July is bark peeling season here in Southern New England. Tree bark is an important resource for anyone living close to the land as it supplies the raw materials for many things; coverings for dwellings and canoes, string and rope and containers of all kinds.
Many species of trees bark share exceptional properties that make it so useful. Many become pliable when wet and ridged when dry. Many contain strong fibers and some oils that lend to flammability and rot resistance.
One of my favorite things to make during this time are bark berry buckets. This July I peeled some bark for this purpose.
Here are some images of my daughter making a berry bucket. In the future I may do a full tutorial on how to do this. For now I will hit the high points.
The bark (in this case of tulip poplar) is folded in half at the bottom in a certain way to create an elliptical cross section. Then the edges are stitched together. Gabby used a bone awl to make the holes and then stitched with hickory bark. I prefer hickory bark taken from saplings or branches (any species of hickory seems to work similarly), it is very strong and drys to a wood-like hardness).
A rim is then stitched on, in this case Gabby wanted to leave one side of the bark proud above the rim for “style”.
We had a fun time together working on this. My daughter went right out and picked blueberries with it, nearly filling it. This and other bark projects are great for kids and beginners to woodcrafting or wilderness skills.
Posted in Crafts, Primitive Skills and Crafts, Trees | Tagged bark baskets, bark berry buckets, bark buckets, bark container, berry buckets, bone awl, bushcraft bark basket, bushcraft bucket, hickory bark, hickory bark cordage, hickory bark lashing, hickory bark string, tree bark, tree bark crafts, tulip bark, tulip bark cantainer, wilderness crafts with kids | 2 Comments »
When I first met my wife Deneen we were taking a workshop on how to put together an atlatl and dart kit. A few weeks later when we where courting over email I told her I had already killed a mammoth with mine, how was hers coming along?
My attempt at charm aside, atlatls and darts (spears) were what ancient man used to hunt mammoths and other very large animals. Australian Aboriginal people used them up into historical times. Much simpler that bows, they are relatively easy to make and fun to use.
This is a video exploration of a couple sets I have made.
Posted in atlatl, Primitive Skills and Crafts, Videos | Tagged atl atl, atlatl, how to make an atl atl, how to make an atlatl, how to throw and atlatl, locust atlatl, osage atl atl, osage atlatl, primitive atlatl, primitive hunting, primitive hunting weapons, primitive skills | 3 Comments »
While visiting in Southern Maine a few weeks ago we encountered several songbird species that I was able to capture video of. Included are some birds I don’t often get to see such as Common Yellowthroat, Brown Thrasher and Prairie Warbler. Hope you enjoy it!
Posted in Bird Language, Birds, Maine, Videos | Tagged Brown thrasher, common yellowthroat, eastern towhee, kennebunk plains, kennibunk plains, pairie warbler, song birds of maine, songbird species, Southern Maine | 2 Comments »
As a kid I saw ant hills everywhere, even in cracks in pavement. Since then my understanding of what a little hole in the sand could be made by has broadened tremendously. Here are a few examples of different creatures that make holes in the sand.
Above are tiny pits in a protected spot under a shed roof. Other than demonstrating how long ago the rototiller was used, these little pits can lead us to the amazing creature pictured below.
Antlions dig their pits as a trap for ants. They back down into the earth and flick sand up at any ant that enters the pit, making it impossible for the ant to do anything but fall deeper in. The antlion, waiting at the bottom, then grabs them with those big mandibles and its all over for the ant. Antlions are the larval form of what are known as lacewings, which somewhat resemble a dragonfly.
While antions create an inverted version of an ant hill, these next examples do have somewhat of a mound around them. The biggest difference between this and the ants is a much bigger hole which is not always in the center. Many species of solitary bees and wasps create these holes. I find these in colonies in open sandy ground without any real protection from disturbance.
In the above picture you can see a bee coming out of the hole. The below pictured holes are more indicative of the solitary wasps, with the sand pushed out in one direction.
In this picture a “pathway” was created in front of the hole.
We tested the depth of a few of these holes and found them to be around 2 inches deep. They could of course have changed angle and gone further down.
Below is a closeup of one of the suspected wasp holes.
Many kinds of wolf spiders burrow, some make these turreted holes, using twigs, pebbles and spider silk. The wolf spider pictured below was walking amongst several of these spider holes which circumstantially indicates it may be of the borrowing wolf spiders (Geolycosa). It is carrying its young on its back.
This beauty is a Six Spotted Tiger Beetle. Its larval form digs vertical shafted, very clean holes. The adult form (pictured above) digs this hole below, more of a shallow slot really, as a shelter.
As a kid I was not much interested in insects and spiders until I learned they could build things. Turns out they build all sorts of thing including these burrows and tunnels and its was all right under my feet.
Posted in invertabrates, Invertabrates, Tracking | Tagged ant hills, antlion larva, antlion pits, antlions, borrowing spiders, burrowing wolf spiders, how to track wildlife, invertebrate sign, invertebrate tracking, lacewing larva, six spotted tiger beetle, tracking invertabrates, wildlife tracking | 1 Comment »
Earlier this Spring at one of my work locations I noticed Eastern Phoebes hanging around. Sure enough when we looked around for a nest it was tucked up under the deck. I used my camera to see inside and when we looked at the pictures saw something I had not seen before, though recognized right away.
One of the eggs is quite different, bigger, speckled and even a slightly different shape.
Another bird I had noticed in the area was a singing Cowbird. Brown-Headed Cowbirds have an amazing song with more than one note produced at a time. Though a short song compared to many other birds theirs is quite complex. Look it up if you have a chance, or better yet find a Brown-Headed Cowbird near you and listen in person.
Another amazing thing about cowbirds is how they raise their young. They don’t. They leave it up to other birds by laying their eggs in other birds nests for them to raise. This is a great strategy for a species that once followed buffalo herds.
Often the cowbird baby out competes the host bird’s babies and they perish. So the question before me and my little comrades of the day was what to do about this invading egg. The cowbird baby’s presence might lead to the demise of our beloved Phoebe’s young.
What would you do?
Posted in Birds | Tagged bird nest, brood parasite, brown-headed cowbird, cowbird egg, parasitising birds, phoebe nest, strange bird egg, two different eggs in nest, two kinds of eggs in a nest | Leave a Comment »
Part two of three how to video on make a coiled basket out of grass. I begin the sides, and even out the shape. In the third part I will show several ways to make a handle depending on materials, tools and time available.
Posted in Crafts, Primitive Skills and Crafts | Tagged coiled baskets, grass basket, grass coiled basket, how to make coiled baskets, how to use grass to make a basket, part two how to make coiled baskets, primitive skills basket | Leave a Comment »