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Sunday, 22 March 2015

Potato Bread in the Woods.

It's worth treating yourselves a little, isn't it? and one thing we all love here in Northern Ireland is potato bread. It's called fadge in certain places and potato cake in others but it's basically all the same thing.
and it's incredibly simple to make. You can use either dehydrated potato for convenience or left over boiled potatoes, flour and if desired a knob of butter and a little salt.
mix the potatoes until it's soft and fluffy then mix in flour (salt and butter if desired)
flatten it into a patty about 1/4 of an inch thick, and cook in a dry or lightly oiled pan
and that's it, it's gorgeous and nutritious. you can always add extras to it as well to flavour it..
like any wild green, or even herbs or spices
it would be easy to replicate this with burdock or cattail root and powdered nut flour or cattail pollen or anything similar.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Difficulties with young plant ID

I saw a lady picking a lot of young wild garlic today, it's only starting to show and she was tearing up all she could find. After she moved on I went to the patch she'd been in to see how much was gone, and there must have been 30sq feet of forest floor raided, that's a lot of garlic, but she'd have gotten a lot more if she'd left it to grow.
However there was a problem, in her ardour to gather the wild edibles she'd been taking all growing plants she could find and she inadvertently took a lot of something else too - Bluebells!
It's, I suppose, not a difficult mistake to make, as you can see above, wild garlic on the left, bluebell on the right, they can look slightly similar as they are starting to grow.
But I hope she goes through her takings when she gets home, as a belly full of bluebell leaves could cause you some serious discomfort!!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ireland Bushcraft Expo March 2015

Well. we're back, and how was it you ask? 
Well the wise old owl said if you have nothing nice to say say nothing at all!! But... it was pretty badly organised, from the moment we received an email the night before telling us to lower our expectations to finding that they hadn't a clue about ticket collection to finding out that the organizer hadn't organised it properly... at all.
The emailed itinerary failed to materialize, as did nearly all the activities it mentioned, and it left most people scratching their heads.

very little activities meant a lot of people left after a short while

fire making was non existent.. and as for the traps!!!

I stood looking at these for a few minutes before I realised what they were supposed to be, embarrassing is an understatement and I won't humiliate the resident 'instructors' any further by picturing their efforts at shelter building!!!!

But every cloud has a silver lining and we did meet some old friends and made some new ones, (namely Gary at Wildwoods who had the best set up by far at the whole thing), which is what the bushcraft community should be all about. 
Their was some good quality surplus kit for sale and Roy of Paracord Ireland went out of his way to talk, demonstrate and offer advice, and even give out freebies, a great bloke.

The meet was set in the grounds of the Irish Memorial War Museum which was an incredibly good visit and made the whole trip worthwhile, so a very big thankyou to William and the guys who made our day by showing us round and giving us great food for thought, hopefully our paths will cross again soon.


We've had approaches from a few people connected with the event and some have requested to have their position put forward, I think that's a fair proposition, so I will include an extract I received from one of the contributors.

"The content providers were not involved in the organisation and found ourselves in the same boat as the visitors. Some of the content providers got together on the Saturday night to try and improve the situation for the sunday, though of course we could only work with what we had available. Many of us put in a lot of extra work by taking on extra activities, re-organising the stalls, writing a new schedule and organising some basic signage, Unfortunately it appeared that it was not enough to salvage the situation. As we were told it was for charity, as far as I know, none of us requested anything more than travel expenses, some even less than nothing...."


Monday, 2 March 2015

Snow Good, or is it.

Had a few people in the past refuse to go out into the woods because it had been snowing! I can't see the problem at all, as a matter of fact all it does is set a new set of challenges that should be grasped and utilised, the more environments you are used to the greater your skill set.
for a start, you have a ready source of drinking water that doesn't need filtering or purifying (if you use common sense as to where you collect it), you also have possible shelter materials if it's deep enough
secondly it highlights dead standing tinder and kindling materials, generally the air will be less humid due to the snow so the fire materials have a good chance of being ready to use straight away.
and thirdly it allows easy tracking ( these were hooded crow tracks).
with all these benefits I can't understand why someone would refuse to go out when it snows,
expand your knowledge- increase your skills- adapt to your environment!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Rain Water for Tea

Today was a pretty dour day, it poured continually, but every cloud has a silver lining and we didn't need to bring any drinking water
we put the tarp up to enable us to catch water as easily as possible, within 20 minutes we had 2 litres of pure water, rain water can be drunk without any purification at all, I tried a few cups and it was delicious!
Davy scooped out the water into a 12cm zebra billy, it filled it with about the same left in the tarp
can't get much purer than that!
and on the fire for a brew, nature provides and its up to us to make use of it.
By the end of the day we reckon we could have collected 2 gallons of pure water, an easy way to get your necessary fluids.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Freestanding A Frame Survival Shelter

This is the simplest and most basic of all shelters, it doesn't require a fire for heat and if made well it insulates and waterproofs for a relatively decent nights rest.
A few friends made one to see how quickly it could be put together
The start of the construction, no modern materials allowed (knives or saws or cordage) all had to be taken directly from the forest floor.
I've slept in these before and when the books say to keep them small to preserve heat I can understand the reason why, but I found them quite claustrophobic and when I turned I kept hitting the side walls and dislodging the debris, so best, I feel, to allow for a little extra space and forsake a little of the insulating properties.
Don't forget to insulate the floor of these ( you can see the bed of leaves inside) sleeping directly on cold ground will steal your heat faster than you can believe, although I'd prefer spruce boughs, leaves will do at a pinch.
About halfway through the build and with the leaf litter starting to be piled on..
and the completed structure, it's incredible how well it blends into the natural surroundings, we had people walk past within 20 feet of it and they didn't even notice it's existence!!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Psychology of Shelter

We recently got the old chute out to give it an airing and a fresh smoking and it got me to thinking.

The area we pitched it in was very exposed, winds rushing through and rain coming down, the parachute nylon is incredibly fine, but, once underneath, even though we could still feel the wind and a little of the rain, just looking up and seeing 'a roof' above us gave us an incredible sense of comfort.

there's not much between you and the great open sky, just an incredibly fine piece of material however the feeling it had on morale and the sense of being enclosed was remarkable. We all know that the science of survival teaches us that the will to survive and a positive mind set are fundamental to surviving, and just being underneath that chute had such a positive reinforcing effect on our minds that I can fully understand why having a roof over your head, regardless of it's effectiveness is a genuinely important feature. I've always taken shelter for granted before but being in this little micro climate certainly gave me food for thought.
 If you had have removed the chute and I'd stayed where I was sitting on the ground I would have felt incredibly vulnerable and exposed, the shelter wasn't really protecting us much but the sense of comfort it provided and how it heightened my mental well being was incredible.

a little fire underneath certainly helped also.