatly appreciate it.

voting page click here!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Blackberry leaf tea.

One of the most under rated but most valuable forms of wild bush teas is blackberry leaf tea. Like all members 9f the rubus genus the leaves, at this time of year, are full of flavonoids, vitamins, and antioxidants as well as trace elements and minerals.

The tea is most well known for helping cure diarrhea but is also superb for most stomach and digestive problems not to mention that it is reputedly anticarcinogenic . This is the best time of the year to pick the young newly emerging leaves, leave them in an open airy room for a few days to dry out them store them in an air tight jar out of sunlight until ready to use.
One teaspoon to a cup of water, let it 8nfuse for 5 minutes then strain and drink, no more than 2 cups a day.
It is also supposedly good for skin ailments though I haven't tried this myself.

The blackberry is supposedly the official fruit of the state of Alabama and the blackberry plant is connected with the Irish goddess of healing Airmid.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Pennywort - Navelwort - UMBILICUS RUPESTRIS

A really nice find more often than not confined to the west coast of Ireland though is found localised in other places.
Fleshy and tasty and easily identifiable wall pennywort is a great addition to the salad of any wild food forager..

So called because it looks like an old penny or because the little dimple in the leaves looks like your belly button!

It's not one you can easily confuse with anything else especially as it's location tends to be on rocks, walls and bare stone hillocks.
To me it tastes like very sweet garden peas.

It has been used to cure corns and blisters in the past and the juice is supposed to be effective against inflammation and to aid in healing wounds.

Poor people would often put these in the shrouds of the deceased to "pay the ferryman" when copper or silver coins were too precious to be buried with the body.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Hultafors Classic Hunters Axe

I love Axes. Not that I use them as much as I should but there is just something of the archetypal woodsman about them that means every bushcrafter should at least own a couple.
We are all familiar with the Swedish axe train of thought that states the best Axes in the world are produced there, and especially the rivalry between certain companies in Sweden.
Gransfors Bruks makes the Axes Ray Mears uses and as a result their prices have sky rocketed, this puts people off.
Hultafors, however, have a line of Axes that rivals the GB ones and it's called their classic line, I recently treated myself to the hunters axe.

Here it is straight out of the wrapping. Hultafors can be hit and miss, if you get a bad axe it's infuriating but if you get a good one it's wonderful, this one is superb.

Weighing in with a head weight of around 2lbs and a helve of 20 inches it's a lovely midsized pack axe comparable to the Gransfors small forest axe

The helve was oiled but not heavily so I did need to add a little linseed oil to it but regardless it's beautifully made

Wedge was an excellent fit and wonderfully finished

The grain was tight and of the correct orientation and the edge of the bit was a polished razor.. very impressive indeed.
It's a little heavier than the Gransfors and just a tad longer but to me feels better in the hand, more of a man's pack axe while the Gransfors is more of a woman's axe.

And the two in comparison, with the hultafors on the left.
This axe should last many years and at half the price of the Gransfors, for what is basically the same axe, is incredible value for money.
I can see this line of Axes fast becoming the woods man's favourite.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Gypsy rose flowers and knife control.

It's always good to practise your knife control, too many people think a knife is for chopping or battoning, but in actuality light delicate cuts are harder to master and more challenging to the user. A nice way to practise these cuts is to make a few gypsy rose or feather stick flowers.. give it a try.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Pied Piper of Buzzard.

Some people have an affinity with animals and the animals know this intuitively. For instance Davy loves ducks and the little feathered critters can sense this as you can see here, the thing is he's just thinking "plum or orange sauce!"