Tuesday, February 13, 2024



Bushcraft feels like a new term for me. Benjamin started using it recently and, honestly, it is a term that is rather applicable to his general "vibe." He loves outdoorsy stuff (as much as a city kid can) and loves "collecting" survival skills. Bushcraft is somewhat different from wilderness survival since the former "is generally thought of as the enjoyment of living in a remote, wilderness location. No one is expecting impending doom, rather they are seeking to live life outdoors, appreciate nature and leave no (or minimal) trace of their activities."

It's roughing it for the pure enjoyment of roughing it. 

He's spent quite a bit of time outside on his own the past couple of weeks (like, he literally slept in a tent in the backyard for a full week this month), trying to build a shelter for himself. It failed over and over again and although I talked him through the physics of shelter building he...just wasn't getting I went outside with him on Saturday and helped him cobble together a shelter...until Andrew came to check on us, told me I looked horribly pale and should probably stop exerting myself and tucked me into bed. But before that, we made quite a bit of process!

Sometime I surprise my children.

Like when Zoë was talking about how cool it would be to tie a lasso and I told her that I have used a lasso before. To rope actual cattle. Her mind was blown...which just goes to show how far removed she is from farm life. 

Similarly, my fort constructing skills blew Benjamin's mind. 

But, children, before I grew up on the prairie (where I spent plenty of time doing wild things on farms), I grew up in the forests of British Columbia (where I spent plenty of time building forts in the woods). I think bugs and amphibians are interesting. I sought out camping experiences (because my own family didn't camp). I know about these things...

Our family used to camp a lot more, but then we moved, and the pandemic happened, and we just haven't gotten around to trying any camping areas. But now that Phoebe is a little older, maybe we'll try again! (It could happen). 

Anyway, I reminded Benjamin of the power of triangles in his design. And rather than simply resting sticks together and hoping the wind and rain wouldn't knock everything over, we lashed things together with English ivy vines.

Did we study our weather patterns to determine which directions storms usually come from so that we could appropriately face our fort opening away from the wind?

Absolutely, we did...not.

It's facing...west? I think. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's just a thing.

If I actually knew what I was doing (like, if my skills came from somewhere other than games-I-played-in-the-woods-as-a-kid), I would probably have thought about this prior to beginning construction. But whatever. We were just going for a fort that would stand. 

And it stands!

We had a wet and wild rain storm on Sunday night, with lots of thunder and lightning. I woke up to a particularly loud thunderclap and thought to myself, "I bet Phoebe will be coming through that door any second now." And then my door flew open and Phoebe padded over to me, dragging her big Grogu blanket and carrying a little puppy dog puppet.

"I brought mine Grogu blanket 'cuz mine Grogu blanket helps me feel calm," she told me in the morning. 

Her puppy puppet, in case you were wondering, came along because he helps her feel happy

Anyway, the shelter survived that rain storm. And then last night we had a wind advisory and it, indeed, was very windy! Benjamin was thrilled to see it was still standing this morning.

Another thing you might be wondering is what kind of knots we used to lash our poles together. The answer is that we used very creative but probably highly inefficient knots, to be sure. I have no idea what I'm doing, knot-wise! I'm lucky if I can remember how to tie a square knot or a slip knot or a half-hitch. More complicated knots are...foreign to me...and I have to follow instructions to be able to carry them out. 

Plus, I don't know that ivy vines are very good for knots. Ours snapped if we tried to do anything too fancy, so mostly we just wrapped them around and around and around and tucked in the ends. They're pretty secure...or at least secure outlast a thunderstorm one night and windstorm the next.

Benjamin has been working on filling in his roof with debris and forming walls on the sides of his shelter, and adding things like a fire pit area and other little treasures. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if Benjamin is allowed to watch YouTube channels, but one of my favorite bushcraft channels is Primitive Technology:
    The videos don't contain any dialogue, it's simply a young man demonstrating primitive/aboriginal building, hunting, farming, and manufacturing techniques. It's extremely well done and fascinating. I think Benjamin would enjoy it.