Monday, April 24, 2006

Skill: Making Yucca Cordage

Cordage (rope, string, etc.) is a very useful thing to have in a survival situation. You can use it for making shelter, snares, bowstrings, tools for making fire and bundling things together just to name a few things. The yucca plant is one of the best plants for making cordage. Here are three reasons why:
  • Abundant - it is a common landscaping plant. I can drive down the street an see it in many yards.
  • Long leaves - Long leaves means long fibers which means less splicing when making cordage.
  • Strong - Yucca is one of a few plants that is supposed to be strong enough to make a small diameter bowstring.

The process to go from leaf to rope is actually relatively quick. I was able to process one leaf in about 10 minutes. I can probably be done even quicker. To make things faster, you could do less scraping, but the final product might not be as strong. In particular, if the diameter of the rope you are making is going to be big, you can leave more green on, and not break up the strands so small. When I made the necklace cord in my last post, I broke up the strands a lot since I wanted it to be finer quality.

Leaf after being pounded with a block of wood.

Leaf after being scraped with the back of a knife.

Here is the leaf after being fully scraped.

Yucca fibers after pulling the above leaf apart.

An example of how to make cordage from the fibers.

As you run out of fiber, you can easily splice in new fibers. The piece seen above is using all the fibers from one of the smaller length leaves I have. The diameter of the rope is about 1/4 inch. When I made the necklace cord, I used about half of a large leaf. I'm thinking about making a bowstring with some of the fibers. Whatever happens, I'll post what my finished product is.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Obsidian Necklace

I recently completed a necklace made from natural materials. The arrow point is the one you've seen in earlier posts. The beads are made from bone. I ordered them from an online store. The cord is the little project I worked on during Easter. It is made from the fibers of a yucca leaf. At the top of the picture is a little toggle made from a twig. I gave this necklace to my good friend who recently gave me some important advice.

Check back for a post about how I got from yucca leaf to finished cord.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

By Request - The Answers

By request, I bring you details about my My First Spring Weekend post. Below you'll see the original picture I posted, but enlarged. I circled the three sets of tracks.

1. Squirrel - When I first saw these tracks I was a little confused because they are pretty wide apart and also pretty far from the water to be a squirrel. But, if you picture what a squirrel would look like if it were laying down and stretching to get water it makes sense. It would naturally spread it's legs apart wider for balance. Imagine how your hands are when you're doing a pushup.

2. Chipmunk - At the bottom are four really well defined chipmunk tracks. On top is another set of tracks going the opposite way. There may also be some mouse tracks in there.

3. Mouse - Mice leave little star shaped tracks. Cute, ain't they?

Also, I give you the profile picture of my obsidian point. I think I was able to get it pretty thin. It might not be a 10/1 width/thickness ratio, but it ain't bad.

Also notice how well groomed my fingernails are. :)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Weekend

I spent a nice Easter weekend with my family. I did a lot of playing with my nieces and nephews. I took too many good pictures to show them all, but they really do tell the story so this post will be more a of picture book than an article. I did manage to sneak in some survival skills this morning while I was there, but I will make that another post.

My sister has some pretty cute kids. Taylor is quite the character. She's at the age where she is just learning to talk and can understand a lot of what you say to her. At church this morning she was singing the "Alleluja" chorus somehow. It was pretty cute. Here she is showing one of her break dancing poses after coming down from a headspin. She's got potential.

Even cuter is little Samuel. He is 9 months old now and is the most easy going baby around. When I got there he was just chilling on the floor with some toys. I laid down by him and he just stared at me with a little smile. He didn't move or make a sound. He just stared at me with this face.

He also likes to dance. I have a couple different videos of him dancing. He can't stand on his own yet, but he can still work it. He likes to clap and wave his hands up and down like he's conducting the music.

Next are Parker and Maddy who nicknamed me Uncle Xbox. I bring it everytime I come and they start to get excited about playing it like two weeks in advance.

Maddy after a successful egg hunt.

My brother Craig's daughter Brianna and I played a game of Hopscotch. I won 10-7.

Over the course of the weekend, we did many activities including dancing, playing tennis, decorating eggs, and an easter egg hunt.

Everyone doing The Worm!

Happy Easter from the Pingers!

