Cawwwww !!!

Rushing blousy August
Blows the tits around the house
Swallows dive for food
Carried sideways
But the crows, oh the crows …
Watch them sliding. slipping, stalling
Playing the wind
Screaming their defiance as it tries to blow them of course
Cawwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Image by unknown artist
Land Song Series © Elen Sentier 2017 all rights reserved
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Moorhen Chicks

Black fluff, feather fluff,
Red cap, red beak.
Plop!
Float like natural,
Perch on leaf,
Lily holds him,
Mother feeds him,
Life is good.

Nest on island,
Hidden shelter,
In the reeds.
Mother knows,
Hides them safely
From the eaters in the sky.

Growing quickly,
Soon be adult
Then I’ll go
To make my way

Land Song Series © Elen Sentier 2017 all rights reserved
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Still as Ghosts

after watching the video ringing of the Dyfi osprey chicks 2017

Thump! Crash!
Up from the ground the thing comes.
Still as ghosts we sit.

Smell! Scent! Sound!
It peers over the edge of the nest.
Still as ghosts we sit.

Gone! My brother is gone!
The thing goes. Returns.
My sister is gone.
I am alone.
Still as a ghost I sit.
Afraid.

The thing returns, lifts me,
Puts me in a bag,
Carries me down.
Now we, all three, lie
Still as ghosts on the ground.

Touched. Pulled. Held up. Put down.
My leg is stretched,
A thing is fitted to it.
Itches.
But the thing is gentle,
Its voice feels kind.
Still as ghosts we lie
All three together.
What will happen now?

Where is my mother?
My father?
Will I ever return to the nest?
I am afraid.
Staring, peering, wild-eyed.

Lifted up again.
The thing takes me upwards.
Ah! The nest. Home.
My sister and my brother join me.
We lie there panting, waiting, staring.

Mother. I hear her land near.
Mother come quick.
We sat still as ghosts
All three of us, like you said.
Mother, come back to us …

 

Vidoe: Dyfi Osprey Project – ringing 2017
Land Song Series © Elen Sentier 2017 all rights reserved
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Four Magpie Brothers

Four young magpies, brothers, sat upon the porch roof this morning.

Squabbling, squawking, pecking the tiles.

Wicked, so they are. Lads and louts.

Waiting to see what I will do.

I go to the window.

They’re watchful

But I get there before they see,

Chuckling with delight at the four young bucks

Performing on the roof.

‘Whooooosh!’ I hiss loudly from the window.

A flurry of black and white and shining blue

Flies up

Squawking, chattering, screaming, laughing.

‘We got her!’ they call to each other.

‘We got her’.

Image: Magpie Mandala by Danielle Barlow
Land Song Series © Elen Sentier 2017 all rights reserved
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So-called Renewables …

This article set me off today, it begins … “Expansion of renewable energy cannot by itself stave off catastrophic climate change, scientists warned Monday.” Who, in their right minds (!), ever thought it would? I’m now about to trample on a whole bunch of toes …

It seems that green-folk mostly live in a non-real world and somehow believe everything “will be all right” without enormous and fundamental changes in attitudes, and the whole way human beings think and work. As Einstein said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Yet that is what they, and we, all try to do.

How will renewables put back all this ice, for instance ???

When I was born, circa 1950, there were 2.5 billion people on Planet Earth. Now, a mere 66 years later, there are 7.5 billion people gorging on the Earth. Does that not tell you something? Or are you afraid to look at it because it horrifies you to imagine the sudden deaths of 6.5 billion people? That’s what it will take to put the Earth back in balance again. The Earth cannot support more than 1 billion humans, not if the resources – the basics, like air and water! – are going to hold out, let alone food! And that’s not even thinking about anything else except ourselves. If the rest of the Life, which has lived on Earth since millions and billions of years before we apes stood upright, is to continue to live here then we have to get out of the way and that’s going to be hard, if not impossible, for most people.

For me, there are a lot of basic attitudes that must change.

  1. We have to stop the infantile and wrong idea that we humans are “top species”.
  2. This, in turn, means we stop trying to prolong our lives and stop people dying. We must let nature take her course.
  3. We must eradicate the idea of “progress” in the economic and social and success senses. And drop the whole idea of “growth” along with this.
  4. We must totally eradicate the idea of “profit motif”.
  5. We must lose the idea of social hierarchy, ladders to climb and getting on.

I think I’ll stop there for a moment, it’s probably blown a few minds at the idea of such radical changes.

