August 2011 (Issue 39)
It's August — Wow…
Well, there so much going on, so much to talk about, guess we'd better get to it!
The application deadline is fast approaching for this fall's Ultimate Hunter: Spirit of the Hunt Intensive Skills Program beginning in September! Focused completely on how not to be scented, seen or heard, and how to know where animals are going to be at any given time, this program is for anyone who has always wanted to get you closer to animals than you ever imagined. Check out more details below!
Speaking of Intensive Skills Programs, we're considering running a Secrets in the Stone from November – February. If you've been wanting to learn to flintknap, or to take you knapping to a whole new level, there is no better program available. We'll be making the decision one way or the other in the next couple of weeks so if it's something you might be interested in we'd appreciate hearing from you.
In other exciting news, our 9
Step Knapping DVD is now available for pre-order! (Yay!) It's been
a long time coming and we are very excited to see the project finally
come to fruition. We expect them to ship in the first week of September
so order yours today!
Well there's lots of other new stuff happening but we'll leave that
to the rest of this edition.
Hope y'all been enjoying your summer as much as we have!
e & j
|What's New||Upcoming Events||Skill of the Month||Eddie's Bookshelf||Practically Speaking||Final Note|
9 Step Knapping DVD!
Now Available for Pre-Order!!
It's almost here! The master and accompanying art work went off to the replicators today and now it's only a matter of waiting for our slot in the production line-up!
We are now taking pre-orders for
Step Knapping DVD, and have an expected shipping date of September
You can pre-order yours today for $24.95!
For those of you who have not taken a knapping workshop here, Eddie has developed this amazing new Flintknapping teaching method over the past 5 years or so and I can't tell you what a difference it has made to the people he has taught: Folks who have never held a rock before are turning out usable bifaces in a SINGLE DAY!
He is so excited to be able to offer his incredibly easy system on DVD and hopes it will make the art of Flintknapping more fun, more accessible and easier to understand for a whole new generation of flintknappers.
Oh, and since it's been such a popular offering on YouTube, we have included the Arrow Points from Bottle Bottoms instructional video as a Special Bonus Feature on the DVD!
Check out the New Trading Blanket!
T-shirts, DVDs, Books, Soaps, Salves, Gift Certificates & more!
After a long period of (I admit it) neglect, the Practical
Blanket is back in business!
This is your one-stop-shop for all things Practical Primitive, including our new line of T-shirts, the 9 Step Knapping DVD (and other DVDs as they arrive), the Principles of Natural Camouflage companion book, our Home-made Soaps, the ever-popular Wonder Salve, Gift Certificates and more.
We'll be continuing to add to products and services to the Trading Blanket as time goes on so we hope you'll go and check it out!
New Fall Workshops Added to the
Additional September & October workshops added
We're still working on finalizing some possible travel
dates for the next couple of months, but in the mean time we've added a bunch of additional
workshops to our September and October schedule.
We've returned a few of our most popular summer workshops to the fall calendar,
added the brand new Primitive
Man Traps - An Historical Perspective, and we are pleased to announce
that Doug Meyer will be returning in October to offer his Blow
Guns & Thistle Darts workshop, and an all new day of Gourds: 101
You'll see the details below, and we look forward to seeing you then!
Free Open Skills Nights
Come on out and join us for our FREE Open Skills nights the third Wednesday of each month at our new location near Hackettstown. Bring a project you're working on, a plant ID guide, an animal tracking book, or just come to meet us and spend an evening hanging out.
It's fun, it's free, and everyone is welcome. Things generally start up after work (6-ish) and folks come and go throughout the evening. We never know who will be here, or what folks may be working on, but we do know that it's always a great evening.
We look forward to having you here!
Open Skills Night EDIBLE
PLANTS WALKS with Dan Farella from Back to Nature.
Dan will be conducting these fun and informative walks beginning at 6pm
every OSN throughout the summer.
For more info check out our Events Page.
We look forward to having you here!
(Check out photos of some past Open Skills Nights on our Facebook page!)
WEBINAR ONLINE WORKSHOPS
Online Webinar #2!
"Emergency Preparedness, Session 1:
What Am I Preparing For???"
Our first Webinar workshop was such a great success and we have already scheduled number two!
Emergency Preparedness Basics, Session 1: What Am I Preparing For???
will be taking place on
Wednesday August 31 at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern)
There is an old adage that says "Failing to Plan is Planning
to Fail". But unless you know what it is you're planning for, "failure" is
still a very real possibility.
So what DO you do when you find yourself in a situation that
is beyond a simple "day without power", but less than "the
The first in our ongoing Emergency Preparedness series, this webinar will focus on helping you make a realistic assessment of the most likely emergency scenarios for your particular area, and how you and your loved ones can be best prepared should one or more of those situations arise.
