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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Foragers Diary; January 2019



January is the start of the hungry gap, all the larger edible fungi are finished now, even the blewets and oysters which will persist a little longer into Winter and which I was still finding in good numbers in November and December are all gone now and for my fungi fix I have to rely on smaller more unusual species such as Scarlet Elf Cups.



Slightly damp mossy woodland is the best place to find these colourful fungi and you can often pick leaves from a variety of wild cress species from close by. 





A bag full of cress and scarlet elf cups. 



Combined with a bit of cream cheese or pickled beetroot or chutney they make a delicious treat. My daughter thinks they might be the kind of thing fairies would eat so she loves them.

As we are still in the shooting season there is plenty of game meat to be eaten and I very rarely have time to pluck birds so more often than not I take the breasts and thighs from them without plucking to save a lot of time and mess. The breasts often get roasted wrapped in bacon, pan fried or even minced for sausage and other recipes depending on the species and I normally use the thighs for casseroles and curries. The following recipe makes for a great game curry;

4 pairs of partridge legs and thighs
2 pairs of pheasant legs and thighs
1 pair of duck legs and thighs
1 pair of goose legs and thighs
2 jars aldi thai green curry sauce
250g natural yoghurt
2 big handfulls of spinache
2 large peppers sliced
250g Baby sweetcorn

With rice this was plenty for a dozen people at a family gathering but unfortunately it all got eaten before I could take a picture.


Wild food can always be improved by eating it out of doors and as fresh as possible, fresh roe liver from a deer shot that morning and a pan full of eggs makes a very hearty campfire breakfast after an early stalk and to prepare for a full day in the woods.



In the run up to Christmas and through to the end of the wildfowling season I always try to give away some goose to family members who might not have such ready access to it as I do and judging by this picture from my brother it gets put to good use;



Goose crowns bagged up and ready for distribution. 
Check back next month for some more recipes, foraging tips and stories of wild food.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Bushcraft Art and Crafts (Fungi Spore PrintsFungi all )



In the Northern Hemisphere we all hope for a white Christmas, unfortunately for most of us in the UK we will be disappointed and our dreams of practising winter bushcraft and survival skills, like building a quinze, will be postponed for another year.

With or without snow though crisp, cold Autumn and Winter days are my favourite time to be outdoors but with or without snow it can sometimes be a challenge to get young people enthusiastic about being out of doors when the weather is cold. Here is one idea for you though;

Fungi all leave a spore print and these can be used in children art projects
 All fungi produce spores, these are the equivalent of seeds in plants in that from those spores new fungi can develop although they are biologically very different. These spores can be used to produce very interesting pieces of art work with children. Spore prints can also be used to help identify fungi the colour of the spores varies just as much between species as the physical appearance of the fungi.

At this stage it is important to make that warning that should accompany any fungi foraging or activity that involves fungi, BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL, although you aren’t necessarily going to eat these fungi that doesn’t mean you can be any less careful. All fungi produce spores even poisonous ones and do you want your children handling poisonous species at all?

The safest approach with fungi is just not to touch species you aren’t 100% sure of. 

The spore print from a bollete
Once you have picked some fungi you can arrange them carefully on paper or card that will show of the spore deposit best, you will need a few different colours of paper. The fungi we collected this time included some inedible species but nothing really poisonous. This variety allowed us to make some different patterns using the different colours of spores. 

It won't take long to leave a spore print, a few minutes is often enough but if you leave it an hour or so, or potentially overnight you will get a darker print.

A tractor with field mushroom spore wheels
An excellent benefit of this activity and others which involve opportunities for children to work with natural materials gathered from the wild is the chance to help children engage with nature and the countryside environment around them.

This is one of the greatest benefits of practising Bushcraft with children, the hard core bushcraft skills can come later but it's the experiences of nature and the environment, an appreciation and general knowledge of local wildlife, imagination, self reliance and confidence that are the greatest benefits to young children.  

Friday, 18 January 2019

Bushcraft and Survival in the News; Happy New Year

Here in the UK Brexit has been big news since the referendum back in 2017 and it has sparked a lot of prepping, I hope the panic will turn out to be unnecessary just like it was with the 'millenium bug' back in 2000. Unfortunately there will be some consequences of Brexit, hopefully the fears about shortages of medicines, food and fuel will prove unfounded but people are prepping and they are making headlines;

Red Cross preparedness kit.

