Weighed down with foraged goodies I re-entered camp and re-kindled my dying fire using the clematis bark. After working so hard to make fire and relying on it to fulfil so many roles during the week, the thought of walking away and leaving it to die down is terrifying but knowing how to correctly manage a fire is almost as much of an important skill as knowing how to light it in the first place. Seasoned oak as a fuel wood along with a well-protected fire place meant that the heart of the fire would stay hot for a long time, certainly hot enough to ignite the finely shredded clematis bark. Building the fire up big on one side of the fireplace allowed me to pull embers and hot ash across to the other side for cooking. I suspended my billycan above the flames to boil water for a mint tea while more skewered venison roasted slowly above the embers. A slack handful of reedmace rhizomes were placed straight in the embers and hot ash at the edge of the fire to steam the starch rich fibres in their own skins, like a long stringy baked potato…sort of.
Monday, 29 July 2013
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Most of the hot, black char should now be collecting on your ember pan inside your notch cut. As the smoke increases and thickens, your notch should completely fill with char. In damp conditions this could take a while, but in good conditions with a perfect technique you should be at this stage after about 30 seconds of quality bowing. Remember that there are 101 reasons why this technique might not have worked. If your ember attempt isn’t immediately successful, work out what needs tweaking and keep at it. You may need to reduce the friction where the drill sits inside the bearing block by sharpening the point and adding another waxy leaf, or the cord may be slipping and need to be re-tightened. However, if thick, acrid smoke is being produced and your ember notch is spilling over with jet-black wood dust, dig in and increase the pace considerably for a sprint finish. Thirty good fast strokes should ensure that your little mound of hot powder grows hot enough to burn all by itself.
Now sit back and enjoy the moment. Life will never be the same again!