We will also discuss topics such as the Top 5 things you should ALWAYS have on hand, determining the probable government and local emergency services that may (or may not) be available, deciding when to leave and when to stay, and how to encourage neighbors and friends to be prepared, not scared.
There is no excuse not to be prepared — So let's all get started learning exactly WHAT to be ready for!
can register in advance and then use the login information sent to
you via e-mail to attend from any computer. There is no software to download
and no special programs you need to have -- just enter your login and
password and voila!
The seminar portion will last approximately an hour, and there will be time after for asking any questions you may have.
If you can't attend the LIVE event you will be able to access the recorded version the following day. And remember that whether you join us LIVE or watch the RECORDING, you'll be able to access to the webinar for a full 30 days! (Live Event: $20 / Recording: $25)
Principles of Natural Camouflage
Recording, DVD and Companion Book
Our first online webinar workshop, Principles of Natural Camouflage got
great reviews from the folks that joined us that evening, and a big thanks
to you all! For those of you who were unable to watch the LIVE event no
worries, we have several other options now available:
Recording — You can watch the RECORDED version through our Webinar Hub, and you'll have unlimited
access for a full 30 days. Just click on the "Past Meetings" tab
to register ($25)
DVD — For those of you who would like to make this info a permanent part of your library the DVD version of the webinar will be available soon. It's taken us a little longer than we had anticipated to figure out how to make it work but now that we've finally got everything converted the process should be finished up soon. ($24.95)
Book — Not much of a note taker? Like to able to take your info into the field with you? Then this is for you! Available as a pdf e-book and in a printed version, this Principles of Natural Camouflage Companion Book has all of the photos and commentary from the original presentation, ready to go with you anywhere. (e-book: $14.95 / Printed: $17.95)
INTENSIVE SKILLS PROGRAMS
THE ULTIMATE HUNTER: SPIRIT OF THE HUNT
September – December
One "Saturday/Sunday" weekend per month
It's Back! The
Ultimate Hunter: Spirit of the Hunt Intensive Skills Program
is less than 48 hours away!
Whether you hunt with a firearm, bow, camera or just your eyes, this 4-month program will help you get closer to animals than you ever dreamed possible.
Focusing exclusively on the Skills of the Hunt, you will learn how to follow the most important Rules of the Woods in any environment:
- Don't be Scented
- Don't be Seen
- Don't be Heard
- Know the Right Place
- Be There at the Right Time
You will learn how to move through an area as a part of the natural environment,
not a disturbance within it.
Here are examples of just some of the skills you will learn:
- Strategy, Silence & Stealth
- Tracking, Sign Tracking & Trailing
- Patterning game NOW for any time of year
- Camouflage: How to become Invisible on the landscape
- Animal Behavior and Wildlife Identification
- Scouting & Stalking
- How, When & Where to move through an area
- Bird Language & Awareness
- And much more!
the details, including a full FAQ section are on our website but
if you have any other questions at all feel free to call or e-mail —
We're always happy to hear from you!
This program is NOT just for hunters! Anyone who is interested in "reducing their footprint" in the woods, seeing more wildlife, getting closer to animals, and being able to move silently and unseen through their environment will benefit from the skills taught in this program.
If you ARE a hunter or would like to become one, the Spirit of the Hunt program will take your next hunting trip to a whole new level and success will become your new normal.
We can't wait to get started, and look forward
Location: Great Meadows, NJ
Program Length: 4 months (September – December 2011)
Times: One "Saturday/Sunday" weekend per month
Tuition: $1250 ($500 deposit due upon acceptance)
Application Deadline: Midnight, Thursday August 18, 2011
Fall 2011 Workshop Schedule is Online
workshop schedule is coming to a close, and we have begun to add the rest
of our 2011 workshops — Be sure
to check it out!
We'll be adding more workshops soon, but in the meantime, here's a look at what's coming up in the next couple of months…
September2 Tracking Basics
3 NEW! Primitive Man Traps - An Historical Perspective
4 The "GO" Bag
10 Woodland Foraging
11 Foraging & Gathering: The Hunter-Gatherer Mindset
12 Intermediate Flintknapping
16-18 Survival Bows: 3 Bows in 3 Days
19 Survival Arrows
23 Acorn Processing
30 Shooting the Longbow
Skill of the Month
Queen Anne's Lace Flower Fritters
This is one of our favorite late-summer treats and since this is the
end of the season's height we thought we'd pass this one along while
the flowers are still well in bloom. Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus Carota)
is a ridiculously healthy wild edible that is a veritable gold mine of
vitamins, minerals and amazing medicinal constituents. And it tastes
Now, there are people out there who are afraid of mistaking Queen Anne's Lace (also known as Wild Carrot) for another member of the parsley family, Poison Hemlock, that is... NOT edible (okay, extremely toxic). Proper identification of any plant your intend it eat is absolutely vital and we always recommend that you ID each new plant from at least two, preferably three different sources. Before you touch anything that "looks like" a member of this family ALWAYS be sure you positively identify it first! There are many very obvious differences between Wild Carrot and Poison Hemlock, and once you are aware of them you could no more confuse these two than you would lettuce and cabbage. However, if you are still concerned, just look closely: A very large percentage of these easy-to-identify Queen Anne's Lace flower umbels have a single purple flower at their center. So long as you make sure that each flower umbel you pick has that tiny dark purple speck at it's core, you'll have nothing to worry about.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's learn how to make these tasty fritters!
