Saturday 30 April 2011

Early Clothing In A Later Period.

I have mentioned before, that in my view you are better off wearing early styles of clothing because they cover a wider era. Some have argued that this did not happen with the upper class because they were very fashion concious. So here are some images of the "upper crust" wearing long vests/weskits/waistcoats from the early 18th century in a later period.

1733. Also note that his stockings are worn over the breeches leg at the knee.




A New Buxton From Lord Nelson's Gallery.

Brothers Of Intent By John Buxton.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Rabbit Reciept Link.


Todays Find.

It doesn't take much to please me, a piece of agate large enough for fire lighting, a fallen tree & a supply of punk wood or a bracket fungus just waiting to be picked up. One xmas a late close friend of mine gave me a roll of rawhide & a block of beeswax. He knew me so well.
Whenever I am walking in the woods I keep my eyes open for anything that may be of use to me, either now or for later on. So many people walk the woods & see nothing but the trees. But I do need to get out more & do some more experimenting, there are bound to be more useful plants out there, I just have to recognise them.
Todays find though I found by the back gate on my way to the wood shed for more firewood. There on the ground lay a vent quill. Now to anyone else it may have been just a parrot feather, but I recognised it as a vent quill right off. Small, & just the right size. As it happens I lost one of my turkey vent quills, & I like to carry two.

My new vent quill. The vent quill can serve three purposes. One you can stick it in the vent when you are loading, & it stops the vent hole from filling with gunpowder which would slow the ignition. Two the vent quill is used as a marker when the gun is loaded but not primed. It tells you the gun is loaded & reduces the risk of forgetting & loading a second charge on top of the first!!! Thirdly if you need the lock for making fire but the gun is loaded, then the vent quill will stop any stray sparks getting to the main charge.

Here you can see my two turkey vent quills on my shot pouch strap.

So, did you find anything of use today?

Wednesday 27 April 2011

And Yet More On Foods. LINK.

Artichokes--the Jerusalem is best, are cultivated like potatoes, (tho' their stocks grow 7 feet high) and may be preserved like the turnip raddish, or pickled--they like,

Cucumbers, are of many kinds; the prickly is best for pickles, but generally bitter; the white is difficult to raise and tender; choose the bright green, smooth and proper sized.

Lemon cuecumber.

Another Link For Foods.


Period Foods. Parrot Stew Link.


You have to keep an open mind to food sources in a wilderness survival situation. Big game is fine if you can find it, but that is not always possible. Small game however is often easier to find if you recognise it as such. Also there are other methods of bringing small game down besides using the gun. Save powder & lead where you can.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

For Doc From Alaska. How to use a flintlock with a broken lock.

First of all I must point out that I carry spare springs, a mainspring clamp, & a spare hammer, just in case I need them when far from home. If you do not have any spare parts, this is how you can continue to use your firelock.
This is the lock on my fusil, the pan on a rifle will be a little smaller, but this method will still work. The COCK is what holds the flint shown to the left of the pan & vent hole. The HAMMER is what the flint strikes to create sparks. Shown here with a leather hammer cap on to the right of the pan.
The procedure is to load the gun first, before priming the pan. When you prime the pan it will be seen as above, the hammer back & the pan open. The cock set on half-cock. When the pan is primed, the hammer is pulled toward you to cover the pan. To fire you pull the cock back to full-cock, remove the hammer boot, point or take aim, & pull the trigger.

If the lock will not function because of a broken mainspring, then the cock will not spring forward when you pull the trigger. So to make the cock go forward toward the pan, you will have to pull the trigger & push the cock forward with your thumb.
Remove the flint from the cock & replace it with a piece of tinder, or a fuse made from cotton or linen material, or use some cordage made from coton or linen or plant material. This is your match or match cord, you now have a matchlock.
In practice it is better if you are using a smouldering match, to carry the match cord in your hand & push it into the jaws of the cock just before you are ready to fire. DO NOT load the gun or prime with a smouldering match in the cock!
When you are ready to give fire, push the match into the jaws of the cock at full cock, push the hammer back to open the pan. Take aim, pull the trigger, & push the cock forward so that the smouldering match end makes contact with the powder in the pan.

On a matchlock the part that holds the match is called a Serpentine, the cock on your firelock will be the Serpentine. This lock of course is shown the other way round, but you can still get the idea. The pan cover on your lock is the hammer.

