Still blogging…

For those of you who think I’ve just disappeared after ceasing to maintain the carpathianadventure site, you can follow the adventure I call life at http://edwardotoole.com/blog/

I miss many of you and your comments so come over and pay me a visit!

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Goat photo bomb

Goat photo bomb

One thing I’ve discovered from using a trail cam is that there are periods when nothing shows up, despite the camera being on a clearly marked game trail, or that the camera produces lots of File Errors, black photos or fails to take film footage. Another annoying aspect of using a game camera is getting excited because it shows that it’s taken 103 photos and they in fact turn out to be pictures of cows or goats which some local has been grazing in the vicinity.

Weather also heavily effects the camera. Dawn is one of the best times to capture the various denizens of the bush but now there’s a freezing ground mist which blurs the lens making most of the photos useless. The other day I discovered a layer of ice on both the lens and the IR flash from where the dew had frozen. I wonder how it will fare when real winter and massively sub zero temperatures hit.

One Man’s Wilderness book review

One Man’s Wilderness book review

“I don’t know what the answer is. In time man gets used to almost anything, but the problem seems to be that technology is advancing faster than he can adjust to it. I think it’s time we started applying the brakes, slowing down our greed and slowing down the world.”

Dick Proenneke

Based on the 1968/69 journals of Dick Proenneke and edited/written by Sam Keith, later made into the documentary film “Alone in the Wilderness“, One Man’s Wilderness is simply mind blowing. It’s what many of us dream of doing – but we seriously don’t have the old school skills or determination of the legendary Dick Proenneke who, at 50 years of age, heads to Alaska, builds his own cabin with simple tools and then spends the next 35 years living in tune with nature.

The book is both inspirational and also a frustrating, tantalizing vision of what once was and what is now almost impossible. It’s the “modern” version of Thoreau’s Walden. Every modern book, film and TV series on Alaska started from this.

Champignon mushrooms!

Champignon mushrooms!

Finally, we’re starting to see some edible fungi, although still not in any quantities worth mentioning. Winter is fast approaching, which means mushroom season – if there even is one this year – will be short.

We found a couple of rings of champignons (Agaricus bisporus), or the common button mushroom favoured as part of the English breakfast, but most of them were too small to harvest yet. Both rings centered on a big daddy mushroom, as pictured, and then had little baby ones growing a foot or more away. We’ve had plenty of storms and rain over the last week, now we just need some sun to induce fungal growth.

Attic exploration equipment

Attic exploration equipment

Due to the sheer amount of skat, guano and decaying rodents in my attic, I have to be careful about breathing in toxic airborne pathogens from the dust that floats around in the 50 degrees centigrade + heat. I started off using a shemagh around my face, then progressed to a dust mask and finally bought an old Czechoslovakian gas mask (unused, with a sealed cartridge). For light I use a Petzl head torch (kindly given to me by my friend Pete).

A few years back I paid one of the village gypsies to clean out the attic but it quickly refilled. I guess I’ll have to get someone to do it again. It’s one job I’d really rather not do myself as it’s a major biohazard and my lungs have only just recovered after going bad last winter.

Once the last leaves have fallen after Autumn, I’ll cut back the trees which are scraping against my roof as this will reduce the access the critters have to the attic, although I’m sure they’ll find other ways in. Then I’ll go on a rampage against them – most likely with a sonic deterrent.

Edible Dormouse trail cam

Edible Dormouse trail cam

Most people go to sleep to the sound of traffic and sirens; my family goes to sleep when at the house to the sounds of an entire menagerie of wild creatures a few feet above our heads. The attic is home to a multitude of beasties including quite a few nests of bees, hornets and various wasp species. The constant nocturnal crick-crick of theĀ  larvae of wood boring beetles as they gnaw away the beams, the scratching of the two different species of mice, and the whooshing of the bats. However, I set up a trail cam (a Redleaf RD1000) in order to film the most annoying and destructive resident, the Stone Marten (Martes foina), who has turned my entire attic floor into a giant latrine and who sounds like a man running around when its pursuing mice. The noise and mess it makes are incredible – they’re a common pest to attics out here. Unfortunately, since I’ve been using a new fan to cool off the bedroom, the Marten hasn’t visited, possibly because of the sound. I will get him eventually.

One pleasant surprise I found on the trailcam is an Edible Dormouse (Glis glis), a foot-long rodent which looks something between a squirrel and a chinchilla. Bizarrely, as a defence mechanism, like reptiles (as I’ve witnessed in the garden with slow worms and lizards) they can consciously lose part of their exquisitely bushy tail and regrow it. The locals call these critters plch.

Note – I’ve got much better and clearer IR video footage of the dormouse but I can’t edit it because my graphics card doesn’t support the new codec. Really need to get a new PC….

Chainsaw horse build

Chainsaw horse build

Sadly, this year I couldn’t attend the Wilderness Gathering because of my son’s surgery so I decided to do a bit of bushcraft at the house instead. I’ve got several cubic metres of hardwood which needs sawing and chopping for winter and I needed a safer chainsaw horse than what we’ve been using up until now. I went to the forest and cut down a few hazel saplings then square lashed them together using sisal string. After the sawhorse was basically in the right position and erected, I nailed the joints together. Thus far it seems to be holding up and makes chainsawing a lot faster and safer – just need to find a quicker way to split and stack the logs afterwards.