Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer Bow Making Workshop

We are a couple days into the last bow making workshop of the year. We have been blessed with beautiful August weather. Low humidity and a light breeze have made this workshop very pleasant. Sitting outside the new Ak facility, in the shade of a large oak tree has been a treat. Several neighborhood kids have stopped by to see whats going on. The workshop has gone quite smooth so far. Everyone is right on schedule and there have been no surprises with bow staves. Bill is working on a hickory stave and Steve is working on an Osage Orange stave. They both have finished finding the growth rings, laying out, and profiling. Now the are in the process of We have already taken the staves to a single growth ring, shaped and are now into the floor tillering process. They may be shootable by Saturday evening. I will keep you posted as things progress.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Primitive Arrow Making

Over the weekend of April 25-26 A.K. held its first primitive arrow making class. This class focused on the steps it takes to produce a primitive arrow. The first day was spent harvesting arrow shafts of Viburnum and learning how to straighten them. The process of straightening can be achieved two ways with heat or slowly straightening the shaft over the course of several months. I supplied some already seasoned and straightened shafts that we scraped and sanded to perfection. We Then began the process of grinding our arrowheads out of bone. I introduced the students to a primitive vice, some would call it a glorified clothespin, I call it a skin and knuckle saver. At the end of the day the points were looking great. The second day of the class we spent finishing the bone points, processing sinew, and preparing the feathers for fletching. After the nocks were carved into both ends of the shaft we began the construction. We oiled and fire hardened the completed points and put on their final edge. We then applied the pitch and hafted the point to the shaft with sinew. Once everything was cool we began fletching the arrow. Its always a treat to watch someone make there first arrow. The tedious process of pitch application and fletching is always a bit comical in its difficulty. Once the fletching was done we trimmed our feathers using coals from the fire. The completed arrows were not only beautiful they are deadly. I hope to harvest a deer with mine this season.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Animal Tracking Workshop

On April 18th Ancestral Knowledge hosted its first animal tracking workshop. The workshops was taught along t the Paint Branch Creek in College Park MD. This area is rich with animal diversity and hosts one of the finest sand bars in the area. I spent over 16 hours a week for over 2 years tracking and observing animals and animal behavior in this location, in essence this is were I became a tracker. It was a beautiful day reaching 70 degrees with a light wind from the south. We spent 6 hours tracking 4 different animals. Finding each print and identifying its species. The first trail we followed was a treat, having only seen clear tracks of this animal on 2 occasions in 2 years and never having seen a full clear front track. Today we had the gift of seeing several trails and trail conditions. The first two pictures are of this animals trail and I will leave it to you to try and figure out who it was we were following. As the day progressed the tracking became more and more difficult. The suns angle was changing and they were put on more and more difficult trails to follow. The third trail was along a run where fox traveled back and forth frequently. The trackers had to figure out which trail was connected to the original track I set them on. Track aging was crucial but not impossible to determine which tracks were from the night before and the ones laid that morning. The fox was doing its typical 2 x trot. After a short break to mend our tracker headaches we moved into the wooded area along the creek to look for some good deer tracks to follow. Tracking in leaf litter is a bit more challenging then on sand as you can imagine. After a short walk I found two great trails to follow. These trails taught the trackers a great deal about becoming the animal and seeing through their eyes. One trail was a meandering slow walk as it ate along the way. The other trail was of a cautious deer as it approached a bike path. The trackers quickly learned to expand their awareness to their surroundings to notice the different plants the deer nibbled on and the sight lines that the other deer paused for to check if anyone was coming along the bike trail before crossing. All in all it was a great day and I look forward to sharing the wonders of tracking in the future.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Home School mentoring program

Ancestral Knowledge has been working with home-schooled youth for several years now. We have tried many variations of programs and found that seasonal bimonthly meetings work the best. The 5 hour program is part primitive skills and part naturalist studies. The intent of the program is to broaden the students awareness of their environment and their role with in it. Each skill we teach has a lesson that is larger then the obvious. They are designed to lead the students to discover a new plant, tree, or other skill set to complete the task at hand or will be needed for another. Each participant is given projects that to be worked on between meetings to help create a self motivated passion to learn about the old ways of life while exposing them to experiences that they might never have otherwise. Each season we end with a three day two night camp out. On this adventure in the Shenandoah Mountains the participants put to use the skills that they have been practicing throughout the program. We are very proud of our students and are amazed at how much they want to learn every time we meet with them.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bow Making workshop