Makeshift, but it will allow you to hunt in a survival situation. I have never broken any part of the lock on my fusil in 20 years. I did have the hammer refuse to spark one time, & I fixed it by heating it to cherry red in the camp fire & quenched it in my cold cup of coffee. Quenching the face of the hammer & then the rest. I did this so as not to make the hammer too hard at the angle. They have been known to break at that point if made too hard. Personally I would think it would take a pretty strong mainspring & hammer spring to break a hammer.

Here you can see what I carry in my knapsack. Ahammer spring on the top left, mainspring to the right. The mainspring clamp in the centre. Bottom left a wad punch, & on the right a spare hammer (the hammer got its name from an earlier model lock where the steel looked more like a hammer. It has been called a hammer or steel ever since. Not to be confused with the hammer on a percussion lock).

My turnscrew & screw I carry in my shot pouch. You need the turnscrew to replace the flint, and to replace lock parts & remove the barrel.
Doc: The CVA I think has a hooked breach so you don't need a turnscrew to remove the barrel except perhaps to push the barrel pin out.

This appears to be a Tinderlock.

Monday 25 April 2011

A Percussion For Survival? Not The Best Choice.

A percussion muzzleloader relies on a good supply of percussion caps, & if they get damp they will not work. Unlike a flintlock that can still be used even if the lock should break, the percussion is not as reliable. The only way to use a percussion once you have no caps, is to remove the nipple & fire it holding a fuse in your hand, or by using a linstock. But if the gun has a snail drum as the one below has, this method is dangerous, because the fire through the vent is blown backwards towards the shooter, rather than sideway like a flintlock.
Many people assume that mountain men adopted the percussion arm as soon as it was available in the 19th century, but this is not the case. Anyone in a wilderness situation kept to their flintlock as it is far more reliable.
Note the back action lock & the snail drum on my Samuel Marsden 19th century .74 calibre fusil.

Note the "wedding band" that was popular on 18th century flintlock fusils.

Friday 22 April 2011

An 18th Century Cake?!!! Happy Birthday Da.

First I must apologise for deviating from my normal posts. Personally I hate going to an advertised 18th century site, only to find that the blog is all personal stuff & family & nothing to do with the 18th century (why do they do that?!). However, today is my Birthday, & two of my 3 sons have arrived early with my Birthday cake, & here it is.
How about that! Baked by my youngest son.
I hope you all have as good a day as I intend to have, & Happy Easter to you all.

Thursday 21 April 2011

On Powder & Lead.

On Powder & Lead.

What are the heaviest items that we carry on a trek? I would think it was water, lead, & food. Food we can cut back on. I don’t mean that we should all start just carrying flour, bread or corn & hunt for our meat, but we can cut our provisions back to just two items, perhaps bread & hard cheese, or bread & meat. That should be fairly light & last us for a weekend or more.

Water we can’t do anything about, unless you know that you have good water where you are going. I carry water anyway, & either boil any water I find, or I collect rainwater in my kettle.

Lead can be reduced in weight because we can retrieve spent lead from shot game & remould it. By reducing the amount of lead we carry we can carry more gunpowder.

My fusil takes 60 grains of gunpowder. 60 grains = 1 Dram.

1LB of gunpowder = 256 Drams. So that is 256 shots from just one pound of gunpowder. My powder horn holds roughly one pound, & my gunpowder bag roughly two pounds. So if I only took my horn & gunpowder bag, I would still have 768 shots to hunt with. That is a lot of meat when hunting large game, & most of the meat would come from a trap line. So barring any skirmishing, I could take one shot per day for 2 years, or one shot per week for 14 years from just 3 pounds of gunpowder!

Wednesday 20 April 2011

On Meat Alone.

On Meat Alone.

The list of period foods is quite long, but whose foods are they? Would a woodsrunner bother to carry dried peas, parched corn, oats & currents? Somehow I don’t think so. It all adds to the weight, & sooner or later it has to run out, & what then? Well, he or she hunts for meat.

So I started looking for the least weighty foods, & foods that would compliment meat. Jerky is mentioned many times, & this food I think was pretty popular with woodsrunners, & so was bread, or flour. Yes bread & flour can run out too, but is it possible to survive on meat alone & stay healthy? Or would one get the dreaded scurvy? It appears that one can survive on meat alone, & I have no doubt that this is what woodsrunners did. Following is the information I have found so far.

