Wednesday 30 March 2011

An Aussie Forum For Blade Lovers.

I recently joined the Australian Blade Forums site, and find the people there very friendly. Within this site there are many forums covering bushcraft and other activities. I recommend this one. If you are interested go to: http://www.australianbladeforums.com/phpbb/index.php?sid=b85af7483fa522e8e74af941ff56194d

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Forest Walk. My Latest Video.

Forest Walk is the result of my searching for a large red dinner plate sized fungus that one of my sons found whilst bushwalking in our forest. I never did find it, but decided to use the footage that I had anyway. This is an example of paying attention to your surroundings, & noting anything that may be of use to you now or later on.


One of the manna gum trees, Eucalyptus viminalis, is listed by Fujita as being pollinated by the grey-headed flying fox. The manna gum tree is also a honey tree. Bees as well as bats seek out the sweet nectar of the tree's flowers.

The manna gum tree is so named because a sweet red gum oozes from the leaves and damaged bark. The gum was eaten in early times by aboriginal Australians. It is still collected and savoured by human beings.

Manna gum medicine: Manna gum has a mild laxative effect. Oil from the leaves fights influenza viruses. Aching limbs can be relieved by a soak in a decoction of manna gum leafy twigs.

Other uses: E. viminalis is a source of a multi-use essential oil. The sweet leaf and bark manna is incorporated into adhesives and the bark is a source of tannin.


Saturday 26 March 2011

A Bird Trap Video.

I have not tried this one but it looks like it might be worth experimenting with. Easy enough to release a bird if you catch one by the looks of it.

Trade cloth materials of the French.

An observer noted in 1709, the Indians

Australian Fungi-A Blog. Link to this site.

Good information and good images on Australian fungus. The latest post matches a fungus in North America!

Shrink Pot Carving (from log to pot)

  My thanks to bygonetoni  for sending me the link to this video. This was in response to a question about making water bottles/canteens from wood.

Wampanoag man working on a boat

A little more on Otzi The Ice Man and his Fireworks.

I can't help feeling that the Otzi site may have been contaminated, or, people did not know at the time what they were looking for. I wish I could see the site for myself. One news item sais that pyrite was found, but this appears not to be true. Pyrite particles were found suggesting that Otzi may have used flint & pyrite to make fire.
Here are some notes I made recently:
The Ice Man Otzi.

Fire kit contained:

• Pyrite.(particles found on fungus, but no actual rock was found)

• Flint

• Tinder fungus (Fomes Fomentarius & Piptoporus)

• Bark container blackened inside. Contained charcoal and birch leaves(carrying fire)

• Moss
The moss was said to be used for carrying food.
Question: Why would he carry food in moss? Is it more likely that the moss was kindling for making fire?

Question: Could two flints have been used?
Flints too small.

The charcoal in the green leaves suggested to scientists that Otzi was carrying fire. But normally this is done by burying live coals/embers in ash to keep them alive. Just like banking a fire for the night. The ash and the embers would indeed be carried in a bark container.
Question: Could this charcoal have been in fact pieces of charred punk wood intended for use as tinder?
The fire-bag/fireworks does not look very big, but then it has been under the ice for a long time & size is difficult to tell under such conditions. To use pyrite & flint you need a decent chunk of both, something to hang on to whilst striking.
I think the scenarios for why Otzi was where he was are important, because at present it looks as though he was quite unprepared. When I am travelling I collect kindling as I go along & as chance presents itself. If Otzi knew that he would be camping in a place where wood & kindling was not available, he would have taken it with him.
Question: Was the site contaminated? Was there other items to be found that people missed?
I get the feeling that these scientists, though obviously very knowledgable, may not know enough about individual primitive skills.
Question: Was the fungus for medical use as they suggest, or was it simply spare tinder such as I carry in my pack? 
I think that unless someone goes back to the Otzi site and searches further, we may never have all the answers.

Remnants of Otzi's fire bag.

Piptoporus Betulinas.


Flint nodules I collected in England.


Two flint nodules like those above will create sparks if struck together, as will agate struck against flint, but the spark only occurs at the point of contact, it does not throw or project the sparks.

Friday 25 March 2011

Making A Tent Peg.

