Friday, November 26, 2010

Wastelessness and Reverence

Hunting is a sacred event that brings food and many other gifts to the table. When harvesting an animal, we feel it is both respectful and energy efficient to use the entirety of the animal, not wasting any part.

Students arrived on last Saturday to take part in "Using the Whole Animal", a course that provided many real time lessons including; skinning, hide preparation, butchering, food safety and preservation, and feasting.

The day began early and ended late. A steer from a local ranch was harvested in a good way. At the end of the day tears were shed, prayers were said as gratitude was expressed to the animal that was offered.

Later that evening, students were brought out to field dress the animal which was a visceral experience. A fire kept everyone warm as the work carried on well into the night.
The following day was spent studying the anatomy of the animal in a very hands-on manner. Harvesting your own animal is a long, but satisfying process. Students put their minds, hearts, and knives to the test and were gifted with choice cuts of beef as they left for home. There is something about the intimacy of local food that leaves you with a sense of deep appreciation and involvement in the cycle of life.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Natural Fibers and Us

Before winter set in, the community of Sticks and Stones was blessed with a balmy week of clear skies and sunshine. It couldn't have come at a better time as the Hide Tanning Class was in full swing. Students and interns squatted and bent over deer hides as they learned to dry and wet scrape, the former of which was a labour of love shared by all. There's nothing like working hides in a tee shirt and bare feet. Thank you sunshine!

The past few days we held the Cordage, Fiber and Traditional Containers class which was quite the success. Using all sorts of natural fibers we learned about and made baskets, cordage, berry pouches, knife sheathes, bowls and more! This was done around the wood stove as the chillier weather returned. It was quite the social event. The newly installed hay door kept the heat in the barn and the Westerly wind out.
Both activities brought out the best in the community. There is something naturally bonding about working both animal and plant fibers... almost as if by doing it as a group, you end up woven together like the fibers you with craft.

Thank you to everyone for coming out to keep our hands and hearts all busy, together.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why do we hunt?

Spending so much time in preparation for the hunt, it becomes more apparent how harvesting animals for food is a very sacred act. There is a recognition that we would not be where we are today had our ancestors not perfected the art of hunting. We don't consider animals game, and we don't take trophies... the lives of the animals we take are as precious as are own. It is a blessing for us to be able to take part in the cycle of life and to connect ourselves with the lives of the animals around us.

For us, hunting goes hand in hand with compassion. When you rely on an animal for sustenance, there is a natural gratitude that comes from taking its life with your own hands to fuel your own.
There is recognition that another being has sacrificed itself so that you may grow. It is an intimate aspect of life that can't be viewed at the grocery store. The way we are learning to hunt breeds compassion, and an appreciation for life and all its beauty. Randall L. Eaton talks about the transformation young men go through when they hunt, in his book From Boys to Men of Heart, Hunting as Rite of Passage, with excerpts from Jon Young. It's well worth a read.

For those with self-sufficiency in mind, hunting is a great way to put meat in your diet. Wild animals eat wild plants, meaning that no cultivation or energy-intensive labour is required to feed them. With the environmental problems we are facing today, hunting is a good option for the planet and for us.

Traditional bow hunting is not only a way to pay respect to the animal, but a way to test your naturalist, tracking and stalking skills. Having to get close to an animal as aware as the white-tailed deer, a master of stealth and camouflage, is not easy. Working hard for something will make you ever more grateful.

If you are interested in hunting or even just increasing your awareness and invisibility out in the woods in order to get close to the White Tailed, to undertand them better, check out our Way of the Hunt class November 22-28, 2010.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chilly Hunting

The temperature has dropped and camp routine has changed again. For the first day this season snow has fallen and stayed on the ground. Skeet and the interns experienced this chill up north, a couple weeks back, while hunting moose. The frost has followed them home and so too has the desire to be out in the woods to stalk and, with a heart of gratitude, harvest a deer. Sitting in trees and bushes waiting to see them would also be enough.

Deer blinds were set up before the trip so that when everyone was gone the
deer, which likely moved from the area during the disturbance, would come back with the quiet. Upon returning, fresh scat, tracks and buck sightings in that area indicate that it was a wise choice. A few more days spent on last minute preparations and the interns will be out with Skeet for early morning and dusk sits (out in the woods). Precision is so important during the hunt and the seriousness with which the interns are taking this opportunity can be seen in the number of bull’s eyes that are being hit during target practice.

Internships for this year finish up here at Sticks and Stones at end of November. It’s the final stretch of a very educational term and the interns are still going strong! It’s the kind of month that would be celebrated well with a feast. Hopefully and thankfully with venison.
Above Picture: Intern Mike making arrows