Archive for October, 2007

Oct 26 2007

Food Preservation

Published by under Foods

In the wilderness you will eat the majority of the foods fresh because of two things:

  • You will usually never procure more much more food than you need in the next few days.
  • You can’t carry with you all that much food to the next camp location.

However, for the leaner times of the year; late winter and mid-summer you might need to store a little to avoid starvation. Also, if you shoot a big animal or a large quantity of them, you may want to store the surplus. The primary method for this is drying. You can dry almost everything, some things are not equally suitable for this though. Juicy berries, like cloudberries and raspberries will almost disappear into a stony mass if they don’t ferment first. Cloudberries and Cowberries (lingon in Swedish or tytteber in Norwegian) store quite well fresh under refrigerated conditions. Few of the wild berries in this area has enough pectin in them either to be suitable for the Ray Mears Wild Food method of making fruit jelly. But I have not tested this. Maybe if mixed with pectin rich berries, it may work (I know one berry I believe contains quite a lot of it). Drying berries and roots can be done spread out directly in the sun. Many berries will sweeten considerably after drying.

First a warning: Never dry cooked meat or cook meat during drying, serious food poisoning can occur! My method of drying meat is, except in the late fall to early spring when freeze drying will occur naturally, to smoke them a little in the lavvo (tipi) during the evening to keep the flies detered and have them drying in an airy place out in the sun during the day. If the flies are congregating, light a smokey fire underneath to keep them away. Don’t use conifers, it will make the meat or fish taste very poorly indeed. Either cut the meat into strips (more hassle, more drying surface) or cut them into thin slabs. For the quickest possible drying it is eitherway important to get it as thin as possible. Fish can be dried in halves, cut at the spine. Bigger fish is fileted further. Dry food does not only store pretty much indefinitely, but it is much more portable, due to the lighter weight and reduced size. Eat it as is, in small amounts, or reconstitute over a couple of days and cook normally. If the dried meat is from carnivores or omnivores, you should never eat it without cooking it first.

Photos: Brown trout and Black grouse smoking in the lavvo.

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Short time storage usually isn’t a problem with wild foods. Wild meat is generally slower to rot than domestic meats, so you can let a grouse hang for several weeks without any deterioration during the colder periods of the year. Say mid-September to April (in the Norwegian mountains). Except this period you will have to be a little more careful due to flies. Most wild plants store pretty well fresh too. Fish you have to be a little more careful about. Especially fat fish.

Photo: Foods drying. Fresh fish hanging on a branch to the right.

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2 responses so far

Oct 25 2007

Thumbless Infant Mittens

Published by under Animal Materials

First, thanks Ian, for your kind donation!

I always have some projects on the go. The last week I have for a great extent, when not occupied otherwise, been sewing on these mittens. Due to not feeling confident enough on this tailoring business, I haven’t made a tutorial. Despite being a total newbie in it, I do however feel that they turned out rater good.

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The instructions in Edna Wilder’s “Secrets of Eskimo Skin Sewing” was followed more or less. The fur is braintanned fox and the skin lining the inside is braintanned roe deer. On the next pair, which is for my oldest daughter, I will make thumbs on as well.

One response so far

Oct 24 2007

Firewood

Published by under Fire and Camplife

First of all thanks to David for his kind donation and to Sam for his input on the e-book.

A key element in any survival is fire. A fire is needed to cook food on, brings a lot of “free” warmth to your body and light when it’s otherwise pitch black. Different materials burn in different ways and this will affect the usefulness to the different tasks. The process of getting a fire going I will demonstrate in a later article, when I have taken enough photos to accompany it. Please excuse the metal can below, this photo isn’t from the last trip.

