Sunday, 24 July 2011

Badger watching and sore hands!

On Friday evening I set out up to the badger set in the woods to sit and watch through the evening.
Along the path leading to the site, I reached the section that I knew I would have to start acting quietly and add on some warm layers after the walk up. I had no sooner stopped when I heard some scampering about coming towards me. Low and behold it was a badger running up the path that stopped a few yards in front of me, sniffed the ground and came a bit closer, then looked up got a good wiff of me as the wind was unfortunately behind me, and promptly legged it.

I thought that would be it for the night and that I would have scarred them for the evening, but 30 seconds later two more did exactly the same thing. i can only assume they were youngsters out playing. Brilliant to see them so close though, and I wouldn't have expected to see then on this path.

After this I very carefully found my spot further into the wood, and sat against my tree. 10 minutes later one then two very cautious badgers were feeding near the entrance to the set, their eyes shining with the last of the light.
A great night.

The sore hands....well I'm practising Hand drill again and I've bruised them working against a lime board. Going out to hunt for some clematis and if unsuccessful I'll dig out some Willow from the woodpile. The drills are Elder and seem to have good dimensions and are nice and straight. I collected them over a year a go and dryed them in the sun last and this summer.

Managed some successful bow drills though using different kits, lit a fire and cooked up some dandelion roots to add to my rice and bacon for dinner. They are lovely cooked in the embers/ash and also chopped up and boiled with the rice.




Looking forward to a minimal kit camp out in a week or two, making shelter, clean water, fire and food.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Home-made Squirrel buckskin and pouch.

During the wild food course last year, I skinned and butchered  a squirrel, and we cooked him up over the fire. Very nice it was too. I saved the hide, and popped it salted up into the freezer.

I finally got it out last week to preserve it and try my hand at Tanning. First of all I scrapped it free of remaining flesh and then the epidermis layer.

Lacking the brains (quiet at the back there!) I made a solution of 2 fresh eggs and two heaped tablespoons of egg mayonnaise,  rubbed it into the scrapped hide well and popped it into a plastic bag overnight.



Unfortunately the hair slipped. I thought this would not happen until a couple of days in water. Well, I just thought I'd carry on as I had got this far, so removed the hair, and started to dry out and work the skin for a few hours until soft and flexible.





Then a smoking session over some old horses hoof fungi. I've loads of these lying around and these had decayed so were just the thing as I was lacking in punk wood.




As I had been working it, I folded it over and it lent itself to a small pouch without hardly any removal needed, so trimmed it up and made a simple money bag, with some linen thread. The pull cord is 4 strands of the thread twisted up into cordage.




I just need to make a wooden bead for securing the pull cord.
A lot of work for a small piece, but interesting to do and hopefully a long lasting pouch with a story.

Paul :)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Great British Countryside

A walk around my local area today, just a wander about and a brew.
Thought I would try out the phone camera today, not great but with a tweak here and there they get the message across.












I'm very lucky to live here with all this and more on my doorstep. It was nice to catch up with some basic tracking and walking again. Plenty of game trails and a large active badger set and warren were highlights of the day, along with a good spot of therapy for the old knees.

Monday, 4 July 2011

1920's Wooden road workers caravan - restoration.

Part time over the last several months as part of a volunteer programme at work, we have been undertaking the restoration of an old relic that had been rotting away in the corner of one of our sites. Long ago it had been given up on and probably would have been too far gone to repair, had the eagle eyes of our project leader Steff not spied it out on a trip.




We decided to relocate it as it was, to a site in the North of Derbyshire, where we could easily work on it, and ultimately use it for the use of teaching crafts to members of the public.

Shifting it however got the old grey matter twitching a little. It was located in the corner of  an old estate yard with no wheels and rusty hubs, and needed to be moved into position with an entrance and hard standing track, so that we could then call in the services of a HIAB Lorry to crane it away and up the M1 to its new home. So it was down to my colleague and I with our Landrover winches in tandem and some wooden skis to drag it into place.



..... and away she went, hurrah!



Then we stripped all the wood off the outside, all the floor and all the roof ! Knocked out the large replacement window circa the 70's and replaced it with one to match the others which are smaller, and slide open and shut.
All the metal chassis was wire-brushed and painted, and all the floor, roof (including new beech spars) and sides replaced with new pine tongue and grove.

The gaffers look on...


...at the workers :) That was one coooooold day hence the layers.





New doors were fitted, and we have started to paint it with its first coat


Benches fitted with lifting seats so that materials can be stored within.



Once we can get back together for a few more sessions she should be one unique classroom and a nice cosy retreat in the winter, and I'll post some more picture then.
 We doubt it will be on the road again as time and money probably wont allow, but its going to provide a great service to the community instead of being scrapped.