We also have to stop twisting the truth to fit with our own ideas of how things should be – like renewables will sort the climate change and global warming problems. That means losing the whole idea that we control anything! As most people are brought up to be control freaks (if only by adhering to being PC!) that is likely to be another non-sequitur for many. We really do have to get completely out of our heads … and that means most of the currently popular “green” ideas too.

I’ll just consider energy for a moment. Renewables. Windfarms. Wow! Bollocks.

For one thing, windfarms are largely a waste of space and time and money. They make profit for shareholders while losing masses of energy in cable-loss from the farm to the consumer … did you realise that? Additionally, the energy footprint of making one of these ghastly enormous tower-machines is ineffective to put it mildly, along with the servicing costs. Why don’t we all have one of the neat little diddy jobs on our roofs, along with PV panels, and make our own energy, for our own home, with little short cables from machine to power sockets so the loss is absolutely minimal? Why not? Because that doesn’t make profit for the big power companies and their shareholders … no surprises there then.

Add in the idea that we’re mostly conditioned to believe that somebody else should be doing everything for us and if things don’t happen it’s somebody else’s fault. Think of all the injury compensation lawyers who make a mint out helping you con somebody that it wasn’t your own clumsiness and stupidity that made you fall over? Or drive your car into a tree! Grrrrrrr!

I’ve lived my whole life with scientists, mostly good ones. They are renowned for their honesty, for saying when they get things wrong and putting people right when those people jump to the wrong conclusions. The news-people rarely report them accurately because they’re far more concerned with growth of readership, profit and all that list of things I mentioned earlier. But many, most, people believe what they see/hear/read in the news … another good reason, in my books, to get rid of most humans.

I’ve been observing the coming of climate change about since 1990, when I watched our eucalyptus tree threshing about in the wind … in June! Back in those days, if you can remember, that was unheard of, nowadays people take it as normal. Last winter, 2015/6, we had no frost at all here in Herefordshire, that was unheard of too. I found it seriously scary because I know a bit about how nature works, about rainfall and flooding and crops and sowing, and how the temperature of the soil helps or hinders plant growth, as well as what diseases become prevalent over warm winters. But what do we get on the TV weather? Oh it’ll be nice and warm, no nasty frost and ice to drive on, etc, etc. but your kids are permanently sick, full of colds and flu … and so is your garden, and the farmers’ fields.

So, WTF do people think renewable energy is going to do to stop any of that? And why do they cling, like the drowning man clings to the straw, to the ideas that such things can make such changes? They will do bugger all, and for one reason, there are 7 times too many people on Earth. Until that changes nothing we do will make a difference. Except that it might get those of us who will survive the coming cull (from Mother Earth, not stupid humans) to have more nous and kenning about how to behave, how to work with the Earth instead of being arrogant and stupid and selfish in thinking we can control her.

I now need a pot of tea and a cuddle from the cats to get over my anger at humanity …

 

Bridey’s Worm

Driving up to Cheshire last week we knew the moles had woken up, molehills everywhere, yards and yards and yards of them, in every field and even along the grass at the edges of the road. Well, it is that time of year! Moles wake up soon after the light begins to grow, after sun-return. Even more importantly, worms wake up too and, as moles eat worms, the two naturally go together. The molehills are signs of the worm-larders the moles build.

And it is that time of year, in fact it’s just about Imbolc. This is Bridey’s feast, the goddess Brigid – she, the goddess, was Christianized as “Saint” Brigid. At Imbolc, we make Bridey crosses and a doll-figure of her, called a Brídeóg, which we parade from house-to-house so she can visit everyone’s home. She’s greeted with a bed and folk leave her food and drink, and clothing is left outside the house for her to bless as she’s a protector of homes and livestock; her tylwyth (what you might know better as “totem”) is the white cow. Holy wells visited and dressed, and it is a time for divination, for asking what the future holds as well as what the Earth needs from us at this time.

Nowadays, many people celebrate on 1 February, but in older times our day began and ended at sunset – as the sun passed down into the dark – so celebrations begin on Imbolc Eve, the 31 January. Timing might likely be more fluid too, based around the actual seasonal changes as well as the astronomical ones, and far less concerned with man-made-calendar dates. Imbolc is linked with the onset of lambing which, in the days when we still followed the seasons, might vary by as much as two weeks either side of 1 February. It’s also linked to the blooming of the blackthorn, Ceridwen’s tree, which signifies her transformation from crone back to maiden, the cycles of the year, and it’s also when Ceridwen gathers her firewood for the remains of the winter. If she chooses that the winter shall last a good while longer then she makes sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. But if Imbolc is a day of foul weather it means the she is asleep, not gathering firewood, so the winter is almost over. On the Isle of Man, where my granny came from, Ceridwen is known as the Caillagh ny Groamagh, who takes the form of a gigantic bird carrying sticks in her beak. This always reminds me of the ravens who are doing their courtship in January; the male will bring new twigs to refurbish their nest (they mate for life) to show the female he still loves her and is a good provider.