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There are six factors that I rate firewood by:

  • Direct heat
  • Coals
  • Burning time
  • Ease of procuring
  • Smokeyness
  • Light

Softwoods:

By softwoods I generally mean conifers. Direct heat in softwoods is usually great, excellent for getting warmth in the body quickly and for warming up a cold tent. On the downside, coals are practically non-existant and they tend to burn up rather quickly. It has a good lighting quality, especially the resinous species, like scotch pine. Particulary resinous pieces, like old stumps and the base of dead twigs not only burns bright, but also keep it going for a pretty long time. The dead twigs are easy to gather, even rather large branches are often so dry and brittle that they can be broken without too much trouble. Truly large, standing and dry trees are usually out of the question for the primitive though. It is possible to chop them down, but it’s so much work without a metal axe that I wouldn’t do it if there are easier options available. Photo is of a dead pine trunk of which you can very easily rip of resinous branches.

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And yes, the smokeyness of resinous wood is horrible. Norway spruce isn’t so bad though.
Hardwoods:

Hardwoods generally means decidious trees. A long burning time, very tolerable smoke (if not wet) and excellent coals are the main advantages of the hardwoods. They don’t burn very bright and direct heat is often so poor that you can almost sit freezing next to the fire. As I told you yesterday, beaver sticks provides an excellent and easy firewood opportunity. Birch normally rots standing because the bark keeps the moisture inside of it. Other species can be found dry in a “natural” state, but I often prefer beaver sticks, since they are of handy length and of bigger diametre than you can usually expect to be able to cut with stone tools. The truely huge dimensions, up to half a metre in diametre, are usually not barked, but they are often sectioned. So if it has been laying elevated for some years, a few chops with the axe can free a log that is massive enough to last for almost the entire night. Perfect winterwood. And if it is too long, just let it stick out of the door.

General advice:

Rotted wood is no good for burning, except for smoking skins. On regular firewood, sizes of the pieces dictates burning time and intensity. Smaller diametre burns quicker and hotter, but for cooking fires or to keep the lodge warm through many hours, use bigger diametres. If you want several qualities on your fire at once; like good coals, but also some light, use a mixture of hard and soft woods. Birch bark, fatwood (resinous wood) or resin lumps can give the flames a boost that can allow you to perform tasks that require good lighting. In the long winter of the north you will have very little time to do your chores if you don’t know how to adjust the lighting of the micro-environment in the tent. Photo is of pitch lumps on some dead spruces.

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I have unfortunately not looked into fat/blubber lamps yet.

5 responses so far

Oct 23 2007

Free E-Book for You

Published by under General

I have assembled a small E-Book for you. Dare I be so frank to say that it is for promotional purposes I do this, since I have a much higher quality, printed book coming up sometimes next spring (probably).

Feel free to spread this booklet around. I would especially appreciate if you use the original link.

“The Basics of Woodworking with Stone Age Tools”

PS! Please notify me of any inconsistencies/writing errors in this work.

7 responses so far

Oct 23 2007

Beaver Galore

Published by under Plant Materials

Just had to use that headline. hehe

Now being extinct over much of Europe, the beaver is one of the most useful creatures there is. Not only does it create wetlands and enrich the lakes, it provides a lot of easy resources for the primitive. Photo: Lodge in the distance.

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Despite some recent overhunting and poaching of the beaver by some local shit-kids, the area’s beaver population is still very high. The density is almost abnormally high for the region. Photo: A lodge in the distance, viewed from the lavvo (tipi).

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Birch will rot very easily with the bark on, the beaver barks it and uses it for huts and dams. It will then preserve fairly well, as long as it doesn’t lie directly on soil. Seasoned or fresh, you can find both lying around, in a remarkably range of sizes and shapes. Ironically, I used a beaver stick for the new handle on my moose axe, but the beaver’s sticks provided such an easy source of materials and firewood that I almost never chopped a single piece. Photo: And what is this digging stick made from? From a beaver stick. No construction work and an excellent tool.

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In fact, it provides so much firewood that you could pile up a huge amount outside an earthlodge for the winter and would never have to chop a single piece. That would not be very nice towards the beaver though, as it would most likely impact the beaver’s chances of survival. Photo: Firewood.

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In addition, the beaver provides a potentially large amount of fat, good meat, some high quality fur and beaver teeth for precision carving. It’s fairly easy to hunt at some times of the year and trapping them is said to be very, very easy indeed.

If there is one animal that will make the primitive’s life easier, it is the beaver.

5 responses so far

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