Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tying It All Together.

August  27th  -  Day #2

(Natural Cordage & Rope, Bow Fire Drill Set, Plant Walk, Snack Time)

Woke at 0630 for an Oats, honey & raisins breakfast which is great energy for the morning and seems it will be part of my routine throughout the fall semester. I brought along an entire case of Yukons' Gold, so the class will have plenty of orange blossom honey for teas, coffee, biscuits, oatmeal etc. I don't believe I've ever been so excited to learn such useful knowledge!

Natural Cordage & Rope

If you're in need of securing or fastening something together there are many solutions in the natural world. Creating cordage out of grass, roots, saplings, and even the fibers of plants such as dogbane, nettle and velvet leaf. The plant fibers are much easier to process after the first frost when the plants are dying. We all made 2 ply cordage out of tall grass found on the roadside and when a piece was big enough two students would play tug of war to demonstrate how durable it can be. I harvested about 8 dogbane plants to remove fibers on the inside of the stalk. Very tedious work as the material is much smaller then bundles of grass yet surprisingly one strand of dogbane fiber is nearly impossible for one person to tug on and break. Impressive stuff!  I decided to make a bracelet after making a few feet of cord then doubling it over on itself, came out great (since this is back logged) I've never taken it off and the dogbane bracelet thus far has lasted over 3 months on my wrist.
Following the natural cordage instruction we all made our own 30ft ropes using bale twine and an old fashioned hand cranked rope making machine. Three pieces of twine were doubled over and stretched between two parts of the rope making device. As the crank was spun the three individual pieces of twine tightly spun themselves together then by sliding the rope divider tool it would allow the three peices of twine to wrap around eachother creating the rope. We tied knots on both ends which holds the braiding work from becoming loose. This rope making technique is over 200 years old and first appeared in the American Midwest in the 1800s as farmers needed a more efficient way to make replacement hoist rope for lifting harvested hay into the upper floors of the barn for storage.

Fire Bow Drills
We are not creating fire by friction today, just harvesting the material for our Bow Drill sets and getting into the fire making later. We began by learning how to section & limb speckled Alder trees using just our knives and utilizing a "rose cut", you can accomplish A LOT with quality knife.  So, there are four parts to your Bow Drill set, the fire board, spindle, hand hold and the bow. The bow should be light, sturdy and the length of your shoulder to fingertip (a natural arc in the bow is also helpful). In theory any string would work but nylon would be best, so tie your string from one end of the bow to the other.  For your spindle and fire board you want to use a soft wood such as Alder, Cedar, Poplar, Basswood, Willow etc. Keep in mind, If the wood is green "alive" then you need to wait a few days for it to dry. The spindle should be about 6 inches in length & thumb width as you whittle it into shape and the fire board should be flat on both sides in a rectangular shape and about 1 inch thick. For the hand hold you can use anything such as a hard wood, a rock, or bone (the idea is to use something that will give little to no friction). In a few days after these components have had a chance
to dry in the sun we will come back to them for fire by friction instruction.

Plant Walk

On our  plant walk this afternoon we talked about, identified and pressed 8 plant species :)

Sheep Sorrel:
Lemony, tangy tart flavor.
Delicious in a salad :)
St. John's Wort
Known Herbal treatment
for depression.

- Plantago major  (Plantain)
- Rumex Acetosella  (Sheep Sorrel)
- Chrysanthemum leucanthemum  (Ox-eye Daisy)
- Taraxacum officinale  (Dandelion)
- Abies balsamea  (Balsam Fir)
-  Hypericum perforatum  (St. Johns wort)
-  Prunus spp.  (Pin-Cherrys)
-  Usnea cavernosa  (Pitted Beard "old mans beard")


Grasshoppers glazed with a honey & brown sugar mix, fried up in a pan for a delightful afternoon snack.

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