Early Childhood Programs Blog

Living Off of The Land Week 9

November 22, 2016 - Earth Friends

Although we normally start with a check in circle, it is more important to read the energy of the group to decide what to do. Thusly, we decided not to have one. It was a great way to bring up the concept of ruts both in the human world and the deer world. A rut is a behavior that you enact out of habit without being consciously aware of it. I told the group an Apache saying that one of my mentors told me,”Walking in the same footsteps twice means death.” While it may sound intense, the point is that if you always do similar things, predators can watch your patterns and catch you off guard on your normal routine.

The Deer Rut which is practiced by many ruminants, is a fancy word for their mating season. Do you always wonder why there are a lot more dead deer on the side of the road from car crashes in the fall? It is because they are in a rut, only paying attention to the other deer, blindly following their hormones. Check out these links if you want to learn more. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-tailed_deer#Reproduction 


It is always a good reminder to pay attention! After we got to the meadow we checked out two amazing plants to make primitive cordage! Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum). Cordage is simply another word for string or rope and is a foundational primitive skill. If you can make cordage, you can use it to make traps, fishing line, fishing nets, bowdrill cords, bow and arrow cords, lashing for shelters, string for sewing, and lots more. After separating the fibers from the stalk which can be harder than it looks at first, we learned how to reverse-wrap the fibers into useable cordage. You twist the fibers one direction and wrap them over another set of twisted fibers the opposite direction you are twisting, this makes the fiber strong because it is trying to untwist on itself in opposite directions and thusly maintains tension. You can tie a knot on one end when twisting and hold it in your hand, tie it to your shoe or a sturdy object, or even hold it in your mouth. I would advise against putting Dogbane fibers in your mouth as they can still be mildly poisonous even in the fall when most of the toxins drain to the roots.

Before we headed further into the meadow, we noticed a Preying Mantis egg sac on the bench! We then got to check out and eat the plant Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). It is a common weed in the Mustard family that is yummy and spicy!

As we made our way towards the creek between the Bauer and Irvine properties, we got to tell a lot of awesome riddles and jokes! Once we got there, we had a really fun time playing along the creek, checking out animal tracks, sculpting clay from along the creek banks, and getting muddy!

While heading back towards the gazebo, Kelly spotted a Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  in the meadow! And of course, we were telling riddles the whole way back to Irvine 🙂