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Donnerstag, 31. März 2016

Spring is here!

 Yeah, it´s about to begin around these parts... the birds are trilluping madly and the deer are not shy in the least, as you can perfectly see..;-)
 Lesser celandine (Ranunculus Ficaria, in German: Scharbockskraut) for soup and salad. Please use the leaves before blossom, afterwards they are mildly toxic. They are rich with Vitamin C.
 Jack by the hedge (alliaria petiolata, in German: Lauchrauke), delicious in sour cream and cheese soup and even so on a sandwich. Not as delicious as wild garlic, but with a pronounced garlic taste and mustard oils that are good for the digestion.
 Then I did some carving practice. First I got myself a little stick with a little branch poking out like a nose...
 ...stripped off the bark...
 Put in notches for the eyes, the mouth and chin...
Further elaborate the eyes and nose (I like to start with the nose)...
 ...elaborating it...
 Et voilà... a little fellow looking out from beneath a root. I like carving trolls and wood spirits for practicing my whittling skills. They are simply fun to make!
 My trail led me into the thicket, on and on into the thicket.
The woods were vibrant with reawakening life... nearly got run over by deer, hares and mouflon herds...;-D
The creek was murmuring its serene song in the distance to add to the symphony of spring.
The sun was shining brightly and pale.
The air was warm, and I really relished in the feeling of getting out into the silence.
Funny though, I met some hunters driving their Jeeps through the thickest of the underbrush. When they learned I was walking barefoot they were right shocked and asked me what I was up to. I grinned and invited them to try it out.... of course they didn´t, but then they asked me why I did this ... utterly strange behaviour as it is. It gave me a lot to think about. We live in a culture where even shower gels and cigarettes and even guns and ammo are advertised in an utterly sexualized manner-but it is not socially adequate to walk through the woods barefoot. Strange. Girls and even boys are walking the city limits in a state of proper undress... but it is socially banned to walk barefoot. Interesting situation, if you ask me, and it gives room for a lot of discussion concerning the psychological health of a society that does this.
Suffice to say, I did not let that hinder my hike... and through the air of spring I toodled on and smiled.


Mittwoch, 30. März 2016

Encounter with the hornéd ones...

After work, and unnerved as usual, stressed and miserable like most of the times these days, I took the bus overland to get out into the woods. I hurried along, but as I hit the deep, silent and soothing woods, the stress subsided. Countless times I have told the tale, and as always the forest did its job on me. It´s like moss growing over the burning wounds of my heart, like a gentle spring rain. It is not exactly comfort, but more than that. 
There is life and death... there is war and killing, but all things make perfect sense most of the time. No stupid questions, no human interference. Just silence and justice without the sense of even being.
I saw tracks afield and wool from a mouflon on my way....
And as I went on, I actually came across a herd of mouflon.
In the far distance at first, I was somewhat freaked out that they actually came nearer. I can think of Mouflon Daddy coming home and telling his family he´d been observing humans...;-) "No, really, are there really some in the woods?"-"Yeah, but they were shy...";-)

On I went on my merry way... the herd came with me.


 
Then I came across this holly bush still carrying its berries... in March?:-)


It gave me a reminder that even in spring there is a hint of winter. Even if its just a memento. There´s death in life and life in death, and the hunter´s always prey. Message:-).

Steampunky survival tribal tactical whatnot...;-)

 This is a recent experiment I made.. it started as a bush knife with a socket construction... I did a quick linen wrapping and stabilized that with epoxy. In  atime consuming process it then was stained with coffee, dragon´s blood (daemonoropos draco) concoction and finish. The blade is forged to fit with less than 1 % stock removal from leaf spring steel and selectively tempered.
 Thickness is 6mm. Due to the wide blade, however, cutting prowess is quite good in spite of the thick blade.
Storage room for gimmicks... I plan to fit in some matches and a firesteel and a diamond hone... we´ll see how it goes... I´ll keep you posted!

Donnerstag, 24. März 2016

Willy´s new blacksmithing multi-tool and a technical trail ride home

 On Friday it was ruckus in the smithy again. I wanted to come early to have a chance to pursue my own projects, but to little effect. Julia and Nick joined in and I had to try to tutor them while trying to learn something myself-i.e. making Damascus. Not good. Okay, so it´s great that all these folks really dig black- and bladesmithing, and we have a vibrant and lively community, but, yeah, if you have one forge and three people and want to do some challenging work, that sucks. I will not do this anymore. I have to make my peace with the fact that it simply shall not be that I become an accomplished swordsmith. I can do a bit of challenging work, but to really learn, I would have to have a smithy of my own, and out of financial issues this cannot be and will not be.