Doctor Thomas Walker's Journal 2

Doctor Thomas Walker's Journal (6 Mar 1749/50 - 13 Jul 1750)
A Record of His Travels in Present-day Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

9th. We travelled to a river, which I suppose to be that which the Hunters call Clinches River from one Clinch a Hunter, who first found it.  we marked several Beeches on the East Side. we could not find a ford Shallow enough to carry our Baggage over on our Horses. Ambrose Powell Forded over on one horse and we drove the others after him. We then made a raft and carried over one load of Baggage, but when the raft was brought back, it was so heavy that it would not carry anything more dry.

April 10th. we waded and carried the remainder of our Baggage on our shoulders at two turns over the River, which is about one hundred and thirty yards wide, we went on about five miles and Camped on a Small Branch.

April 11th. Having travelled 5 miles to and over an High Mountain, Cumberland Gap, we came to Turkey Creek, which we kept down 4 miles. It lied between two Ridges of Mountains, that to the Eastward being the highest.

12th. We kept down the creek 2 miles further, where it meets with a large Branch coming from the South West and thence runs through the East Ridge making a very good pass; and a large Buffaloe Road goes from that Fork to the Creek over the west ridge, which we took and found the Ascent and Descent tollerably easie. From this Mountain we rode on four miles to Beargrass River.  Small Cedar Trees are very plenty on the flat ground nigh the River, and some Barberry trees on the East side of the River. on the Banks is some Beargrass. We kept up the River 2 miles. I found Small pieces of Coal  and a great plenty of very good yellow flint. The water is the most transparent I ever saw. It is about 70 yds. wide.

April 13th. We went four miles to large Creek which we called Cedar Creek being a Branch of Bear-Grass, and from thence Six miles to Cave Gap,  the land being Levil. On the North side of the Gap is a large Spring, which falls very fast, and just above the Spring is a small Entrance to a Large Cave, which the spring runs through, and there is a constant Stream of Cool air issueing out. The Spring is sufficient to turn a Mill. Just at the Foot of the Hill is a Laurel Thicket and the spring Water runs through it. On the South side is a Plain Indian Road. on the top of the Ridge are Laurel Trees marked with Crosses, others Blazed and several Figures on them. As I went down the other Side, I soon came to some Laurel in the head of the Branch. A Beech stands on the left hand, on which I cut my name.  This Gap may be seen at a considerable distance, and there is no other, that I know of, except one about two miles to the North of it which does not appear to be So low as the other. The Mountain on the North Side of the Gap is very Steep and Rocky, but on the South side it is not so. We Called it Steep Ridge. At the foot of the hill on the North West side we came to a Branch, that made a great deal of flat land. We kept down it 2 miles, several other Branches Coming in to make it a large Creek, and we called it Flat Creek. We camped on the bank where we found very good coal. I did not Se any Lime Stone beyond this ridge. We rode 13 miles this day.

April 14th. We kept down the Creek 5 miles chiefly along the Indian Road.

April 15th. Easter Sunday. Being in bad grounds for our Horses we moved 7 miles along the Indian Road, to Clover Creek. Clover and Hop vines are plenty here.

April 16th. Rain. I made a pair of Indian Shoes, those I brought out being bad.

17th. Still Rain. I went down the Creek a hunting and found that it went into a River about a mile below our camp. this, which is Flat Creek and some others join'd I called Cumberland River.

18th. Still Cloudy. We kept down the Creek to the River along the Indians Road to where it crosses. Indians have lived about this Ford some years ago. We kept on down the South Side. After riding 5 miles from our Camp, we left the River, it being very crooked. In Rideing 3 miles we came on it again. It is about 60 or 70 yds. Wide. We rode 8  miles this day.

19th. We left the River but in four miles we came on it again at the Mouth of Licking Creek, which we went up and down another. In the Fork of Licking Creek is a Lick much used by Buffaloes and many large Roads lead to it. This afternoon Ambrose Powell was bit by a Bear in his Knee. We rode 7 miles this day.

20th. we kept down the Creek  2 miles to the River again. It appears not any wider here at the mouth of Clover Creek, but much deeper. I thought it proper to Cross the River and begin a bark Conoe.

April 21st. We finished the Conoe and tryed her. About Noon it began to Thunder, lighten, hail and rain prodigously and continued about 2 hours.

Author's Note. I can only think that as distance in this journal is measured in miles, that they must have a means of triangulating to measure the distance.

Thursday 24 March 2011

The Ice Man.

My thanks to Karl at http://ranger-pathfinder-notes.blogspot.com/ for setting me on the trail of these videos.

