Wednesday 25 September 2013

Cooking Utensils For Wilderness Living.

Cooking Utensils For Wilderness Living.
Now there is no doubt that a variety of cooking utensils are useful, but are they really necessary? When you are carrying everything on your back, weight and bulk is a concern, because you need to priorities. The items of major importance for me are: water, gunpowder, lead, and food. So let’s take a look at what is available to you for cooking that will satisfy all your needs.
I carry food in bags inside my kettle which site sideways into my knapsack and sits squarely in the middle of my back, which is a comfortable feeling!!! 

I chose to carry a trade kettle because to me it is the most versatile piece of equipment. I can use it as a bucket for carrying water or berries; I can boil water for purification or for a hot drink. It will cook stews nicely and boil dry foods. If I want to cook bread I can do it on a hot rock or in the ashes. If I want to roast meat I can put it on a stick in front of the fire. I do not need to fry my foods so I do not need a skillet or a frying pan. This saves me a lot of weight and bulk.

I also carry a tin cup, so if I am cooking a meal in my kettle, I can still get myself a hot drink by boiling the water in my tin cup. There is evidence of this being done in the 18th century, as the remains of tin cups have been found with replacement wire handles, the original handles being soldered on having fallen off in the heat of the fire. 
The pot hook I make from a piece of wood easily enough with my clasp knife, so there is nothing else I need to carry. My wooden spoon and my hunting knife serve as eating utensils.
Take care on the trail.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Australian Survival and Preppers..: 1080 Poisoning Video.

Australian Survival and Preppers..: 1080 Poisoning Video.: The use by the government, land holders and farmers of 1080 poison is killing our native wildlife. It is also polluting our water supplies w...

Saturday 21 September 2013

Plant Tinders Part 3.

Plant Tinders Part 2

Plant Tinders.

Wilderness Preparation of Plant Tinders. The Tinderbox.

Flint and Steel Fire lighting Without Charred Cloth.

Pocket Soup.

Portable soup was devised in the 18th century by boiling seasoned meat until a thick, resinous syrup was left that could be dried and stored for months at a time.

Period Foods.

 "Pocket soup" was carried by colonial travellers, as it could easily be reconstituted with a little hot water. 


Thursday 19 September 2013

Monday 16 September 2013

Woodsrunner Trail Foods.

Woodsrunner Trail Foods.
The trail foods of the woodsrunner consisted of what they could grow on their farms, or purchase from farmers and Indians, plus what they could hunt or trap. Dried meat and bread appears to be a common trail food as well as dried corn. The three sisters, corn, beans & pumpkin can all be dried and carried to be used in stews.

Flour could be carried for making rough bread cakes either in the ashes of the camp fire, or on a hot rock in the fire place. Deer, bear, beaver, eel, fowl and fish all receive mention as being eaten by woodsmen and travelers.

I think they started their journey eating the fresh foods first that they had brought with them, which may have been bread and meat. After that they would shoot game and again have fresh meat with bread or stew it with dried corn & dried pumpkin and perhaps beans as well. If game was not to be found, then they would fall back on their provision of dried meat, either making camp bread from their flour supply, or again adding the dried meat to corn and dried pumpkin to make a stew.
Dried Pumpkin.

“Now the Indians gather their forces to go against Northampton. Over night one went about yelling and hooting to give notice of the design.  Whereupon they fell to boiling of ground nuts, and parching of corn (as many as had it) for their provision; and in the morning away they went.  
During my abode in this place, Philip spake to me to make a shirt for his boy, which I did, for which he gave me a shilling.  I offered the money to my master,
but he bade me keep it; and with it I bought a piece of horse flesh.  Afterwards he asked me to make a cap for his boy, for which he invited me to dinner.  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 pleasantr 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; but the proud gossip, because I served them both in one dish, would eat nothing, except one bit that he gave her upon the point of
his knife.  
Hearing that my son was come to this place, I went to see him, and found him 
lying flat upon the ground.  I asked him how he could sleep so?  He answered me that he was not asleep, but at prayer; and lay so, that they might not observe
what he was doing.  I pray God he may remember these things now
he is returned in safety. 
 At this place (the sun now getting higher) what with the beams and heat of the sun, and the smoke of the wigwams, I thought I should have been blind.  I could
scarce discern one wigwam from another.  There was here one Mary Thurston of 
Medfield, who seeing how it was with me, lent me a hat to wear; but as soon as I was gone, the squaw (who owned that Mary Thurston) came running after me, and got it away again.  
Here was the squaw that gave me one spoonful of meal. I put it in my pocket to 
keep it safe.  Yet notwithstanding, somebody stole it, but put five Indian corns in the room of it; which corns were the greatest provisions I had in my travel 
for one day. Then I went into another wigwam, where they were boiling corn and 