"and on the first day of May 1770, my brother returned home to the settlement by himself, for a new recruit of horses and ammunition, leaving me by myself, without bread, salt or sugar, without company of my fellow creatures, or even a horse or dog."
Daniel Boone 1770.
Faragher, John M. Daniel Boone: the life and legend of an American pioneer (1992).

"On March the 28th, as we were hunting for provisions, we found Samuel Tate's son, who gave us an account that the Indians fired on their camp on the 27th day.

On the 7th day of February, as I was hunting to procure meat for the company.

"A day was soon appointed for the march of the little cavalcade to the camp. Two or three horses furnished with pack−saddles were loaded with flour, Indian meal, blankets, and every thing else requisite for the use of the hunter.
Daniel Boone. Life & Times of Col. Daniel Boone 1775.

Tuesday 6 Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8--Had Snow and such Bad weather that we could not travel for three days; but I killed a young Bear so that we had provisions enough.

Thursday 7.--Set out with my Horse Load of Bear Meat and travelled about 30 M this afternoon I met a Young Man (a Trader) and we encamped together that night; He happened to have some Bread with him, and I had plenty of Meat so we Fared very Well.

Wednesday 16.--Set out SW 25 M to Licking Creek--the Land from Muskingum to this place rich but
Broken--Upon the N Side of Licking Creek about 6 M from the Mouth, are sevaral Salt Licks, or Ponds,
formed by little Streams or Dreins of Water, clear but of a blueish Colour, & salt taste the Traders and
Indians boil their Meat in this water which (If proper Care not be taken) will make it too salt to eat.

Monday 4.--This day I hard sevral Guns, but was afraid to examine who fired Them, lest they might be some of the French Indians, so I travelled thro the Woods about 30 M; just at night I killed a fine barren
Cow-Buffaloe and took out her tongue and a little of her best meat:

Wednesday 6.--I travelled about 30 M and killed a fat Bear.

Sunday 12.--Stayed to rest and Dry some Meat we had Killed.
The Journal of Christopher Gist, 1750-1751.

Pamela Patrick-White. Well Dressed Victuals.

. We had carried but little provisions with us, and the next morning was entirely out of meat.

I worked on with my hands till the bears got fat, and then I turned out to hunting, to lay in a supply of meat. I soon killed and salted down as many as were necessary for my family;
Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee_ (1834) by David Crockett.

We are now without bread and are compelled to hunt the buffalo to preserve life....

"Sunday 26th...procured some buffalo meat; though poor it was palatable.
Pioneers of the Old Southwest by Constance Skinner.

These months on fish were the beginning of several years during which I lived on an exclusive meat diet.
Adventures in Diet Part 1 By Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Harper's Monthly Magazine, November 1935.
Prolonged meat diet study.

In 1785 I visited the rough and hilly country of Otsego, where there existed not an inhabitant, nor any trace of a road; I was alone three hundred miles from home, without bread, meat, or food of any kind; fire and fishing tackle were my only means of subsistence. I caught trout in the brook, and roasted them on the ashes. My horse fed on the grass that grew by the edge of the waters. I laid me down to sleep in my watch coat, nothing but the melancholy wilderness around me. In this way I explored the country, formed my plans of future settlement, and meditated upon the spot where a place of trade or a village should afterwards be established.
William Cooper.

Meat made up a large portion of the diets of residents of eighteenth-century England.

Some settlers were driven by curiosity or necessity to hunt and eat the native mammals. Stuffed wombat and fried echidna were on the menu in early settlements in Van Diemen's Land, as Tasmania was known in those times.

Flour was a staple item of the early settler's diet. It was usually made into bread or damper.

Other foods that seem less palatable to modern urban Australians - such as witchetty grubs, lizards, snakes and moths - were greatly valued.

Men Were Hunters and Brought Home Larger Animals

Men were hunters while women were gatherers. Hunting larger animals, the Aboriginal men often worked in groups while smaller animals were often hunted individually. There was plenty of animal food like kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, possums, bats, pademelons, bandicoots, goannas, lizards, frogs, snakes and birds like cockatoos, parrots, ducks, emus, swans and bush turkeys. Coastal people also ate a wide range of seafood, fish and marine animals like dugongs and turtles. Aboriginal men used a wide range of tools like spears and boomerangs while hunting. Nocturnal animals were not hunted during the night, but caught in their burrows where they were sleeping during the day.

