Today's walk

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fifteen of us walked out from the Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre today for one of my four hour foraging workshops, bracing winter's cold ground joy.

Foraging workshop. Photo: Dave Cauldwell

We came across about thirty to forty autonomous foods including mallow (Malva) and wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum).

Mallow (left), wild radish (right). Photo: Dave Cauldwell.

The young leaves of acanthus (Acantha) can be eaten. The flowers and fruits (cheeses) can be cooked as a vegetable.

Acanthus. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.

Buckshorn plantain (Plantago coronopus) can be eaten raw in salads or cooked.

Buckshorn plantain. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.

Spear thistle root (Cirsium vulgare) is my favourite vegetable at the moment. Washing the clay from one in Lake Daylesford made a perfect end to the walk.

Washing spear thistle root in Lake Daylesford. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.

Especially after chopping up the root, giving it a splash with local (Captain's Creek) red wine vinegar and serving it out to the lovely crew who came on the walk today.

Patrick Jones' foraging workshop, Lake Daylesford. Photo: Dave Cauldwell.


More homeschooling adventures: more on appropriate technology

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Almost two years ago Zeph and I went out with a bow-making friend, Peter Yencken, in search of suitable bow timber. Peter had previously taught me how to make a bow at one of his workshops.

Not far out of town we discovered a small copse of Osage orange (Maclura pomifera). This small North American tree is excellent for making bows, as practiced by indigenous peoples of that country.

The fruit is edible but not that desirable, although improved by frost, as so many hard fruits are. The timber is extremely durable and as hunting, locavorism and accountable killing are high on our list of activities we wanted to make something well and long lasting.

It took us well over an hour to carefully cut out a log, which was extremely heavy. Peter took the small log back to his workshop and with a bandsaw cut two staves out of it. One for Zeph and one for himself. We then air-dried Zeph's at room temperature until yesterday.

Then, twenty two months later, we spent the day with a rasp slowly filing down the timber until it began to flex. We knew that you could easily go too far too quickly and end up with a weak or broken bow, so we slowly filed and tested, filed and tested, stringing the bow at times to test again the flex.

And then, just before dark it was ready. An arrow was placed in the bow string, aimed and flew lethally into the straw bale target. 

As we intentionally don't hunt with industrially made weapons we require old technologies and skill to supplement our mainly vegetarian diet with animal proteins. Our next project will be a boomerang, that ingenious 'arrow' designed to return.



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Appropriate technology is an ideological movement that encompasses technological choice and application that is 'small-scale, decentralized, labor-intensive, energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and locally controlled'. I'm not so sure about the desirability of labour intensity in this otherwise sensible list, that's why I forage, you harvest food that you haven't sown. My new root tool that I bought from a foraging, hunting, gardening, cooking shop in nearby Trentham, will enable us to more easily forage for autonomous root vegetables and therefore for non-monetised complex starches.

Tonight I cooked this little spear thistle root with dandelion roots in animal fat and salt. We'll be eating more of these delicious roots (related to artichokes), abundant in winter, now we have a hand tool that we can easily carry around with us. 


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