(For photos to go along with these step-by-step instructions check out our website.)
How to make a Queen Anne's Lace Flower Fritters:
- Find a stand of Queen Anne's Lace flowers that are in full bloom, with many of the flower heads fully open so they look pretty much flat. Remember the rules of good foraging and never take more than a third of the available flowers from any one area.
- Cut the flowers so that you have at least six inches of stem. You'll need
this for a handle later!
- Pour about a half inch of olive or canola oil into a small skillet.
- Heat the oil carefully, over a medium to medium-high heat, to the point that, when you drop a small bit of stem into the oil it begins to bubble furiously and immediately all around the object.
- Holding it by the length of stem, carefully dip your flower head upside-down into the oil so that the head is pretty much fully immersed in the oil. The oil should be bubbling furiously all around the flower.
- Hold the flower head in one place until it turns a light, golden brown. This should take about 15 seconds. (If the oil is not hot enough this process will take too long and the flower will taste oily instead of delicious.)
- Once your flower head has turned color, remove it from the oil, shake lightly and place it, still head-down, onto a piece of paper towel. This will allow the excess oil to drain off and the flower to cool slightly.
- Continue the process, one flower head at a time, until you've "frittered" them all.
- Sprinkle a little salt over the frittered flower heads, then, to taste
the best of these wild treats, hold one by the stem, pop all or part
of the umbel into your mouth, close your teeth around it and pull the
stem away, leaving most or all of the bracts behind.
- Enjoy the deliciousness!
Until next time, Enjoy the bounty of Plants, and Have Fun!
Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition & Craft of Live Culture Foods
If you have already been introduced to fermented foods then you have
no doubt heard of Sandor Katz. According to the many different people
who told me about this book, Wild Fermentation is the book
to have on this subject. And after reading it, I would have to agree.
A self-proclaimed "fermentation-fetishist", Katz has been creating, experimenting with and eating fermented foods for many, many years. There are a lot of different books out there that deal with lacto-fermentation as a method of preserving food, but the thing that I like best about this book is how EASY Sandor makes it! I've read other articles and information on the natural fermentation process but it always seemed so complicated and intimidating. Katz's methods, while less "scientific" are much more inviting, are easy to experiment with, and have produced some awesomely delicious results!
Wild Fermentation has information, suggestions and recipes for all types of live-culture foods, including lots of different vegetables, krauts and kimchis, miso, tempeh, beer, wine, cider, mead, yogurt, cheese and very tasty sourdough breads that can not be matched by anything you get from a bakery!
Now I admit, I was… hesitant… to give this type of food preservation
a try. I have never been a fan of sauerkraut (probably the most common
fermented food in western culture) and the one time I was offered kimchi
I simply could not get past the smell. But curiosity about making bread
with "wild-caught" yeast was more than I could resist and after
a few false-starts (those of you who were around for those initial experiments
will remember my spectacular "brick bread" failure :-) I realized
just how amazing this process could be!
Since then we have referenced Katz's recommendations for much of the extra bounty in our garden, and Eddie's lacto-fermented yellow zucchini has been a HUGE hit with everyone.
Katz also reminds us that, more than just another food preservation options, fermenting has an edge that freezing, canning and even drying, just can't match. Fermenting is not only a great way to maintain the healthful properties of fresh foods, it actually increases them! It not only preserves the nutrients, it breaks them down into more easily digestible forms. It improves the bio-availability of minerals and creates new nutrients within the food. Some fermented foods have been shown to reduce toxicity in certain foods and function as free-radicals in others. And of course, the most often-repeated nutritional fact of fermentation, Probiotics! Adding fermented foods to your diet will help your intestines to re-balance and your digestive tract to work better. Fermentation actually makes food better for you.
Like I said, I was originally very intimidated by the idea of lacto-fermentation.
It seemed so strange and complicated! But Katz's conversational style
and reassuring tone helped me to 'be brave in the attempt' and now we
have shelves full of fermented "stuff" and it has become one
of our "go-to" food preservation methods.
I highly recommend giving this book and this preservation method a try (or two, or three). While Katz claims that any food can be fermented I can also strongly recommend that you learn from our experience and leave dandelion greens waaaaay off that list! But that's the beauty of the book. There's lots of great information, all kinds of intriguing recipes and ideas, and the overwhelming feeling of "give it a try."