That night we had a mess of wheat for our supper.

There came an Indian to them at that time with a basket of horse liver.

As we went along they killed a deer, with a young one in her, they gave me a piece of the fawn.

I went, and he gave me a pancake, about as big as two fingers. It was made of parched wheat, beaten, and fried in bear's grease, but I thought I never tasted pleasanter meat in my life.

There was a squaw who spake to me to make a shirt for her sannup, for which she gave me a piece of bear. Another asked me to knit a pair of stockings, for which she gave me a quart of peas. I boiled my peas and bear together, and invited my master and mistress to dinner;

They would eat horse's guts, and ears, and all sorts of wild birds which they could catch; also bear, venison, beaver, tortoise, frogs, squirrels, dogs, skunks, rattlesnakes; yea, the very bark of trees;
A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson 1676.

Our Kettle was put over the fire with some pounded Indian Corn, and after it had boiled about two hours, my oldest Indian Brother returned with a She Beaver, big with young, which he soon cut to pieces, and threw into the kettle, together with the guts, and took the four young beavers, whole as they came out of the dam, and put them likewise into the kettle, and when all was well boiled, gave each one of us a large dishful of broth, of which we ate freely, and then part of the Old Beaver, the Tail, of which was divided equally amongst us, there being Eight at our fire; The four young Beavers were cut in the middle, and each of us got half of a Beaver; I watched an opportunity to hide my share, having satisfied myself before that tender dish came to hand, which if they had seen, would have much displeased them.
 The other Indians catched young Musk-Rats, run a stick through their bodies, and roasted, without being skinned or gutted, and so eat them."

We had one — and but one— dog along with us ; he was large and very fat, and this  evening he fell a sacrifice to our necessities. Our custom on this march was to encamp ten men at a fire. The dog was carefully butchered and divided into seven parts, except the entrails which the butcher had for his fees. These he brought to our fire, and ten of us made a very good supper of their fat, without bread or salt.
Journal of Rufas Putnam 1754.

and found an Indian by the river side, resting himself. All his provision was a dried eel;
John Bartram 1743.

We dined on parched meal, which is some of the Indian's best traveling provision. They take the corn and parch it in hot ashes, till it becomes brown, then clean it, pound it in a mortar and sift it; this powder is mixed
with maple sugar. About one gill, diluted in a pint of water, is a hearty traveling dinner.
John Bartram (1751) Travels In Pensilvania and Canada.

May 8th Friday Cloudy and warm, we continued at our incampment and made shift to Purchace half Bushel of Corn, which we Parched and Pounded to meal, which we thickened with water and sweeten'd with sugar and Drank for Diet….
Joel Watkins Journal* (1789)

They make also a certain sort of meal of parched maize. This meal they call nocake. It is so sweet, toothsome, and hearty, that an Indian will travel many days with no other food but this meal, which he eateth as he needs, and after it drinketh water. And for this end, when they travel a journey, or go a hunting, they carry this nocake in a basket or bag for their use.
Gookin 1674 http://plymoutharch.tripod.com/id226.html

The Last Frontier: Matzo Recipes: Regular and Gluten-Free

The Last Frontier: Matzo Recipes: Regular and Gluten-Free

Friday 15 April 2011

The Correct Way To Load A Flintlock Gun. Or The Way I Do It.

Flint Fusil.
Flint Rifle.

I am posting this information in response to an article recommended on another blog. Not all the information is correct in that article & to follow its instruction could be dangerous. When writing on such a subject in the public domain, one must be clear & precice & leave nothing that can be wrongly interpreted.

