Practically Seeking

October 2009 (Issue 25)

What a couple of months these have been! With three Intensive Skills Program now underway our lives have been very busy since our last newsletter. We have completed our first weekend of both the Secrets in the Stone and World of the Bow: The Ultimate Hunter programs here in New Jersey, and our very first World of the Hunter-Gatherer weekend in Texas. For those of you thinking of applying the next time around, or who just want to see what the participants are working on and follow their progress, we'll be posting photos of each weekend on our Facebook page. Right now, you can check out pics from Secrets in the Stone, and Hunter-Gatherer, Texas and The Ultimate Hunter photos will be posted soon, so watch for those as well.
Speaking of photos, if you haven't already seen them, be sure to take a look at the photos from the recent Hunter-Gatherer Survival Outing. They had an amazing week of Survival in the Adirondacks, did a great job on their campsite, and built a seriously sweet birch-bark shelter!! Well done guys -- we're so proud of you all!
We're off to Ontario this morning, where we will be conducting two weekends of workshop at The P.I.N.E. Project in Toronto. (See details below.) There are still spaces available, and a portion of the proceeds from these workshops go to The P.I.N.E. Project's children's programs, so come on out and join us!
If you are interested in setting up a Skills 2 You workshop in your area, we are now beginning to take bookings beginning in March, so send us an e-mail with your interests and let's see what we can figure out.

Now for those of you who have been wondering, I think that we have received that final prototype of the knife that I have been designing for so long! It just came in the mail a couple of days ago so there is a little bit of "testing" (okay, knife-abuse :-) still to be done, but so far it looks great and I think it will be ready to go to market soon. Hooray!

Okay, got to finish packing up the truck so we can get on the road. Between this trip to Ontario, our week-long Using the Whole Animal workshop, travel to Texas, the Intensive Skills Programs and our regular workshops, we will be ending out the year busier than ever.
We know that things are tight all over, but it is part of our Mission to continue to keep our workshops as affordable and accessible as possible, and the fact that we have continued to see such great response to our programs helps us to know we're on the right track. We appreciate all of the support you've shown and will keep doing our best to make these skills available to everyone. We hope you continue to keep learning and practicing!

e & j


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

What's New

Timber Hitch Video on YouTube

Having received such an overwhelming response to our "Knots to Know" Skill of the Month in August, we created a short video on How to Tie a Timber Hitch, showing several different angles of the knot being tied, and posted it up on our YouTube channel. Learning to tie knots can be tough from written instructions, even with photos to guide you, so we hope that having the video as an additional resource will encourage you all to continue learning to Know Your Knots!!

Using The Whole Animal Workshop
November 14-19

A big hit last year, we've decided to once again team up with Two Wolves Braintanning to offer our Using the Whole Animal workshop. Over the six full days of this course you'll be hands-on through the entire process, learning how to use every part of the animal in a responsible and respectful manner.
All meals and materials will be provided and camping will be available on-site. Registrations have already begun to arrive, so be sure to confirm your spot as soon as possible -- we have a strict limit of no more than eight people.
The folks who attended this one last year learned far more than they ever expected. Don't miss this one-of-a-kind workshop!

Calling All Canadian! (Well, Ontarians at least!)

TORONTO Trip in October!
October 9-11 & 17, 18
P.I.N.E. Project, Toronto ON

Our good friend Andrew, founder of The P.I.N.E. Project, has invited us up to Toronto to run two weekends of workshops there in the city's west end, near High Park. A portion of the proceeds for these workshops will go directly to the P.I.N.E. Project -- a non-profit dedicated to community, family and city children, who's mission is to "bring the wonders of the natural world back to the urban jungle".

