Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Make Char Cloth

Char Cloth

Trying to start a fire with a spark from flint and steel can be pretty challenging.  It's hard to catch a spark and hard to work it into an ember.  An age old way of doing this is to use char cloth, Here's how to make some!

Cut some 100% cotton cloth into small squares, these are about 2"x2"and put them into a small tin or can, something fireproof.

Punch a small hole in the top of the can.  This lets gasses out, but not enough oxygen in to make fire in the can.

Heat the can on a fire.  This is a camp stove, but any fire will do.  This step should be done outside as it is pretty smokey.  You are "burning " the cloth without oxygen similar to how wood becomes charcoal.  The gas escaping the tin will burn and that's OK, it's methane gas.  Heat until it stops smoking then remove to cool.

Launch some sparks onto the char cloth and you will see small red glowing areas.  Gather up the the char cloth and the materials you mean to start on fire (here it's wood shavings from the pencil sharpener and newspaper).  

Blow and blow and blow on the bundle, the char cloth becomes redder and hotter as the embers grow. Careful...

The bundle will burst into flame!!!  We were doing this project really late at night and didn't want to have a bonfire so Dancer just set it into the barbecue grill.  To make a fire, set your bundle down and put small sticks, leaves, etc on it  Continue to blow on it and soon you'll have a raging fire

Festival of the Voyager - Fur Trading Post

Helmets Required were on the road again, this time to learn about fur trading.  Here they are donning the fancy headwear of the time.  The fancy hats of the time were all made with felted animal fur from North America.  Any of the hats here would cost several years pay for an average person.  They are a good looking bunch!

We have been to a lot of pioneer exhibits but not fur trading so we learned a lot on our tour.  Here we are in an Indian winter house.  Brrr, the wind had to be just howling through the walls of these houses, I am surprised they all didn't catch their death of cold and not make it to the spring.  All we had to contend with that day was mosquitoes so thick we almost had to swim through them. 

Dinner was a tailing gating sandwich party.

Until the howling wind and driving rain arrived and then we moved it inside.  Of course as soon as we were done eating the deluge stopped.

We went back into the festival for the dance where lots of people we wearing costumes, including loin cloths!   The kids did some dancing, some of the dances were so fast thy were just a blur! It was a great evening watching them dance and wondering (and hoping!) if the loin cloth wearers had something on underneath.

Frugal Chicken Feeder

As the chicken are getting bigger they are eating more and more.  Chickens are a messy bunch, scratching and kicking their food everywhere and wasting a lot of it.  Dad made this feeder for free.  He took scrap wood and made a base with a lip that went all the way around it and didn't leave much room on the sides for scratching.  He cut notches out the bottom on two sides of a plastic litter pail so gravity can pull the feed down and they can't get to it all at once.  It has a nice top that keeps the feed dry and the chickens from pooping in it.  At the time he made this it would hold enough for about two days worth of feed so we only had to feed them every other day.  A win win for everyone.

What a Day!


Helmets Required took to the banks of the Mississippi for some fishing and lunch.  Lots of people hang out down there and have fires so we just go down, find a fire pit and start up our own.  This day we made hot dogs.  There is something about cooking food over a river fire that makes it so much more tasty.

Dancer caught a couple red horses.  It is thrilling to pull these big fish in.  

The boys climbed up and down the banks and over the rocks they don't usually fish.  The river is still quite high making the banks much narrower than usual.

Dancer and I went for a walk when we got home from fishing.  We were just about back home when we heard a cat meowing.  It sounded like a big cat that might be in trouble so Dancer started to call to it, after all it is odd for a cat to meow and meow and meow from the woods.  She kept calling and it didn't sound like the cat was getting any closer and we really started to wonder if it was caught in a trap or something.  She called a few more times and this little tiny cat, I would be surprised it it was even a pound and a half, came racing up the ditch towards us.  It must have been lost in there and it took a while to find its way to Dancer's voice.  It was more than happy to have Dancer scoop it up and carry it home.  When we got it home it made itself right at home, so it was obviously domesticated.  We called our one neighbor that sort of lived by where we picked it up but it wasn't theirs.  A couple days later we saw a little one just like it that had been hit on the road so there there most have been a litter that was dropped off.  The cat acted right away like this living arrangement is going to work for it long term so now we have Chicklet.

With all the excitement of a new kitten we found that it had gotten dark out but the chores hadn't been done yet.  Spark ran out to do chores so he could get back in quickly and some how fell down hurting his leg.  This sent us to the ER to have it check out.  

He came home with this and crutches with the instructions to follow up on Monday.  There was no evidence of a break but when dealing with growth plates they said it can take a while for these things to show up on X-rays.  He spent a few days on the crutch and it kept feeling a little better every day so we skipped the follow up.  A couple weeks later and he was as good as new.

It was a long day that ended in the wee hours of the morning after sitting in ER.  I was happy to fall into bed, there had been enough excitement for one day.