Raspberry leaf tea

While on a recent trip to the Woodsbabe’s grandparents’ farm, I grabbed a handful of leaves from some of the many raspberry plants there so I could make raspberry leaf tea later on.

The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health benefits provided by raspberry tea are so numerous that I’ll simply refer you to this excellent source-cited article at herbcyclopedia.

Some dry leaves:

A few seconds after adding hot water:

After steeping for a few minutes:

Leaves after steeping:

The tea had a refreshing taste similar to blackberry leaf tea (but a bit tangier), which is not surprising considering they’re related plants. I’ll definitely drink it again the next time I find wild raspberries growing in the forest!

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Primitive fishing update

I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to lately. One reason is that I have less time for writing blog posts because of my new work and kiddie schedule which resulted from our recent move. The other reason is that we recently had the pleasure of hosting my parents for 2 weeks here in Finland, and this week the Woodsboy and I are on vacay at home together. My list of things to blog about is growing faster than I can scratch things off it, but I am trying! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to read and comment on other blogs as frequently as I used to because of the schedule change. Lately I’ve had to pick one blog at a time to catch up with. If you notice that I’ve been conspicuously absent from a particular venue, this is the reason!

About a month ago, I wrote about my first experiments in primitive fishing. Since then, I haven’t done too much more testing with the rig I made for one reason or another. I did try the thinned-down line for a short while in less-than-ideal conditions, but the result was still the same: bites, but no hooks. Since the conditions and testing period of the modified rig were different from the first trial, the results are not fully conclusive.

In the meantime, I have been in contact with Ilkka Seikku about the matter. He is kind of my go-to guru for all things boreal bushcraft. According to Ilkka, my rig looks good, but the type of “hook” I’ve been trying is usually used in a different manner in northern lakes. Here, the gorge hook was inserted into a small live bait fish with the hope of catching a larger fish, i.e. pike. So basically, I’ve been using the right technology and equipment, but kind of in the wrong way. Ilkka sent me a photo of some hooks he has made for various fish in the northern lakes.

Primitive fish hooks made by Ilkka Seikku.

Here you can see a small hook made from a grouse’s wishbone reinforced with sinew, a small hook made from juniper reinforced with sinew and a gorge hook made from antler. The line is willow bark, like my line. It seems that smaller hooks actually shaped like hooks were used for the small fish I’ve been trying to catch. Imagine that! 😉 Ilkka mentioned that the method of fishing with the hook-shaped hooks was different from that which we use today. Rather than letting the fish nibble and waiting to set the hook, you have to be quick and try to hook the fish immediately when you feel a nibble.

So my next step will be to fashion some similar hooks using materials I can find. To be continued!

Black poplar (cottonwood) seed fluff as tinder

In my recent Juhannus 2013 post, I showed some pictures of the large amounts of seed fluff released by some black poplar (cottonwood) trees around town. Naturally (well, for me), one of my first thoughts when I saw it was, “Hmm…I wonder if it’ll take a spark from a ferro rod.” I recently found out. 🙂

The equipment: one carbon-steel knife, one ferro rod and one pile of compressed black poplar seed fluff.

I scraped the ferro rod with the back of my knife once and the fluff caught fire instantly and burned very quickly. The best shot I could get was this smoke:

Actually, the outside of the pile burned quickly. I fluffed it up a little more and lit it again. This time it burned slightly slower, but still way too quickly to get a picture. The aftermath of a few scrapings:

I’d have to say I wasn’t too surprised that it burned up so quickly, as I have found other seed fluffs to do this as well. Anyway, I’m always happy to add a new tinder to my “mental tinderbox”, so I consider it a success. If I were to use it for lighting a fire, I’d light a large amount of the stuff while it’s still fluffy and have a secondary tinder at the ready.

A first look at the Swedish LK-70 rucksack

Although I really enjoy owning and using outdoor gear, I try not to amass too much of it. I’m definitely not a minimalist, but for whatever reason I just can’t stand having too much stuff, and that includes outdoor gear! Having said this, if I do recognize a legitimate gap in my arsenal of woodsman’s toys, I won’t hesitate to fill it with a rugged, dependable, multi-functional item of value.

I don’t get a chance to take longer trips that often, but it is something I’m trying to do at least once a year. This being the case, I decided it was time to purchase a backpack with a larger capacity for longer trips during any season and for extended periods of time. Having recently been impressed by the build quality and overall design of the Swedish LK-35 army rucksack, I decided to purchase its big brother, the LK-70, from Finland’s best-known military surplus and outdoor store, Varusteleka.

Image linked from Varusteleka

As you may have surmised, this is a 70-Liter (4,270 cu in) pack. It has an external frame very similar to that of the LK-35, differing mainly in the area of size. While there is a newer nylon version of this pack, I purchased the more traditional canvas and leather version. You know, it’s just how I roll. 😉

A few specs:

  • Pack material: canvas with rubberized bottom, frame side and top flap, leather straps, metal buckles, nylon pouch extensions
  • Pack capacity: 70 liters (at least; possibly more considering the pouch extensions)
  • Pack design: 1) very large rubberized top flap with two pockets for flat or small items, 2) large main compartment with pouch extension and drawstring closure, 3) two long side pouches with pouch extension, drawstring closure and top flap, 4) one rear pouch with pouch extension, drawstring closure and top flap, 5) space for skis, an axe etc. between the long side pouches and main pouch with leather straps to secure these items in place, 6) external attachment points for bedroll, sleeping pad etc.
  • Frame material: external tube-steel frame
  • Weight: 3.5 kg/7.7 lbs.

Image linked from Varusteleka

Out of the box, this pack had a pretty strong mold smell (not uncommon with military-surplus items), so I aired it out outside for a while and then washed it with soap and water and hung it up to dry. This took care of the majority of the odor.

Then I loaded it up with a bunch of gear, exercise weights and other stuff totaling 21.5 kg/47.5 lbs to do a little weight test (by the way, it’s usually advisable to try packs on at the store with weight in them before you buy them, but I had a good feeling this one would work out thanks to my experience with the smaller version). This is more weight than I’d take in most cases, so I thought it’d be a good test weight. After adjusting the straps and pack position a bit, the LK-70 proved to be quite comfortable. The external frame kept the pack sack off my back, which allows for excellent airflow. I quickly climbed on and off a few chairs to get an initial feel for how the pack carries, and it didn’t seem to wobble or shift at all.

Having paid only 55 Euros/$71.50 for this pack and considering that it’s decades old, I didn’t expect it to be in perfect condition. Again, this goes with the territory of military-surplus gear. There was a small cut through the leather part of the waist belt, so I took a few minutes to sew it up. It shouldn’t be a problem at all. Also, the pack will need to be waterproofed with either wax or a modern waterproofing agent and the leather straps should be oiled before I take it out into the field. Other than this and the rectified mold odor, there really isn’t anything to complain about, especially considering the price. Given the basic nature of the design, some comfort modifications may be in order in the future. We’ll see.

I don’t want to jinx myself by saying too much, but plans for an extended outing in a northerly direction are in the works and I’ll be bringing this pack if it stands up to preliminary field testing. 🙂