They brought me two biscuits

The chief and commonest food was ground nuts.  They eat also
nuts and acorns, artichokes, lilly roots, ground beans, and
several other weeds and roots, that I know not.
They would pick up old bones, and cut them to pieces at the
joints, and if they were full of worms and maggots, they would
scald them over the fire to make the vermine come out, and then
boil them, and drink up the liquor, and then beat the great ends
of them in a mortar, and so eat them.  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; besides
all sorts of creatures, and provision which they plundered from
the English.”


"It is Indian corn parched in the hot ashes, the ashes being sifted from it; it is afterwards beaten to powder and put into a long leatherne bag trussed at the Indian's backe like a knapsacke, out of which they take three spoonsful a day."
William Wood 1634.
Author's corn patch.

“leaving me by myself, without bread, salt or sugar,”
Daniel Boone 1770.
This last quote from Boone suggests that he may have been carrying tea, coffee or chocolate for which he needed sugar. The bread and salt were no doubt to eat with fresh meat.

"Set off on our journey for Oswegotchy, against a
rapid stream, and being long in it, and our provisions
running short, the Indians put to shore a little before
night. My lot was to get wood, others were ordered to get
fires and some to hunt. 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."
Robert Eastman 1759.

“On the 17th day, we crossed the neck to the east branch of Susquehanah...At 11 we dressed our dinner and found an Indian by the river side, resting himself.  All his provision was a dried eel; this he made us a present of, and we gave him a share of our dinner." John Bartram 1743.

Maintenance and Fabrication at Fort Pentagoet 1635-1 654 Products of an Acadian Armorer’s Workshop


Tuesday 10 September 2013

Rogers Rangers Standing Orders 1759.

Rogers Rangers Standing Orders 1759.
1. Don't forget nothing.
2. Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.
3. When you're on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.
4. Tell the truth about what you see and do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all you please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don't never lie to a Ranger or officer.
5. Don't never take a chance you don't have to.
6. When we're on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can't go through two men.
7. If we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast, so it's hard to track us.
8. When we march, we keep moving 'til dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.
9. When we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.
10. If we take prisoners, we keep 'em separate 'til we have had time to examine them, so they can't cook up a story between 'em.
11. Don't ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won't be ambushed.
12. No matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, twenty yards on each flank and twenty yards in the rear, so the main body can't be surprised and wiped out.
13. Every night you'll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force.
14. Don't sit down to eat without posting sentries.
15. Don't sleep beyond dawn. Dawn's when the French and Indians attack.
16. Don't cross a river by a regular ford.
17. If somebody's trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.
18. Don't stand up when the enemy's coming against you. Kneel down. Hide behind a tree.
19. Let the enemy come 'till he's almost close enough to touch. Then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.
20. Don't use your musket if you can kill 'em with your hatchet.

School of the Renaissance Artisan: Waiting for the other shoe to drop...

School of the Renaissance Artisan: Waiting for the other shoe to drop...: Some things I learned today: Wooden shoes are really quite difficult to walk in,  The Dutch call them 'Klompen' from which we ap...

Friday 6 September 2013

One Blanket Winter Camping.

One Blanket Winter Camping.

