Collect now, use later

I was teaching hide tanning to a group of Metis people up in N. Alberta. One of the people was an older guy who grew up near Cumberland House, Saskatchewan, which is a pretty remote place in the N. part of the province with a large Cree population as well as a Metis settlement.

He told me that he was really enjoying the tanning because it reminded him of his childhood. The smells of the skins and the smoke brought back all kinds of memories for him.

He told me about how as a kid one of his daily chores all through the summer was to collect sphagnum moss. He remembered it seemed like he always had to do that and he didn’t even really know why. His Mom and his Grandma were always after him to collect more moss all through the summer.

It wasn’t until he was older that he found out that it was for diapers for the babies and menstrual pads for the women. They had to have enough moss to diaper the babies and supply pads for the women through the winters which are very long in N. Saskatchewan.

Any other thoughts about things that have to be done or collected when the time is right so that later on there will be plenty when it’s needed?

Right now i am collecting bark for tanning this year. it is most potent right now, and when the mucus layer goes away, bark stripping can be quite a bit more laborious. this year i need to collect enough berries (for dried berry cakes) for the winter, last year i didn’t really have enough and they all burned with my cabin. Fat is also a big one for me, i plan to render plenty of sheep, deer, coon, and bear fat in the fall. it seems that almost anything that is involved in anti-capitalist existence has its time of plenty and its time of absence, even though we need these things for our daily existence.

What kind of bark are you collecting to tan with? Hemlock?

Mostly hemlock and some alder as well.I’ve used oak before when i was on the south (vancouver) island. Also, i end up stripping black cottonwoods at the same time (not for bark), they have the sweetest cambium of all.

Gonna start getting firewood for the winter this week.

We finally started collecting firewood for the winter this week. We made two trips. Between my house and my workshop I have to get 20 loads in my pick-up.
We had fun. My niece got to go on her first firewood runs. She’s gonna be great to have along. We got some real nice wood. Two big tamarack snags and a real nice dead doug. fir that fell right on the road so there wasn’t much carrying to do.
When my wife comes we always have a little picnic after we get the wood all loaded up. Bonus was, after we got wood on thursday we found a great patch of late huckleberries so we picked a couple of buckets before we went home. We could hear something big moving around through the bushes just as we were finished picking, so we skedaddled in case it was a bear. Yesterday we stopped at a grove of big red cedars for our snack.

Linda Runyon, who lived for 13 year in Adirondacks as a vegetarian eating only wild foods, wrote a great book now called “The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide.” Since she lived as a vegetarian, Linda Runyon had to store plants to eat during the harsh Adirondack winter. The book also has a lot of tips on drying, and storing wild plants for the winter. I highly recommend the book.

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