October 9-11 — Eddie will be offering his 9 Step Knapping program, beginning on Friday evening and ending Sunday late afternoon. You'll start with big chunks of rock and finish with pressure-flaked arrow points, all in 2 1/2 days. An entirely "hands-on" weekend, you'll take home your own arrow points at the end of the workshop. (Only 1 space left)
Saturday October 17 — Our Gathering Baskets are the ones we use more than any others! These beautiful woven baskets can be used for everything from gathering wild greens, berries, acorns or other edible plants, to carrying your water bottle, taking along treats and accessories for walking the dog, or even as a purse or shopping bag replacement. Make your own basket to take home and find all sorts of uses for in your own life.
Sunday October 18Acorn Processing is something we look forward to every Fall. Nutritious, delicious and abundant, Acorn was a staple food source for many indigenous tribes all over North America. Learn how to harvest and store acorns for use, as well as how to remove the tannins that are the cause of that bitter taste. Be a part of the entire process of creating this tasty, protein-rich flour that and can be used in everything from breads and pancakes to muffins and ash cakes and biscuits. We will use the flour we make to create a tasty bread so you can taste for yourself the unique and delicious flavor that acorn provides.

If you have any questions about the workshops feel free to send us an e-mail, or contact Andrew at the P.I.N.E. Project for location information and to register.
We do have a few available days during the week in which Eddie may be available for some mentoring time, so if you would like to book some one-on-one instruction let us know.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

(For more info check out the Events page on our website.)

Free Open Skills Nights

October 21
November 18
December 16
Come on out and join us for our FREE Open Skills nights the third Wednesday of each month. 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. We never know who will be here, or what folks will be working on, but we do know that it's always a great evening.
We look forward to having you here!

(Check out photos of some past Open Skills Nights on our Flickr and Facebook pages!)

Upcoming Workshops

Check out our 2009 Fall/Winter workshop schedule!

Our workshops for the first quarter of 2010 will be posted soon! In the mean time we look forward to seeing you for the remainder of our 2009 Fall/Winter schedule. So here's a look at what's coming up over the next couple of months...


9-11     9 Step Knapping™ (P.I.N.E. Project, Toronto, ON)
17         Gathering Baskets (P.I.N.E. Project, Toronto, ON)
18         Acorn Processing (P.I.N.E. Project, Toronto, ON)
30         Making & Using Natural Cordage
31         Natural Dyes


1         Soap Making
2         Melon Baskets & Twined Baskets
 Using the Whole Animal


11        Acorn Processing
12        Felt Making
13-14  Adirondack Pack Baskets


Skill of the Month

Bedsheet Hammock

The Bed sheet Hammock

Frequently in a survival (or camping) situation it is desirable to get yourself up off the ground because of dampness, insects, or for a host of other reasons, and a hammock can serve this purpose very well.  A suitable hammock can be easily improvised from a tarp, a poncho, or even a bed sheet.

To make a hammock all you will require is a bed sheet (or poncho, or tarp), two 3-foot lengths, and two 6-foot lengths of paracord or other strong cordage that can support your weight. For this article we used a king size sheet and half-inch nylon webbing, and the knots used to tie and secure the hammock are the timber hitch and half hitches we discussed in the August newsletter.

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


How to Make a Bedsheet Hammock:

  1. Take a sheet and fold it in half length-wise. (Larger sheets can be folded in half a second time.)
  2. Take one end of your folded sheet and, starting with both sides simultaneously, gather the edges evenly inward towards the center, in an accordion-style fold.
  3. About 9 or 10 inches down from the gathered end, use one of your 3-foot lengths of cordage to bind the gathered end together, using a timber hitch.
  4. Wrap back toward the gathered end of the sheet about six times, and secure with 3 half-hitches.
  5. Now fold the short end of the sheet over so that it overlaps the wrap you just made, and continue wrapping back toward the end at least 6 more wraps, and secure the cordage with a minimum of 3 half-hitches. You should now have an "eye loop" in the end of your sheet.
  6. Fold your six-foot piece of cordage in half and tie an overhand loop in the folded end.
  7. Pass the cordage loop through the eye of the sheet and then pass the free ends of the cordage back through the loop so that it tightens down on the eye loop at the end of your sheet.
  8. Repeat steps 2-7 at the sheet's opposite end. You should now have a secured eye-loop with a length of tightened-down cordage at each end of your sheet.
  9. Secure one end of the hammock around a tree, about chest high, using a timber hitch.  When creating this timber hitch you should wrap through at least 5-7 times to ensure the hitch is very secure! (You don't want to end up on the ground because you were short a couple of wraps!)
  10. Repeat Step 9 at the opposite end, securing this timber hitch a few inches lower than the first. It is always more comfortable to have your head slightly higher than your feet.
  11. To enter the hammock straddle it in the center of the sheet and spread the hammock apart just behind your bum.  SLOWLY lower your weight into the hammock. At this point you want to carefully watch the knots for any slippage, ensuring they will hold before fully committing all your weight to the hammock!
Alternate Hammock Style