In preparation for what he thinks is an inevitable breakdown in society due to brexit a man from Glasgow has spent over $2000 on prepping and stockpiling food and gear for a major breakdown and in the event of civil unrest is planning to head into the highlands to get away from the chaos.

What worries me about this strategy is that people get their 'experiencec' of preparedness by watching too many episodes of doomsday preppers and focus too much on equipment and not enough on skills. Stockpiling kit and spending money is easy, using that kit is the hard part and knowledge and experience is far more valuable than a rucksack and a vague idea that you will head for the woods in the event of a crisis. People have been caught out before when they have headed for the wilderness with an over inflated sense of their own skill after watching too much television and have died, like David Austin in 2007, or needed rescuing like a pair of hikers on Scafell Pike back in November last year. 

California Regional Mountain Rescue Association 2016 Re-accreditation Test
A mountain rescue team
Whether it's prepping or survival related or just recreational activities that take you out of doors you have a responsibility for yourself. That's not to say that you shouldn't go outdoors if you are not experienced, I've spent a lot of my career trying to persuade people to spend more time outdoors but don't let your enthusiasm get the better of yourself and put someone else in danger by taking them with you to somewhere you can't handle or by calling out rescue services who will willingly risk their lives in poor weather to save you if your stupidity and carelessness puts you in an avoidable situation. Focus on your skills and gradually increase your comfort zone rather than throwing yourself in at the deep end. By the time you need your survival skills you for real make sure you have practised them otherwise by running of to the wilderness at the first hint of trouble you will have relegated yourself from the status of a survivor to a statistic very quickly.

Unfortunately there are plenty of people falling into the trap of thinking equipment and stuff is all thats required for emergencies and some of them clearly lack the necessary experience to choose the right 'stuff' let alone know what to do with it or without it.

The Daily Mail reported in December about mums who are stockpiling food for fear that Brexit will affect food supplies. Now there are probably better reasons to stockpile a bit of food as we saw when shelves were empty last year after the 'beast from the east' but I'm not going to criticise people for having a bit of extra food on hand, its very sensible. The problem is the pictures of these mums with their stockpiles show a complete lack of understanding of the best foods to store, one person is pictured with what amounts to little more than a normal grocery shop for a few days, except for the addition of several kilos of pasta. It's a stock of food for a few days at most, after that they would be eating plain pasta, there is also no water shown but there are three cartons of expensive fruit juice. For the price of the fruit juice she could have purchased about fifty litres of bottled water from Aldi, the Branston pickle could have been six litres of pickling vinegar allowing her to preserve fresh fruit and veg or store and use for pickling seasonal  foraged foods, and for the price of the branded pasta sauce about thirty tins of plumb tomatoes. If you are going to stockpile and store food do it right and cost effectively and remember that you shouldn't  necessarily base your food storage on what you normally eat on a weekly basis. If their poor choice of food to storage is down to bad advice and potentially the purchase of 'brexit boxes' which are becoming popular and have been reported on by the Independant as well as other outlets that is a concern as someone out there is profiting from people who don't know better by selling them a product that isn't up to scratch.

Prepping and brexit isn't the only newsworthy bushcraft and survival topic though:

In November last year John Allen Chau, an American adventurer, and Christian missionary, was killed by tribes-people on North Sentinel Island when he landed there after paying fishermen to drop him off in defiance of laws putting North Sentinel Island out of bounds.  

Nth Sentinel Island (Vector Graphics)
The Andaman Islands in the Bengal Sea with North Sentinel highlighted red
The tribe there is known to be hostile to outsiders and have resisted attempts at being contacted in the past. Many bushcrafters start their journeys into bushcraft and traditional skills with the books of anthropologists such as Colin Turnbull and Thor Heyerdahl, something Ray Mears talks about in his autobiography but as fascinating as the lives and bushcraft skills of surviving tribes are we shouldn't necessarily be seeking them out and disturbing their lives away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.

Speaking of the hustle and bustle of the world I'm heading outside to get away from this computer but you can expect more of my opinions on the news relating to bushcraft and survival at the end of each month.

