031 Getting Started with Natural Navigation with Tristan Gooley

Are you paying attention to the landscape around you? Can you explain the differences and changes you observe?

Although it may seem foreign to many of us in the modern world, people around the globe have navigated for centuries using the clues found on the natural landscape around them.

In this episode I chat with Tristan Gooley who has made it his work learning and teaching how to interpret the signs we see. Or indeed, the signs we don’t see, but are there if we learn to pay attention. We discuss good starting places for getting involved, why natural navigation (and nature awareness in general) opens you up to a deeper connection and fulfilling experience during your time outdoors, and how Tristan continues to practice and learn.

I also highly recommend grabbing a copy of Tristan’s books if this episode interests you! Even if you’re a seasoned outdoorsman I know you’ll still learn plenty from them!

Resources Mentioned


Tristan’s Tedx Talk

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley

The Natural Navigator: the Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature be Your Guide by Tristan Gooley

How to Read Water by Tristan Gooley

The Secret World of Weather by Tristan Gooley

The Natural Navigator — Facebook Page

@thenaturalnavigator — Instagram

@NaturalNav — Twitter

030 Making Charcoal with Rebecca Oaks

Charcoal….. So much more than BBQ fuel!

Charcoal fueled much of the technological advancement for centuries– from its use to smelt metal ore to its role as the major component of gunpowder, it has been the ingredient behind the scenes that has enabled much of the “advancement” that we have made. In this episode of the Folk Craft Revival podcast Rebecca Oaks (author of Making Charcoal and Biochar) joins us to discuss charcoal, it’s history and uses, traditional methods of making it, what it looks like from a small-scale charcoal burners perspective, and suggestions for making some at home.

I don’t know about you, but I intend to make some this summer…. Even if just for grilling.

Resources Mentioned

rebeccaoaks.co.uk — Rebecca’s website

Making Charcoal and Biochar by Rebecca Oaks

Coppicing and Coppice Crafts by Rebecca Oaks and Edward Mills

Greenwood Crafts by Edward Mills and Rebecca Oaks

Sylva by John Evelyn

The European Charcoal Burners Association

biocharretort.com — the Exeter Retort

Kon Tiki Kilns — Information about how they work and how you can make one yourself, you can also buy one here

029 Primitive Skills and Nature Connection with Sammy Kells


Sammy and I chat about his introduction to primitive/survival skills, what draws him to them, woodworking, traditional southern Appalachian crafts (banjos in particular), ocarinas and more.

For Sammy, nature connection is the primary reason behind practicing survival skills, and we chat a bit about that and some of the teaching he has been involved with and hopes to become more involved with in the future.

Resources Mentioned

Samuel Kells on Youtube

Boulder Outdoor Survival School

Avid 4 Adventure

Natural Leaders

Rhiannon Giddens‘ folk music — Take a listen!

Foxfire books edited by Eliot Wigginton — Fun books, I’d suggest taking a look through them at the very least. Especially if you live in the Appalachians. There is a whole collection of them, I just linked up the first one.

Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

Folk Craft Revival Episode 28 : Blacksmithing, Apprenticeships and Learning from Masters

Folk Craft Revival Episode 11 : Native American Flutes

028 Blacksmithing, Apprenticeships, Pushing your Limits and Becoming Better at your Craft with Sam Ritter

In this episode I chat with professional blacksmith Sam Ritter about his journey as a craftsman. We chat about how he got introduced to blacksmithing, what his path was to going full time as a smith, why it was important for him to be around and learn from a master smith, becoming better at your craft and pushing your capabilities, his use of modern tools in a traditional craft, and much more. We also spend a bit of time chatting about traditional apprenticeship and journeyman stages and how being exposed to other masters techniques can influence your progression and aesthetic in the craft you choose to pursue.

I really enjoyed having this chat! It definitely made me realize how much I need to spend time around individuals who are great at what they do. Hopefully I’ll get more of that in the future!

Resources Mentioned

Sams Instagram account (@ritterforge)

NorrHälsinge Järnsmides Gille — the blacksmithing guild Sam helped found.

Gränsfors Bruk axe making courses

Folk Craft Revival Podcast Episode 7

2020 Reading List

What did you read this year?

Did you read more or less than last year?

