Been Quite a While

Well it has, hasn’t it?

I’m coming to the conclusion that I am a very busy individual and lack a good vision for the site. At the very least I lack a good vision on how to fully execute the vision that I have.
As I’ve stated before I’m wanting to put out information on common game and non-game species of wildlife, common and useful flowers, edible fungi, and tutorials on stuff I’ve tried. To accomplish this I need time, and one or two hours a day just hasn’t been enough to accomplish this.

On top of this I’m trying to read 100 books this year, but I’ll be happy to have read 52. I think that I can combine these two things by adding a section in Codex Informata as a list of the books that I’ve read and a short review of them. If nothing else it’ll have me reflect on what I’ve read more, and add some content to the site at the same time.

More personally I’m still going through the hiring process for a position I’m seeking. It’ll be a few months yet so I’m working at a hardware store to earn an income. Lunch breaks are pretty nice times to read at the local library actually.

This was a pretty short update, and I’m glad to see there’s still traffic and people checking out a few things here. If you have ideas or request of content you’d like to see please leave a comment on this post here.
Thank you all for reading,

D.I.Y. Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent is one of those items that goes unnoticed for days at a time until you run out. Usually on the day you were going to Then you dig around for a shirt that smells clean enough, make a run to the nearest store, and scrunch up your brow looking at the options. Usually it has it’s own isle dedicated to it! If you’re like me though you’ve wondered about how you’d go about washing things in the event of all the pre-made detergent no longer being available. Perhaps, instead, you just like making things yourself and want a project for an afternoon that you can actually use.

I came across this recipe while reading How to Survive off the Grid, an enjoyable overview of the titled topic. I can go into more details in another blog (links and all at the bottom), but for now back on topic. The recipe given is in proportions as follows: one part grated bar soap to two parts washing soda and two parts borax. What I’ve found is one bar of Irish Springs soap is about one cup once you’ve grated it. That means you need two cups of the washing soda and borax.

Two things to address here before I move into it’s performance:

Grating the soap is easy to do with a cheese grater. There’s no difference in performance between the two finest gratings you can make and the flakes or mid-sized grating. The medium sized is much faster than the others, so save yourself the time and pain and just shave it like shaving cheddar cheese.

Washing soda is indeed different than baking soda. You can buy washing soda online or at Walmart. You can always try making your baking soda into washing soda by baking a pan of the baking soda at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3-6 hours. If you would like to see this process in full detail let me know in the comments or by emailing me in the contact me section.

So how does this stuff compare to the store bought detergent? Pretty well! Its not any better than the arm and hammer powdered detergent or the liquid (my preferred detergent when I do buy it). I use a rounded 1/3c per load since that’s the spare scoop I had on hand. I could likely half this volume and have similar results. In the event of stains you can mix this with a small amount of water to make a paste and rub this into the fabric.

Since I like making my own things I will probably continue to make this myself and explore with some other soaps and additives in the future to extend the life of each batch. Right now each batch last about 1 month. If you have any thoughts about this or other similar projects you’d like me to try let me know in the comments below.

Shopping List:

Irish Spring soap

Washing Soda



How to Survive off the Grid by Tim MacWelch

An Argument Against Tarp Shelter

This past work trip into the mountains of Tennessee finally brought me to the end of my 5 month run with a tarp shelter. I have faithfully proclaimed the good news of tarps since I disavowed my 1-person bivy tent. They’re lightweight, versatile, as configurable, and all around one of the best shelter types I’ve used. I’ve enjoyed lean-tos, tee-pees, A-frames, and some variations an all 3 above with the same tarp that has yet to let me down all season.

To make this work all you need is a good 60 ft ridge line and some fore-arm lengths of cord. You can carry some aluminum stakes to save you time out in the field. Once if the field a tree is necessary to rig this up, but otherwise its up to your ingenuity to make it work. If done properly the shelter will only let in what breezes you want and shed precipitation well. I’d like to say that I’ve never had a tarp shelter leak or result in a night too chilly a little bundling couldn’t counter.