Geoff  




Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Happy New Year 2019


Sorry it has taken a while for 2019's first instalment of the Bushcraft Education blog to hit the net but family time, deer stalking and a busy teaching schedule and a hectic last month of the shooting season has kept me very busy. 


Family time at Christmas and New Years is important and has had to take precedence over blog writing recently. 
Out deer stalking on New Years Day, rising earlier is a lot of peoples new years resolution, I've never had a problem with it as long as there is some stalking to do, traps to check or a good view to be had. These new years day outings have become a bit of a tradition for my Dad, brother and I and I was lucky enough the Sallie came with me on this outing too. Between us we got three Chinese Water Deer and saw the first sunrise of 2019 in person, which was far more spectacular than the fireworks just a few hours earlier. 

After this brief absence though we are back and have some exciting things in store for 2019. 

The first announcement we have is the launch of a new 'micro-blog', the foragers diary blog has been growing in popularity since I established it in 2016 so this year I decided to start another one dedicated  to nature observation, it can be found at countrysidefieldnotes.blogspot.com and will feature regular updates from me and from other members of the bushcraft education team. It will be in a similar format to the foragers diary blog; short posts with pictures of our observations of nature and wildlife and the countryside management activities we are involved in. 

The New Field Notes 'micro-blog'
I hope this new blog will be a success and that you enjoy it but I will also be closing one of the other micro-blogs. Geoff Bushcrafts was an attempt to show my daily practice of bushcraft skills in but I just haven't had time to make the most of it and so to concentrate on my other projects I will be closing that one down and instead of micro blog posts about the bushcraft skills I use on a daily basis I will spend a bit more time this year creating in depth articles and content for the bushcraft basics pages on this site and on getting some high quality posts prepared for the applied bushcraft series rather than the cursory mentions that it would get on the Geoff Bushcrafts micro blog. Also there are just times when snapping pictures and sending out a post just isn't appropriate so I wasn't posting any where near as often as I needed to to make that particular blog a success, so it will soon be taken offline. The content will remain there for a little while but in the next few weeks it ill be gone. Instead we will be putting a lot more practical and skills based bushcraft posts onto the main blog here to make up for it.




A post shared by Geoffrey Guy (@gguy_bushcrafteducation) on

Also the content on 'Geoff Bushcrafts' was often, if not always duplicated on my instagram account so you won't miss out on anything if you follow me on instagram.

Preparing a space for stacking timber and doing green woodwork when we start coppicing sweet chestnut 
This is something you can look forward to this year though; a new lease of life for the applied bushcraft series, where we discuss topics such as traditional woodland management, wildlife management and other professions or pastimes which still require ye olde bushcraft skills. There will be some guest contributors to that series and I will be making a concerted effort to improve the bushcraft basics pages and will also provide links to my writing elsewhere on the web to broaden the selection of articles on bushcraft skills that you can reach through this blog.



Brexit is at the forefront of the news in the UK at the moment and given all the worry about it and the 'prepping' that some are doing to prepare for it is relevant to the Bushcraft and Survival in the News posts that I started last year. I had promised these posts monthly after the initial quarterly release proved popular but that was impossible to deliver at the time. I do intend to follow that pattern this year though and will release one on the last Friday of each month in addition to one that will appear this Friday featuring news from the last part of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. 

As well as all this you can also look forward to the usual content with monthly posts on gear and foraging as well as a mix of educational and instructional posts on bushcraft, survival, traditional skills and outdoor learning. 

Pictures from last years deer course at Kindrogan 

Pictures from last years deer course at Kindrogan 

There will also be some real life teaching to engage with as well as I will be delivering some courses for the Field Studies Council again this year. The Deer Ecology course at Kindrogan was popular and successful last year, all the participants were able to see wild red, roe and fallow deer and we also visited the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. Due to circumstances beyond my control though this course will probably take place at Margham in South Wales this year although I hope to return to Kindrogan for future courses. Margham will be an excellent alternative venue though as they have a deer herd of red, fallow and most interestingly Pere David on site. 

Pere David deer
 I will also be delivering a bushcraft course for the FSC, probably at their Millport centre on Great Cambrae in the Firth of Clyde. As soon as possible I will post links here so you can book a place on those courses. 

Have a great 2019 and I hope you enjoy what I have in store for you on the blog. 



Geoff 











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