1) Always load with a seperate measure. NEVER load from the horn or a flask with or without an attached measure. Any ember inside the barrel will cause the powder to be fired, & this in turn would ignite the powder in a horn or flask if it were being used.
2) Load the gun first, and prime last. I know the original military way was to prime first and load second, but this is a dangerous practice. I DO NOT recommend priming first.
3) Original smoothbores did not used a patched ball. If you wish to use patching you may do so. Originally a wad or wadding was rammed down on top of the powder charge, then the ball, & then more wadding. Whether you use wadding or patch material, the ball MUST be firmly seated on top of the powder. NO GAP should exist between the powder and the wadding & ball or patched ball. IF you leave such a gap, the pressure at that point will quickly expand & can result in the barrel exploding. However, you should not ram so hard that it crushes the powder in the load. Just a steady firm push will do the job, & a light tamping so that you can feel it is firm.
4) When loading you can place a quill in the touch hole to prevent it from filling with powder. Alternately you can use your vent pick to ensure the touch hole/vent it not blocked with powder before priming. When you prime, you do so from the main horn, & you only use a very little gunpowder in the pan. Any excess should be wiped away.
5) If your gun is loaded but not primed & is not to be used immediately, place a quill in the vent/touch hole to remind you that the gun is still loaded. This serves two purposes: 1) it ensures you do not store a loaded gun, & 2) it stops you from loading the gun twice!
6) Always use a leather hammer cap. This is an added safety feature that will prevent your gun from accidently being fired.
7) The COCK holds the flint, & the flint strikes the HAMMER or STEEL.
8) Always use the correct grade gunpowder/Black Powder for your gun. NEVER load with FFFFG priming powder. A rough gauge for grades is: up to & including .45 cal, use FFFG/3FG.
From .50 cal upward use FFG/2Fg. Cannons to my knowledge use FG/1FG.
This is not carved in rock, you can use 3FG in a .50 cal, but you need to use less of it otherwise it will generate too much pressure.
9) Always replace the plug in your powder horn after use & before firing the gun. Whenever possible swing your powder horn to your rear/back after use & before firing. Gunpowder can become ingrained in/on the shaft of the plug, & a stray spark landing on the plug can ignite the ingrained powder.
10) If using a rifle, I recommend that you wipe the bore between shots to stop the build up of powder residue. If a ball gets stuck part way down the barrel when loading, DO NOT try & force it down, pull the load. If you are using one of the modern gas pressure methods to blow the ball out, make sure the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction as this method has been known to fire the load! Personally, I would wet the load by pouring water through the touch hole before pressurizing the barrel.
11) If you get a missfire/flash in the pan, keep the gun pointed in a safe direction & wait a few minutes before cleaning the vent with your vent pick & re priming. An ember could be lingering & could still fire the main charge.
12) If you have trouble with the gun not sparking, you can either replace the flint for a new one or knap a sharp edge on the old one. Wipe the flint & wipe the face of the hammer/steel. If the problem persists, the fault could be with the steels hardness or lack of it, or the hammer spring could be too strong or too weak.
13) When making your own powder horn, or purchasing one, ENSURE that the base plug is only sealed with beeswax & is NOT glued! Also ENSURE that the base plug is only secured with 6 or less small diameter one eighth of an inch pins of metal or wood. This is my personal preferance. IF the powder in the horn should ever take fire, the base plug should blow out of the horn & not explode the horn. If the base plug is secured with glue or too many pins or overly strong pins then this "safety valve" will not work. I recently had some communication with a chap who makes the most beautiful powder horns, & he assured me that he was taught & advised by an expert. This chap has been glueing the base plugs into his horns. Please check any horn you purchase carefully & recieve a gaurantee that the base plug is only secured with pins, & only sealed with beeswax.
14) NEVER place your hand over the ram rod or wiping stick when loading. If your ram rod is too short to hold when loading, get a LONGER ramrod!
15) Until you get used to knowing when your gun's load is properly seated, make a mark on your ramrod so you can tell when the load is properly seated. In this way you can also tell whether or not a gun is loaded. I have known second hand guns to be sold with a load already in the barrel! Always check, & keep that muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.
16) NEVER use smokeless gunpowder in a muzzle-loading gun, EVEN if the colour looks black! Only the correct "Black Powder" gun powder should be used. Any ammount of Smokeless powder creates TOO MUCH pressure for use in a muzzle-loading barrel. Smokeless powder will blow your gun up!

I realise that this information can sound scary, one mistake & you can blow yourself up. But really it is much like anything else. Learn to do it properly & the dangers are minimal. Far less dangerous than using a chainsaw!

Note the leather hammer cap tied to the trigger guard of this flint rifle.

Here you can see the hammer cap in place on the hammer on my fusil.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Colonial Women's Work.