One of my great interests is in primitive skills & equipment, & the ice man find is of great importance to me. Although I prefere to carry 18th century equipment, I also practice & teach primitive skills. My 18th century equipment is a luxury compared to what the ice man carried, but the same skills & knowledge of how to make primitive tools are nesassary for long term wilderness living.

Items Made Of Horn.

Most people know that powder horns are made from cow horns, but many other items were also made of horn in the 17th & 18th centuries. Here are some of those items: Powder horns, horn measures, horn books, horn combs, the windows in lanthorns, shoe horns, buttons, knife handles & cases.

The horn book was usually made of wood and the text was written on parchment or paper. A sheet of horn scraped thin so as to be transparent was placed over the text to protect it.

A 17th century Chapman, a seller of books.

A 17th century horn spoon.

A horn measure.

A horn framed & cased reading glass.

Horn framed specticles.

A lanthorne with horn windows.

My clasp knife with horn slab handle.

A shoe horn I made many years ago when I was a hornsmith.

My Powder Horn.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

Dr. Thomas Walker's Journal, 1750

23rd. We kept down the Holston River about four miles and Camped; and then Mr. Powell and I went to look for Samuel Stalnaker (13) who I had been inform'd was just moved out to settle. We found his camp, and returned to our own in the evening.

24th. We went to Stalnaker's, helped him to raise his house and camped about a quarter of a mile below him. In April, 1748, I met the above mentioned Stalnaker between Reedy Creek Settlement and Holstons River, on his way to the Cherokee Indians and expected him to pilate me as far as he knew but his affairs would not permit him to go with me. (14)

March 25th. The Sabbath. Grass is plenty in the low grounds.

26th. We left the Inhabitans (15), and kept nigh West to a large Spring on a Branch of the North Fork of the Holston. Thunder, Ligtning, and Rain before Day.

27th. It began to snow in the morning and continued till Noon. The Land is very Hilly from West to North. Some snow lies on the tops of the mountains N.W. from us.

28th. We travelled to the lower end of Giant's Ditch on Reedy Creek. (16)

29th. Our Dogs were very uneasie most of this night.

30th. We kept down Reedy Creek and discover'd the tracks of about 20 Indians, that had gone up the Creek between the time we camped last night, and set off this morning. We suppose they made our Dogs so restless last night. We camped on Reedy Creek. (17)

March 30th. We caught two young Buffaloes one of which we killed, and having cut and marked the other we turn'd him out.

31st. We kept down Reedy Creek to Holston where we measured an Elm 25 ft. round 3 ft. from the ground. we saw young Sheldrakes we went down the River to the north Fork and up the north fork about a quarter of a mile to a Ford, and then crossed it. In the Fork between the Holstons and the North River, are five Indian Houses built with loggs and covered with bark, and there were abundance of Bones, some whole Pots and pans some broken. and many pieces of mats and Cloth. On the west side of the North River, is four Indian Houses such as before mentioned. we went four miles below the North River and camped on the Bank of the Holstons, opposite to a large Indian Fort. (18)

April ye 1st. The Sabbath. we saw Perch, Mullets, and Carp in plenty, and caught one of the large Sort of Cat Fish. I marked my name, the day of the Month, and date of the year on Several Beech Trees.

2nd. we left Holston and travelled through Small Hills till about Noon, when one of our horses being choaked by eating Reeds too gredily, we stopped having traveled 7 miles. (19)

3rd. Our hourse being recover'd, we travelled to the Rocky Ridge. I went up to the top, to look for a pass but found it so rocky that I concluded not to attempt it there. This ridge may be known by Sight, at a distance. To the Eastward are many small mountains, and a Buffaloe Road between them & the Ridge. The growth is Pine on the top and the rocks look white at a distance. we went Seven miles this day. (20)

4th. We kept under the Rocky Ridge crossing several small Branches to the head of Holly Creek. we saw many small licks and plenty of Deer. (21)

5th. we went down Holly Creek. There is much Holly in the Low Grounds and some Laurel and Ivy. About three in the afternoon, the Ridge appeared less stony and we passed it, (22) and camped on a small Branch about a mile from the top. my riding Horse choaked himself this evening and I drenched him with water to wash down the Reeds, and it answered the End.

6th. It proving wet we did not move.

7th. We rode 8 miles over Broken ground. It snowed most of the day. In the evening our dogs caught a large He Bear, which before we could come up to shoot him had wounded a dog of mine, so that he could not travel, and we carried him on Horseback till he recovered.

8th. The Sabbath. Still Snow.