This one was too cute not to throw in.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

An Encounter With Jared Fogle

Monday night I was at the Pacer's game with friends Luke, Kara and Kristin. It was the last minute of the game and we were in the lower level. It was kind of quiet since the game was a blow out. People were starting to leave. I was like three seats from the aisle and I looked over and saw Jared walking by. Without hesitating, I screamed out JARED!!! and pointed to him like a little girl seeing Mickey Mouse for the first time. It was pretty loud. He looked over at me and gave a smile and little wave. He probably thought I was a girl until he saw me. We all cracked up for a long time. It was funny for me because when I did it, it was like a reflex reaction or something. It was like God forced me to do it. I didn't even think about what I was doing.

On the left is big fat Jared when he lived in my dorm at IU. On the right is the sexy Jared that I screamed at.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

My first Spring weekend

I had a pretty nature packed weekend. As I said in my last post, I've been listening to a lecture series on bird language. To learn it I'm supposed to find a sit area to visit as often as possible. This means once a day if I can manage. After work Friday I stopped by Broad Ripple park on my way home. It is a five minute drive from my house. Most of the park is open field where people play sports. On the northern edge there is a stream that feeds into the White River which comprises the park's western border.

The lecturer said a good sit area should have some or all of these characteristics:
  • Convenient - If it's not convenient, I won't go very often.
  • Close to water - Water attracts animals
  • In a transistion area - This is an area on the edge of a forest. Animals like to have cover so they avoid open fields and forests where there is no ground cover.
  • A place with a view - If I want to see animals I can't be sitting in a thicket especially when the plants start to grow leaves.
I knew that the stream area could satisfy all these criteria. It has a transition area on both sides of it. On the park side it is next to a path that people frequent with their dogs so I expect that I'll be able to learn a lot about how birds react to people and dogs. On the other side there is more open field and then houses.

As I looked around the stream I started looking for candidate sit areas. One big advantage of this stream is that it is about 10 ft. lower than the rest of the park. There is a steep slope that is perfect for sitting on to get a higher view point of the area. I looked for awhile for different spots. Finally, I walked to a spot and as I reentered the thicket, a robin flew up and landed on a branch about 6 ft. from me as if to welcome me. I looked across the river and saw three squirrels playing. This was my sign that I'd found the right sport. As I walked down the slope to have a look, I found out how perfect it was. It was the only spot I found where my view was completely unobstructed. I could see all the way to the river. I was also at the bend of the stream where I'm hoping some animals will visit.

There was only one problem with the place. There was trash everywhere. I thought there was no way I was going to be able to enjoy this spot if I was looking at bottles and cans. I decided that before I could even begin learning, I needed to clean the place up. That would have to wait till Sunday.

This is a picture of one area that is pretty bad. There's even a pilon in the stream!

Saturday I drove to Bloomington for a tracking club meeting. There were only three of us since it was an extra meeting on short notice. They usually meet every other Sunday. We met at a nature preserve on the north side. We spent three hours identifying birds, trees and animal tracks and sign. It was cool to id some trees without relying on leaves. We found one small two square foot patch of mud next to a stream that had three different species of mammal tracks in it.

See if you can find the three species of animal tracks in this photo. The fake bird tracks do not count. Post a reply with your answers.

Sunday I went to Lowe's and bought one of those tools for picking up litter so I wouldn't have to bend down. I drove to the park and began picking up trash. I thought it would only take a couple hours to clean the whole place up. I greatly underestimated how much trash there was. At times I could literally stand in one spot and spend five minutes picking up trash within reach. It became clear as I continued that no one had ever cleaned the place up before. I found pepsi and beer cans that were so old they had the pull off tabs to open them. The mouth of the can looked like a tear drop not like the wide mouth cans we're used to. These have to be more than 20 years old. There were a lot of other interesting items I picked up: 3 different sandals, a cell phone, and a lego to name a few. The cell phone had scotch tape holding in the battery so I'm guessing this person finally dropped their cell phone for the last time or got so pissed with it that they threw it into the woods.

Last August I took a week long class on caretaking and have been meaning to find a place to caretake. While I was at the park I decided that this stream would also be my caretaking project. I spent part of my time doing some other general caretaking. I made a small stick pile from dead branches. Most of the branches had fallen on living plants and all were found within 30 feet of the pile. So I was able to help other plants by removing heavy branches, clear a blocked trail and hopefully build a home for a small animal. In the end, I filled two garbage bags with enough trash that I could barely carry them. I think I cleaned up about 30% of the place. I have more work to do.

As if I hadn't done enough over the weekend, I finished Sunday off by completing my first obsidian arrow point. I also practiced the hand drill. I still haven't gotten a coal, but I'm close. I also got my first bow drill coal with the new firebow I made as seen in this previous post.

My first obsidian point