One of the Imbolc stories I love is of Bridey’s Worm. It was, indeed still is, a sign of how the weather will be for the spring. We watch to see if serpents (or badgers) come out of their winter resting places; this may be a forerunner of the North American Groundhog Day, and for the same reasons as us. This Scottish Gaelic poem gives the idea …

Thig an nathair as an toll

Là donn Brìde,

Ged robh trì troighean dhen t-sneachd

Air leac an làir.

The serpent will come from the hole

On the brown Day of Bríde,

Though there should be three feet of snow

On the flat surface of the ground.

So what might this serpent be? Post-Norman literature tends to try to make us think of dragons but our ancestors were very practical folk, and very connected to the Earth and her rhythms – which brings us back to the Gentleman in Black Velvet, Mr Mole. Worms are a form of “serpent”, tiny serpents unless you happen to live on the planet Dune! That trip up to Cheshire told us very firmly that the worms were out and about again, and that the moles know it. Look at that poem, “the serpent will come from the hole on the brown Day of Bride”, and brown says “soil/earth” to me, especially looking at the molehills. It’s worth noting that a major component of a badger’s diet is earthworms so they, too, will be watching for them, sensing for them. The badgers will wake and come out of their setts when there is food for them, to maintain their energy, once the worms are hatched and moving again. And the worms won’t come until the soil is warm enough and there is sufficient light-energy from the sun.

When the ground gets really cold, and when it freezes, some worms (depending on their species) lay eggs and then die as the ground becomes too cold for them. Others burrow very deep, some as much as six feet under, and survive there through the cold spell. Either way, as the soil begins to warm, as the sun shines for longer each day after sun-return, the worms know when it’s warm enough either for the eggs to hatch or for them to burrow back up to the surface. And when they hatch or re-emerge they “come from the hole”, and the moles know it too, hence the molehills which are worm-larders.

So many of our old traditions show us how to live successfully with our Mother Earth and they are so worthwhile knowing. Yes, it’s good to celebrate the Mother in all her forms of which Bridey is one, but our old ways here in Britain are “and/and” – we don’t do this or that, we do this and that! So, we celebrate Bridey with our gifts and food and beds and, at the same time, we celebrate her by being very observant, by watching for the molehills, watching to see how the soil is warming up and how the worms are working. That helps us know when to plough and sow to get a good harvest.

As followers of the old ways, we don’t try to “manage” nature, or force her into working how we want her to with crazy chemicals and horrible deep ploughing which wrecks all the “threads”, the mycorrhiza who carry food and information between the plants. No, we watch the land around us, we watch the stars above us, we watch how the moon turns and we “work with”, we do not try to control.

So go watch the molehills, learn from them … much more fun than your X-box !!!

#MondayBlogs #FolkloreThursday #folklore

 

 

Robin Song

Sometimes the simple call of a bird transports me across worlds, to another time, a memory time …

I’m suddenly back 50-odd years, walking a lane in deep midwinter, snow piled up along the hedgerows, clear over my head, and ruts a car’s-width wide channelling along between the high white banks. Icicles hang from the bare, black thorn-branches overhead. There’s a fluttering up there, brown wings carrying a small round body to just above me. Then the song. His little scarlet breast quivers as he sings, calling to me. I reach into my pocket and, yes, there are some crumbs – more than crumbs in fact for I put the last crust from the cob loaf in my pocket before I came out. And there’s some cheese rinds too.

I take off my glove and collect some crumbs and a bit of rind on my hand, stretch it out where the bird can see. Down he comes. Tiny, delicate claws grip my finger, the sharp pointy beak pecks at the crumbs. He stops, turns his head to look at me, a piece of cheese rind dangling from his beak, then flutters back up into the tree. And more flutters follow, another little brown bird is up there. Peering, I see her as he dips his head, offering her the cheese. She takes it, delicately, chirps a thank you.