If you have a larger sheet that you doubled-over twice
at the beginning, you can crawl inside that second fold
and have yourself a built-in blanket!
This is especially great during mosquito season :-)

So give this improvised hammock a try the next time you're sleeping outdoors.
It's a great way to Relax, Enjoy and Have Fun!



Eddie's Bookshelf

Warrior Woman: The Story of Lozen

Warrior Woman: The Story of Lozen, Apache Warrior & Shaman

— Peter Aleshire

No doubt you have heard of the great Apache warriors, Geronimo and Victorio. Perhaps you also know the names of their less famous, but no less ferocious, counterparts, Cochise and Magnas Coloradas. But there is another towering figure in Apache history who all too often goes unmentioned in recountings of the great Apache tails, or who's story is told only as a footnote to those others: Her name is Lozen.
I first heard her name about five years ago now, just after I had purchased "In the Days of Victorio". Eddie said to me: "You want to read about a great warrior? Find a book on Lozen. She was one of the greatest warriors of all time." She? Okay, I was hooked. But finding a book about this fierce and important warrior woman was not easy. Even now, an Amazon search for books about Victorio or Geronimo comes up with many hundreds of choices about each. For Lozen, there are 3.
Yet, she fought relentlessly, successfully, almost continuously, and against enormous odds for over 40 years, many of them alongside Geronimo and her brother, Victorio; Lozen was acknowledged equal to them all. A war chief, spiritual leader and healer, Lozen is arguably one of the most successful, respected, and influential female warriors in history.
A key figure in almost all of the great battles of the Apache wars, her "supernatural" gift for locating the enemy is credited for keeping her people and their warriors safe from countless harms and out of many of the ambushes set by the "White Eyes" to destroy them. Her uncanny ability with horses made her an extraordinary horse-thief -- a skill highly prized among the warfare-driven Apache, who's very lives depended on their ability to capture and train enough horses to keep their warriors mounted and their people constantly on the move.
Having been such a major player in virtually every great and bloody battle, it is recorded that she was there at the surrender of Geronimo, and ended her days in the Apache prison camps of Florida, Alabama, and finally, Oklahoma, in an unmarked and unremembered grave.

It was many, many years before the story of Lozen began to be heard, and few official records exist of her deeds, with most of the written accounts of her life coming from the army documents of her enemies. Her companion warriors often downplayed her importance when captured, likely fearing that she would become as hunted as Geronimo and her brother, Victorio.
In his book, Peter Aleshire pieces together all of the available information on Lozen, using both written and oral records from both Apache and Whites, and anecdotal accounts of her deeds by those who remember her from their childhood.  When forced to make assumptions, guesses on her thought processes, or to describe probable ceremonies that would have been similar to those conducted in other, closely-related Apache tribes to Lozen's own, Aleshire meticulously notes these semi-factual leaps in the extensive Notes section at the end of the book. And unless they are contradicted by known facts, Aleshire always recounts the Apache version of events over Army accounts, and notes the differences.