It can get very cold here in New England NSW, but there are places where it can get much colder. So be mindful of the areas you camp in when applying my methods to your Historical Treks.
I only carry one wool blanket all year round. Rather than add the bulk & weight of extra blankets or furs, I prefer to rely on the warmth from a reflector fire built close to my open fronted shelter, and the use of extra clothing. In my blanket roll I carry a wool Monmouth cap, a wool waistcoat, and a woolen shirt. At night in winter I make sure that the clothes I have on are not damp from the day’s exertions, and then I put on these extra clothing items on top of the clothing I already wearing.

I also wear a half-blanket as a cape over my shoulders and pinned together at the front. This too is worn on cold nights, and if too warm to wear on the trail, then I simply drape it over my knapsack. Now I am not saying that this method is comfortable, or that it keeps me warm all night. I am simply saying that I can manage to live this way in the bush. I do not expect to be as comfortable as I would be in my bed at home, I am resigned to the fact that this simply is the way it is if I want to carry less weight and less bulk.
The same applies to my bed, which is simply made of sticks. If there is no snow on the ground, then I may collect some dead bracken to lay upon my bed of sticks. This method keeps me up off the cold ground, and allows any flowing water from rain to flow under me and out again. I store dry kindling inside my shelter just in case my fire should go out in the night, and I build up a good supply of firewood at the side of my shelter nearest my head so I can stoke the fire in the night without leaving my blanket. The close fire also allows me to cook food and boil water for hot drinks in rain or snow without having to leave my shelter and get wet.
Take care.


Sunday 1 September 2013

The 18th Century Woodsman as a Survivalist.

The 18th Century Woodsman as a Survivalist.
Plant tinders in the author's tinderbox.

Being an 18th century woodsman and participating in Historical Trekking means more than just posturing. Yes charred cloth was used in the 18th century as a tinder for making fire, but it was not used by woodsmen in the wilderness. Some would be woodsman choose to carry a percussion gun, but the fact is, woodsmen did not carry a percussion gun because (a) it was not invented in the 18th century, and (b) which is more important, percussion locks are not suitable for survival in the wilderness. You are better off flinching and getting used to a flinter than you are relying on percussion caps.

The woodsman’s hunting knife was more often than not a butcher knife. With a blade between 7 and 12 inches it was well suited to skinning, butchering and self-defence. So think about what your hunting knife is meant to be used for before purchasing. The same goes for the tomahawk. The tomahawk was the 18th century trade axe, and it was designed as a practicle tool and weapon. The round poll and the square poll tomahawks were used for shelter construction, making pegs and stakes and driving them into the ground. They could also be used in the butchering of game, for fighting, and for throwing; either for hunting or in battle. Hammer poll tomahawks will split stakes when driving into the ground, and the poll on a pipe tomahawk is only of any use for smoking. If you want to smoke a pipe, carry a pipe.
The author's blades that he always carries in the woods; tomahawk, hunting knife, friction clasp knife, and a legging knife.

Now here is a tip that I learnt from a very close personal and family friend who went under some years ago. Shane was an ex Ranger, and he suffered with painful feet when wearing moccasins. But instead of looking for alternate footwear, he compromised authenticity by adding just the foot part of a pair of modern thongs (flip flops, jangles) as an inner sole. Personally I think this is a great idea. I guess if you are like me and prefer not to compromise authenticity in this way, you could just simply add leather inner soles and see if that does the job.

I do a lot of research, but I can’t find information on a lot of things that I would like to find. In order to determine what items might be carried by certain types of 18th century people, it is necessary to use experimental archaeology. Again we must think of the woodsman as a survivalist, but having said that, some woodsmen were smarter than others. There is no definitive answer to why some people did certain things and others did not. Family tradition would no doubt often play a part, e.g. “my Father never bothered to carry an oilcloth so I don’t either”. There are records of grose incompetence by some woodsmen that fairly boggles the brain. The only thing we can do is actually use our equipment and decide for ourselves on what we carry, how we carry it, and what period methods we use to look after our equipment and tools.
You may only be able to get into the woods for a weekend, but you must imagine that you are going to be in the woods for a lot longer. This has a very practicle point to it aside from an authenticity point of view. You can never be sure what is going to happen to you out there. You may literally find yourself in a survival situation. This has happened to me more than once, and if I had not payed attention to carrying the right gear, I may not be here right now.

Think about it.