Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gourd Canteen

I finally finished my gourd canteen yesterday. I suppose sealing the inside with beeswax isn't 100% necessary, but I decided since my friend had some to spare I might as well.
This particular canteen is the one I started at MAPS Meet 2007 at Jamie's (of Earth Connection) gourd class. I might give it another coat of wax to be sure its sealed.

If you have any gourds sitting around that are suitable for something like this, all you have to do is poke a series of holes where you want to remove the top so you have an opening, then it should break free with relative ease. Use sand to scour the surface to remove any mold or dirt, and rocks to clean our the inside of the gourde.

Monday, January 28, 2008

General Update

I haven't really sat down to update in awhile, so I'll covered a few new things.
We got some nice snow accumulation about 2 weeks ago, which was also my first snow experience in Maryland for about 3 years. I've grown used to dry powdery snow in Montana, so the wet, icy snow of Maryland is quite different for me. We usually get at least one big snow storm a year in Maryland with significant accumulation (save my senior year of high school when we failed to accumulate any snow days), so I look forward to another big snowfall as Spring draws closer.

This picture doesn't really reflect how much actually fell, this was pretty early on when I was visiting my old debris hut.

This hut is in very poor condition, and I was going to tear it apart earlier and rebuild it so I could use it when snow came, but the snow beat me to the chase. I was looking through the contents of the shelter and found a bundle of milkweed stalks and some polypore fungus I had left last December. I also left an elk knuckle bone, however it appears the local animals have made off with that. It always amuses me to find things I've left from the previous year.

I spent some time exploring the woods in the hills above Ellicott City this past week and found an exceptionally large deer rub. I'm no expert on deer rubs, though I enjoy finding them, but I'd say this is from a rather large buck, judging by its distance from the ground. My friend who hunts further west of Ellicott City agreed that a very large deer made this. It does seem unusual to me that it would be on such a thick tree. I see them on smaller saplings usually.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Growing Avocado

Growing an avocado plant may seem out of place on a primitive skills blog, but I thought it was interesting none the less. I know a few people who do this, and one thing they report is if you put it outside too soon, the squirrels will come and eat it, so I plan on keeping mine indoors for the most part, and hopefully get some nice fruit from it.

It's really quite easy, simply put three toothpicks in the thickest part of the pit,put it on top of a glass with the bottom of the pit about a half inch in the water, give it sunlight and keep the water level up and let it do the rest.

Friday, January 11, 2008

MAPS January Skils Meet

Last night was the second MAPS (Mid-Atlantic Primitive Skills) Skills meet. There was a pretty good turn out, with a few kids and a couple people I hadn't met at a MAPS event before. It's a free event held every second Thursday of each month, and anyone is welcome to walk in and learn more about a skill, or just talk with people about skills. The monthly skills meet is a new thing to MAPS since Kevin Haney handed over the job of coordinator to Andrew Pinger. If you're in the DC, Maryland area, I recommend that you get yourself on the MAPS Email list, and drop by.
Some of the skills practiced were proper fire setup, bow drill, cordage, deer leg bone knives, bird wing identification, as well as talk of debris huts.
Here are some pictures from the meet,

Waiting for an ember

Enjoying a nice fire

Miriam modeling a braintanned hoodie (belonging to Andrew Pinger)

Recently split deer canon bone

Monday, January 7, 2008

Softening Pelts and Hides

It's an unseasonably warm day in Maryland today. So I took out a few pelts I need to finish and a deer hide I didn't complete last summer. I have one raccoon pelt and two gopher pelts from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. The raccoon is from last summer in Virginia.
The hide is a Whitetail Deer Hide I acquired from a friend who is an expert braintanner.

The raccoon pelt is on the left an has been frozen since last summer, looking more like a bundle of fur or a big owl pellet. The gopher pelts have been salted and stored in my garage, and appear to be fine. They just need to be scraped, maybe washed and softened.

The hide is pliable, but not soft and open as you would expect with buckskin. I think a good working over a post or cable should soften it up enough to be of use. I have a particular project in mind, so that's the driving factor behind finishing these pelts and hide.

I will probably use a 2x4 either lashed to two trees or with a beveled edge to soften these.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Fires of the New Year

I was planning on making a video today, but when I arrived at my old debris hut, I found I had left the memory card to my camera at home, and while my house wasn't that far, I didn't feel like walking back to get a 1"x1" piece of plastic and metal. So I pulled out my basswood bowdrill and started an ember. For tinder I used some birch bark collected in Montana with Tulip Poplar in the center. For kindling, even though it's been wet and rainy around here recently, there was plenty of dead rose bushes, box elder twigs and dead grapevine. The fire produced is of the scout fire variety. Small, enough to keep you warm, provide you with spiritual comfort, some light, and easily extinguished if need be.
The debris hut I have is in very poor condition. The skeleton of the structure can be seen, and the ridgepole has snapped in half. It's also located in a wet area, so it has a tendency to rot away so by this time each year it needs to be pulled apart and reconstructed. I hope to get a series of pictures when I rebuild the hut to demonstrate how it's all put together.