Practically Seeking

July 2011 (Issue 38)

Wow... July already... where is this year going??

It's been an incredibly busy summer so far, with sold-out workshops and LOTS of visits from family and friends. This season is just flying past! Our backyard was transformed in June, and you can check out photos from the workshops that made it happen, including, Constructing an Outdoor Kitchen and Hot Rock Cooking: Beyond Stone Soup — Such an awesome weekend! (Also the weekend we discovered there is another set of twins on the property, one of which is a white fawn.)
Some of your summer favorites are coming up over the next couple of weeks, including Stalking & Natural Camouflage, Front-yard Foraging, Archery Fundamentals (sorry, that one is already full!) so don't miss those, and then there are our brand new Primitive Soap Making and Constructing an Earth Kiln workshops. You can check out the full "rest of Summer" schedule below.

With Autumn already looming on the horizon we are now taking applications our newly redesigned 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 the details below!

Thanks very much to everyone who responded to our survey regarding Interactive Online Webinar workshops -- we really appreciate your feedback and are looking forward to getting started! Our first webinar will be happening Wednesday July 27 and you can see all the details on our website, and sign up to participate live, or watch the recorded version.
And for those of you who have been waiting (patiently or otherwise :-) we have another meeting with the 9 Step Knapping DVD editor on Monday!

Looking forward to heading off to the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous next week — hope to see some of you there!

In the mean time, stay safe and enjoy these beautiful, wonderful dog days of Summer!

e & j


What's New Upcoming Events Skill of the Month Eddie's Bookshelf Practically Speaking Final Note

What's New

Interactive Online Webinar Workshops!
"Principles of Natural Camouflage"
Wednesday July 27, 7:30 p.m.

Thanks to all of the extremely helpful responses to our online survey last month we are proud to announce the first in our brand new schedule of Interactive Online Webinar Workshops:

"Principles of Natural Camouflage"
will be taking place on
Wednesday July 27
7:30 p.m.

You 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.

Many of you told us that flexibility was a very important factor for you, so for those of you who are unable to attend the event live, a recorded version will be available the following day. In keeping with our Mission of providing teaching that is Accessible, Affordable and Achievable, whether you join us live or access the recording, you initial payment ($20 live/$25 recorded) will allow you access to the webinar for a full 30 days!

We are VERY excited to begin offering this whole new way of teaching, and look forward to hearing your feedback as we build this new library of skills information online. More information will be available on our website in the coming days and next week we will be sending out an "Extra!" edition of Practically Speaking with all of the details so watch for it in your Inbox!

9 Step Knapping DVD 
Almost ready for Pre-Order!

For those of you who have been waiting so patiently (and so impatiently) for the past year we wanted to give you an update on our forthcoming 9 Step Knapping DVD!

We had a meeting with the editor on Monday and he figures that the final tweaks and changes should take only a couple of days -- so now it's up to us to get our last set of notes to him so he can do the rest and make us a Master.
Our hope is that by the time we send out our August newsletter we will have full-on ordering information for you and be ready to ship!
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.   

Free Open Skills Nights

July 13
August 17
September 21
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!)


Practical Primitive Logo

September – December
One "Saturday/Sunday" weekend per month

It's Back! The Ultimate Hunter: Spirit of the Hunt Intensive Skills Program is returning this fall in all it's re-designed glory!

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:

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:

All 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!
Applications are currently being taken for the program, (the deadline is Thursday August 18) and participants will get together for one 2-day weekend each month for 4 months, always on a Saturday/Sunday.
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're really excited about this newly re-designed program and look forward to seeing your application

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

Upcoming Workshops

2011 Spring/Summer Workshop Schedule is Online

Our 2011 workshop schedule for Spring & Summer is in full swing, with several great new workshops coming up, as well as your Summertime favorites — Be sure to check it out!
Hhere's a look at what's coming up in the next couple of months…


16        Stalking & Natural Camouflage
17        Front-yard Foraging
18        NEW! Primitive Soap Making
27        Online! Principles of Natural Camouflage WEBINAR
30-31   Archery Fundamentals


