On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Failed Bowdrill Friction Fire

   Okay, so sometimes things just do not go as planned. Practice anything long enough and you will discover how many times you fail. You can not get good at anything without practice.
   Many years ago, a preacher friend of mine would tell this simple story. He had a friend who could sit down at the piano and play just about anything you put in front of him music-wise. He could play all the tunes and all the classics. He could even improvise for jazz, the blues, rock and any different venue. Then my preacher friend would say, "How do you suppose he had the freedom to play just anything he wanted?" It always came back to the same answer, lots and lots of practice and the learning of all the fundamentals. Personal discipline focused on the goal of learning everything he could about playing piano had given him the freedom to do what he wanted to do.
   Now flash forward in time to me, struggling today to get a bowdrill fire going. I know all the fundamentals, I practice friction fire methods all the time. As of late, I have been practicing almost everyday. I am almost addicted to making fire by friction. It is so primitive and yet feels so right. Yet, I know that I cannot get better at it without testing myself over and over again with different kinds of wood in different situations. I need to challenge myself with friction fire all the time to find the freedom to make it work more consistently. I am trying to build a collection of experiences both successful and failures, to teach me what works and when.
   Every friction fire attempt is different. Some days, the combination of woods fails utterly and then a couple of days later, you will get success almost immediately with the same combination.
   So earlier this month I attempted to challenge myself with making a bowdrill friction fire constructed from one single piece of dead standing willow I found along the trail. The only thing I allowed myself was one knife, one rope and my bearing block. The rest had to come from that one piece of willow. I fashioned my spindle, my hearth board and my bow and set to work, trying for an ember.
   So here is the attempt.

   I don't think I failed completely, because out of this I learned that my choice of cordage makes a big difference under certain conditions. The failure raised more questions for me, that I will have to explore yet in another outing, trying to do the same thing, the "One Stick Challenge."
   So until the next time, I will keep practicing and hope that this will encourage you to not give up on any friction fire challenge you set for yourself. It is truly a big part of the bushcraft adventure and well worth mastering. Until then, Happy Exploring.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On Having A Minnesota Bushcraft Anniversary

   First of all, I would like to thank all my family and friends who stop in to visit my Minnesota Bushcraft blog. This past year has been full of adventures, and in looking back, I can see that I have grown thru the practice of bushcraft as well as many of my friends.
   This site has grown and moved thru many changes as well. Looking back to the beginning, I can see where I struggled to find my audience, where I faltered at using my format and that I was just plain timid about putting anything of good content into my posts.
   But that has all changed and the new challenge of adding video and pictures and including my friends in some of the adventures has made this a much better place.
   As of this moment, Minnesota Bushcraft has received 4,062 visits over the past year. That I would never have imagined. Though I can only see 16 subscribers, I know there are many of my friends at BushcraftUSA that stop in to read my meanderings and to see the latest goings on from my place here in southern Minnesota.
   Since joining BushcraftUSA (also about a year ago), I have completed the Basic BushclassUSA Certification thru the online BushclassUSA courses and have had the privilege to lead some of my friends into the BushclassUSA classes and they too have completed a few lessons, which has given much fodder for sharing their adventures here at Minnesota Bushcraft.
   This past year's Minnesota Bushcraft highlights include the coverage of the BushcraftUSA sponsored 2012 Hardwoodsman's Meet Up in April held in the great state of Missouri. The completion of my BushclassUSA course with an overnight on the fifth outing, in 20° F weather in a debris shelter. The many lessons and outings for BushclassUSA, which helped to fill many of my postings. And of course, the chances to share what some of my friends are now doing with bushcraft which even includes my post about "Bushcraft is Not Just for Boys."
   A special thanks has to go out to my bush buddy and constant wilderness companion Christian, for all of his energy and excitement and enthusiasm. He never refuses to go out in the wild with me and would give up TV and all the video games and sometimes even his other friends, just to get out and explore the wilderness and to learn all that he can. I hope someday he is a bushcraft master and can teach me a thing or two. For a kid of just eight years of age, he sure has learned a lot about bushcraft in the last year.
   Lastly, I would like to thank my Dad, for giving me the chance to learn from him all those many years ago. First as a scout and then secondly as a leader and mostly as his son just learning bushcraft, even when we didn't know to call it that back then.
   This next year I know will be filled with even more adventures, and I am hoping you will continue to share in them with me. Please feel free to comment, and to let me know what you are doing with bushcraft, especially if you are living in Minnesota. We have it wild here and Minnesota is a great place to practice bushcraft. It has in it's very heart and in it's history the very soul of bushcraft.
   Until next time, Happy Exploring.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On Making Bushcraft Toys...

   It has been a busy month, and I realize that I had not posted anything yet this month. It is not that I have had any lack of bushcraft adventure, it's just that I have had so little time to record and post any of the things that I have been doing lately.
   Just so the whole month hasn't gone by without a single post, I put together this short video of a recent adventure with my bush buddy Christian.

   It was a beautiful day to be out, spending time with my bushcraft buddy and together practicing some bushcraft skills. We worked on natural tinders, wild edibles, bow drill practice, natural cordage, water purification, navigation, wildlife identification, tree identification and alternative fire lighting methods with using a magnifying lens and a reflector improvised from a coke can, which did not work (yet).
   After all that, we decided to use some of the cordage we had made out of some milkweed to build a small raft. After we set it to float, we realized it was only going to find it's way by the currents alone. It was then the my bush buddy suggested we use goose feathers for a sail. So while he set to work to gather the feathers, I made up some willow bark cordage and we lashed up another raft and mounted the feathers for a make shift sail. So here is the video of our results. What a fun time. All materials found on site. Now we are both wondering what other people will think. A fun day.

   So that is a quick report and I do have a couple more adventures to report on, just as soon as I can get some pictures and video together. Until then, Happy Exploring.