Friday, 24 October 2008

C'Mon You Redz!

Went to the football to watch Charlton play some bunch of no hopers from the west country.
That was a mistake, Charlton were the no hopers. Two- effing -Nil!

Though at last there is some good news for beleaguered Blighty, those cheeky chappies the native British Red Squirrels, if not bouncing back, are at least no longer circling the drain.
Over the last few years Red Squirrel populations in England and Wales have been declining rapidly as grey squirrels spread squirrel pox virus, which does not appear to affect the greys.

Happily Steve Connor, science guy at the Independent reports
Wild red squirrels have developed an apparent immunity to the squirrel pox virus, which was killing off the last their remaining communities in England and Wales, as well as threatening the much larger native squirrel population in Scotland.
Although it's not practical to count them all, a common guess would have it that there are about 140,007 red squirrels left in Britain. With about three quarters of them north of the border with Andy Richardson and our Caledonian cousins. Across the country there are about 2.5 million delicious grey squirrels, (a convenience food introduced from the Americas in the 1800s). So as you can imagine things are in a perilous state and the British Reds need all the help we can give them.
Meanwhile well-meaning numpties are doing their muddleheaded best to make the natural world more like it looks on TV. Lindsey Maguire, who runs a squirrel rescue centre with his wife, is reported to have said:
"We are involved with animal rescue and if someone brings you a [grey] squirrel what can you do? You can’t just throw it in the bin."

No Lindsey, you numpty not in the bin, in the pot!

I'm calling on Patriots, Nature Lovers, Gun Owners, and People who are just Peckish, to help bring about a 'culinary solution' to these pesky (yet delicious) interlopers and in doing so, save our British Reds.

Even on his days off James has been doing his bit, with delicious consequences.

As they are originally from the USA here's a few pointers on how to organise a
squirrel camp from Rex and his Dad at the Christmas Place Hunting Club, and a report on how this years proceedings went.
Scoutin' life has also been hard at it, read
squirrel-sniping here.

Fight back and Tuck In!


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

UnBoxing - Mikro Canadian II

Here in the UK due to the recent hysteria about young lads stabbing each other with kitchen knives filched from their mums kitchens, carrying any kind of knife in town is becoming 'contentious' to say the least. I've scaled right down to the smallest SAK (Swiss Army Knife) on my keys as my EDC and I've been pleasantly surprised just how handy it’s been for all those little jobs. The kit collector within stirs and sniffs the wind. The search for the perfect micro knife is on. I'm thinking of a 'Field Scalpel'.

In the same shipment as my lunch boxes came just such a knife. The Mikro Canadian (II), by the Bark River Knife and Tool Co. BRTK seem to feature in a lot of peoples collections, and their wares have received glowing reviews from a few other bloggers so I told myself there was a convenient hole in my tool kit for an inconspicuous neck knife, convinced myself it was a bargain, and clicked the 'order now' button.

Since it's arrived I've made a few visits to The Old Operating Theatre, a real life Victorian operating theatre left untouched from the 1850s. The museum has an amazing collection of period instruments; handmade sharps and saws from the days when speed was the thing most likely to limit the risk of infection. One surgeon had the claim to fame of being able to take a leg off in twenty eight seconds. The blade shapes were interesting; saws with hinged spines designed to give rigidity during the first part on the cut, then as the blade was deep into the bone, the spine would lift up to allow the blade to pass through. I also saw a set of scalpels where the blade shape was almost exactly a Mikro Canadian.

These little slicers seem to have been a big seller for BRKT and I can see why. They’re small enough to be unobtrusive, whilst having just enough handle to feel solid in your hand. I've been reaching for it as my EDC for a few weeks now and, yeah, it's a handy little thing. The original model was made from A-2 Tool Steel, where as the MCII is 12C27, which seems an easy stainless steel to maintain a hair popping edge on.

If I'd really looked closely at the picture I ordered from, I would have noticed the mosaic pins (which are really nice) aren't even slightly aligned.

When you consider how easy a job it is to stick a piece of tape with a line drawn down it on to the handle (so you can line them up before the glue sets) it’s a bit of a disappointment. The maple burl (what could be more Canadian?) is easily the nicest wood of any of the knives I've got.

The fit of the scales isn’t neatest of work either, there's a visible gap between one of the scales and the blades tang, making the ideal place for gunk to fester, which kind of rules out using the knife for boning out, which is a shame as it feels as if it would be ideal. I'd intended to buy one handled in orange Micarta or G10, which would probably been a better shout for use as a field scalpel but the wood is good looking.

My knife’s is etched with the words First Production Run which is kind of surprising as I would have thought the collector market would be somewhat more discerning than someone like me who just wants to sharpen pencils, slice salami and open the mail.

No knife review would be complete without the 'I made feather sticks, cut notches for a 'number4' and shaved a tomato' bit. I'm not sure if I really want to eat city fox as their diet of abandoned takeaways isn't ideal, so I missed out the number 4 trap, made some melt-on-the-tongue tomato wafers, and feathered some lailandi branches. While the blade gave ultra fine shavings a couple of deeper cuts left a tiny dink in the edge so maybe
12C27 isn't such a strong steel after all or the temper isn’t quite right.

Despite its flawed build quality I've really come to like the Mikro Canadian’s design.

So I’m giving BRK&T the right to reply to this review, let’s see what they do with it.

Thanks for stopping by, Leave a comment, I'd love to know who's reading.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Before We Laugh - Bushcraft Divorce

Before we laugh we should spare a thought for brave Nicole

This is a salutary lesson in how far a man's obbsessions will take him.
It's a brave man who'll admit his mistakes.
It's a daft man who'd take his girlfriend on an experimental snow camping trip!
Or as Nelson Muntz would say Ha Ha!

I feel so uncharitble, but I can't stop laughing.
PS thanks to Andy at upnorthica who found this one.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

British Blades

There is a resource
It's on the web of course

About the gathering of blades
And the ways that they are made

Guys who'll sell you a blade on its own
Folk who have devised a new hone

Handles in Wood, G10 and Micarta
It's extensive, they'll have what your after

Steel matrix seen under a 'scope
Neck knives, handled with some rope

Sheaths in vegetable dyed leather
Finishes to withstand the weather

Rigid camp choppers, fish knives with some flex
Tutorials, make Damascus, sheath in Kydex

The merits of each kind of temper and quench
Exclusive output from a master makers bench

Thorough, long standing user review
Granddads folder to draw queens brand new

Edges; convex, scandi, and full flat
It's all there, from superb! To what is that?

A great resource, maybe I'm showing my ignorance here, but I've never had a question about blade making that I've not seen already answered somewhere on British Blades.

If you're in the market for a new knife this thread is an amazing list of makers from all over the world.

If you're looking for something usable but affordable, I've seen some shocking bargains on the site too.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Survival Topics

As you might imagine I've read one or two books about surviving in the wilderness and to be fair most of them are much of a muchness. Just because you can survive doesn't mean you can write.

There is one notable exception - Ron Fontaine who writes Survival Topics; the BEST survival site on the web and far far better than most of the books.

The most common ways to die outdoors may not be what usually comes to mind. Many people worry about bears and other mean creatures. Fact is, the most common outdoor deaths are attributable to one and only one living thing: YOU. By far, hands down, what bumps you off in the wilderness are the decisions you make. Getting just a little to close to the edge. Taking on the next higher class of whitewater. Climbing a mountain when you are out of shape. Refusing to turn back when the weather turns bad.

Many people think food will be the priority when lost in the woods - survival topics puts that myth to bed.If there is one piece of advice that will carry you through life this is it, it works in the woods, it works in meetings, and it works in that most fraught of suburban survival situations - the children's party! When you've survived being over-run by wild eyed tykes, high on sugar and adrenalin you can tell yourself you'd survive anything.

The Dakota Fire (pictured above)
This wasn't the first time I'd seen this, but it's easily the best explanation of its benefits.
I've been to South Dakota and if there is one environment where the wind will increase fuel consumption it's the plains. So it's not surprising that a technique for using less fuel would develop there. Works well in Yorkshire too!
[For readers from other parts of the world, Yorkshire is the Texas of England (the biggest and most opinionated ;-) ) and home to my pal The Northern Monkey]

Survival Topics is also a web shop where Ron sells that outdoor essential the Swedish firesteel.
I still have a stash of firesteels so I haven't ordered any of his myself, but he's got the widest choice of sizes, and his pricing is way cheaper than a lot of sites. Including the one I bought mine from. grrr.

As with the best teachers Ron has peppered his writing with moments of comedy

Although the odds are certainly against it, personally I think predation is the manliest way to go. There is something to be said for going down fighting as opposed to in an old folks home.

Thanks for reading - be sure to check out more of Ron's site.
your pal
The bushwacker

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Looking And Seeing


Maybe I was a little pessimistic about my suburban smallholding skills?
Maybe I 'looked' without 'seeing'?
Maybe cucumbers just grow very very quickly?

There are two more fat qukes!!!!

Cucumber sandwiches for tea.

Yours delightedly
PS In between writing this post and taking the picture, two more have appeared. One of them is already half the size of these. It proves something - I'm just not sure what?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Jammyness? Do You Measure Up?

Here's one for the Catch-and-Release crowd, I saw it on and I thought we'd make it the subject of a little competition. My mum (mom) has just delivered a shipment of her kick-ass jam (jelly) and I'll ship a jars worth of it to the reader who sends in the best use for a tattooed tape measure. Here's what its owner/wearer (Dave Selden) uses it for

"As a woodworker-graphic designer, I use a tape measure or ruler almost every day. Now I have one always within arm's reach. I use it for my work, but also my play. I measured some trout for length with it on a fishing trip to Mount Hood this weekend."

I look forward to hearing from you

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Pride Of The Sarf

I was at the end of the garden wondering whether it was time to give up my 'fruitless' gardening and start using the space for fires again when I was shocked, surprised and delighted to see that I had actually grown more than slug food this summer. Yes! A real life actual cucumber! Well who'd-a-thought-it!

On the other side of the hill the trees are heaving with unripe Chestnuts, so maybe I'm more a forager than a farmer.


PS No Rex, I haven't forgotten, they're just aren't any worthy examples to send you yet.