Skill of the Month

Wine Berries

Harvesting Wine Berries

The Wine Berries are in! Hooray!
Wine Berry, (Rubus Phoenicolasius) is an invasive from Asia that has virtually taken over many areas in the Northeast. I have a mixed relationship with these berries because, while they out-compete many local plants, the are soooo delectable! A variety of red raspberry these are arguably my favorite of the "Rubus" family.  It hurts my soul to take a weed whacker to them, but they simply have to be controlled.
Fortunately, because of their growth characteristics, the ripened translucent fruits are (in my humble opinion) easier to harvest than any other raspberry. And since they are a spreading invasive that must be contained you can use harvesting methods that make collection fast and easy.
You need about 4 cups of berries to make a batch of jam, and using this method should take no more than a mere 30 minutes or so to harvest that amount.
Now that's more like it!

Here is what I did....

(For photos to go along with these step-by-step instructions check out our website.)

How to make a Tincture Press:

  1. You'll need a good pair of leather gloves, (wine berries still have plenty of thorns to get past!) a gathering basket (one that hangs about waist high is perfect), and a pair of bypass pruners.
  2. The berries grow in clusters and are fully ripe when they reach a semi-translucent red, sort of like looking through a glass of red wine. (Wonder if that's where they got the name?) I prefer them to be just a bit under-ripe.
  3. Find a cluster where most or all of the berries are ripe, grab the cluster by the stem and give it a nip with the pruners.
  4. Hold the cluster over your gathering basket and simply brush the berries into the basket with a free finger.
  5. Continue along your berry bushes, cutting any interfering non-berry-bearing vines out of your way and making sure that you look under the top layer of vines for the many berry-bearing ones hiding underneath.
  6. Once your basket is full, take you berries indoors and carefully wash them off. Go easy, as too much pressure or agitation can bruise or smush your berries.
  7. Separate out the amount you plan to eat in the next day or two and put them in the fridge, inside a container that is not too deep -- again, ripe berries crush easily.
  8. Spread your remaining berries out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer.
  9. Berries freeze quickly, so check back in an hour or two and, once they are all frozen, put them in a tupperware container or ziplock freezer bag and store frozen until ready to use.
  10. The advantage to freezing the berries first? Once berry season is over and you are longing for that fresh-kissed taste of summer again, you can open up your tupperware or freezer bag and pull out as many or as few berries as you wish! No big clumps of frozen, berry-flavored mush. Every berry is as red and beautiful and tasty as it was the day it was picked. Delicious!

Remember, this plant is a NON-Native Invasive. Harsh gathering techniques will not cause extinction of this plant.  Left alone this plant will take over an area to the detriment of the native species'. So grab your gloves and your pruners, get out there, and do some good for your local environment (and be rewarded with the best of berries!) 

Until next time, Enjoy the bounty of Plants, and Have Fun!


Eddie's Bookshelf

98.6: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive

98.6: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive

—Cody Lundin

OK, I like Cody. Of all the "Survival Experts" on tv these days he is the one that I have respect for. I personally think he should consider at least wearing sandals on a more regular basis, but hey, that is his business. One of the main reasons I respect Cody Lundin is that, unlike many in this industry, Cody is pretty much forthright, honest about his skills, and has actual experience behind his words of wisdom. In this book he provides very basic, yet very necessary, information for anyone who may find themselves in a survival situation. (So in other words, every one!)
I know for a fact that Cody has been working on his skills for a long time and that he has trained with some people that I hold in high regard, including Steve Watts. His research is well-documented and clearly presented, and comes, of course, with Cody's unique brand of humor. In addition to the solid information on how the body works and reacts under extreme circumstances, some excellent information on clothing and hydration, Lundin also provides good descriptions of a minimalist kit that everyone should have available to them at all times.
This book is a perfect primer for the those new to the outdoors, and an excellent reminder and resource for those long-time outdoor adventurers who just never even think THEY would end up in a survival situation.
And for us old timers, Cody's approach might just cause one to re-think some previous rational.

As a side note, at the very back of the book Cody has a section on "Choosing the Right Instructor". Of the criteria he lists, we here at Practical Primitive meet every one. I thought that was pretty cool, and a good indication that he and I are very much on the same page when it comes to both teaching and learning these skills.
A great book and an easy read, I think everyone can learn something new from this one, and that, in my mind, is worth it.