In fact here is a good point to jump into why the tarp shelter isn’t an ideal solution. It is, at best, a lightweight and low budget alternative to a good tent.

First off, as water and windproof a tarp is, that goes both ways. Any and all heat and moisture is trapped within the tarp with you, if you fully close the tarp. The lean-to set up avoids this somewhat, but no matter what I’ve always woken to see the inside of the tarp coated with a layer of water. The air, after a few days, becomes rather stuffy if the tarp is kept closed during the day as well, and at night it can become stifling, as a closed tarp shelter will have nearly 10 degrees to the outside world. Now obviously this is easy to counter act by simply leaving the shelter open, such as a traditional A-frame or lean-to.

Secondly there is the above solution. To keep the interior dry and breathable, the shelter must only be allowed to protect from things falling from above. Now in early spring and late fall when insects are all died or hibernating, snakes are under rock, and bears are in their dens this isn’t that big of an issue. After all, the fear of humans and a small fire is your best protection against the more unsavory wildlife. The issue becomes more apparent in the summer, late spring, and early fall. Anything can and will try to share your shelter with you. I have had more ant bites around my feet while sleeping than my time working, always at the top of my socks, and there’s nothing more I can do about this unless I want to burn the whole space I’ll be setting up on. That too is a temporary measure, and a destructive one at that.

Now this all was made very aware to me thanks to a close encounter with a copperhead this past trip. I’ve endured the dampness in the morning, ant bites, and alternating chilly and stifling nights. I’ve put up with waking up to see something moving in the shadows of the camp, or hearing rats and mice darting tent to tent all night. This last week though was a first for me. I’ve never before had a snake slither up next to my pillow before. Let alone a copperhead. It was enough for me to decide to close in my A-Frame and deal with the stifling heat another few nights. I’ve decided the extra security of a sewn in floor is worth the money.

All the above boils down to this: Tarp shelters are an excellent lightweight, temporary shelter for a moving camp or to keep you dry while building a better shelter. As for a fixed camp, they are a sub-par option compared to a tent with a properly sealed floor. They are also incapable of freestanding in areas without trees or tent poles. Tarp shelters are water and windproof to a fault, they remain wet and stale inside if the tarp is sealed up, or open to ground drafts and wildlife if left open to prevent that. I will still carry a tarp and a poncho as an emergency shelter. They’re indispensable for that. I will, too, move to a proper tent (which I’ll review after the next 9 day trip) for the remainder of my employment and future camping trips.

A Thought on Fitness and the Outdoors

As I'm sure some readers are aware, I'm working as a trail builder in the southern Appalachian mountains. When I started this job all of my clothes were a little snug. I wasn't in the best shape, but I was getting there when I joined up. Over the last two months I've slimmed up. Hiking pants that were too tight fit well now, and I've had to switch to a belt that was nearly too small to use at the start. My hiking pace has increased and my stamina is getting better. Below are some of my thoughts on the more general benefits of being outside a lot.

First off nearly everything about the outside challenges your body. It has to adjust to varying temperature, unexpected rain, insect bites and introduced allergens. Now though any of those that hit you too hard can be harmful, but the minor stresses exposure to all of these can cause help builds up and harden you against future allergens. The varying temperature will help kick start your metabolism, especially colder temperatures. Though, as with anything in the outdoors be safe and have some common sense, and stay hydrated out there.

Secondly, hiking with a bit of extra weight is great endurance training. At first I was dying to just get through the scouting. When the first hitch came around we had to hike in everything 5 miles to the primary base camp. Needless to say it was a great strain on someone as out of shape as me. As time has progressed, having to hike multiple miles to work every day while at work has let me shed the pounds and really appreciate the metabolism boost hikers get.  Obviously this isn't practical for most people, but a friend of mine got a puppy and has to take him hiking two or three times a week. A good day hike once or twice a week could be a lot more practical for most people. Again just be safe and hydrated out there!