Yeah, okay. On the other jhand it felt great to have all the folks around and I was really pleased to meet with Volker from www.schmiededaseisen.de /forum and right glad to meet Willy again who dropped by.
 Willy had brought some novel idea, a multitool blacksmithing anvil for delicate work, made from an old section of railroad. It offers horn, plane, square section,
 rounding tool and "hardy chisel"...
 ...on one side...
 ...and setting and rounding and cupping tools on the other.
 WAAAAAAY cool, if you ask me, and I have to try this myself....
 We split up early, for we wanted to help Gudrun move from one part of the building to another on Saturday, so I had plenty of time left until dark. So off I rode into the woods and up a technical incline up the Hohenstein trail.
 From the Hohenstein there´s a lovely view...
 This is Ahlhausen Manor in the distance...
 And our beloved smithy...
 
Had a cuppa tea and a break...
 
 ...and faced the challenge of another, even more technical section. Now I haven´t ridden seriously for some one- and - a - half year due to lack of motivation and lack of time, but I realized it´s all in the head. I was huffing and puffing up the hill, but still managed to get on top of things and without so much of setting a foot, I managed to clear the bastard.;-) Was a bit proud of that, I can tell you.

 On I rode through the pre-spring forest, along technical trails with a mighty midget of smithing rucksack on my back-but still, I was riding and gliding and smiling. Funny, how, even when life´s not exactly easy, riding always has this windshield wiper effect on my soul...
 Finally I arrived at the dam by the lake of my old home and took in the scenery again and let my thoughts wander.
 It was getting slightly dark, so I made my way home.
And I arrived with a feeling of content. I simply have to pursue this more. I have to strain myself at first, but let´s be honest...  life´s too short and shitty to compromise on things that do you good.

Short review of Lizard Moro Mid stalking shoes

 I recently got some new shoes. I have long considered making my own mocassins, but wasn´t able to get decent aftermarket soles. Of course you could use shoe goo, but then you get no traction profiles. Cutting it out is not that much of an option. Why mocassins in the first place, I hear you asking? Yeah. If you have ever tried them in the woods, you will not want anything else period. Of course, there might be better shoes for extreme alpine terrain, but that remains to be discussed... in my opinion, mocassins offer way more surefootedness than "normal" trekking shoes due to the better terrain feedback on your soles. Of course you need to train your feet to their use, but that´s a matter of time. Even Nessmuk his very own self;-) was a high advocate for soft soles or even walking barefooted. Some laid hunters I knew were walking barefoot when stalking in ´em days. But that´s not always an option. Ticks can molest you, and not everyone´s all for ants between your toes. I used to use Neoprene shoes with good success or my own mocassins, but, having a thin sole, they tend to wear out quite fast.

Enter the Lizard "barefoot" lineup. The shoes are constructed around a Vibram multidirectional traction sole with a "barefoot footprint". The sole appears to be quite flexible at first, but, as far as I can say, they have a relatively hard rubber compound. The fit is snug, and they come with an aluminium insole that proved to be a bit too warm for my liking, so I replaced it with a common Coolmax insole.
 The fit is tight and glove-like. The leather shaft is very soft and comfy. To facilitate access, there is a zipper in addition to the laces. There is a Neoprene interior which keeps your feet warm and nice while providing - in combination with a Drytex membrane - dry feet even when traversing creeks. It was then that I noticed that the soles is not actually at its best when wet.
While the shoes really inspire confidence and encourage even some parcours-like running endeavour when dry or even in moist forest ground environment, balancing over wet logs, rocks or even hardpack terrain can send you arse over teacup in no time, which is not THAT great. But then it is one of the first shoes developed for this kind of endeavour, and all in all it is a huge step in the right direction. For Skóggángr dynamic hiking, running and martial arts techniques, they are really cool. They sell at roundabout 138,00 €. We´ll see how long they last in the woods, and then I will know if they are worth the bucks...;-) I´ll keep you posted!

Mittwoch, 16. März 2016

Another weekend with Martin and the brutes;-) and dealing with morons.

(Text by Fimbulmyrk, Photos by Nick Ilgenstein)
 
 On Thursday our next-to-second-maybe-favourite-human being;-) Martin from Ireland dropped by to do some forging again. There were some schedule issues with plane and train as usual, but eventually I fetched him, and we had a nice chat how things were turning out. It was cool that we actually can continue where we stopped last time... on Friday we made for the smithy and it was quite early still.
 Everything was still calm... but that would not be for long;-) for we were not in for silence.
 A view of the smithy in the sunlight... there is still a lot of work to be done, but it´s slowly progressing. We have a lot of work to do still. It´s not helping, though, that we have issues again with some morons.

