Everyone needs something that gets them excited! I love primitive skills...welcome to my journey.
Friday, November 13, 2009
(Pictured are jersalem artichokes dug with digging stick) One of the common items in the tool kit of early cultures was the digging stick. Most likely pre-dating the Stone Age, an expedient stick was useful in a variety of tasks. Europeans encountering Native Americans noted the use of the digging stick to harvest plant roots and bulbs, dig post holes for shelters, and steaming pits for cooking. The prehistoric Hohokam peoples (300 - 1200 A.D.) of the American southwest dug extensive irrigation ditches, some up to 15 feet wide, using digging sticks. Basically, it is a sturdy limb of dense wood, around 3 feet long, and 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The business end is beveled to a shovel-like edge by either chopping with a sharp stone, grinding on an abrasive stone, or a combination of charring and grinding. A beveled green edge will dull quickly in the moist soil, but four to five scorchings in the super heated dirt under the hot coals of a fire will drive out the sap and fire-harden the edge to a degree.
I've been interested in primitive skills ever since I read Larry Dean Olsen's book, Outdoor Survival Skills, decades ago. The past 10 years, or so, I have been striving to learn the skills...flintkapping, hide working, friction fires, edible & medicinal plants, etc. Having gained some proficiency, I have been demonstrating and teaching at historical events and gatherings. It is a never ending journey.