Thirdly being in the outdoors is a great way to disconnect from everything. Now I'm not exactly the best at this, but I do manage to leave my phone alone for a most hours of the day. Its pretty nice to just hop on, check everything and chatting with friends for a bit.

There's gonna be a few bigger updates coming out in the next month! Finally things are settling down with the schedule and I'll be back to updating all of this more frequently. Stay safe out there!

The Training Gauntlet


Since Last Time

Its been quite a while since I’ve posted here and theres quite a few things that have been going on. A quick list of whats in this section, to save you time if you want to skip that is:

Trail Scouting for the summer

Orientation with the new trail crew members

Wilderness Skills Institute, week 1

Trail scouting has spurred up my spirit for this job. The locales we’re going to be working in are absolutely stunning. Two of them take place alone near-bald peaks surrounded by stunning vistas. While the others take place in valleys right near these stunning vistas, so either way I’ll be spending time in and around areas that are some of the most beautiful in the state of Virginia. We’re even rerouting part of the AT so that it no longer follows the slope up and is an easier climb for hikers going north or south!

After the trail scouting my crew leader and I headed south to meet up with the rest of our organization and the new crew members. They will all be working south of us, but it was nice to meet all of them anyways. At orientation we went over the employee handbook once more, and then moved on to company policies. All in all it wasn’t the most exciting time and I lost my watch there, something I’ll be replacing soon enough with something analogue.

That started us on the path to the Wilderness Skills Institute. Now since I am not going there independently I was assigned to a class for this week. That class happened to be Building Strong Partnerships in Wilderness. I won’t say much about it here, but I will be bold enough to say I was marginally disappointed in not going to the rigging course instead. I did get some valuable insights into the use of social media! You can expect me to be using more of the scheduling features from here on out on all the platforms I’m apart of.

Looking Ahead

Next week is the final week of WSI. I’ll be helping teach a class on trail construction and maintenance from Tuesday to Friday. I’ve also gotten all of the bushcraft class info on my phone so I can give myself a refresher course on the beginner info and move into the intermediate classes once I spend 4 afternoons and 1 overnight to finish out the beginner classes. I’ll leave a link at the bottom if you want to check out these classes for yourself.

Book(s) of the Week

Amber and I have decided we’re going to read a book together and this last one I can whole heartedly recommend: Ready Player One To be honest I enjoyed this book all the way to the end!

I’ve also been using this book a good bit in the past few weeks. Mushrooms of the Carolinas Its a great guide for many species across the southeast! Though with any guide, I recommend looking for a guide as local to your area as possible. Likely they’ll be lighter and more relevant, but this is available on kindle and again seems to run the gamut for all common south eastern species.

If you want to read the next book along with us, I’ll go ahead and link it here as well! Tooth and Claw I can’t promise that it’s any good, but I will be finding that out soon enough.

Bushcraft references: Bushcraft 101, Advanced Bushcraft, Buschraft First Aid, Bushcraft Hunting and Trapping, These are all good overviews especially for those not familiar with bushcraft or those wanting a more casual and practical form or survivalism.



Bushcraft USA

May Update


The Last Few Weeks

At last I’ve found the time and connection to fill you in on what all has been going on. Two big things have happened really; Wilderness First Responder training, and a cross cut saw certification. We’ve also been put up in the campsite I’ll spend most of the summer in. I’d say for the rest of the time, but we have a two week move coming up here soon for another bout of training.

Let’s take a closer look at the Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training. We arrived at the little bunk-cabin on a Friday afternoon to get ready for our first class the next morning. It was quickly made known to us the cabin was infested with a family of squirrels. They were quite happy to run about from 11pm to 4am. Despite their best efforts to keep us awake, we managed to sleep well enough and arrived for our first class at 8:00am. Our instructor made this class the single most enjoyable class that I’ve had the pleasure of taking. The first day, and every day after flew by! I’m going to break down some of these topics we covered for Codex Informata, but only those that are easy enough to understand through reading.