Doctor Thomas Walker's Journal (6 Mar 1749/50 - 13 Jul 1750)
A Record of His Travels in
Present-day Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky

THE WESTOVER MANUSCRIPTS 1733. Travel overland.

15th. After the clouds broke away in the morning, the people dried their blankets with all diligence. Nevertheless, it was noon before we were in condition to move forward, and then were so puzzled with passing the river twice in a small distance, that we could advance the line in all no further than one single mile and three hundred poles. The first time we passed the Dan this day was two hundred and forty poles from the place where we lay, and the second time was one mile and seven poles beyond that. This was now the fourth time we forded that fine river, which still tended westerly, with many short and returning reaches.

The surveyors had much difficulty in getting over the river, finding it deeper than formerly. The breadth of it here did not exceed fifty yards. The banks were about twenty feet high from the water, and beautifully beset with canes. Our baggage horses crossed not the river here at all, but, fetching a compass, went round the bend of it. On our way we forded Sable creek, so called from the dark colour of the water, which happened, I suppose, by its being shaded on both sides with canes.

In the evening we quartered in a charming situation near the angle of the river, from whence our eyes were carried down both reaches, which kept a straight course for a great way together. This prospect was so beautiful, that we were perpetually climbing up to a neighbouring eminence, that we might enjoy it in more perfection.

Now the weather grew cool, the wild geese began to direct their flight this way from Hudson's bay, and the lakes that lay north-west of us. They are very lean at their first coming, but fatten soon upon a sort of grass that grows on the shores and rocks of this river. The Indians call this fowl cohunks, from the hoarse note it has, and begin the year from the coming of the cohunks, which happens in the beginning of October. These wild geese are guarded from cold by a down, that is exquisitely soft and fine, which makes them much more valuable for their feathers than for their flesh, which is dark and coarse.

The men chased a bear into the river that got safe over, notwithstanding the continual fire from the shore upon him. He seemed to swim but heavily, considering it was for his life. Where the water is shallow, it is no uncommon thing to see a bear sitting, in the summer time, on a heap of gravel in the middle of the river, not only to cool himself, but likewise for the advantage of fishing, particularly for a small shell-fish, that is brought down with the stream. In the upper part of James river I have observed this several times, and wondered very much, at first, how so many heaps of small stones came to be piled up in the water, till at last we spied a bear sitting upon one of them, looking with great attention on the stream, and raking up something with his paw, which I take to be the shell-fish above mentioned.

16th. It was ten o'clock this morning before the horses could be found, having hidden themselves among the canes, whereof there was great plenty just at hand. Not far from our camp we went over a brook, whose banks were edged on both sides with these canes. But three miles further we forded a larger stream, which we called Lowland creek, by reason of the great breadth of low grounds inclosed between that and the river.

The high land we travelled over was very good, and the low grounds promised the greatest fertility of any I had ever seen. At the end of four miles and three hundred and eleven poles from where we lay, the line intersected the Dan the fifth time. We had day enough to carry it farther, but the surveyors could find no safe ford over the river. This obliged us to ride two miles up the river in quest of a ford, and by the way we traversed several small Indian fields, where we conjectured the Sawroes had been used to plant corn, the town where they had lived lying seven or eight miles more southerly, upon the eastern side of the river. These Indian fields produced a sweet kind of grass, almost knee-high, which was excellent forage for the horses. It must be observed, by the way, that Indian towns, like religious houses, are remarkable for a fruitful situation; for being by nature not very industrious, they choose such a situation as will subsist them with the least labour. The trees grew surprisingly large in this low ground, and amongst the rest we observed a tall kind of hickory, peculiar to the upper parts of the country. It is covered with a very rough bark, and produces a nut with a thick shell that is easily broken. The kernel is not so rank as that of the common hickory, but altogether as oily. And now I am upon the subject of these nuts, it may not be improper to remark, that a very great benefit might be made of nut-oil in this colony. The walnuts, the hickory-nuts, and pignuts, contain a vast deal of oil, that might be pressed out in great abundance with proper machines. The trees grow very kindly, and may be easily propagated. They bear plenty of nuts every year, that are now of no other use in the world but to feed hogs. It is certain there is a large consumption of this oil in several of our manufactures, and in some parts of France, as well as in other countries, it is eaten instead of oil-olive, being tolerably sweet and wholesome. The Indian killed a fat buck, and the men brought in four bears and a brace of wild turkeys, so that this was truly a land of plenty, both for man and beast.