During the 18th century, women�s work was extremely difficult, exhausting, and under appreciated. Most colonial women were homemakers who cooked meals, made clothing, and doctored their family as well as cleaned, made household goods to use and sell, took care of their animals, maintained a cook fire and tended the kitchen gardens. Middle class and wealthy women also shared some of these chores in their households, but they often had servants to help them.

Both men and women had great social pressure on them to marry. Young girls were often married by the age of 13 or 14. Women who were not married by the age of 25 were socially humiliated. Women married mostly for social and economic reasons, not for romantic ones. Once married, a woman became the legal property or chattel of her husband. Married women had no control of their earnings, inheritance, property, and also could not appear in court as a witness or vote. Husbands could legally beat their wives. If a woman ran away from her husband, she was considered a thief because she was stealing the clothes she was wearing and herself. If a man murdered his wife, he would be hung. If a woman murdered her husband, she would be burned alive.

Widows were better off. They had control over their property, but could only receive up to one-third of her late husband�s property. A widow could also vote in some areas, but often widows were not aware of this fact or chose not to vote. In addition, widows were pressured to get married as soon as possible. In some colonies, laws were proposed that forced widows to marry within 7 years after their husband�s death. Widows, however, were often married within a year if not sooner.

Given the difficult life that most colonial women faced, it should not be surprising that many frontier women, when captured in Indian raids chose not to return to their communities and spent the rest of their lives as adopted members of the tribe by whom they were captured. Follow this link for the story of one such captive.

Women's Work
Colonial housewives and cooks began their days very early by modern standards. They built the fire, carried water, gathered fresh fruits and vegetables for the day's meals from the kitchen garden, got meat from the smokehouse, and prepared breakfast. This meal usually consisted of mush with milk, which was sweetened with molasses. The mid-day meal, dinner, was the heaviest, generally served between noon and 3 pm. This meal was commonly a stew, the ingredients of which varied with the seasons. The advantage of serving stew was that it required little tending from the housewife and required only one pot. Puddings could also be steamed in fabric bags suspended above the cooking pot of stew. Individual portions of meat and vegetables were uncommon in the colonies until the 1700's, and then were had by well-to-do colonists. Supper, the evening meal, was generally warmed up leftovers.

Women trained girls to be wives and mothers by having them help around the house. Girls helped with cooking, preserving food, caring for children, cleaning the house, washing clothes and gardening. They milked cows, churned butter, and made cheese. Girls' work was important to cloth making. After the men and boys grew flax and sheared sheep, girls and single women did the spinning, knitting, sewing, and sometimes weaving. Girls spun wool and flax so that it could be woven into fabric or knitted into socks, hats, scarves, and mittens. They usually brought yarn to weavers to have cloth woven and they used the cloth to make clothing and sacks. Girls sewed by hand, with strong, tiny stitches that would hold clothes together during many washings over years of wear. Most girls became wives and mothers who worked on the farm and in the house. Some became midwives, servants, tavernkeepers, or school mistresses. Girls could not go to college.

Every Colonial housewife made a supply of candles in autumn. Candle rods, each with a row of wicks, were made by repeatedly dipping in big iron kettles of boiling water and melted tallow. This was an all-day, back-breaking job. Better candles were made by pouring the tallow into pewter molds, which made produced 6 to 24 candles. Store bought cotton twist, flax fibers, or the silky down from milkweed pods were used as wicks.

The Quilting Bee was an imporant means of socializing for colonial and pioneer women (and men). Through the winter months, the women would piece their quilt tops. Since there was no central heating in these homes, there was usually only one main heated room that was too crowded during the winter months for a quilt frame to be assembled. When the weather became warmer, an invitation was sent to the surrounding neighbors for the quilting bee. On the day of the quilting bee, the quilters would arrive early and begin marking the quilt top which had been put into the quilt frame by the hostess. Very often, plates, thimbles, and tea cups were used to mark the quilting patterns. The quilters would then being to quilt the top while exchanging conversation. The quilt had to be finished before the husbands showed up in the late afternoon when dinner was served to all. The hostess was given a chance to show off her cooking skills. After dinner, there was very often a square dance or country dance with fiddles accompanying the dancers. The quilting bee was an important part of the social life of these people and was surpassed only by religious gatherings.

© 1 October 2001, Portland State University

According to one of my readers, this article contains missinformation, & she recommends that you site the article at the following link:

My thanks to Isabella at http://www.blogger.com/profile/01420037377392425312 for bringing this to my attention.