We received one day off before hiking out for this last bit of training. So tired, groggy, and barely washed we stumbled up to the van and drove back to west North Carolina. We unloaded, did some work on some tread, and hiked deeper in to our camp. This was a 12 hour day, but thankfully we dialed it back to a normal work day after that. This was also the time period I fell in love with the precision instrument that is the cross cut saw. These things are simply amazing for cutting through logs. The major downsides to them is the sheer amount of maintenance with specialized tools you have to do to keep them in optimum shape. That and how large and heavy they are to carry in comparison to a chainsaw that does the work faster. Despite these things I’m going to be keeping my eyes open for a single man cross cut.


What’s to Come

After this training was over I set out for Virginia. At last I’ve gotten up to the state I’ll be working in! I’ve set up at Cave Mountain Lake and just this morning I hiked the trail to the peak near the camp. Its a beautiful, if isolated, part of the country. I’m sad that in two weeks I’ll be packing up to head back to Tennessee for more training instead of just staying put. After that, however, I’ll be in this site for quite a while. The end of August at least.



Week 1: Land of Ice and Snow

The fact that I’m able to upload this should tell you the severity of this training hike wasn’t at such a degree that I was injured. However, it was miserable until Tuesday evening. The dates were predetermined months ago, and as such we were bound to follow through with the plan, despite the Winter Storm Front moving through the region from the east. I was wondering if they were even aware of this at 0530 Monday morning as I fought my frozen zipper to get free of my tent. Let me start at the beginning though.

We met at 0900 Sunday morning and hit the road for Mt. Rodgers in Virginia. At this time we were being rained on, and by my guess we’d only have a 30-45min window to set up camp where there was no rain. Obviously this is “less than ideal” for us, but doable in above freezing weather. We missed this window by about an hour.

Upon arrival it was raining on and off and the winds were picking up. We set to putting up a shelter tarp over out kitchen area and only picnic table at the campsite. That done the rain was getting worse so we put up our tents in hard packed gravel, set our guy-lines and gathered up under the tarp to review the employee handbook. As we did this the temperature dropped by the minute and the wind began to howl and roar. (We selected a site on the east face you see, looking at the storm approaching)

By the time we broke for supper I was trying to restore feeling in my hands and long given up on my toes. The windscreen did little to protect the stove from the brutal winds, but we managed to almost boil water for our rice mix amalgamation burritos. I really can’t remember what all was in the mix but I know there were carrots involved. The dishes were washed and we dove into our sleeping bags as the rain poured at 8 PM.

The next morning is when I discovered that we had been frozen into our tents. The previous night’s rain had turned into ¼ inch of snow that was still falling as I dragged myself into the frost covered hillside. I fought the tarp, wrestled the stakes into the ground, and managed to get a pot of water on. The blasted thing scoffed at my attention and refused to boil despite the stove’s best coercion. After a bottle of fuel was run out we decided it was close enough to hot for us. Two crew members were sent down the mountain for a weather report, and came back to confirm that it was indeed snowing and cold. The thirty minutes were well spent waiting on that riveting report.

We abandoned that steadily freezing mountain side to go to the Konnarock Trail Crew Base Camp nearby. This was a comparatively beautiful resort. Complete with a single, too small wood burning stove for heat in only one building… it was a welcome relief to outside. We gathered up around it like a campfire and even had the opportunity to dry our boots and thaw frozen outer garments.

At this humble, cozy base camp we did as much class work on the subject of trail building as was humanly possible in the two days we had inside. Luckily on the third day we drove out to our project site and made our plans. The large stones were moved into place and we departed back for base camp.

The final day turned out to be hectic. Breakfast, packing, cleaning, and driving was to be accomplished in 1.5 hours. This wasn’t a problem for us, thankfully. We got to the trail and installed our check step within 5 minutes of our time limit. Then we began the drive home, and the troubles began. We arrived back a hour and a half behind schedule despite good traffic on the way back. From what we could tell the optimal route wasn’t taken and the time to travel was severely underestimated.