And down he comes again, eats some crumbs for himself and then grabs another piece of cheese rind to take up to her. I can see her better now, she’s come down to a lower branch ans perches there, dipping and fluttering her wings like a chick asking for food. But she’s not a chick, this is their courtship, he is wooing her with cheese rind. Her red breast quivers as she cheeps imperiously, ‘Bring me food!’ she demands of him, for he must prove himself, show her he will be a good provider before she will consent to mate with him. And back he goes, bearing rind. She opens her beak and takes it from him, then sending him off again for more.

I’ve frozen stiff. I don’t want to move, to scare them. I want to watch, and the cold is helping me be still, so cold I don’t even feel any ache in my arm as I hold out my hand for the robin to take food to his mate. It’s early, so early, although the snow is late this year. Other years it’s well gone by now, the end of February, but not this year. How is it the robins are mating now when there seems no chance of food for the chicks, at least not yet. What do they know that I do not? And how do they know it?

They’re tuned in, always on the thread, always connected to the Earth and everything around them. They know without needing to know how the weather will be, when the spring will come. All the need to do is touch into those threads that spin their web through the air and everything as mycelium spin through the soil, spreading the word throughout all the living things. Except ourselves.

We humans have lost it, lost the plot. Once we knew, as the robins do, what was happening throughout our planet. Then we decided to see if we couldn’t do better than she, better than the mother, and control her, make her do what we wanted. Well, we’ve screwed that up! We now haven’t a clue, we need machines and programs and algorithms where once we knew in our bones. We no longer trust our bones, our guts, our instincts. We only believe in our minds and they’re not much cop for connecting to everything else that lives.

I learn from the robins. As those tiny claws clutch my finger I let him speak to me with his touch. ‘Listen!’ he tells me, ‘Listen. And look. And smell the air, feel the wind in your hair, the touch of a snowflake as it lands on your skin and the sensation of it melting.’ I hear him. I stand, frozen cold outside but burning with life within. I will listen …

Being Wild & Hope Bourne

“For money, you sell the hours and the days of your life, which are the only true wealth you have,” she wrote. “You sell the sunshine, the dawn and the dusk, the moon and the stars, the wind and the rain, the green fields and the flowers, the rivers and the sweet fresh air. You sell health and joy and freedom.” So said Hope Bourne, and so say I.

As a somewhat decrepit cripple with bad eyesight, the gods only know how I’d survive off the grid … but I would infinitely rather be there, out in the wilds, than live even in a hamlet, let alone a village or a town. My nearest neighbour now is a quarter of a mile away and that’s far too close! I’d prefer something like five or ten miles to the next nearest person. No, I don’t like living amongst people. And I don’t feel safe amongst them either. I do feel completely safe out in the wilds, amongst the animals and trees, the rivers, mountains and sea, I know absolutely, in my bones, that none of them would ever harm me … but people? Hmmm! Not a safe species at all. Perhaps some of you feel that way too.

One of my biggest fears about growing old is that I won’t be able to take care of myself and have to go live in a home. I think I’d rather take a long walk in January, in the snow, in the Cairngorms, with a bottle of good brandy and a box of painkillers! I would die quickly of suffocation in a home, surrounded by people with whom i have nothing in common, so why not go easy in my beloved wild lands?

I was reading a piece about “ecopsychology” and “pachamama” this morning. Hmmm, again. All sounds so “head-stuff” to me, carefully thought out and written, by academics and with lots of holes (lacunae – to be properly academic about it) in the philosophy, and all seeming to fit neatly with the axe these people have to grind. I know, in my bones, that in order to live (not survive) people must stop prostituting themselves and all the joys of this Earth for money, so as far as the eco-lot go I agree with them somewhat there. But why do we have to go to the other side of the world to find it, find the means of reconnecting with the Earth? Perhaps because the powers-that-be, politicians, academics and others to whom we give our power and turn into authority-figures, tell us there are no indigenous people here in Britain. Ha!

Exmoor valley

Exmoor valley

Do you realise that when you agree with this premise it’s because you are accepting someone else’s definition of indigenous? You give them the power to tell you what the word means. You give them the power to tell you what you are. Is that good?