Personally, my list of books I went through is significantly shorter this year then it was in 2019– partly intentional and partly due to changing life circumstances. For example, I got a job which no longer allowed me to listen to audio books or podcasts while working. Also, I was camping for a couple months during the summer and didn’t have access to a library. That said, a portion of it was also a deliberate attempt to cut back on my reading because I feel like I am such a book lover that I can, at times, spend more time reading about how to do things than I do actually doing them.

And I wanted to change that.

I do still love books and all that I can learn from them, it just needs to be tempered with a little more hands-on action! So how do the numbers stack up? In 2019 I read 64 books, 4 of which were fiction. In 2020 I read 22 books– 21 non-fiction and 1 fiction. An astounding decrease in the amount read…. Hopefully that correlated to an increase in projects completed and skills learned!

Favorite Books From 2020

You may notice a couple of trends if you compare the reading list from 2020 and 2019. First off, most of the books I read for relaxing “down time” are still non fiction, mostly histories and accounts of explorations. I’ve always been fascinated by what you can pick up about a time period by reading an account of a persons life or specific event.

Secondly, I seem to have this morbid fascination with reading about man eaters! Haha I know I enjoy adventure and hunting stories, but I never realized how many books I read about hunting down man-eaters (mostly felines) that go on killing sprees. In 2019 I read 5 books recounting tales of hunting man-eating animals, in 2020 they comprised 3 of the 22 books I read.

I guess they fill that realm that occupies the nature side of things (you can actually learn lot if looking for it: the hunter needs to be pretty in tune with their surroundings and know wildlife well in order to successfully kill animals that are actively hunting them), overcoming challenges, and the suspense/thriller genre that most people turn to murder mysteries for. . . At any rate, they seem disproportional represented in my reading!

As far as favorites go: my favorite book of 2020 that I read to in the how-to realm was Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel. It’s an older book, but it definitely got my wheels turning and will likely result in me putting in a lot of effort to dig a large hole in the ground this next summer. . . Growing and preserving food is a fundamental skill in my mind, and frankly makes me giddy thinking about stocking a cellar full of food. We’ll see if the magic wears off when I have to put in all the work for it instead of just dream about it! Along those same lines, I also REALLY enjoyed Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying,Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation which opened my mind to possibilities that I hadn’t thought about. Read them both.

Outside of the how-to realm, my top books this year were Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kemmerer and Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich. I particularly mention Secondhand Time because we tend to think of the communist russia, the cold war, and the collapse of the USSR from a single perspective. . .the American one. It gives you a very fascinating glimpse into the phyche of the russian people and what it meant to be a soviet. Not from the typical perspective from the other side of all this, but from the common people who lived and died as soviets (the book is a compilation of interviews the author had with various individuals recounting some of what they had lived through). As a warning though, it also has some deeply disturbing parts and you’ll read in graphic detail about the horrific atrocities that some people have and will inflict on others. Not a feel good book.

If you read any particularly good books this year let me know about them, I’m always looking for a good read!

2020 Books in Review

Physical Books

  • Composting Toilets: a Guide to Options, Design, Installation, and Use by Gord & Ann Baird
  • The Grand Canyon Expedition by John Wesley Powell
  • Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Missing Links Discovered in Assyrian Tablets: The Remarkable Discovery of Assyrian Tablets That reveal The Fate of “The Long Lost Tribes of Israel” by E. Raymond Capt
  • The Year-Round Hoophouse: Polytunnels for all Seasons and all Climates by Pam Dawling
  • Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying,Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by The Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante
  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  • Navajo Native Dyes: Their Preparation and Use by Nonabah G. Bryan & Stella Young
  • Death in the Dark Continent by Peter Hathaway Capstick
  • Making Native American Hunting, Fighting, and Survival Tools by Monte Burch
  • Bush Craft by Mors Kochanski
  • Montana Native Plants and Early Peoples by Jeff Hart
  • Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel
  • The Last Ivory Hunter by Peter Hathaway Capstick
  • Death in the Long Grass by Peter Hathaway Capstick
  • David Thompson’s Narrative of His Explorations in Western America, 1784-1812 by Joseph Burr Tyrrell

Audio Books

  • Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich
  • Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal
  • *The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin Mckinley
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts