August 27 End-of-Season Foraging Class

gloaming boletesLast reminder. The August foraging class is next Saturday, August 27. There are only three openings remaining. In this end-of-foraging season class, we will focus on late harvest forage: mushrooms, wild seeds and grains, wild fruits, late blooming herbs, as well as discussing late season concerns such as coping with bears fattening up for winter.

Some of you have messaged that you wish to attend, but I haven’t yet received your registrations or deposits. Please be aware I cannot hold slots open without this. Classes are small to provide the best learning experience for each student. Once the slots are filled, they’re gone for another year.

Click the image to learn more about the class.

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The Penalty of Being An Ecologist

grandmother birch of the Old Wood small

A truly ancient birch or massive proportions, growing in a secret place deep in the Old Wood. Unlike the forest service, I will not cut it down to see how old it is.

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

Aldo Leopold

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Wildwood Ways: Forage of Back Roads & Waste Places

In this episode, we’ll take a walk down a typical back road like you might find anywhere in east Canada or New England and discover some of the abundant and easily accessible forage available to the watchful, knowledgeable person.

Among edibles, we will cover: sweet clover, bladder campion, burdock, arctic raspberry and viper’s bugloss..

We will also cover the poisonous plants buttercup, tansy ragwort and groundsel.

And we’ll observe some wildlife.

 

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Why Hillary Clinton Supporters Make Me Doubt Feminism

Over the last several months during which America’s increasingly screwed up political system wrested with its increasingly hideous selection of presidential candidates, I have watched the Right eagerly embrace a collection of religious fanatics, and a son of a warmonger, and a simple minded, narcissistic, womanizing fascist. But this isn’t about the Right, it’s about the opposing political slope, and during these ugly months I have watched the Left vie between two candidates: a man with a lifetime of public service virtually free of scandal and steadfast commitment to values, and a woman who’s entire life has skirted the edge of crime and ethics and who many–even among some of her supporters–wonder if she is a sociopath. (As a mental health expert, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind she is a sociopath).

When I recount the history of Bernie Sanders, I find a man who has been an activist all his life, who has been faithful to his wife, and who has walked an unpopular road in America, standing for meaningful causes like equality, health care and access to education without compromise to Big Corporate interests. A man who, even in the course of his campaign, refused to accept Big Corporate backing. The first man in an incredibly long time who really stood for the people of America.

Opposing Sanders was a woman who has been first lady, who tried when she was first lady to “expand the role of the first lady”, as if she could turn it into some sort of political office, and in that ongoing hunger for power and a place in the annals of history has run twice more for office. A woman who’s entire career has been plagued by scandal at political and business levels. Who has been a verbal proponent of fracking, pipelines and GMOs.  Who has walked the thin edge of the law. In this woman’s history is an amazing trail of opponents suddenly refusing to testify against the Clinton’s and occasionally dying. Who’s own husband pardoned any number of convicted criminals associated with their scandals on his last day in office. In this woman’s current campaign were a paid and volunteer internet army of disinformers and propagandists spreading lies and doubt about Sanders in the dirtiest style of American politics, and I know this for a fact because I knew several of these people.

So what is it about any of this that makes me doubt feminism? Well, first you should know I have never considered myself a feminist. If there is a philosophy I have always believed in, it’s that ancient shamanic belief that all life is sacred, all life is of equal value (no, this has nothing to do with BLM and originates decades before the BLM movement was ever thought of). Like all followers of shamanry, I believe the world is animated with spirit–that life itself is spirit–and that it all has intrinsic and equal worth. So, while not a feminist per se, I considered feminism an allied philosophy.

But what makes me now incredibly doubtful of the merits of modern feminism (at least the American flavor) is that many feminists I’ve known during this entire, most recent fiasco of a campaign and typical political series of hatchet jobs, knew of HRC’s faults. They discussed this with me in numerous venues. They were cognizant of the problems associated with her. They at times wondered if she was a moral person. Yet they would say, “But she’ll be a woman leader”, as if they made up for all of it. They threw away a man who was truly aligned with their values of equality of access to health care and education and the American tradition of a fair chance to support a Big Corporate puppet on the basis that she is female.

So, while American feminism claims to be about equality, these persons have demonstrated it is not. It is, as much as misogyny, about sexism. Sexism is a bias toward a sex, and it doesn’t matter which sex.

As I’ve said before, I will never vote for Hillary. Save your cries of, “But don’t you see? She’s the lesser evil!” The truth is, and again, I am telling you this as a mental health expert and behavior analyst, “I don’t see it.” I truly doubt whether a simple minded, hateful narcissist is a less dangerous evil than a cunning sociopath. Gender is irrelevant in my eyes, which makes me more a true feminist than the American pseudo-feminists who support Hillary on the basis that she is female. I don’t see gender. I will stand with the right person for the job, and encourage everyone I can influence to do the same.

Bernie or Jill, but never Trump or Hill.

Go Green. The DNC and the GOP are broken.

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The Forest Is the Forest

Wildwood Way 300 pixels 72dpi“Yet the forest was what it always was: a place of sunbeams and shadows, mysteries and secret lore, things knowable and a place to become lost in faerie tales. The forest is the forest; a home if you understand it; an alien, fearful thing if you are ignorant of its ways.”

