Into the Woods: Barnyard Forage–Wild Mustard, Lamb’s Quarter, Red Clover & Stitchwort

As winter struggles to keep hold its grip of our mountain hollow, and spring comes listlessly, let us hearken back to late last summer again and enjoy a little warm sun and soft green grass, the braying of goats and the clucking of hens, as we learn about some of the forage to be found in the rich, hoof and claw turned soil around barns. In particular, we’ll examine wild mustard and lamb’s quarter.

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Due to Demand, Second June Foraging Class Being Offered

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Click here to go to the second June foraging class page.

The June foraging class has filled up. Because I am still getting many requests, I have decided to offer a second June class. Those of you wanting to take part but who weren’t able to register on time for the first class, here’s your chance. Please register quickly. Once it’s full, that will be it for June.

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2017 Classes

twa corbiesThe full roster of 2017 classes is now up.  Just go to the top and look up Twa Corbies Courses.  This year, you’ll find classes on foraging, cheesemaking, survival and bushcraft for the fun of it.  More courses will likely be added over the next month on organic gardening, brewing and other essential back-to-basics skills, but at this time we have a full roster available.  Email me if you have questions.

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July 2017: Wilderness Survival Course

cliff canoeingWhat if the sh!! really does hit the fan?  What if you are in the bush and everything goes south and you’re going to be stuck awhile?  How would you get by?  Would you know how to create shelter and find food?  Would you know how to find your way to help, or if you should even try or wait for help to come to you?  What would you do if you were sick and didn’t have access to modern medicine?  In this two day course, we will explore all these questions and more.  Using nature as our classroom we’ll learn how to survive, feed and care for ourselves using little more than basic woodsman’s tools and what the land provides.

Look under Twa Corbies Courses or click the photo to learn more:

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An Ideal Woodsman’s Knife?

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The Bark River Bravo Vortex with green micarta scales.

I have just received what I think is the best woodsman’s knife design I’ve ever seen, the Bark River Bravo Vortex. Or, perhaps, I should say the other best design. After a few months testing, I’ll do a review on it along with my other favorite, the Pasayten (that I’ve been carrying awhile now). Both are drawn from ancient know-how. The Pasayten was a favored design among the French Canadian fur traders and coureurs de bois, and is ideal for processing food, game and moderately good for woodworking. It’s weakness is it doesn’t have much fight in it and lacks a very stout point. The Vortex is clearly modeled after the Hudson Bay Company’s Roach design. Just slightly larger than the Pasayten and quite a bit thicker and stouter, it has the piercing drop point that became very popular among later American and Canadian frontiersmen, giving the knife some fight. However, the drop is slight, providing a lot of belly for skinning, butchering, and other backwoods tasks. A stouter point makes the Vortex much more suited to bushcraft tasks, such as pinholing fire boards. Both are extremely good all around designs, with the Pasayten favoring tasks like foraging, fish and game processing and camp cookery and the stouter Vortex being more an extremely good jack-of-all-trades but favoring bushcraft and large game processing. Both these knives are in my top 3 designs now.

tch pasayten

Tops Pasayten

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Pasayten sheath.

Those who appreciate good woodsmen’s tools know of the unfortunate fact that many excellent knifemakers do not seem to understand at all what it is that woodsmen and bushcrafters want in a sheath, and we often end up replacing the sheaths their knives come with for custom made work. However, the Pasayten and Vortex both come with remarkable sheaths that really cannot be improved on in any way that I can see. The Pasayten is straightforward, functional kydex. As one might expect, the Bark River made Bravo Vortex is fine leatherwork, but made after much consultation with expert woodsmen.

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Bark River Bravo Vortex sheath.

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Question for Foraging Students

Question for those of you coming to my wild food foraging classes this year.
Every year I get asked what are the ideal tools one needs to forage and I always reply a decent, sharp knife and a hatchet. Then I get asked where to find them and how to keep them sharp.
So this year I thought I would offer some nice Mora knives to any interested students. They are only $30. They are very tough, inexpensive and excellent foraging tools with Scandi ground blades–ideal for this kind of thing, and with care will last a lifetime. These are very popular among homesteaders and bushcrafters in the know for their incredibly affordable valuemora knife.  If you want one, please let me know so I can have enough available come class time.
I also might spend a half hour or so showing how to sharpen knives at home and in the field to any level of desired sharpness, from blunt to scalpel, with a couple stones and a piece of leather. If you want to spend the time on this, again, let me know.
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Into the Woods: The Beginning of Spring

Launching with the vernal equinox, Into the Woods takes viewers into the rugged Canadian back country. Learn about wild foods and medicines, the techniques of bushcraft and homesteading, the almost legendary skills of woodsmen to track wildlife and thrive in remote country. Travel by air, horse and canoe to experience the rare beauty of the Canadian woodlands, and visit modern bushmen as well as the heroes engaged in preserving this threatened ecosystem even as industries invade for its last resources.