Indigenous, from the dictionary and the Thesaurus, means native, original, homegrown, local … well, I don’t know about you but I’m all those things with regard to my homeland, Britain. Oh yes, I’ve mixed blood, but what is that? Blood is made of molecules, atoms and particles of the Earth’s body, bits I borrow from her for each lifetime to make a spacesuit for my spirit to live on Planet Earth. They change throughout my life – for instance, the dust you hoover up is largely skin cells you and the rest of your family have shed over the week. Cells die, you shed them, and you grow new ones. That happens with blood cells too. Everything you eat goes to make the new cells, so bits of you come from carrot and cabbage, venison, cheese, pinto beans, grains, beer, coca cola (if you drink the horrid stuff!), etc, etc. so what is all this blood-fetish? DNA, I hear you cry. Well, what is DNA? Is it physical – yes. Is it made of particles and atoms and molecules of the Earth’s body – yes it is. Yes, it holds certain programmes, like how to grow an eye, what colour your skin will be and such, but these also change, that’s thought to be likely how Neanderthal man got wiped out, by interbreeding with other varieties of human. Like how the Scottish Wildcat has been nearly wiped out by interbreeding with domestic cats. So just how far back are you taking this blood-fetish thing? The DNA goes back into the apes and monkeys our human boies developed from; and back into the bodies they came from; and back into the single-cell organisms before them … etc. So I am indigenous, whatever Mr Cameron and other politicians and academics like to say. And so are you.

Tarr_Steps

Tarr Steps

And I am connected deeply with the Earth, though all those molecules and atoms and particles. I’m also deeply connected to her spirit. When I’m surrounded by the fog-haze of human thinking in a town or village or city it really is like wading through mud to reach into the spirit-of-place where I am. It’s much harder to feel nature. It’s also very easy to be mentally swamped by the shibboleths, the beliefs of most people beliefs which are largely empty of real meaning, of the people all round me. Large groups of people who don’t go in for deep thinking spread a miasma around them of their own beliefs, it’s cloying and very hard to resist. I can, and I do when I have to go into conurbations, bit even for someone with my years of experience in doing it, it’s very hard work. For most folk, who don’t even realise it’s there, it has them completely in thrall.

So I try to go there as little as possible. I avoid being amongst groups or crowds people unless I choose. I stick with my friends the trees and the animals, birds, fishes and plants, and rocks. And that’s where I live, not as wild as Hope Bourne, but fairly off-planet to most folk *grin*. This way, I can hear easily what the Earth and all her spirit-parts want, and want of me. I also have the space-time to do my best to do what she and they wish of me. The groups (small) of folk I associate with every now and again, all feel the same way although not all of them have, as yet, achieved as comfy a lifestyle as me, but they’re all working on it.

Connecting with nature, with the Earth, with wildness, means you just have to make the space-time for it. You really won’t do it in large groups, nor festival weekends, nor workshops of loads of people! You have to take your courage in your hands and be alone, be alone for long, long past when it gets scary; be alone in the dark, in the woods, by a river, on the seashore, up a mountain – all of those. And be alone without even your mobile phone turned on!

Spider tree

Spider tree

We’re not taught or encouraged to be alone, so we’re always deafened and befogged by other people and their thoughtforms. Nature, the Earth, the spirit-world, can’t reach us through the fog and, most of the time, we don’t even know to ask it to come to us! We sit about, in a coma-like state, waiting for someone/something to do it all for us. Living wild, even only as wild as I do, means you just can’t be so lazy as that, you have to get off your butt and ask, communicate with the natural world, and with the spirit-world.

The ecopsychology lot don’t seem to realise this. They don’t seem to know anything about folk like Hope Bourne (who, of course, they don’t consider to be indigenous!), nor do they comprehend just how much she had to be in touch, communicating all the time with everything non-human all around her in order to live. Until we all grasp this, that it’s up to each of us to get out there and communicate with all of our ancient brethren who are not human, we can go to as many workshops as we please. They’re just a means of passing the time, like X-Box! They’re not real and they will do nothing but wind us up in yet another fog so we know nothing but what some other person has told us. I wonder how much of the human race will ever dare to be real?

As Hope shows us, there is hope for all of us … but only if and when we get ourselves out of our comfort-box and dare, risk, begin completely alone.

