Friday, January 25, 2008

I LOVE Forums...

To-day I want to express the fact, that I just Love some of these Internet Forums that are all over the net these days! Pick a topic or subject to get Google to find you some forums to check out. You may be surprised to see just how many there are out there, to do with your topic. My topics always have an Outdoorsy slant and so I can only speak of those types of forums, with any kind of authority. The interaction within the membership of these forums is a real lesson in Communications. When you start a thread, you will get various responses, especially if you've posed a question in that thread. Many who frequent these types of forums are pretty Gung-Ho at what they love, so you get valid, sincere and personal comments from these guys and maybe get asked a question back, by them. Other members, are the more passive types and love to just read through the threads and follow along with the conversations without actually posting very often. These folks are mostly the learners and act as part of the big reason the Gung-Ho dudes are in there. People who know, like sharing with those who don't, on these forums. Getting, newbies up to speed, gives these lads a charge. There is so much encouragment from the vets usually, that newb's don't stay green very long and are soon startin' neat threads of their own! :-)

Anywho, to-day I want you to see a little sample of a post I made a while back, on one of my favorite Outdoorsy forums. I climbed the little learning ramp last evening and figured out how to put samples of some of my forum posts in here in my blog for you, my dear blog readers. :-) So here you go. Have a look at how a typical post may appear on a forum, if you were to get into this, forum thingy. I'll be posting a few more samples in here from a few different forums a little later but for now, I'd like you to view this one from the fine folks over at --->

Here's a snapshot of the actual post to do with slowin' down in the it to see it better.


If you haven't visited forums yet, this may give you a gentle shove to do so to-day. There's nothing like communicating with folks of similar thinking within a cool little worldly niche like this!


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Winter fire stuff...

Well the weather lightened up a little, so yesterday I decided to take the opportunity to head into my local section of woods and see if I could get a little fire going out there in the snow. I hadn't been out in the bush for a while, so it felt real good to be there. The trick of the day of course, was to use only the fire-stick and steel to produce my fire with mostly any materials at hand in the middle of winter. Took about ten minutes for me to round up some strips of White Cedar bark from a towing ancient old forest monarch and a few hunks of dead White Birch bark off an old stump, filled with rotted wood. I also snapped off a nice handful of tiny twigs and branch tips from a dead Poplar and some more from a stunted Rock Maple, all nice and dry to the touch. After laying down a thin layer of green Cedar branch tips on the compacted section of snow I had prepared, I rubbed the Cedar bark between the palms of my hands until it was all a mass of fine dry fibers but yet not broken into little pieces or too powdery either. Next came the White Birch bark bits, split into little noodle-like strands with my trusty old folding knife. The skinnier these pieces are, the better. A few tiny branch tips from the maple and Poplar were added in a criss-cross pattern to the top of the pile about an inch deep and packed real loose and airy. Then, finally, I took out my new "secret" never-fail, tinder and started to spread it and pull at it and fluff it until it was about 3 inches across on all sides and about a good 1/8 inch thick. It's amazing just how much cotton is in a real cotton ball, eh? Yup, I said cotton ball, as in the kind you get at any drug store or Wally-world even. That's right friend, the plain and simple, old fashioned, genuine Cotton ball, is THE tinder of choice for this ol' bushguy these days! Once the cotton ball was properly prepared, I then carefully slipped it under the edge of the shredded Cedar bark and Birch bark layers, with about a square inch of it sticking out beneath the pile...

Using the tip of my broken piece of old hacksaw blade to hold the cotton steady, I slid the tip of my fire-stick under the edge of the blade, at a right angle to it and applied a firm pressure. Then, in one smooth semi-quick motion, I dragged the firestick up towards me while maintaining my firm grip on the piece of hacksaw blade so that it wouldn't move and disturb the tinder pile.

Poof! A dozen or more medium sized sparks jumped to life off the stick and five or six of them ignited that cotton like there was no tomorrow. Then Woosh, within about three seconds, the Cedar and Birch bark flew into flames and I reached over and fed a few larger twigs to the quickly warming spot in front of me on the winter ground. :-)

Man, I just LOVE this little Fire-Stick/Cotton combo, for totally dependable fire making power, wherever you REALLY need a fire.

Here's the results of that whole simple little process and also a shot of the gear used to create it. If you don't own a fire-stick of some sort yet and you spend any time in the woods at all, I would strongly suggest that you snare one of these cool units somewhere and stash it in your BOB or your bush jacket pocket even. Shucks, I now carry one of mine on my keyring, like you see in the picture there. Don't forget the cotton balls too though. They make everything about this fire starting stuff, totally easy and fool-proof! Wish I would have know about all this neat stuff about thirty years ago! :-)

Can you smell the woodsmoke there?

