Monday, 10 January 2011

More Tracks in the snow

After another plump of snow hits the countryside Davy K. used it to full advantage getting some more cracker shots of animal tracks. As Davy has shown and is a very good idea, is to carry a small measuring device that can be placed beside the track for reference of size as this can help to id the sex and size of the animal that left the tracks.

A lovely shot of a typical Fox track pattern.

Nice close up showing the size against a tape measure.

Slightly deeper snow this is evident by the slight dragging marks where the Fox has made contact with the snow surface while lifting its legs.

Another close up from a different angle you can make out the nail marks which are just one difference between a domestic dog and a fox. A dogs nails are so worn due to walking on the hard surfaces where as a Foxes rarely wear to this degree which make them prominent in a track.

Another nice close up showing a distinct pad pattern.

These tracks are made by a rodent most people dont like Rattus norvegicus or the brown rat. You can tell the difference between the front and hind feet of a rodent.  The hind feet have 5 toes the 3 middle being bunched and parallel where as the front feet have 4 toes each equally spaced apart.

Another shot of rat tracks. You can make out the drag mark which is caused by the tail.

Here is a very good example of a rat hind print in mud showing the 5 toes, 3 central toes bunched and equally spaced.

Track Photos by david Kennedy

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Making Beef Jerky at home.

Drying meat is an age old process used for preserving it for longer periods of time. This meat is often dried using only the wind and perhaps a little smoke from a small fire which has the purpose of not cooking the meat, but of using the smoke to keep flies off it. The meat can be seasoned with whatever you have available. This usually involved applying salt to the meat which would also help in it's preservation, but other flavorings etc can also be used.

Jerky is a firm favourite in our house, though I cannot tell you how long it keeps for as it only lasts a few days before it gets all used! Now I'm not drying this in the outdoors, though we have smoked and dried venison using a stone smoker, but the preparation is the same. This is my recipe

A good quantity of Salt and Crushed Black Pepper

Juniper berries, which get crushed as well

Mix all the dry ingredients

Soy sauce, Worcester sauce, Balsamic Vinegar and Tabasco

Mix them all together.

Top side of Beef (Most lean meats can be used)

Remove as much fat and membrane as possible as fat can quickly go rancid, even after the drying process

Prepared Beef

For ease of slicing, I cut the joint in two.

Cut the meat into thin slices

3 or 4 mm thick

Once sliced, mix the meat with the spices and flavourings. Put it in the fridge to marinate for as long as possible. I like to leave mine for at least 24 hours.

After marinading, remove the meat, put each slice into a cocktail stick and hang in a fan over, using the over grids to support the hanging meat.

Loading the meat into the oven

The oven is now full and we are ready to dry the meat. I put the oven onto it's lowest setting, in my case it's a defrost setting which has basically no heat, just the internal fan running. I leave the oven door open a tiny fraction and leave the beef to dry. this can take from 8 to 10 hours. I usually leave mine drying overnight.
Jerky is now dried and ready to eat

Back Garden Visit

I get lots of feathered visiters to my back garden and have had a good number of game birds come to our bird table in the past, but this one was very friendly, even taking a little seed from my hand.

New Year Meet Up

We organised a New Year Meet up on the 2nd of January 2011 at Carnfunnock Country Park, enjoying a winter walk and trying to ID plants and trees without their usual coat of leaves and fruit etc. On returning to camp, everyone carved feather sticks which we lit using only Firesteels (Fero Rods)
We then set everyone a fire challenge, where they had 15 minutes to gather materials and light a fire using only flint and steel to light their fire. We finished off by doing some flint knapping. Here's a few pictures from the day.

Phil Maxwell Lighting cat tail seed with his firesteel (Fero rod)

Chris Tweed kindly brought along a Lawson hammock for us to look at.

Chris and Cheryl putting the Hammock up

Paul and Chris discussing the merits of the Lawson system in comparison to the Hennessy and DD hammocks

Paul relaxing in the Lawson Hammock

Davy Kennedy's Demo fish hook

Neil blowing wind dried grass to flame

Fire going. Notice the carefully graded sequence to the fire lighting materials

Smoke gets in your eyes!. It sure does here anyway, with the smoke seeming to only go into Phil's face!

Materials graded, Phil sets about coaxing the fire to life.


Davy's fire getting established

Cheryl using a dry flower head as her tinder. It worked extremely well.

More success

Davy contemplating the shape of the ladle he want's to carve!!

Bamboo shaving.