To find more information on this and other recommended books, see our website.


Practically Speaking


Wine berries, blue berries, corn, tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, peaches, lettuce, collards, spinach, leeks, garlic, onions, raspberries, carrots, ... the list of amazingly delicious fresh local foods that are available for the eating right now is almost staggering — what a wonderful time of year!
We are lucky enough to live in "farm country" here in New Jersey and get a fresh and delicious box of yummy farm-fresh goodness every Wednesday to supplement our first-year gardening efforts.
Add to that the wonderful wild abundance of "weeds" like Lambs Quarters, Day Lilies, Stinging Nettle, Evening Primrose, Black Nightshade, Wild Parsnip and Wood Sorrel, and the amazingly powerful medicinal plants such as St. John's Wort, Mullein, Yarrow and Jewel Weed that are in full bloom and the one can not help but stand in awe and wonder at all that Nature provides for us, and for all living creatures.

As those of you who follow us on Facebook have no doubt seen, Practical Primitive has been designated as a "nursery" to several new fawns since the early Spring. Watching "Bambi",  "Jack & Jill" and the others grow and mature from infants that must be "stashed" for the day while their mother feeds, to younglings that are following their mothers, eating solid food and, in the case of Jack & Jill, apparently surviving on their own, has been an enlightening and humbling experience.
So has seeing the batch of Yearlings (last year's fawns) grow from confused, kicked-away "followers" to confident young deer that are fully capable of surviving and thriving on their own.

Where am I going with my little metaphor in this story? 10 years ago I was living in a city, riding on the train or stuck in traffic, shopping at Whole Foods, cut off from the natural world, spending my life in a cube at work or a box at home, never quite happy, never quite satisfied, always longing, wishing, knowing there was something more but never knowing what it was.
The abundance of the natural world was always around me, yet forever out of reach. Even walking the dogs in the woods or mountain biking in the hills was a "distant" experience -- the plants and berries were never allowed to be touched because of "regulations" and the deer were just tracks on the ground or fleeting flashes of brown dashing away through the woods as we approached. I couldn't have recognized one deer from another if my life depended on it.

A decade later my world is a totally and completely different place. Everywhere I look the Abundance of Nature calls out to me! Plants and animals have names, distinctions, properties of value! I recognize each individual deer that roams across our  property and the rabbits that live in our yard. I know the "yip" of one fox from another and hear the soft bleating call of Jack as she moves through the woods to find her twin.
The meadows and roadsides and forests have ceased to be simply a "wall of green" and I whoop with joy as I am driving 40 mph down the road and I see that the Yarrow flowers have come into bloom and the milkweed pods are ready for harvest.
What a world we live in!

So much of what we see and hear around us every day focuses on the negative -- what we are losing, what we are running out of, what is going down, going away, going to pot. Yes, it is important to stay up to date on world and local events and environmental issues. It is vital to remain politically active and do what we can to positively influence the powers that be in the direction that favors Mother Earth and protects our natural resources.
But dang, that can get depressing at times, can't it? Is it just me?

Here's the difference between me now and me a decade ago. Then, I just got depressed and figured that the world was going to hell in a handbasket and we were all pretty much doomed so what was the point?
Now, when I get overwhelmed at the world's problems I look out my window and see the tomato plants that have grown to be six feet tall... the day lilies that are blooming everywhere along the roadside... the nuts that are setting on the Beech and Black Walnut and Hickory and Oak trees... the fawns frolicking in the front yard as they "find their legs" and all of the other boundless beauty the encompasses the natural world of which we are lucky enough to be a part.

The rain has finished falling, the sun is coming out, it's time go and join in the harvest of Abundance. 


One Final Note

My (Julie's) Mom is down visiting and helping out here at the Hacienda this week -- those of you who come out to Open Skills Night tonight will get to meet her!
She has been outside clearing the front "flower" bed in preparation for this Sunday's Front-yard Foraging workshop and just commented to me "I've never had to pick and choose between which weeds to pull before!"
I love our life.
Have a Great Summer everyone --- Stay Cool, Stay Safe and Stay Hydrated!

Be Well,
Eddie & Julie
Practical Primitive

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