 

 

 

Trees for Life: Rewilding Grove

I’ve just written a wee story for Trees for Life … this is part of it …

More dreams come to you. This time they begin with a long deep howl. Straightway it’s answered, and answered again and again. Your skin tingles and a smile creeps onto your mouth, you know you are dreaming and have not the slightest wish to wake. ‘Come!’ your heart whispers and soon you hear the patter of delicate, clever paws that know their way so well through the forest, ‘Come,’ you whisper again, ‘please come’. In your dream your eyes open and all around you now stand the grey shadows, tongues lolling, smiling, eyes shining with curiosity. ‘A human!’ you hear in your head, ‘a human who wants to know us!’ The alpha, a white female comes slowly towards you, you sense she doesn’t wish to frighten you. You stay quite still, projecting love and delight. Her nose is two inches from yours, you smell her sweet breath, her tongue comes and licks your face … your stop breathing and your heart gives a little skip. She moves away from you and the others come up, they nose and lick and push you, soon you are rolling in a heap of warm fur, being licked and played with as if you were a cub. The alpha female gives a short bark, the pack looks up, they give you quick lick and nose-pushes, and then they are off, following her back into the forest.

You can read the full story HERE.

It’s part of a piece for the website of the grove of trees I’ve just organised to celebrate and encourage rewilding through Trees for Life. They will begin planting it this autumn which is the best time to plant the trees. This is the grove’s website

I would really love it if you can help by adding trees to the grove. It only costs £5 to plant one tree so if you ever find yourself with a choice of what to do with a spare fiver do think of this grove, it would love to grow and can with your help. I’ll certainly be adding to it myself. My husband says he’d rather have a tree planted than a brithday or Sun-Return prezzie so I’ll be honouring that wish, and the same for other friends who’d like a tree for a present too.

Please share this grove around your networks if you can. It’s one of many but every little sharing helps to grow the whole great wood we’re aiming at … and enables more woods to be planted too.

wolf_1

How Do Bears React to People?

 

Understanding Bears

How Do Bears React to People?

Bear with CubBlack bears may enter camps or your cottage or home, especially when wild foods are scarce, but they rarely attack people.

Black bears usually retreat before people are aware of them. Their hearing is more sensitive than a human’s, and their broad, soft foot pads allow them to move quietly downwind where they can best identify their dangers. They may stand upright to see farther (not a sign of aggressiveness). If need be, they can run faster than 25 mph or climb trees quickly … read more

This is an excellent and very informative site; they also have a Facebook page. Do follow and support them, it’s well past time we learned to befriend rather than fear our Elder Brethren …

Weeds and Wild Medicine Workshop at Pagancon – 13th July 2013 | Edwina Hodkinson

I’d decided for this workshop to focus on our native and not so native weeds. The great unloved plants of our gardens, parks, road verges and wastelands. Many people spend countless of hours of back breaking work pulling them up and millions of pounds collectively in highly toxic chemicals to eradicate them. Our wild weeds are known by sight by most people even though they don’t know their names or anything about them. Most weeds are our native wild medicine, placed close to where we live as a gifts of mother nature for our food, medicine and utility uses such as in cordage and dyes. Many of our weeds have become part of our folk memory and magic, being used in charms and amulets and having elaborate instructions for their harvest and collection. Our weeds are our wild medicine. strong, resilient, healthy and prolific. Our bodies have evolved with our native plants and since the first breath of humanity have formed part of the survival of our ancestors and our species.

via Weeds and Wild Medicine Workshop at Pagancon – 13th July 2013 | Edwina Hodkinson.

Quiet Wanderings Reveal Wildlife At Dusk

Paul Kirtley’s article is well worth following up … we can each do this, even without all the camo-kit. Do remember not to wear rustly clothes and to try to get the breeze blowing from the animal to you … enjoy 🙂

The Frontier Bushcraft team often have some lovely wildlife encounters while out in the woods running courses. And so do the course participants – fallow deer walking past tarps at first light, fawns sitting silently amongst the bracken, badgers crashing out of the bushes onto a track, sparrowhawks swooping, vocal woodpeckers checking us out, foxes skulking on the outskirts of camp, a family of buzzards circling overhead, to name but a few of the recent occurrences.

These encounters are often fleeting and we typically don’t have a camera in our hands to record the moment.

Last week I had the luxury of some free time in the woods at our Sussex course site. James was leading an Elementary Wilderness Bushcraft Course and I was camped nearby.

I had made a point of bringing my DSLR camera with me.

The intention was to have a quiet wander around the woods to see what I could see.

But also have a camera at the ready.

I was particularly interested in getting some photos of badgers and was planning to head out in the early evening and mooch around until dark.

I put on some soft-soled boots, an old DPM smock, a floppy-rimmed jungle hat and some thin gloves to mask my hands.

Armed with binos and my camera I headed out to see what I could see.

Over a couple of evenings, I had some fantastic encounters. I wasn’t being particularly sneaky or stealthy, just walking quietly and paying attention to the wind direction. This is something anyone could do.

