Earth Connection is a school of primitive skills and wilderness survival located in Northern Virginia and North Carolina (Raleigh/Durham area) that has been in existence for over a decade. Our hands-on classes are reasonably priced because we don't believe in big price tags for primitive skills. That's just not natural!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fading Tracks

The tracks and sign of raccoon, deer, mouse, cat and lots of dog (Chagi-ya) encapsulated Earth Connect's (EC) first ever Tracks and Sign class.

"So much information to cover and so little time" was our mantra. The students (nine) were eager to learn the basics and very much appreciated the macro to micro lesson plan along with hands-on activities. Practicing the gait patterns on our hands and knees really drove home the way animals move. The "wisdom marks" sandbox really demonstrated how some tracks can age because there was a rain that occurred a week ago that obscured a fourth of the marks. We even had some great examples of aging mud/gravel deer and racoon tracks under the water of a slow moving stream.

One tracks and sign story told of how mice climbed a Autumn Olive tree and chewed through many of the branches that were ladden with ripe fruit. We surmized that it was a combination of efficient use of energy by reducing the amount of climbing and to make it less dangerous to eat the fruit. Eating them on the ground instead of the tree keeps them safe from owls.

EC's next class is fall wild edibles on 14 October. Sign up soon so we can prepare the right amount of wild edible goodies.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tracks and Sign (23 Sep)

Tracks and Sign, Earth Connection's newest class.

This class will give you a basic background in identifying animal tracks and signs. You will learn the basics of animal sign, clear print identification, animal gaits and track patterns, distinguishing track age, and how to read body movement in a track. We will also apply tracking knowledge to survival skills in small animal trapping. We begin with lecture; reinforce your learning with demonstrations of animal movement, track and sign study techniques, plaster casts and group “dirt time.” All will culminate with an individual field assignment. “Dirt time” provides the best and quickest learning method and is the primary tool for learning the art of tracking.

Register for the Tracking and Sign Class here!

Tracking is a highly evolved art and science that can encompass all subjects of study from each and every physical sciences to quantum mechanics, from biomechanics and the study of motion to global and micro weather patterns, from animal behavior to human awareness, from a life born to its demise. Tracking is the one art that calls to ones soul to follow that which past by here.

It is the Art of Questions!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Fire Plow Boys

Looks like we had another successful weekend with Earth Connection's FIRE PALOOZA.

We had Fires all around us... from hand drills (including w/thumb assist), bow drills (using differing wood for fire boards and spindles), pump drills, fire plow, flint and steel... shall I go on?

There was success in every fire method. We even had a few surprises as Tim showed his soon to be famous (and patented) one armed technique and Hue got a fire with a charred Oak fire board.

The Fire Plow Boys make their debut at FIRE PALOOZA
(Five fire plow fires successfully made in less than 20 minutes... Tim got one too!)

Fire Making Process


Spindle recipication motion on fire board creates friction heat. The thermal decomposition
starts in the range 120-200 degrees Celsius is caused by friction heat and results in wood mass loss, moisture content release and the non-combustible degradates release into the combustion space. At 200-280 degrees Celsius, mainly endothermic reactions occur while the heat energy of the ignition source is taken up by surrounding materials. At 280-500 degrees Celsius, the exothermic reactions of decomposition products are progressively accelerating as the primary process, while carbonization occurs. In this temperature range, sustaining combustion has already developed.

Glowing Ignition

The carbon in the char combines with oxygen producing heat, a much slower reaction than flaming ignition. Glowing ignition is self-sustaining until all carbon fuel is used up. Glowing ignition is about 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) for wood. At tempuratures exceeding 500 degrees F (260 degrees C), the wood char forms residues. During its additional glowing, ash containing solid, inorganic material is produced, and the process has come to an end

Flaming Ignition

The coal is introduced to tinder and more oxygen is added. This produces the gaseous volitile organic compounds needed for flaming ignition or combustion. When the volatile gases are hot enough (about 500-617 degrees F (260-325 degrees C) for wood), the compound molecules break apart, and the atoms recombine with the oxygen to form water, carbon dioxide, soot and other products.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crikey, We Salute You Steve Irwin

Stephen Robert Irwin (22 February 1962 – 4 September 2006), also known as the Crocodile Hunter. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time (01:00 UTC) on 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a short-tail stingray barb whilst snorkeling in Batt Reef, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Port Douglas in Queensland. Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, to be called The Ocean's Deadliest, but weather had stalled filming. He will be sadly missed.

Steve Irwin was an Australian naturalist, wildlife expert and television personality, best known for the television program The Crocodile Hunter, an unconventional wildlife documentary series broadcast worldwide and co-hosted with his wife Terri Irwin. The pair owned and operated Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland. Irwin was a passionate conservationist and believed in promoting environmentalism by sharing his excitement about the natural world rather than preaching to people. He was concerned with conservation of endangered animals and land clearing leading to loss of habitat. He considered conservation to be the most important part of his work: "I consider myself a wild-life warrior. My mission is to save the world's endangered species."

Animal Planet will rename the garden space in front of Discovery's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland to the "Steve Irwin Memorial Sensory Garden." They are also looking at the creation of the Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter Fund, which they will call "The Crikey Fund" which will "allow people from across the globe to make contributions in Irwin's honour to support wildlife protection, education and conservation."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fire Palooza (9-10 Sep)

Fire Palooza is Earth Connection's two day Fire Making class. The curriculum is fast paced as we have a lot fire making methods to cover and only two days to do it. Fire Palooza is designed to teach you how to make a WIDE variety of friction fire making devices from wood, string, and stone. We will do advanced bow drill and hand drill techniques and equipment, pump drill and some similar technologies, arctic mouth drill, fire plow and MORE!! Participants will go home with some nice fire making kits.

Register for the Fire Palooza Class Here!

Fire (fir) (noun) Eytmology: Anglo-Saxon fyr

Definition: A fire is a rapid and self-sustaining chemical exothermic oxidation process of combustible gases ejected from a fuel that releases heat and light. Fire is the naturally occurring companion of energy release in the form of heat and light when oxygen combines with a suitable material at a suitably high temperature to convert it to a combustible vapor or gas. The physical manifestation of a fire starts by subjecting a fuel to a heat source until initial ignition and is sustained by the further release of heat energy. Creating and manipulating fire was one of humankind's first great achievements.