All in all though we judged this a successful hitch given the “less than favorable” circumstances of our departure. Next up for me is Wilderness First Responder Training in the NOC. I have the training manual that I hope to get some review time in, and my old notebook from my last wilderness medical course. The high points in preventative steps and the more basic treatments will be making their way into Codex Informata! I’m also going to have a list of recommended books under that tab as well after some feedback I’ve received to keep all the book recommendations in one place as well as where they’re relevant. Thank you, Amber, for that idea!

Until next time, keep your eyes ahead, and always ALWAYS check the weather forecast before you go somewhere!

Week 0: First Day in the Field


The Journey North

Saturday April 7th I said my goodbyes to my parents and grandmother then hit the road to Red Top Mountain State Park in Georgia. The night prior a storm front had blown through, dropping the temperature a solid ten or so degrees from the day prior, and a second front was on its way behind my departure. I managed to make the campsite in a couple of hours, make a run to REI because I forgot the kitchen sink in my rush to leave, and then met my girlfriend and her father for dinner.

The next morning she and I met at a nearby Cracker Barrel for breakfast before I began the long drive to Ashville. Well in truth the plan was to make Waterrock Knob by yesterday evening and make an early morning hike to the peak for some sunrise pictures. This didn’t happen because the camp there is only accessible via the Blue Ridge Parkway. A parkway that is closed during poor weather like the night prior.

Not knowing this ahead of time I made for the Nantahala Gorge and the Nantahala Outdoor Center where dozens of prospective AT thru-hikers were taking their lunch/shower breaks. I met one hiker going by “Front Loader” who was rather nonchalant about the windy, cold weather from the night before. Despite the forecast chill he was in high spirits and seemed ready to get going again. I hope he and the other hikers there make it to the end without any major incidents.

After my brief stop there I discovered the Parkway to be closed and made the decision to head to Ashville. Specifically the Powhata Lake national recreation area just outside Pisgah National Forest. I arrived and acquired a site for the night. Following a dinner of fire fried conecuh sausage and an orange I turned in only to wake up every two hours wondering if it was another camper making that racket or a bear. This was my first night sleeping in bear country after all, and I’m still at a complete loss on how to properly bear-proof a campsite. For now I’m going to limit my cooking to breakfast, eating a meal bar for dinner if I don’t stop somewhere. That and storing day clothes in a plastic bag inside my jeep should be enough. At least the park employees seem to think so.

Day 1: Trail Day

The morning of April 9th began with a hearty sausage and egg breakfast. Once all the dishes were cleaned up I moved to my employer provided site for the remainder of the week, had a granola bar lunch, and hit the trails. A quick note about these sites though, before I talk about the trails.

I’ve noticed that these campsites are geared more towards the weekend car camper, or campers. The “primitive” sites are hard packed fine gravel that is incredibly difficult to get comfortable on. Thankfully with a hammer the stakes can be driven in well enough, and I don’t have to worry about the stakes coming up. I do think that my ground pad I purchased is the single best purchase I’ve made to date. The tables are sturdy and the fire rings have a great grill grate. Now onto the trails!

I set out to hike three of the five trails today: Homestead, Pine Tree loop, and Explorer’s loop. I failed to actually find Homestead. The lack of obvious trail head markings and regular trail blazes make most of the trails difficult to find. That, combined with a simplified map thats missing many side trails, made finding the starts a bit of a head ache. So I managed to completely miss one trail and one trail head for Pine Tree loop before I finally got onto the trail. I did make up the trail mile I missed on the roads that I walked seeking the trail head.

Pine Tree loop was a rather enjoyable hike that doubled as the entry to Explorer’s Loop. It led along the smaller, rolling hills across a few thin streams and by a few old homestead sites helpfully marked with signs. At the halfway point I turned off to get onto Explorer’s loop. That trail was much hillier and brought me around to a set of sharp switchbacks ending in a small meadow of trout lilies. They haven’t quite opened up otherwise I’d have attached some pictures here.