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Why Should You Study at Twa Corbies Hollow?

 

Discover Twa Corbies Hollow, a place to learn the science and art of a natural way of living. Courses include:

Bushcraft
Wildlife Tracking & Observation
Plant & Fungi Foraging
Cheesemaking
Brewing
Organic & Permaculture Gardening
Animal Training
Canoeing
Long Term Wilderness Survival
Shamanry

& other skills of good, plain living.

To learn more, look at the menu above under Twa Corbies Courses.

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Spring Spoor & the Beast: The Terrifying Conclusion

At last, the terrifying conclusion of Spring Spoor & the Beast. Click to discover the horror that walks among the trees.

Many more lessons on foraging, woodscraft and country living are to come. Please “like” my channel to be updated and take a look at my website to learn more about my classes and books.

 

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A Review of: Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada

edible and medicinal plants of canadaI don’t like writing bad reviews, but I feel compelled to after having read a significant portion of this book because a novice forager could seriously hurt him/herself going by its information. It’s actually been sitting in my library for a couple years, but I recently took it out on an all day hiking trip with the hope of identifying some plants that are new to me.  I paused at a brook at noon to have lunch and pulled out the book to read while I relaxed, and ended up staying there for a good couple hours going further and further into the book, increasingly dismayed and alarmed by the level of ineptitude portrayed in the pages.

Approach this book with great caution. It is inadequately illustrated to positively confirm many of the species it covers, and the information is at times doubtful, sometimes potentially harmful.

Most foraging books leave the reader wanting when it comes to illustrations, but this book is especially bad for it. Oh, it has any number of beautiful photos that could deceive a reader into thinking it’s very thorough, but the photos are often inadequate to confirm plant ID. This makes it very hard for a user to safely and positively identify various plants. In particular, it neglects silhouettes of plant structure, as well as sufficient illustration of root and leaf structure. The book relies heavily, with a few exceptions, on imagery of blossoms and fruit for identification purposes. This makes it almost useless for the many plants that are best harvested long before blooming and fruiting. Further, it often describes varieties of plants without illustrating them at all.

Most foraging books also have a few errors–generally minor mistakes that are forgivable given how much there is to know–but this book has so many errors in so many areas that I am greatly dubious of it. As an example, it expounds that the entire burdock plant is an edible vegetable. This is true, so long as you do not mind the almost unbearable bitterness of every part but the tuber. Of the viper’s bugloss, it says the leaves are edible if cut finely. Take a look at the fine, sharp, numerous spines under a bugloss leaf and ask yourself if you would want to eat it, finely cut or not. It states that cattails can be eaten raw, which is true only if you don’t mind eating the toxin, oxalic acid, which is easily destroyed by heat (hence, why one must cook cattail greens).

The errors and suspect information are so profuse that this book has the feel of the slough of poor copycat books that followed Gibbons’ highly knowledgeable Stalking the Wild Asparagus back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It has the feel of a text that was pushed out by writers who didn’t really understand foraging and were instead simply collating data from various sources with the aim of producing a book that the publisher planned to sell on the basis of it’s attractive photography. This is shown time and time again in the book as the authors describe plants as edible then provide warnings below the descriptions that some persons have suffered poisoning from those very plants. Having been through a great deal of this book, it provides no indication that I can find that the authors actually eat or use the plants they write about.

This book can be regarded as a basic field guide with some potentially useful information and images, but the reader should substantiate every element in the book with validated sources before consuming anything it recommends. Better, only learn from foragers who actually use what they recommend. You may profoundly regret not doing so if you are new to foraging.

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Solstice Camping Beneath the Full Moon

base camp oneNatalia and I are just back from a night in the woods. It was marvellous. Dinner was steak roasted on spits over a fire at Base Camp One in the forest east of the cottage, with a makeshift salad of ox-eye daisy leaves, plaintain leaves and wild carrot stalk. As a bright, nearly full moon rose, coyotes howled in welcome. The howls were new animals that I have not heard in the area, of deep and melodious long duration, in the manner of wolves, which makes me think more grey wolf genes are finding their way into the local packs.

yarrow and cutI slashed my finger pretty good while foraging, and it was a bleeder. But that provided a great opportunity to demonstrate what an effective styptic yarrow is, as some chewed and pressed into the wound stopped the bleeding instantly.

redtail hawk smallWe kept a fire going til midnight and told stories, and slept in hammocks beneath the stars. When dawn came, we made a breakfast of tea with wild mint leaves and boiled eggs. Then we located the nest of a fledgling redtail hawk. While the angles were not right to capture imagery of the young one, I was able to get some great footage of the parents coming in to feed it. I could fly a drone over the nest later today but I won’t risk distressing the animals like that. But I will sneak and put a zoom camera with directional mic there later and try to catch some more audio footage.

Everyday in Nature is magic!

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July 2016 Wild Food Foraging I

The last foraging class was over full. You have been asking, so here it is: a July foraging class! To learn more and register, click on the photo to follow the link.

 field sorrel
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