The bow making workshop that was held on March 26-29 was a great success. Everyone had a good time and made great bows. The class was small with only 3 people so we had plenty of space to work. Its always fun to watch people turn a big log into a beautiful shooting bow. This was a beginner bow making class that focused on design and proper tillering of white wood bows, specifically hickory. We build pyramid style bows that are a charm to tiller. Hickory is one of the most forgiving woods when it comes to making mistakes. It is also one of the hardest woods to carve into shape. Many lessons were learned by all of us over the past couple of days. One of the students had previously attended the class a couple of years ago and worked on an osage stave. His stave was full of checks and cracks that went completely through the stave. We weren't sure if he would get a serviceable bow out of it. The weather was damp and rainy for most of the time that we were building the bows so we had to stay in the bat cave to work. The sun did shine for the final day of shooting, giving us the perfect conditions to try out our new toys. Enjoy the video.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Still Point work day

I want to thank those who came up and helped us over the weekend. We had a great time at Still Point, the new home of our summer programs as well as other survival based workshops. We were there for a work weekend and several volunteers showed up to help with trail maintenance and splitting wood for the winter. I think it was almost 4 cords. Two of our volunteers braved the storm and the mountain roads to help out. On Sunday I even had the chance to cut my leg with the chainsaw. Now thats living dangerously. Thankfully it wasn't serious. I also had the opportunity to go on an incredible sunrise walk where I ran into several deer. Stalking on the wet forest floor weaving through the paw paw saplings feeling everything wake up around me and start there day. It was refreshing to say the least. When i got back to the cabin I sat and looking at the fog that sat in the Shenandoah Valley due. It made me feel like I was above the clouds on the tallest mountains in the world. This place is magical.
To say the least, we are very excited to purchase this property and start sharing it with everyone.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

We Found a Home... Now We Need Your Help!!

Ancestral Knowledge is a non-profit organization with a mission to teach ancient technologies, activities and philosophies that support a sustainable lifestyle to urban youth who do not have previous wilderness exposure, or the money to pay for these experiences.
Your support has allowed us to provide 14 scholarships for local youth during the spring and summer of 2008. Many Thanks!
How can we do more? One of our goals is to purchase land to host our programs. This is becoming increasingly important as every year we have a larger demand for our programming. Our greatest limitation is not having a home base to support weekend and week long overnight camps. Overnight camps in wilderness settings have a powerful influence. We also have no local affordable program locations, which allow many of the activities we consider essential to our mission.

What's new!!! Our work has become highly valued by our local community and because of this growing relationship Ancestral Knowledge has been offered an incredible opportunity in joint ownership of 35 acres that includes access to an additional 1400 acres bordering the Shenandoah River and Appalachian Trail. This property is part of the Rolling Ridge Foundation near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
This 35 acre property includes access to a retreat house, cabin, pond, and includes open access to the Rolling Ridge Foundation's 1400-acre land preserve. The preserve offers scenic views, hiking trails, river access, mountain streams and waterfalls. The entire area can provide an ideal place for Ancestral Knowledge programing... there is no highway noise, no airplane traffic, and no other campers or people. For photos and a description of the land, go to: Rolling Ridge Foundation Website.
For Ancestral Knowledge to take part in this opportunity, we need to raise $50,000.

Through private and corporate sponsorship, we have already raised $25,000!

Why so inexpensive? We will be purchasing the 35 acres with three other groups in a time-sharing agreement. This is a once in a life time opportunity and we are jumping at the chance.
Here is where you come in... We could really use your help in achieving this goal. All donors will receive a tax-deductible donation receipt.
-- Corporate donations of $1500 or more will be offered a personally designed one-day team-building outing.
-- Individuals and Families who donate at least $500 will be invited to attend a weekend getaway on the property.
-- Everyone who donates $75 or more will receive AK tee shirt.

Or send a check or money order to P.O. BOX 295 Mt. Rainier, Maryland 20712 If you have any questions please contact us at (301) 277-1276 or by EMAIL