In Katz's own words:
"Do not be afraid… Remember that all fermentation processes predate the technology that made it possible for them to be made more complicated."
To find more information on this and other recommended books, see our website.
There is an old Survivalists saying that goes something like: "When
an emergency arises the smart people are prepared... but the prepared
people are already gone."
I myself have repeated that quote on many occasions — especially when I hear the increasingly tiresome refrain of "if something bad happens I'm just going to come here cause I know you guys will be ready for it!" I'm sure many of you out there have heard that same sad chorus from friends, neighbors and co-workers.
It's true, we are "ready for it", thanks to years of learning skills and hundred and thousands of hours of practicing and perfecting those skills. We have looked at every probably threat we feel we are likely (or unlikely) to encounter and have prepared plans of what to do according to the situation. And while each emergency, each circumstance and each plan have differences, there is one very important thing they all have in common.
Every plan we have involves pulling together a group of people that will work together to make it through whatever crisis there is to be faced.
I've heard one too many times from one too many people that, should "the
worst" occur they are going to "run to the woods" and "live
off the land" and "return to the ways of the earth, shunning
civilization forever". Balderdash.
Yes, I said it. That is a bunch of plain old Balderdash.
First off, most of the people I hear that from can barely even build a functional emergency shelter in the middle of summer, let alone one that will keep them alive through foul weather or winter's cold. They have never practiced throwing, or traps, or building a bow or atlatl or anything on the run, they do not know how to make a pot to boil water in, their familiarity with creating stone tools extends about as far as obsidian and dacite flakes that someone else has given them, and they could not identify, find, preserve or store enough food to properly sustain themselves for a week, let alone a month or a year.
Second, they seem to think that a life of constantly being on the run, moving from place to place and evading "the bad guys" would be some kind of perverse fun. I recommend reading Warrior Woman: The Story of Lozen or Defiance or Ishi; In Two Worlds or any of the countless other stories of people who have actually lived and died in that type of circumstance. Every one of them sought only to end that type of lifestyle and return to a stable community. The reality of that type of living (or rather, existing) is very different from the romanticized fantasy that has been purveyed by too many "survivalists" who should know better.
I don't say these things to sound mean or harsh or like some sort of survival-elitist, but to try and make people understand that we must all make a much more realistic assessment of what we can actually sustain in an emergency situation. And a life of constant vigilance, never letting your guard down, never allowing your adrenaline levels to return to normal, never having a moment's peace, security, or rest, is not a life that you, or I, or anyone wants to lead.
Eddie coined a phrase not too long ago that we have taken as our mantra:
"Community is the Antidote to Anarchy."
Humans are pack animals. We are designed to live in herds. To share labor. To help each other. We need companionship, we need love, we need contact with others who love us back, and when we do not have it for prolonged periods of time, well, we die.
If you look back throughout history at the people who made it to the other side of catastrophes of one sort or another, the overwhelming majority of survivors were a part of some sort of community. Recent research has shown that the ideal size for a community, and the size of most hunter-gatherer and indigenous tribes is about 120, but it doesn't need to be that many. It just needs to be a group of people who are willing to work, to share, to listen and to do what needs to be done. People who are ready to work together for the good of the whole over the long term. People who are ready and willing to defend each other, to care for each other and to lift each other up to the greatest heights that they can all reach together. That is a community, and that is what is going to get you through a disaster.
Don't get me wrong, preparation is KEY and most people are not prepared nearly enough, nor are they prepared in a specific enough manner to be of real benefit. We'll be talking about all of those things in the "What Am I Preparing For???" webinar at the end of this month, and I strongly encourage you to join us for that session.
But without a community of people to share your life with, your joys and sorrows and burdens and labors and triumphs and hardships and responsibilities and all the good and bad that comes with living, without them, I ask you, what are you really preparing for?
One Final Note
It's so hard to believe that the end of summer is closing
in on us already!
Eddie is heading out on Friday with the Hunter-Gatherers for their Survival Outing (wish them all the best of luck and think good thoughts for dry weather!) the garden plants are beginning to whither, black walnuts and hickory nuts are starting to fall from their trees — where has the season gone?!?!
We know that many of you down south are still in the throws of a massive heat wave, but here in New Jersey the weather has been positively fall-like this past week. (We almost started a fire in the fireplace on Monday!) But no matter where you are, or what your weather is doing, we hope you'll take some time out to enjoy it. Gaze with wonder on the beauty of the world. Dig your hands and your toes in the soft cool earth (okay, you Texans may have to skip that one) and revel in the wondrous gifts and bounty that Nature provides.
Enjoy these last days of Summer everyone — Stay Cool, Stay Safe and Stay Hydrated! — Stay Cool, Stay Safe and Stay Hydrated!
Eddie & Julie