On Thursday, five hours or so before Martin arrived, I had a very unnerving phone conversation with one of the members of the club (won´t give you any names.. for now ):-/>). Now the master is severely ill and this guy insisted that we should ask him for everything we  wanted to do and that every decision had to be made at least with consulting him, including cleaning up, for Ewald had no competence in leading and would "kick the bucket" anyway and then everything would go asunder anyway so there´d be no point in doing anything. He said he´d prefer to "see the bad in anything good" and that we were not welcome, for we were "not part of the club and had no say in anything". We have a forum now (www.retzgen.de/hammer) and he insisted that it should be debranded or deleted. He also demanded that the event of the open smithy we have organized with no help by the club for April, May, June, July, August, September and October should be cancelled and no children´s birthday parties should take place before his say-so. So I contacted our master´s daughter and informed her, and she had a bit of an argument with him. In fact she nearly bit his throat out.

We had appointed a meeting with him on Friday, 4pm. Ewald´s other daughter, Tina, and his wife, Gudrun, were there to support us. Guess who did not show up?

It´s starting early this time that people want to get rid of us. But they think of us as a group of hobby smiths. But I promise, we are not.

We are an army. We are the demons they invited over the threshold. We are the ritual gone wrong.

And it´s not the first time we reacted in a manner that made people dearly regret they behaved like this. Each and everyone who mobbed us out is regretting it now. Our group´s strength has prospered by it, for we know that we will make do, and that we can rely on each other, and there will always be another place to be. Kathrin, Tina and Gudrun know this, and they begged us to stay. For them we will. We think of Ewald and his family as friends. For them, we will fight, period. But not for one moron acting out the Gestapo upon us. We are currently working out a solution that will allow us to stay in without being reliant on the club, for clubs are poison.

 I like this picture. These are Martin and Tamás at the forge, and it illustrates what our strength is. Martin is a... well:-P... more or less accomplished ;-P swordsmith from Ireland, and Tamás, at the age of ... is that 9?...from the neighbouring city is forging alongside him and stealing with his eyes. Tamás is getting bullied at school... but I daresay it won´t last that much longer. For he hangs out with the really cool people and learns early that smoking, getting drunk and taking drugs and bullying others isn´t that cool. Instead, he has already done some projects with a little help by Nick, Michael, Martin and my humble self. He learns first hand why it can come in handy to have an inkling of chemistry, metallurgy, metalwork and talking English. He sees us discussing our sketches and gets an impression what arts may be for. By the way, thanks to Nick and Michael for their patience in tutoring Tamás. This is really nice to see!
 For instance, Nick tutored Tamás in forging this miniature horseshoe.
 Of course, forging is always a grave and serious issue. It´s not a laughing matter! Especially because all laughing has to be announced to *thatspecialperson* beforehand and a form filled out.
 Martin was having a forging frenzy. He was working on the "Red Baron´s" knife (Bernd´s knife), a seax and a knife for a friend of his. Here it´s the knife for John he´s working on, a nice presumeably Haithabu-style hadseax blade.
 I was tutoring Tamás and helped him forge his first spring steel knife. While he had some trouble concentrating sometimes, he did a very great job and I daresay he has some talent! I look forward to his new ideas and would be glad to assist him. In the front there is Jan. Jan is the grandson of the master bladesmith and owner of Diefenthal knives in Solingen and he is glad to have the opportunity to keep up the family tradition.

 Currently we have one forge going, which makes work a bit stressy at times... we have to restore my old field forge and the gas forge, and get some more anvils.

Our blacksmith´s buffet set up ion the smithy. Everyone brings some snacks and morsels and tea and coffee-which was desperately needed, for, blimey it was cold!

 Forging is no fun whatsoever. It is a serious business after all. And fun has to be authorized by !THE AUTHORITY!...*ggg*, so what are you dunces about laughing? *ggg*
 Jan forging a blacksmith´s knife...


 ...and Tamás grinding his little scroll knife.


 Martin´s on fire;-)... (Hey Martin, how was the weekend? - Absolutely fantastic-I was on fire!*ggg*)
 The projects of Friday: Blacksmith´s knife by myself(spring steel), Damascus knife by myself (spring, file and crucible steel and 1045) Novgorod striker, blacksmith´s sickle, Damascus billet (spring, file, crucible steel and 1045), blacksmith´s sickle, scroll knife (spring steel), bushcraft whittler (train waggon leaf spring steel, blacksmith´s kniefe by Nick (spring steel), BBQ eating fork by Nick (super-tactical hardcore spring steel;-)) and two more spring steel blacksmith´s knives by myself.

Then it was getting dark and we got out the BBQ, had a sit-down and some delicious food and one or the other beer and chatted the night away... perfect. There also was forging on Saturday and a hike on Sunday and some more forging on Monday... but there have to remain some stories to be told on another occasion.


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