I did not write anything last week because we had a bad storm for several days and I did not go out.
We did have a nice sunset one evening last week however.
Last Saturday i ran a knife sharpening workshop for two members of staff from Solberget Wilderness Camp.
Today myself and Kelly were out and about, made fire, grilled sausage and made hot chocolate (it was -17 degrees).
And here is a picture of us travelling 4kms to collect our post.
This evening we also had a nice sunset with some fantastic colours, which changed very rapidly.
Just before Christmas I was diagnosed with Pneumonia and given a course of anti-bionics.
On Christmas Day Kelly had a diarrhea and sickness bug and of course four days later I caught it. I had diarrhea the whole of last week and was not able to keep any foods and liquids inside me. Our health helpline recommended that i eat rice, carrots and sweat corn as these help to block up the stomach and digestive system.
It helped for 24hrs but then the problem returned again. Then the doctor gave me Vi-Siblin testa ispaghulae which are granules that you mix with water and drink. After a bit I research I found that this is made from the seed husks of plantain (plantago sp), one of my favorite herbal species of plants https://naturallore.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/greater-plantain/. This has been very effective and I am feeling much better now, however the pneumonia unfortunately persists and so I was unable to travel to England yesterday as planned.
When i did some work with the US Airforce in 2005
they taught about using different types of ash from a fire to help the digestive system by using the saying….”tight – white, black – slack” which means if you have constipation, mix white ash from the fire with water and drink to relieve symptoms and if you have diarrhea, use black charcoal from the fire mixed with water and drink to relieve the symptoms. These methods work very well.
As I said previously, there are many methods you can use to protect your matches. I favour a small plastic container with a screw-top lid.
You can also use two old shotgun cartridges to make a container. Remove the plastic from one cartridge by burning it in the fire and this will then be the container top. Remove the crimped plastic on the end of the other cartridge and the container is complete.
It is recommended to cover the nipple inside the lid with wax as it has been known for matches to “strike” and ignite on this while in the pocket.
You can also cover the matches in wax to protect them. One method is to poor a thin layer of melted wax in a matchbox tray and then lay matches into the wax. Then add another layer of wax and more matches until you fill the tray. Then just leaver out a match when you need one. I have found with this method that the stem of the match will often break as you remove it though (just like the one in this picture).
I prefer instead to individually coat the matches. First I wrap each match in a layer of cotton wool and then dip the match in melted wax, ensuring the whole thing is completely covered.
When I want to use the match I remove the layer of wax around the head and then strike it as normal. The cotton wool acts as a wick and the match burns rather like a candle. One of these matches will burn for up to two minutes!
Whatever method you use to protect your matches, it should be able to withstand being in water for up to ten minutes without the matches becoming wet.
Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by carrying so called “waterproof matches”
Although the head has a waterproof coating, after ten minutes in water moisture has soaked up the stem of the match and inside the head. You can see in the picture below that the head has started to disintegrate as I tried to light the match.
and here is a close-up of the head
There are ways you can protect matches yourself and we will cover some of those in part three.
I always carry at least three different ways of making fire and probably the most reliable is the good old match. One of the issues here in the UK is that the majority of matches available to purchase are safety matches which means they can only be struck using their box. I always carry “strike anywhere” matches as at least if the box gets wet you can still strike them on any rough surface (such as a metal zip). One make of “strike anywhere” matches available here is the good old Swan Vesta.
The way to strike a match is to support the head and stem of the match, with the head pointed down.
Place the head of the match at the top of the striker with the head pointed down
When the match ignites move it into your cupped hands to protect the flame from the elements and to allow the flame to establish.
Of course striking the match relies upon the match being kept dry and there are several ways of achieving this, but we will cover this soon.
Heavy rain most of the night and this morning, then sunny for the rest of the day.
I went walking around the marsh today to look for birds.
The marsh was very quiet apart from one Whooper Swan.
The marsh is covered with Cotton Grass. This picture was taken by Jon Pickett last year
I stopped for a brew mid morning
Making a fire is so simple here. I collect an armful of the lower dead branches of Spruce and Pine and put some Birch bark into them
and then spark into the Birch bark with the firesteel and with the help of the resin in the dead wood you quickly have a good fire.
I used some larger pieces just to rest the pot on.
Other birds on my walk included 2 Goldeneye and the Grey-headed Woodpecker again. I returned to the cabin and after lunch finished some of the items I had made from antler. Here are some examples of things I made.
From left to right; sewing needle, necklace bead, toggle and finally an awl.
Anki returned to stay at her cabin this afternoon and while we were chatting we met a guy from the Swedish Forest Company who told us that they have decided to preserve a large area of trees behind our cabins. Quite a lot of these trees are large and old, and unlike those in the managed forest, are of suitable diameter for woodpeckers and owls to nest in. This si really good news!!
I am sure you all know that amadou is a thin layer of velvety material found between the spore tubes and cortex of Fomes fomentarius False Tinder Fungus. Rather than collecting large fully grown specimens, I go for the young small ones which are almost all amadou and need very little work to prepare.
I just beat the fungus flat with a stone, then cut it into strips and allow it to dry. I then char one end of a strip which greatly improves its efficiency to take a spark.
For this demonstration I used the edge of a flat chainsaw file to achieve a spark with the flint
Once the amadou is ignited I place it inot a tinder bundle and blow until I achieve a flame.
The smouldering amadou can then be snuffed out and used again.