Friday, March 30, 2007

Catching Fire (Part 1)

I have thought about this subject a lot since starting this blog. I never thought that I would write about it because it is just about the first if not only thing that other people write about when adding their thoughts on survival. The more I read and watch people with their methods of starting a fire with a bow, the more I feel there is much being left out. I feel that there should really be two parts when talking about fire by friction (and every Earth based skill). I feel that all the information is very important, so just bare with me.

Giving Thanks:

Before we can give thanks for fire we first need to reflect on fire itself for a moment.
Up until recently, fire has been a significant part of the human experience. Fire purified our water and cooked our food. Fire has been the catalyst for story telling and passing down traditions to the next generation. There have been few friends like fire throughout time. It comforts and protects the lone traveler out on his own.
By taking solid sunshine, water, wind, and soil in the form of wood to create fire we are in fact connecting ourselves to the Earth and stepping into a very sacred act that has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. It is not strength that will bring forth fire but careful preparation and a thankful heart. Approaching this gift of fire as a sacred act will not only allow you to have fire more consistently but will become a very powerful part of the creation and enjoyment of the fire.
I like to get everything ready including the fire setup with plenty of wood near by so I can take care of the fire. I then get my tender bundle laid out beside my bow, spindle, handhold, and fire board. I like to take a moment to reflect on all the different aspects before me that will bring forth my fire. Giving thanks that I can be here taking part in this living tradition, I start forming the coal over the tender bundle.
When the coal is formed, I take the tender bundle and hold it out and above my head blowing gently. As the smoke raises to the heavens, I give thanks. Soon, I see the glowing center getting stronger and hotter. With one last breath, I breath from deep within myself and watch the birth of a flame come to life in my hands. I cannot write the joy and emotion of that moment. It can only be experienced. As I add the flame to the fire frame and feel the warmth grow in front of me, I give thanks.
To many of you I know you may be thinking that you could get a fire with out all the "giving thanks" and you would be right. It is possible but listen to my words now...all the times that you have practiced and given up without fire, you could have had it if only you asked for the fire with a grateful heart. I know because I have felt the difference in my own practice.

*Many thoughts and aspects of fire I learned at the Tracker School*

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dandelion Coffee

I was very excited when I opened my email to find notice of an up coming "wild foods" potluck. I really wanted to be able to contribute something but my knowledge and resources are limited. I finally decided on dandelion coffee. To hard core coffee drinkers I apologise for the term 'coffee' but it truly is a very nice substitute for the real thing. Not only does it taste similar, it is really good for you body! Dandelions of lots of nutrition depending on what part you use. It is my understanding that the roots are a good source of minerals. Dandelions are also very good at cleansing the liver.

Before the plants can be gathered, proper care should be taken to make sure that you have the right tool for the job. The picture below is an example of such a tool. I can probe the soil around the roots with out making a large disturbance in the ground.

Normally, this tool is made with a very hard wood. I did not have the time to find a proper piece of wood so I hardened the tip is fire.
This is cleaned dandelion root. I was able to get some good sized roots only because I had my digging tool. If you were to try and pull them out of the ground, the root would break off at the base and all you would get is the leaves.

Cut and roasts the roots. This is where you get to decide how dark you want you coffee to be. I have made coffee light and more like a tea or very dark. It is really whatever you want.

Don't throw away the greens!!! This makes a great side dish like spinach or an addition to a salad. If you really wanted to have fun with dandelions, make a pesto out of it. Just replace basil with the leaves of the dandelion. You will be surprised with the results.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Out Door Kitchen

For about a month I was trying to do everything inside the shelter. I soon realized that it wasn't a good idea to be cooking and doing the dishes in side. Because most of the inside of my shelter is a sleeping area with lots of cloth, moisture is the enemy. Cooking creates steam that cannot escape properly because the top of the shelter has been covered up. Also, if water were to spill in the cooking or the cleaning up the mold becomes a real threat.

My solution was just to make an out side shelter that I would be able to use as a kitchen and an area for projects that can't be done inside. I decided that for my needs and for the location a lean-to style frame with no walls would work best for this shelter. I made the shelter with a slight slope to it to keep the rain from settling. The roof is very simple to build. I used a layer of cardboard lashed to roof frame. I then put a camouflaged tart on top and lashed it tight.

I chose this shelter for a couple of reasons. I did not want solid walls because they would be very easy to spot by an outsider walking by. This way I can hang camouflaged blinds from the frame and it will break up the shape. Second, I really like the idea of being able to feel the wind and see the wild life around me while I am cooking or doing a project. Keeping dry is really my focus here.

On one side I have a small table I use as a food prep area. Above that area I have baskets fill with food and pots hanging from the frame. Below the table I have a plastic storage container for my dry foods. Near by I have a small barbecue I use for cooking and grilling.

Over all I would say that my level of comfort has improve dramatically since I have been using my kitchen area. I feel like I am actually outside more and have room to stretch my legs.

This is my back rest with some dried grass for
the seat.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Coyote Tracks

Coyote Tracks is a camp for kids and families. Please watch this clip I found. I have tried to add this video so that it will play on this page but I have not been able to figure it out. It will work if you click on it.