Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wordworking and Other Shenanigans

I got a plumb hammer from the 1930's for $5. It's funny how much these tools were new, how much better they are made than new tools and how much cheaper they are than new tools.- Justin (talking about his recent antique store and flea market finds).
Justin refurbished the tools with hand carved handles
My brother and I have been spending quite a bit of time recently on woodworking projects. For me that means a lot of little projects, for my brother that means even making a whole woodworking bench from scratch with all hand tools!
I have been bringing home logs and branches of various hardwoods I encounter in the woods (and even some times on roadsides) for a few months now. From these little scraps I have been carving and whittling away!
I found this treasure trove on my walk home 

I am still not sure what kind of introduced hard wood it is, but check out the grain and heartwood! 

I fashioned this mallet head from the above hardwood, the handle was from plum wood I cut, the background chisel handle was from a scrap of mountain mahogany I cut with my buddy Alex (see "High Desert Trails"), the gouge handle in the foreground was carved from a scrap of sycamore I pulled out of a tree near campus 

I started in on a willow log with the new spoon knife my brother gave me 

And the bowl turned out quite nice! I thought it paired well with some osage orange utensils I carved (abalone shell inlay was from an abalone I got freediving on the Sonoma coast last year) 

 All my projects in a pile with a longbow I carved from an old big leaf maple tree
It's always fun to free a refined shape from the rough but beautiful natural form of a hardwood log!
Besides woodworking, it had been a while since I had made it out into the woods for a small game hunt. I was near the end of my fish fillets and was beginning to crave terrestrial game over marine food (even as delicious as our fresh-caught fish always is). The other night I decided to hit the hay a little earlier than normal and vowed to wake before first light. My hunting pack lay stocked with a pair of oranges I had picked the day before, a bottle of water, and a box of #4 shot shells.
I awoke the next morning just before my alarm broke through the tranquility of the cool silence of morning. After coffee and some flapjacks I loaded up my gear and headed off to my favorite spot in search of rabbits.
The hunting was not easy and though I had several well executed stalks and plenty of close calls, by 11 am I was still empty handed…and out of water. Using a trick my buddy Alex and I had tried while felling osage orange wood for carving longbows a few months back I was able to quench my thirst and keep pushing on. I cut a section of wild grape vine and held it high as purified cool water dripped slowly but steadily down into my parched mouth. I browsed a patch of chickweed whose leaves still glistened with dew in the partial shade of a mighty old cottonwood. Thirst quenched, I proceeded and eventually was successful!

The first night I cooked up a braised rabbit leg with a French cream green peppercorn sauce…absolutely divine! As much as I hate to be repetitive with the wild food I eat, all I can say is some recipes become tradition for a reason. Slow cooked pulled pork-style rabbit sandwiches are one such tradition in my house, and one that I am always happy to share with my friends. It has been our dinner for the past two nights.

I hope to see you out there experiencing the wild side of life!

Keep the old ways alive!

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