Early Winter Trip

This is how November looks in Finland.

Last weekend there was a Bushcraft Finland meeting close to Tampere, Friday through Sunday.
The forum members I met there were very friendly and had the chance to learn a few things and get to know them gathered around the fire inside the rather big lavvu.

Most of the attendants slept here.

On this trip I wanted to try a very light hammock I found on a second hand shop for 2€. I slept inside the US army sleeping bag system with the winter bag and the bivy cover. In between the bivy and the sleeping bag I put an old foam mat, and on top of it, a very thin and light piece of material used to reflect heat from home heaters or radiators. The label says it reflects up to 90% of the heat, and it’s almost the same width as the other matt! I bought 6 meters for 7€ (aprox.) The only downside is it’s not very though. (But hey! Nothing a few stripes of duct tape can’t solve!)

This pic by courtesy of a fellow bushcrafter.

The system worked wonderful. At a few degrees below 0ºC at night, I slept toasty warm without sweating. I guess this system will be valid up until -10ºC or 15ºC, depending on the clothes you wear, or wind. I guess by changing the foam pad for an air pad, and using the 3 bags of the sleeping system this system would be comfortable when things get a little bit colder.

While scouting the area I found some pakuri (also known as chaga). Good to make fires on a traditional fashion, but I prefer to make tea out of it!

This piece of pakuri was pretty high.

Pihlaja (rowan or mountain ash)

This is probably the only berry that survives until the first snows. It is eatable, but it’s sour beyond imagination! Prepared as jam tastes quite good. I’ve heard some people use it to make liquor for shots and I’ve seen it listed in some natural ointments’ ingredients.

Night time comes around 5 p.m. That’s when we all would gather around the fire to dry boots and clothes, cook, melt snow, and share stories.

Walking amongst these huge trees is a very unique experience!

Thanks for coming over!


Trangia Modification

A year ago I bought a Trangia-like set of cooking pots (no windshield, no burner). I only used it on open fires, and the big downside was not to be able to hang it over a fire, from a tripod, for example.

This past summer someone gave me a very old Trangia windshield and burner. The windshield has seen use, but no dents or damage. The burner doesn’t work.

After a couple modifications I ended up with a Trangia pot with a handle that you can hang over open fires, and a windshield system that I can use as a wood burning stove.

I find this modifications very convenient for Finland.

In Finland there are lots of “laavu” which is some kind of camping/cooking area, usually with some kind of half shelter made with logs, and full of wood. Those are quite nice places to go, but the cooking is much easier if you have a cooking pot that you can hang, since most of this places have iron cast hangers.

If by some reason or circumstance, there are not “laavu” nearby and you want to cook, or boil, you need a stove. And why carry fuel when Finalnd is the land of endless twigs and fallen branches?

So here it is a Trangia-like system that allows you to cook on open fires, and that can be fueled with wood!

The handle comes from a grill type oven tray.

With a little piece of the grill type tray I made a small handle for the lid.

Little notch on the lid to fit the handle

Packs as a normal trangia. For this set up you’ll need four metal tent pegs. This were made out the grill type oven tray.

The burner doesn’t work, but I decided to leave it there to prevent coals from falling down.

The way I conceived this, the tent pegs are inserted 3 cm. aprox into the soil. Like this you can adjust the height.

The tent pegs also allow good space to feed the fire.

It boils two cups of water very fast and with very little wood.

4 String Cigar Box Instrument

It’s an instrument made with a cuban cigar box as body, a custom made neck and a ukelele resonator. It’s plugable, one piezo pick up, a coil one, volume and tone knobs.
It’s great fun!!!
The slide it’s the neck from a strawberry liquor bottle from the brewery where I’m working this summer.

This instrument was bought with the idea of being able to bring a small instrument to short excursions. I guess you can see it as a survival cigar box guitar since you can grate cheese on the resonator.

I hope you enjoy this two tunes, the first one is a free interpretation of worldwide acclaimed hit by Kris “free grilled meat and beer” Mininger: Squirrel Song.
The second one is some tune I might keep working on.

Click here to listen in youtube.

Have a good summer!

Chieftain Big Friend

I found this kid’s pocket knife, buried in dirt, forgotten and heavily rusted, when looking for the tools to plant the potatoes.

As you can see, one scale has a drawing of an indian and reads “Chieftain Big Friend”. I guess this is to commemorate the slaughter of millions of authentic north americans (also called indians, or native americans), the theft of their land, and destruction of their culture and way of life.
The other scale is fake motherpearl.

I guess this is a kid’s pocket knife, because of the rounded point.
When I found it it was very rusty, the blade was hard to pull, but seemed in good condition and the can opener couldn’t be opened.

I didn’t wanted to make a fancy restoration, only make it usable again. So I took the scales away, partially opened the blade, and forced the can opener out with some pliers and submerged it in vinegar for two or three days. It was very interesting to see the vinegar to make bubbles around the metal, like bubbly ants taking the rust away. Each morning the vinegar was dirtier and dirtier, and there was a growing sediment of rust at the bottom of the jar.

