008 Getting Started in Wildlife Tracking with Casey McFarland

Wildlife tracking is one of those skills that is a simple and basic concept, simply follow the tracks left in the dirt right?

Alas, it is those simple concepts that are often most difficult and complicated to really master! Tracking it is no exception, it is far more nuanced and takes some serious focused practice in the field to become really proficient (like most traditional skills that are the focus of this podcast). . .

Casey McFarland, current president of Cyber Tracker North America, joins me for this episode to discuss tracking and some of his experience in a broad overview– I plan on doing much more specific tracking related episodes in the future, but this serves as a perfect introduction for anyone not already interested.

We discuss: getting started, where some of the best places to find tracks are, why you should be interested in tracking, the connection with place and nature that it will lead to, the Cyber Tracker organization and their evaluations process, and much more.

Thanks for listening! Join us next week as we discuss traditional winter camping and being out enjoying this season!

Resources Mentioned:

trackercertification.com — Cyber Tracker North America

naturetracking.com

Art of Tracking Podcast

Wilderness Awareness School

Tracker School

Animals Don’t Cover Their Tracks Facebook Group

Laughing Coyote Project

caseymcfarland.net

Books:

Mammal Tracks and Sign (2nd Edition) by Mark Elbroch

Tracking and the Art of Seeing— Paul Rezendez

Peterson Field Guide to Tracks by Olaus Murie

The Peterson Reference Guide to the Behavior of North American Mammals by Mark Elbroch & Kurt Rinehart

Bird Feathers: A Guide to North American Species by S. David Scott & Casey McFarland

Peterson Field Guide to Bird Nests of North America — Coming Fall 2020

007 Integrating Traditional Skills into Modern Life with Neal Ritter

What traditional skills and crafts are actually useful in modern life?

In this episode we discuss the integration of traditional skills into modern life with Neal Ritter (who was kind enough to to come on and share his experiences with us). I really enjoy his all around holistic and positive outlook on things!
We discuss subsistence living, what traditional & primitive skills he enjoys utilizing in his life (without going out of his way to make it more difficult), where he definitely prefers to go modern, and raising kids.

Resources mentioned:

Laughing Coyote Project — website

Laughing Coyote Project — Instagram

Fire Willow Farm — Instagram

Folk Craft Revival episode 5

006 Knowledge Vs Experience

What’s the difference between intellectually knowing something and having actually done it?

Does having made/done something help you retain the knowledge more fully?

In this episode I unpack some of my recent thoughts on knowledge vs experience and how I need to spend more hands on time trying new skills rather than chasing knowledge.

Primitive Skills Gatherings: Learning Traditional Skills

There are a number of ways you can get started in learning traditional skills. Books for one, that’s how I started, and how most of us who became interested in traditional skills more than 15 years ago had to go about learning things. In addition, there have also been a few periodical publications that have existed over the years– things like Woodsmoke and Bulletin of Primitive Technology. In a more modern form, you can find written directions for many skills and crafts online.

These days, Youtube is ever present. Which is understandable, with a lot of these skills being able to actually SEE what’s happening can be way more advantageous than reading about it. And yes, you can actually learn quite a bit from Youtube if you spend the time to sort through videos. I find it very helpful from time to time. That said, you’ll also find mediocre vidoes out there, try to look for quality information (this holds true for books, websites and everything else too).

Best of all is in person learning, the number of personal workshops or traditional skills (primitive, survival, nature awareness, or folk) schools has exploded over the last decade or so (at least it seems like it to me) and they’ve become increasingly more common. Which is a great thing and it makes it easier to find somewhere to learn. Cost can sometimes be prohibitive though depending on the school.

An alternative route to formalized schools, and one that I really like the format of, is a primitive skills gathering. Most skills gatherings are week long camps with workshops held by various subject matter experts throughout the day with time to interact and socialize with other folks interested in similar skills during the evening. Some are weekend or extended weekend events. Don’t be put off by me calling them primitive skills gatherings, you’ll also find many traditional skills like woodworking, felting, blacksmithing, etc as well as the tanning, friction fire and flintknapping type activities. If you enjoy learning pre-modern skills you’re sure to find a class going on that will interest you!

What I really like about traditional skills gatherings is that you get to decide what you want to learn. You’re exposed to projects you may never have tried, or even thought about, before and you have the opportunity to decide which ones you want to learn. Which stands in contrast to something like, say, a survival school where they decide which skills to teach you and that’s what is covered regardless of whether you have been practicing that particular skill for 20 years and are already proficient.

At any rate, I’ve only been to one gathering (Rabbitstick) and can’t provide you with in person thoughts on all of them, but I wanted to provide a list of gatherings so you can check them out, it’s a great way to learn new skills and I think you’ll enjoy the experience.

*Note: I listed gatherings where the focus is on learning hands-on skills in a workshop style format. There are other festivals that take more of a presentation/exhibition approach, I chose to not include those on this current list. If you know of any other gatherings like the ones listed, please let me know and I’ll include them. Hollowtop was a website of particular help in compiling this list, they had several gatherings I didn’t know about, and list several other events that I didn’t include here, check them out for more information. In addition, there are a couple events that are more bushcraft focused, I don’t know the format for them but they look interesting and I’m sure you’d learn a bunch so I included a few of them on this list. If anyone has been to them and can tell me what they were like I would love to hear from you!

