Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pine Pitch

Pine pitch is a rather useful tool when it comes to making things in the woods, or even around the house. Its been used all over the globe for things from binding to water proofing. From hafting blades to sealing canoes. For such an important material, its something that many (myself included) don't or didn't know how to make for some time. I'll try to shed some light on this in this post.

What you'll need:
1. Pine sap. Main ingredient to this. You'll have to collect this from some variety of pine tree. I've collected them from all kinds, pretty much I'm on the lookout for pine sap whenever I come across a stand of pine. Sometimes it hardens and gets a coating that makes it look like bark. You might want to experiment with different consistencies. Even the really hard stuff will soften though.

2. Charcoal. Not those briquette things, I mean real wood charcoal. Make a fire, collect a few pieces. You take the little black chunks and grind it into a powder. As fine as you can. You'll mix about this with the sap, about 50-50. But it can vary, sometimes I add less, sometimes more. It depends on how it looks to me.

3. Dung. Most likely deer, though I like to use elk. You want them dried out, because what you're looking for is the fine grass fibers. It seems to add some extra strength to it. This isn't an essential ingredient, but I add it when available.

You want to warm the pitch, not boil it though. In this picture, I have it in a large scallop shell I bought from Michaels Craft store (chain store, find it in the section with sea shells). You can use pottery too. I've tried using oyster shells, but it fractured and exploded. The reason I settled on a scallop shell was it stands up to heat well.
After the sap is liquid, add the ground up charcoal. Mix it together. Get some sticks and get some on the stick, then form it into little globs on the end. I usualy carry quite a few with me at any given point, so make a few of these. Be careful, pitch hurts like mad if it drips on you, but it should be ok to lightly touch it and form it into the glob shape.

You should have some pitch sticks now :-) Enjoy!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Old pictures

Still haven't bee able to upload my pictures yet, but I did come across an old album of mine that has some pictures from way back before I knew much at all (i.e. debris hut, tracking, etc.) Theres also some old MAPS Meet 2005 pictures in there among others.

This is me circa senior year of high school. I can remember walking down the road dressed like this to get to some woods that are pretty far from my house. Alot of strange looks. Anyway I have a whitetail deer hide cape with rabbit pelts lashed to my arms and hide wrapped around my legs to keep the snow out with buckskin moccasins. I have an Osage Orange sapling bow with arrow wood arrows (stone tipped), as well as my satchel and quiver behind me under the hide. Even though I have a shirt on I was quite warm and comfortable.

This is a debris hut I made also during my senior year. It's mostly pine boughs from discarded Christmas trees and branches from the surrounding area. Key things that are wrong with this shelter (yes, I froze in this shelter), too many open areas to let heat escape, too big, no leaves. If I had made it smaller and used more leaves, I would have been warmer I'm sure. I did have a small fire in there, but it was placed off to the side and provided little to no heat.

Fast forward to this past winter break. This is me approaching a debris hut made by my brother and I the previous summer. I had been told they had severe flooding in the area while I was away, but surprisingly it was relatively intact and required only minimal repair to be usable. It showed no sign of other human habitation, everything was as we had left it 5 months or so earlier. This means to me that the area is relatively safe from most flooding in the area, and not many people go here. The cool thing about this shelter is that one side of it is a large boulder. I plan to rebuild it, possibly take advantage of the boulder to use it as a heat reflector (possible lean-to style shelter?)

Close view of the shelter showing the framework, severe lack of leaves and me removing various gear. Theres also an Ironwood sapling in the foreground, theres quite a few of them around.

This is from the very first summer camp I taught. It was one I ran where I taught my mums friends children. Pretty basic stuff, some primitive bows, tracking, moving through the woods, making things out of tulip poplar, etc. Just a cool picture from the past.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Facts about fire

Since learning friction fire methods, I've been very interested in fire. Always amazed by its impact on us. I found some interesting facts about fire that I thought would be interesting to any readers of this blog. You can find them here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Crow Tribe teachings

I visited the archives today to do some work for a class and decided to look into a collection they have on campus by Fred W. Voget. He studied both the River and Mountain Crow tribe during the late 1930's. There is a lot of notes and information there, so I focused on teachings and how they raised their children. Here are some interesting things I found:

Some advice given to a man named Ball by his clan brother after his father died:
-Whenever you have a horse of your own, do not starve it, keep it fat.
-When you marry, never hit your wife, nor become jealous of her [this advice attributed to Ball's clan brother]
-His friends fathers would tell him never be lazy, but tend to the horses, and when he had a wife of his own, to provide for her and her family.
-They advised him when on a warparty, to have his gun at hand all the time, he should have it at his side while sleeping.

It's also noted that children who failed at one lesson, only got more lessons and care, until he learned the lesson. It seems rare that they gave up on children who failed to learn a lesson.

"Pretty-shield reports that when she was seven years old she dug roots"
"The Crow are not in the habit of punishing children by beating them. When a child is crying for a long time, the parents put it on its back and pour water down its nose. If at some later time the child begins to cry, the parents merely say "Bring the water!". Then the child generally stops."

In some of the notes, some men reported that when they were seven they recieved a "genuine bow". It also states that they were made of cedar and backed with sinew. The arrows were short and blunt.

"In the night the boys sometimes stole the two outside lodge poles. Then the owners would chase them and the thieves had to run for if they were caught their blankets would be taken away from them. They took the poles form the sheer mischief in order to be chased."

There was also information regarding names and naming practiced.
"It was bad luck for the natural parents to give a name to his or her own child. This service was performed by a special friend, upon request or a name came spontaneously by reason of some situation connected with the life of the named one."
"Medicine-woman possess the right to name their own children as well as their grandchildren."

I went on an antelope hunt with my friend, his father, and their friends. I took some pictures so I'll post those and detail the weekend soon.