When I decided it was enough vinegar bath, I took it out, rinsed it with water and started reshaping the tip. I don’t find very useful a round tip on a pocket knife, unless I were a kid obsessed with stabbing things. I have a few sharpening bench stones, so I started with a very coarse one to eat away the metal and re-shape the point. I then worked my way with increasingly softer stones until I found a semi-decent edge. I don’t know why, the blade and the can opener went very black with the vinegar bath, and had to sand it away with some 800 sand paper. After this the metal had a very rough look.
I dried it as good as I could with a hair drier, ear tips for the small spaces and soaked it a little bit in olive oil while moving the blade and can opener so the oil would go into the snap mechanisms, and then wiped the excess oil. Now they open way smoother than before, but I reckon the can opener is still a bit tight.

Richtards Sheffield England Rich & Retarded

I feel like a kid again. I want to stabby stab everything.


Some excerpt from Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood, (2004) by Steven Mintz.

Life in Puritan New England was so hard that children who were abducted by Native Americans often refused to come back. Eunice Williams, abducted in 1704 at age 7, refused to leave the Kahnawake Mohawks despite her father’s pleas — he found she had forgotten the English language and adopted Indian clothing and hairstyle. “She is obstinately resolved to live and dye here,” he wrote, “and will not so much as give me one pleasant look.” The Mohawks were much more indulgent of children than the colonists, and women were counted equal to men and played an integral role in society and politics. Eunice married a Mohawk and lived with him for half a century.

A returned captive named Titus King reported that many young captives responded similarly. “In Six months time they Forsake Father & mother, Forgit thir own Land, Refuess to Speak there own toungue & Seeminly be Holley Swallowed up with the Indians.” In 1753 Ben Franklin wrote:

When an Indian Child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our Customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and makes one Indian Ramble there is no perswading him ever to return. … When white persons of either sex have been taken prisoners young by the Indians, and lived awhile among them, tho’ ransomed by their Friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a Short time they become disgusted with our manner of Life, and the care and pains that are necessary to support it, and take the first good Opportunity of escaping again into the Woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them.

A 14-year-old named James McCullough, who lived with the Indians for eight years, had to be brought back in fetters, his legs tied under his horse’s belly and arms tied behind his back. Even so he escaped and returned to his Indian family. Children “redeemed” by the English often “cried as if they should die when they were presented to us.” The Indians freed children of the work obligations they faced in the colonies — boys hunted, caught fish, and gathered nuts; and girls cultivated corn but had no master “to oversee or drive us, so that we could work as leisurely as we pleased.”

Wild Edibles: Vuohenputki

Last week we went to tidy up the summer house, and plant a few rows of potatoes. At the far end of the rows, there’s an invasive species of “weed“. Nobody knew exactly what it was, they just hated it. Investigating a little bit I found out it’s edible on it’s early stage, plus it is very rich in protein. Raw tastes ok, but when cooked it’s unbelievable how similar tastes to spinach. In an amazing display of imagination and inventiveness, I named it “wild spinach”.

It doesn’t take any effort to plant because it grows all over. It takes very little effort to collect, it’s 100% organic, and rich in protein.
it doesn’t get any better than this! Very convenient and recommendable.

Very young leaves, and slightly older ones.

Please note you shouldn’t eat this plant after the flowers bloom, and shouldn’t eat them if they are growing close to roads or heavy industrial activity, many plants absorb heavy metals, and you don’t whant to eat those. And above all, don’t eat anything unless 100% sure about what it is.


Wild Edibles: Maitohorsma

This morning I went for a nice walk and found these little guys. Wild asparagus, or Maitohorsma.
You must pick them soon, when the flowers come out they become sour.

There are a few items you should always carry when going to the forest. A bandana is one of them.

On this walk I also found a spring fountain. I saw it earlier this late winter, but i wasn’t sure if the stream was just because of the ice melting. Today I could confirm it’s a spring fountain. This is an awesome find because I know I can make longer trips in this area without worrying about running out of water or boiling it.

Neck Kit

Emmi and I are making some canvas bags to sell them at an upcoming massive flea market. She makes the bags and I draw something in them. Even though drawing was my main duty, I also adventured with the sawing machine. This morning I took some fabric leftovers and did this sort of sheath for the opinel so I could carry it on my neck, along with the ferro rod. The drawing is an arrow, or a dart, up to your imagination…
The sort of sheath has one loop at the top, through which the lace goes through, and one at the bottom, in case i want to hang something else. I don’t like bulky neck kits, so probably it’s gonna stay like this.
The lace it’s some sneaker lace I’ve been using for years as a belt when going skating. I still have another one, so that’s ok. The fact that I’m using shoelace, instead of 550 paracord, means that if I ever find myself in a survival situation, most likely I will die. 😉