Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Outdoor Skills Class - June 2010

There are constant reminder on this, my MooseBoots journey.  Reminder to be thankful for the bounty of the Earth, for the kindness of others, and our our ability to work and play.  This month's class provided the opportunity to express gratitude in each of these areas.  We worked with Birch bark.  The time is right, for the next few months, to peel the bark from the trees to make baskets.  We will use the roots we harvested in May to finish the baskets.  The contribution this month was the bark itself.

For the first hour or so, we helped the people on the farm.  In gratitude for allowing us to use the land, we helped them mulch the potatoes and deal with the potato bugs.  For mulching, we re-used the straw we used last fall to protect the strawberry plants.  It had been gathered and piled near the field we were working.  Given that they are an organic farm, they can not simply spray for bugs and fertilize to optimize the yield.  Hence, the straw served two main purposes - bug control and to keep the ground moist in the dry weather.  We spread it to "confuse" the potato bugs.  First, we inspected for bugs.  If we found them, or eggs, we crushed them ... organic pest control.  Then, we spread the hay around the plants, creating islands of green leaves in the brown/tan colored sea of straw.  Those bugs are uuuuuugly!

Next, we gathered to peel the bark.  The trees were cleaned from an thick patch of birch and culled to allow for healthy growth of the surrounding trees - a caretaker's responsibility.  Each child got to peel a bit and then we headed off to the wigwam.  At the wigwam, we ate lunch and then squared the pieces of bark.  Like with paper airplanes, you want the edges to be as square as possible.  These were then stored at the site for next month.  We carefully stacked them to keep them from rolling into coiled, tangled heaps.

Later, at my apprenticeship weekend, while walking, I found a number of large birch logs that had been cut down to clear some land.  Not wanting to waste them, I decided to peel them.  It was quite a bit of work.  I was rewarded with two pieces of bark about 24" x 72", 0.6 m x 1.8 m (for those of the metric bent).  Of course, the large section broke into smaller pieces, but they are a better size for baskets now.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the opportunity, and willing teachers, to learn these skills and to be well enough to use them.  My MooseBoots journey has provided so many rich, rewarding experiences so far and I have just begun.  At some point, I hope to be able to pass these skills and beliefs/attitudes on to those of the next generation.

1 comment:

  1. You forgot to mention while we were mulching the potatoes we were gifted with a much needed rainstorm. It was awesome, out there working the fields, in that wonderful warm rain ;).


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