Stick & Steel...


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Children, naturally...

Nature's Wonders are everywhere, everyday, all around us but we are usually too busy to see, hear or smell them. Not wanting my children to grow up blind and deaf to nature, I started their little lives off with an ongoing Nature class. They would be involved with it every day, in some manner or other. For instance this old picture catches my daughter Brooke marveling at her latest newly identified and long to be remembered, wild plant.

In this case it's a beautiful and delicate little Bloodroot plant. Look closely and you will see where she had just used the "blood" or juice from it's underground root/stem, to paint a picture of it's leaf, on her left hand. Kids are never too young to be awed by nature. Parents are what holds children back from the woods these days. Too many mosquitoes, too much sun, too hot, too cold, to wet, and a bunch of other lame excuses succeed in keeping tons of to-days children in the house too much in their early years. Both of my children could rhyme off a list of bird names to identify every flying thing in our neighborhood, before they even ever went to school!

To do is to learn so every aspect of nature was explored first hand by these youngsters, with dad always there for guidance and encouragement to continue their path. By the time they were 6 and 5 they could gather the proper materials to prepare and light their own small beach fires in the simple "Indian style" manner, I had shown them, the year before. All of this cool stuff was either shot with a camera or video taped and played back to them, as a further learning tool as well. Somehow all this started to mature them pretty fast and by the time they were 7 and 8 they were little walking, experienced, bush encyclopedias with proper manners and their own unique styles already.

In this close-up shot, my son Lee, gets treated to the old, "lame-wing" display, put on by a Killdeer, that few other children have ever witnessed.

Why deprive your children of all this kool Nature stuff, if you are lucky enough to even have children? Should you not be giving them EVERYTHING you possibly can? Learning about nature starts as you walk out the door of your house, no long distance traveling involved and no entry fees either. Man, get those kids of yours out there in the woods and down by the rivers. Stop denying them the wonderful gift of learning about all of nature's free gifts. Help them to get involved in something, anything, outdoorsy. You owe it to them. Or you could just be content to have kids that don't know a Spruce tree from a Juniper bush or a red breasted Robin from a freakin' Seagull but are in the know about all the names of all the players in a bunch of video games, and what they can do...Now that will really help them in the future, NOT!

Your children are your future, please do more about encouraging them to get into Nature related stuff. You, and they, will benefit from it, guaranteed! Well, at least if my own kids are any proof of it, that is...


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fire talk...

Happy New Year!

Fixated on fire? Well now let's see, without it, we would pretty well all still be just animals, living perhaps in cold, wet and very dark caves. :-( Your best friend in the bush is FIRE. Without it, you could, should and would easily die. Non-smokers beware! If you don't smoke, then please make sure you bring a lighter with you if you EVER go into the bush. It would be a real drag having to die for lack of a dollar store lighter or a box of freakin' matches, for that matter.

Lately I've been depending on a fire-stick and either my good old fashioned carbon steel folding pocket knife or a short piece of old hacksaw blade on my key chain to produce the sparks with, to get my fires going. What you must know with this method is that the tinder that catches your sparks, is VERY important. You could and should even, bring some from home, in your pockets somewhere. Good dry wild woods tinder can sometimes be hard to find, especially after a rainy day or night. The best stuff from home is pure cotton balls that you can get anywhere. Works like magic! Dryer lint and char-cloth is awesome too. If you don't bring ANY of this kool tinder stuff, then you had better know what to look for in the bush. Many things will work but any and all of it will have to be totally beat up and made really soft and thin and or powdery even. You could beat it on a rock or tear it up and crumple it and rub it between your hands to get it real fine. My favorites are in no particular order, Red Cedar bark, Dry Mullin leaves, scraped and shredded White Birch bark, certain tree fungus, Cattail down, Bull Thistle and Milkweed fluff. There are lots more to be sure and the more of them you know, the better off you'll be. When things get wet, you really have to make sure that whatever it is you use for tinder, is absolutely dry or you are NOT going to have an easy time if it.

Always bring some fire stuff along if you ever intend to step off the pavement. You could even carry some in your car or truck. You never know when you will need it, either for yourself or to help someone else. Here's a pic or two of some of my fire stuff...


If you are just new to this whole, roughing it in the woods thing, then a candle and some waterproof matches as well as a Bic lighter should be in your kit, no matter how big or small your kit is. Always! :-)


After we cover the life sustaining power of our fire, then good ol' shelter is the other BIG thing, that I'm going to yak about in here. Now anyone and I mean anyone, can make it through a night or two in the bush, even in the winter, if they have the brains to carry a little life-saving, modern-day shelter, like this in their packs or pockets. Slick Survival Shelters...Watch for it.