The Wattle As Food and Etc.

Trying to find good images & information about Eastern Australian native plant foods is not easy. Information is scant, & few people are willing to say "this plant is edible". We have a lot of Acacia Wattles growing in our forest, but I have found it dificult to distinguish between the types. The following images are my own, & I believe them to be of the Black Wattle. However, the A. Dealbata or Silver Wattle is very similar, but appears to have the same uses.
I have chewed & sucked on the sap of this wattle & found it rather bland, little to no taste at all. I had no ill effects from chewing this sap whilst taking photos or afterwards. It has been almost 2 hours now & still no ill effects, however I did not swallow any of the sap except what disolved in my mouth.

Black Wattle.
Many wattles exude a gum either naturally or as a response to wounding. The gum of
several species in the Gardens was eaten. For some Aboriginal groups this was a snack food
or a food for children. The gum could also be disolved in water and nectar added to make a
drink – this was reportedly done with A. dealbata.

Acacia dealbata
Silver Wattle
• medium to large tree with grey-green feathery foliage, bright
yellow flowers in winter-spring followed by purple seed pods
• very fast growing, prefers deep moist soils, semi shade
• food source for possums, sugar gliders, caterpillars and birds
• Aborigines used gum as a source of food, medicine and fibres,
seeds were eaten and wood used for weapons and tools
• watercourses, floodplains, sheltered slopes
• tolerates a wide range of soil types

Acacia mearnsii
Black Wattle
• medium to large tree with dark green feathery foliage, scented
pale yellow flowers in spring-summer
• very fast growing, prefers dry well drained soils, full sun, often
subject to borer attack
• food source for sugar gliders, caterpillars and birds
• Aborigines used wood for weapons and tools, gum as a food
source and adhesive, bark for its fibres and medicine
• exposed and sheltered slopes, ridges, plains

*Be careful not to mistake for the introduced Early Black Wattle*

Black Wattle.
The sap was prized as a food or drink dissolved in water with a dash of sweet wattle flower nectar and a few formic ants for a lemony flavour and quenching drink, a treat during their long journeys across the woodland landscape.

Mixed with ash when melted, it plugged holes in their water carrying vessels and watercraft.

The sap was so important that they melted and mixed it with burnt mussel shells or ashes and carried it about in balls when on walkabout.

When the black wattle was in full flower, the men of the aboriginal bands sharpened their flint headed spears. They understood that the flowering provided nature's indication that the roots were in the best condition for eating following a lush grazing period on the succulent, springtime grasslands and grassy woodlands.

During winter insects, birds and marsupials are hosted by the black wattle with the aid of their supplies of nectar in their leaf axials. These creatures provide an important predatory role to deal with tree die back caused by scarab beetles and pasture pests.

Black wattles, along with gums, native box, native hop form the framework vegetation on so-called "Hill-topping" sites. They are often isolated remnant pockets of native vegetation amongst a lower sea of exotic pasture. These "Hill topping" sites are critical habitat for male butterflies to attract females for mating, which then lay their eggs under the wattle's bark elsewhere but still within close proximity. It's the only acceptable mating site in the area for these butterflies.

Black wattle flowers provide very nitrogen rich pollen with no nectar. They attract pollen-feeding birds such as our Wattle Birds, Yellow Throated Honey Eaters and New Holland Honey Eaters. The protein rich nectar in the leaf axials is very sustaining for nurturing the growth of juvenile nestlings and young invertebrates, e.g. ants.

The Early Black Wattle, also known as Queen Wattle as far as I can tell looks just like the Silver Wattle & the Black Wattle!!! So how one is supposed to tell them apart I have no idea! If anyone out there does know the difference, PLEASE let me know.

My thanks to Karl for the following information.
Hey Keith,

In answer to your question...

6. Leaflets 1-4 mm long, adult leaflets hairless on upper surface and densely hairy on lower surface.
Flowers pale yellow to cream. Pods circular in cross section,
hairy and deeply constricted between seeds..................................................................*A. mearnsii (Mearns Black Wattle)

6. Leaflets 5-15 mm long, adult leaflets hairless or with a few marginal hairs. Flowers
golden yellow. Pods flat, hairless and only slightly constricted between seeds..............*A. decurrens (Early Black Wattle)
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