Sunday, 27 February 2011

Looking for Spring

Myself and Gary had the chance for a morning dander last Wednesday around Clements wood outside Larne and there was a lot of evidence Spring is just around the corner. I had just purchased a new camera so i got the chance to try it out. 

Pussy Willow (salix discolor) a true sign spring is close.

Catkins and new buds starting to burst on Hazel (corylus)

Fresh new growth on Black pine (Pinus Nigra.)

The brook is in full swing water crystal clear even after the recent rain.

Pendunculate or English Oak (Quercus robur) showing new buds through the old leaves.

Some signs of active wild life a chance to practice my wildlife photography!

Steady does it not a sound.

Typical feeding pattern of the 'Garyisius Minnissbis'

Spotted and its attacking!

Plentiful supply of thin Willow wands for pruning.

Pignut (Conopodium Majus) Showing the leaf as it emerges from the ground. Note the white stalk which is very delicate and needs careful handling when diging or it will break and the tasty tuber will be lost.

Close up of the leaf.

Leaf stalks and tuber in one.

Tasty tuber after cleaning.

Lesser Celendine (Ranunculas ficaria) at this stage the leaves can be eaten and have a high vit. C content. Underground the tubers look like anal piles hence the old name for this plant Pilewort. The tubers can be steamed boiled or roasted like potatoes but must always be cooked before eating.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Ulster Guides Training Day

We had a very enjoyable day with the Adult Instructors from Girl Guiding Ulster at their Headquarters at Lorne House where we continued with a series of training days where we are helping to develop their Bushcraft skills.
The theme of the days training was Wild Meat and it's preparation. To coin a phrase from Respected Bushcraft Instructor, Patrick McGlinchey, we wanted to provide "Something from the Land, the Air and the Water". To this end, we had Rabbit, Pheasant and Trout for the students to work with. After getting a long log fire going, we proceeded with a talk about the importance of meat in the survival diet and then got stuck into the preparation of the wild meat.

Gary demonstrates preparation of the Pheasants and the Rabbits

Paul showing how to Ponasse the Trout

Some of the Game available on the day.

Setting of the Long Log fire

Gary "Drawing" a Pheasant. This is where the bird's internals are removed.

Davy showing how a Figure 4 Dead-fall trap works.

Unfortunately, at the moment, I am having a few problems uploading additional pictures. When the problem is resolved, I'll add some more images from what was a really enjoyable day.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Long term shelter

A few years back, I was involved with a project to build a long term group shelter that could be used over a number of seasons. The construction was to be of a "Stacked debris type" roundhouse that would be made from a twin wall with the centre packed with forest floor debris to aid insulation. The roof would also be covered in forest floor debris but would have a hole in the centre of the roof to enable us to use an internal fire.

First thing to do was to install 4 central "Y" posts which would provide the apex of the roof.

Around this went an outer double ring of upright posts

We wove lengths of willow, holly and bramble between the uprights and then filled the internal space with debris from the forest floor. It was a long and labour intensive task. It took 6 of us all day just
to complete the circular wall of this shelter. We did stay within the walls that night, but used our tarps to form the roof. The shelter was very warm, even though it was late October.

Next day saw us begin work on the roof. This was done by placing long poles from the apex posts down to the wall tops. This was covered by finer brush wood and would be eventually covered in forest floor debris

     Here you can see the construction of the roof. We had also added a raised fireplace in the centre.

Here you can see the entrance to the shelter

Here you can see the roof beginning to be covered by forest floor debris. The fine sticks etc help to stop the debris from falling through.

The roof covered.

Interior of the completed shelter

This picture shows the hole in the roof that allows smoke to escape from the shelter.

This type of shelter is not one to attempt if you are short of food or in ill health. It was a lot of hard work and we burnt off a lot of calories building it. It would, however, provide you with a sustainable long term shelter that could be used over many seasons.

Wood Sprite

I had brought a piece of apple wood home from a family holiday in France and decided to have a go at carving a wood Sprite face into it. Here's the result.