Skills Gatherings in the U.S.A (by month)

February

Wintercount– wintercountcamp.com, Arizona

Florida Earthskills– floridaearthskills.org Florida

March

Acorn– acorngathering.com, California

April

Rivercane Rendezvous– www.primitiveskills.org, South Carolina

Peidmont Earthskills– www.piedmontearthskillsgathering.com North Carolina

May

Buckeye– buckeyegathering.net, California

Slickrock– www.boss-inc.com/courses/slickrock-gathering Utah

Mid-Atlantic Primitive Skills Gathering– www.ancestralknowledge.org/2017/01/01/maps-meet/, Virginia?

The Sharpening Stone– www.thesharpeningstone.com, Oregon

Between the Rivers– www.betweentheriversgathering.com, Washington

Indiana Earthskills– indianaearthskills.com/index.html, Indiana

Dirt Time Gathering– dirttime.com/dirttime-14, California

June

Firefly– fireflygathering.org, North Carolina

Saskatoon Circle– www.saskatooncircle.com, Washington

Fire to Fire– www.firetofire.com, Utah

Earth Knack Family Gathering– www.earthknack.com/class-schedule, Colorado

Cattail Gathering– thecattailgathering.com, Connecticut

July

Elements– www.elementsgathering.com, California

Echoes in Time– echoes-in-time.com, Oregon

Woodsmoke– www.woodsmokeusa.com, Idaho, classic camping (1800’s-1930’s) temporarily on hold

Wilder Waters (aka Dawnland, aka Maine Primitive Gathering)– wilderwaterscommunity.org/gathering, Maine

Puckerbrush Primitive Gathering– prfgca.com/?page_id=563, Maine

Pathfinder Gathering– www.selfrelianceoutfitters.com/products/2020-pathfinder-gathering, Arkansas (from what I saw I’m not sure this is consistant). More bushcraft oriented.

August

Lake Superior Traditional Ways– traditionalways.org, Wisconsin

Moose Ridge– www.mooseridgewild.com/moose-ridge-gathering, Maine

Reeds and Roots Skillshare– reedsandroots.org, Ohio

Earth Tribe Festival– www.facebook.com/earthtribefest Colorado

Great Lakes Primitives– greatlakesprimitivesgathering.com, Michigan (not sure if this is still active)

September

Rabbitstick Rendezvous– www.rabbitstick.com, Idaho

Mountaincraft and Music– www.mountaincraft.org, West Virginia

Roots School Rendezvous– rootsvt.com/adults-youth/roots-rendezvous, Vermont

Bois D’Arc Primitive Skills Camp and Knap-in– www.boisdarc.info, Missouri

Uitwaaien– pagathering.com, Pennsylvania (more bushcraft focused)

Groundnut Gathering– leapfrogprograms.weebly.com/groundnut-gathering.html, Massachusetts (small, I only found this one reference)

October

SkyEarth– wintercountcamp.com/skyearth/about, Texas

Falling Leaves Rendezvous– www.primitiveskills.org, South Carolina

Three Trees Earthways– www.threetreesearthways.org, Wisconsin

International Skills Gatherings

Bushmoot– www.bushmoot.com, February, UK

Avnei Derech (Milestones)– www.avneiderech.com/english, March, Israel

Limina– liminagathering.com, April, British Columbia, Canada

Headwaters Earth Skills– sticksandstoneswildernessschool.com/headwaters, May, Ontario, Canada

Firemaker– www.firemaker.org, July, British Columbia, Canada

Bushcraft Festivalen (Bushcraft Festival)– www.bushcraftfestival.com, August, Sweden

Bushmoot– www.bushmoot.com, August, UK

Rat Root Rendezvous– karamat.com/rendezvous-2019, August, Alberta, Canada

Wilderness Gathering– www.wildernessgathering.co.uk, August, UK

Sheva Avanim– www.avneiderech.com/english, October, Israel

Wild Heart– www.wildheart.life/wild-heart-gathering-for-adults.html, October, NSW Australia

Bushcraft Weekend– https://stichtingbushcraft.nl/english, 2x/year, I couldn’t find dates immediately (it’s rough navigating websites in a language you don’t know). Netherlands

Monthly Favorite: November 2019

Monthly Favorite: November 2019

The Folk Craft Revival podcast is now live!

Not sure what you’ve been up to, but around here a lot has been happening. As such, I’ve had to think for a moment about what I wanted to post for this month. Normally, I try to choose a project I’m learning that I’ve found fun or something useful that would be helpful for others. . . but this month, hands down, my favorite thing has been the fact that I finally got the podcast published!

I’ve been working on it for awhile (amazing how long things take when you’re learning and have limited time to devote to them….) and I am super excited that it’s finally up. Check out the episodes on the website here or over at apple podcasts/itunes here and let me know what you think. I’d love feedback on how it’s going and any recommendations you may have for me.

As a runner-up monthly favorite, I must mention that I attempted my first cured meat this month! It’s something I’ve never done and I did a really simple recipe so it may not have been terribly interesting for anyone else, but I’ve really enjoyed reading up on meat curing and taking my initial step into it. I’m sure more on this will be covered in the future. . .