Today, we begin with a look at how winter helps Maritime forests transition from soft to hardwood and immerse in the first hints of spring upon a frozen landscape.

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June 2017: Wild Food Foraging I

All rights reserved.

All rights reserved.

Location: Northeast Nova Scotia, Twa Corbies Hollow, approx. 45 minutes from New Glasgow and Antigonish

Date & Time: Saturday, June 10, 0900 – 1600
Storm Day: Note that the course will take place rain or shine, but in the event of seriously stormy weather, the course will take place the following Saturday at the same time.  We will notify students in the event of a storm day.
Cost: $60 per person (If paid on site)
Pre-Register Rate: $50 (Please note, we cannot hold nor guarantee places without pre-registration.)
Ages: Adults and youth to age 12 (youth must be accompanied by a guardian)
Contact: twa.corbies.hollow@gmail.com
Payment Method: We prefer payment by email via Interac or Tangerine, offered by most Canadian banks.
Email to register.  Directions will be provided to registrants.

Most people know there are wild foods in the meadows and woods, but they don’t know how to identify them.  Even fewer know how to harvest and use them.  Some are even afraid of them.  According to David Arora, author of Mushrooms Demystified: “There are few things that strike as much fear in your average [person] as the mere mention of wild mushrooms . . . [But] once you know what to look for, it’s about as difficult to tell a deadly Amanita from a savory chanterelle as it is a lima bean from an artichoke.”  This applies to wild plants, as well.  If you know what to look for, Nature provides abundantly and the Maritime provinces are blessed with a surfeit of wild edible foods.  In fact, our family resides on a semi-remote wooded homestead and as much as 25% of our food is foraged from the wild meadows and forests.  And this is a skill you can learn, too.  Click the image to learn more.

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Into the Woods

From Wildwood Ways comes a new series:

Launching with the vernal equinox, Into the Woods will take viewers into the Canadian back country.  Learn about wild foods and medicines, the techniques of bushcraft and homesteading, the almost legendary skills of woodsmen to track wildlife and thrive for days in remote country. Travel by air, horse and canoe and experience the rare beauty of the Canadian woodlands, and visit modern bushmen as well as the heroes engaged in preserving this threatened ecosystem even as industries invade for its last resources.

Into the Woods . . . where we explore everything related to Canada’s natural world.

Click the image to go to my channel.  Subscribe to follow each new episode.

into the woods promo

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TCH Customized Bushcraft Knife

jaa_0599-edit-edit_large_Students have often remarked on a fairly distinctive knife that I nearly always have with me during courses, and many have asked where to buy it.  The knife is the Tops Pasayten Lite Traveller.  Based on patterns used by pioneers and coureurs de bois in the 18th and 19th centuries, it mostly closely resembles the large trade belt knife of French woodsmen in upper Canada.

The Pasayten brings together the imminent utility of the old design with some very useful features of modern knifemaking.  The handle’s scales are black linen micarta, so they won’t hold water or decay.  The steel is 154cm, a modern super steel that offers great corrosion resistance yet resharpens handily and throws good sparks on a firesteel.  The balance is exquisit and the weight, at 7.6 oz, is light enough for bushcrafting yet beefy enough to split kindling or sever joints of deer with confidence.  The 5 1/4″ blade offers a 4 7/8″ cutting edge, so there is a sufficient buffer to neatly resharpen it, and ample heft and size to serve as a light defense tool.  The spine is 0.13″ and the grind is flat, making the knife stout but keeping it light.  The blade is a drop point right in the medium size range, making it extremely versatile for tasks as varied as fileting fish, gutting hares, carving hearth boards, or shaving kindling.  The handle is by far the most comfortable I’ve ever used with good traction and ergonomics in all positions.  Combine this knife with a good hatchet or small forester’s axe, and you have a complete set of woodsman’s tools that can see you through weeks in the wild.

pasayten 2The sheath is one of the best I’ve ever seen issued with a knife.  A form fitted, durable kydex clamshell with an adjustable clip, the sheath attaches handily to any pocket, a belt, or the inside of a backpack’s pocket.  It is easily the handiest sheath I have ever had.  Just clip and go.

“Twa Corbies” is old Scots-English for two ravens.  The ravens are the emblem of our homestead and bushcraft school, and derive from Norse myth where they stand for thought and memory, or knowledge and wisdom.  The blade of the TCH Pasayten is laser engraved with this powerful image, a reminder of what it takes to live well with the natural world.  With proper use and care, these are extreme quality knives that should last more than a lifetime.

This year, for the first time, we are offering a Twa Corbies Hollow customized version of the Tops Pasayten.  Each is warranted for life by Tops against defects in materials and workmanship.  The Pasayten retails at $225 US or $266 CAN, but students at any of our classes can purchase one for the special price of $198 CAN + S&H.  Or you can pick it up at your class and save the S&H.

Email if you would like to place an order.

tch pasayten

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