As is often the case with great female figures in history, Lozen's story has gone untold and her name gone unknown for far too long. While the narrative may be forced into conjecture at times, and the writing occasionally stilted as the author attempts to inject Apache phrases, the story that unfolds is absolutely compelling and utterly fascinating.
If you think you know the story of the Apache people and their war to retain their homeland and their lives, I challenge you to add this story of Lozen to what you already know.
If you have never heard of this great woman — warrior, shaman, healer, leader and lethal adversary — I encourage you discover her incredible story.

  — Julie

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

Practically Speaking

Ready… Set… Acorn!!

Not too long ago I wrote about the rule of Metabolic Efficiency, and let me tell you, now is the time to apply it! I don't know if it's the same all over, but both here in New Jersey and down in Texas the acorns are falling in abundance and now is the time to be out there gathering!
While two years ago we also had a large acorn drop, last year, in the majority of the Northeastern U.S., there were almost NO acorns to be found anywhere. Those that did fall were small and wormy and almost useless. A person (or people) relying on a year-to-year gathering of acorn as a staple crop would have spent the winter miserable, sick and starving.

Whether the abundance is due to the cooler temperatures and above average rainfall we have had this year, or it is just part of a natural cycle makes no difference. The result is the same -- we're out there picking up all the acorns we can store. The other day we gathered a little over 15 pounds in only about 30 minutes! That is a full 5 gallon bucket of acorns. And we didn't even put a dent into what is available. Time to stop? Sounds like a lot? Should be plenty to get through the winter? Not really. Frankly, not even close. This is a great reminder that we pay little attention to the actual volume of food we consume. I wrote about tracking and projecting your food needs in a previous issue, and also about taking advantage of a resource while it is available and at it's peak. Right now is a prime example of putting all of these idea into practice. The acorns are here, now, in abundance. They are delicious, highly nutritious, and store well. But most importantly, they will not be on the ground for long!! 

So, grab your gathering basket, get off of Facebook or Twitter, or Wii, or whatever, and do some collecting, storing and processing of your own. A great excuse to get outdoors into the beautiful crispness of Fall, and a wonderful activity in which to involve the entire family, you will be rewarded with a tasty and nutritious treat (when processed correctly) that will last the entire winter and can be added to many common baked goods to increase their available protein.

One never knows what the future will hold, or when or if a resource will be available in such easy abundance again. So gather ye rosebuds (or in this case, acorns) while ye may, and enjoy the abundance of the moment!


One Final Note

The "fear trade" is an easy marketing ploy. We see it all the time from disaster movies, news media, cults, survival schools, and even public policy makers. The one thing they have in common is the ability to use the mechanism of fear to manipulate your behavior, and assist you in disposing of your "DISPOSABLE" income.
But we encourage you not to fall prey to all the fears of the moment, and rather, live a life of passion and purpose.  Learning to exercise common sense, common courtesy, and common decency can go a long way to solving a lot of our "issues", (yet sadly, they are not so common). But best of all, they can be learned and provided for free !

We are being asked by more and more people of late (including Eddie's daughter) what we think about the various apocalyptic scenarios and the different possible pandemics that may surface… What can be done? What to learn to ensure survival?
Yes, there are many uncertainties bombarding us from every direction, and many serious challenges facing our world today, but we refuse to trade on those fears. No one knows what the future holds, and no one can teach you to be prepared for every possible scenario or every possible outcome. Attempting to try will only cause you to miss out on the many wonders that exist in this present time. 
We prefer to teach and to learn these skills because they are fun, they provide an unshakable connection to our pasts and our ancestors, and a sustainable way of living with each other and with the earth itself. They can teach you greater concentration and stillness, and provide a tremendous sense of self-reliance and confidence. Fear need never enter into it.

There may come a time that the skills you choose to learn and practice will indeed serve you well in a crisis, but choose to learn them for empowering reasons.
If you are ready to live from a positive perspective, and to learn how to be prepared, not scared, come see us.

Be Well,
Eddie & Julie
Practical Primitive

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