The photos below record some of my encounters over the two evenings I headed out…

Fallow doe looking at the camera

A fallow doe. I looking for badgers near where I’d seen them before but I heard a deer coming through the woods, then spotted her in the trees. She walked out from the trail on the left and I took a few photos. She picked up on the noise of my camera shutter and looked straight at me. It was then that I got this shot, which was the best of the lot. Photo: Paul Kirtley

Rabbit silhouetted

There are always lots of rabbits around. But it’s fun to stalk as close as possible before they bolt. Photo: Paul Kirtley

Juvenile badger coming down a grassy track

A juvenile badger. I heard the distinctive sound of a badger foraging in the leaf litter. It was under cover of long bracken though. Then I heard another. Eventually two cubs emerged, snuffling amongst the leaves together. After a noisy fracas with an adult badger, this inquisitive fellow came down the track. It got so close my telephoto would no longer focus. A fantastic experience. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

A fallow deer buck stotting or pronking

A fallow buck ‘pronking’ or ‘stotting’ in a crop field at last light. You can clearly see he is a buck by his pizzle and the antlers starting to form. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

The latter part of the day at this time of year brings with it a lot of wildlife activity. With some quiet movement, you may well be surprised at what you see or how close you can manage to get….

Eustace Conway – Survivalist faces charges for teaching in self-built school

Eustace Conway (Photo from www.coldsplinters.com)

Please help !!! And before we get all “elf-n-safety” over here !!!

Eustace Conway has lived in the wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains for 30 years, detached from modern society. Now, he wants to teach others his survival skills – but the state of North Carolina has slammed him with a series of violations.

The 51-year-old man has traveled from coast to coast on a horse, faced down a grizzly bear, defeated a thrashing buck with his bare hands, grown his own food, hunted game, made clothes out of animal skin, and survived harsh winters on snow-capped mountains.

Few are as qualified as Conway to teach basic survival skills. After 30 years in the wild, Conway set up a camp called “Turtle Island” to show kids how he lived in the wilderness – from cooking on fire to gathering herbal medicines. But in November 2012, the state of North Carolina forced Turtle Island to shut down, on grounds that the camp violated building code regulations.

“These buildings aren’t fit for public use,” Joseph A. Furman, Watauga County planning director, told the Wall Street Journal. Conway’s camp includes primitive facilities that he says are free from modern trappings. He built them himself, and says that “codes don’t apply to what we’re doing” at Turtle Island. But the state is preventing anyone from escaping its iron grip, in terms of what qualifies as a ‘building’.

“Modern inspectors know how to measure a board, but not how to build a building,” he told the WSJ.

The Watauga County planning department has slammed Conway with a 78-page report outlining the health and sanitary violations of Turtle Island. The county claims that Conway’s open-air kitchen and toilets made of sawdust are not permissible for a public facility. And unless the common area has a conventional restroom, fire sprinklers and smoke detectors, his entire camp must remain shut down.

Even though Conway has proved his self-reliability and even been featured in a History Channel show called “Mountain Men”, he is being forced to adhere to conventional modern society – if he wants to avoid prosecution, that is.

The shutdown of the camp has angered Conway and nearly 13,000 supporters who have signed an online petition, asking the North Carolina Building Codes Council to change its codes to exempt structures like Turtle Island.

“The very building techniques and materials that all of our ancestors thrived with are now being deemed unacceptable and targeted as illegal because they don’t fit into the cookie-cutter code status that is so extremely far from what we are about,” the change.org petition reads. “…The invasive attack [by the county] was a surreal wake-up call to the illusion of the American myth: ‘Land of the free.’”

Conway is now facing the threat of criminal charges for running a camp that didn’t comply with modern society’s strict building codes. The 51-year-old had saved up money he raised from speaking engagements and survival courses to purchase the 1,000-acre property that he called Turtle Island. But despite his ownership, survival skills, and the purpose of the wilderness camp, the county is threatening to prosecute him unless he upgrades his buildings to conform to the modern age.

“If this was a joke or something out of a science fiction novel about corrupt government control, maybe I could laugh about it… but it is very, unbelievably, maliciously true,” the petition quoted Conway saying. “And I can only cry about it, and ask for the voice of friends to support me and citizens that care about the ‘American Dream’ of freedom to speak up for their rights and interests now.”

AND HERE’S THE PETITION LINK … http://www.change.org/petitions/nort…sland-preserve

via Survivalist faces charges for teaching in self-built school — RT USA.

The bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond … a friend's blog :-)

This is from a bushcraft friend’s blog …

I hooked up with the guys north of the border for some canoe camping at the weekend, a very chilled out affair, mostly spent under the ‘chute dodging the rain and chilly winds. It was good to be back up there and I hope to get a lot more paddling in again this year, some pics …

Landed at the beach 

The view for the weekend, although it wasn’t always as sunny as this …

And look who visited them on the bankd of Loch Lomond … 🙂

read more HERE … 

via Heading North

Of course, there's no such thing as global warming …

No such thing as global warming ???

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/733096main_Northern_ndvi_FINAL.jpg

In a paper published Sunday, March 10, in the journal Nature Climate Change, an international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.

“Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more,” said Ranga Myneni of Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment. “In the north’s Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems.”

via Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North’s Growing Seasons – NASA Science.

A friend – Paul Kirtley – just sent me this … of course, despite NASA and everyone else, there’s no such thing as global warming!

Some of the scientists in this report appear at first to be jollying things along with comments like “It’s like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years,” from co-author Compton Tucker of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. For the average non-scientific person that could sound like good news … it isn’t! Even the thought that there could be wider and longer growing seasons – so we could feed our overpopulation – are not the case. What we’re seeing now is just the beginnings, the mad first growth of a deep fundamental change to the structure of our home-planet, Earth. the article goes on to say …

The ramifications of an amplified greenhouse effect, such as frequent forest fires, outbreak of pest infestations and summertime droughts, may slow plant growth. Also, warmer temperatures alone in the boreal zone do not guarantee more plant growth, which also depends on the availability of water and sunlight.”

The report tells us that increased concentrations of heat-trapping gasses – water vapour (like every time you breathe out you exhale water vapour, now multiply that by 7+ billion ???),  carbon dioxide (ditto on the breathing !!!) and methane (go look up all the things we do that give off methane !!!), cause Earth’s surface, the ocean and the lower atmosphere to warm up. This warming reduces the extent of polar sea ice and snow cover (which is white and reflective, remember, reflecting rather than absorbing the suns rays and so cooling us), and, in turn, the darker ocean and land surfaces absorb more solar energy (that means absorbs more heat and so warms up more … and doesn’t cool down again!). All this further heats up the air above them. A vicious circle …eh ???

As the scientists put it … “This sets in motion a cycle of positive reinforcement between warming and loss of sea ice and snow cover, which we call the amplified greenhouse effect,” Myneni said. “The greenhouse effect could be further amplified in the future as soils in the north thaw, releasing potentially significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane.”

Take note – by “positive” they don’t mean “good”, they mean “supporting and amplifying itself”. This is the word “positive” used in a scientific way, not our common or garden meaning!

And what about the increased growth, isn’t that a good thing? No, for one thing because it won’t have enough sunlight of sufficient quality …

“Satellite data identify areas in the boreal zone that are warmer and dryer and other areas that are warmer and wetter,” said co-author Ramakrishna Nemani of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Only the warmer and wetter areas support more growth.”

And Ramakrishna is wrong here too, wetter can drown just as easily as give life … as we know to our cost here in Herefordshire from the “summer” of 2012 !!!  One of our problems (shared with all the rest of the world who suffered the interminable rain) with the incredible wet last year was actually pollination … the bees can’t live without the sunshine or in that much wet. All your food depends on bees … did you realise that? Even bloody Monsanto can’t do what they do and, in fact, helps to kill the bees. And that’s just one issue.

The midges – you’ve noticed them ??? When you go out in the park even ??? – are far more prevalent and their season lasts longer and longer. Now, some creatures (like dragonflies) live on the them; others, like cattle and ourselves, suffer greatly and lose condition from them. When a cow (for instance) “loses condition” it means his or her meat is not much good for eating, it won’t have the nourishment in it that a healthy cow’s does. If you eat it you too will lose condition, get sick more easily, your bones won’t be so good, etc, etc.

And the mozzies carry disease, malaria in particular – when did you last have malaria jabs or take your malaria medicine ???

Hmmm !!! Lots of food for thought there and I’ve barely put a fingernail onto the tip of the iceberg. Extrapolate from what I’ve said. This isn’t “conspiracy theory” rubbish, this is the stuff the government dare not tell you for fear of setting off panic. Once you start getting your head around what all this means … and that we are 40+ years too late to stop it happening despite whatever these conferences tell us … you begin to be concerned, if not downright worried.