At this point the poor blazing messed me up again. There is a small cut through to get back to the middle of Explorer’s loop not marked on the map but blazed as the main trail once you get out there. In reality you go past this and come around to where you leave pine tree. I made my way back to pine tree and eventually back to my campsite. I wish there was more to say about the trails. They’re fairly well maintained. Aside from a falling squirrel there wasn’t much going on. It was a relatively empty trail. Very few wildlife moving around, only two or three people, and none of the wildflowers were really in show.

Hopefully next time it’ll be much sunnier and there will be much more wildlife moving around. I’m not sure if that’ll happen this week, sadly. If not I’ll be giving my next update from Virginia!

The Week Ahead

Well this was my last free day this week. Tomorrow I start working an actual job and everyday for the rest of the week we’ll be in the office or wherever they want to take us. Other than that I’ll just be sleeping at camp and trying to tell if this leak on my jeep is back or a result of being parked at an extreme backslope. Regardless I’m hoping to replace the valve cover seal this Friday anyways.

Thank you all for reading this and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers.


Recommended Books

Camping and Woodcraft

Cooking with Fire

Bushcraft 101

In Which I Gain Employment and Go to a Conference

February 25, 2018


I have a lot of things to unpack this week so let me begin by warning y’all that this’ll be a long one. I expect that my post from here on out will likely retain this longer format (introductory listing of content, topics discussed in depth, book of the week and discussion about the previous book) from here on out. I think setting up a repeatable format will help these post start taking on a better structure. Without further to do, let’s get going.

The last two weeks have been rather exciting for me, relative to when I started posting these regularly at least. I have managed to land a job! Confirmed, agreed to terms, and just finishing up the paper work. Two days later I went to the Environmental Educators of Alabama Association conference in Dauphin Island, Alabama. The conference is open to those not currently employed as teacher, but to those considering an educational position. Being someone who’s more or less open to trying anything even semi-related to my field I decided that this was a good opportunity for some networking. Turns out I was correct, but more on that later. The Codex Informata section of the site is about to be receiving some attention as well! I want to use it to post a few of my papers condensing my thoughts on certain subjects I’ve come across or happened to find interesting that week. These will be located in the sub-section dubbed “The Archives” and will receive an announcement post when they’re updated.

Concerning My Employment

Anyone that has graduated from college without a job waiting on them knows the terrible wait that follows. You seek out, find, and apply for hundreds of jobs in a month only to then wait eons for the responses to finally begin to trickle in. If they trickle in at all. After two months of this I had only received five notifications that I had not been selected for a position. Well that was better than the never knowing what they had thought of me.

At last I managed to find someone as desperate for an employee as I was to find and employer. Two over the phone interviews later and a week and a day of waiting I finally received an offer from them. Despite no housing or other benefits aside from a company car for travel to and from the trail heads I believed the deal to be an overall agreeable one.

Starting on April the 10th of 2018 I’ll be starting a new series of writings I’m considering calling “Tales from the Frontier” or something like that. Probably won’t go with that. These writing will contain updates on the job, progress of the work we’re doing, and any humorous occurrences that befall us in the wilderness.

“Wait, you said there isn’t housing offered, you’ll finally be getting your own place?” you might have thought. Well the answer is somewhat complicated. Blessedly I will be moving out of my parent’s place. Nothing like being stuck somewhere for three months to remind you why you want to move out again. I will not, however, be moving into a permanent residence. The non-profit I’ll be working for has secured two camping lots in a local park and I’ve elected to stay there for the duration of my contract, or until the park closes for the season, whichever happens first. This means that I’m going to either lose a lot of weight of get really good at fishing, foraging, and campfire cooking. I hope to make some entertaining, informative, and wholesome content during my down time. If nothing else I hope this will allow me to finally get into the shape I’ve been striving to get into and only slowly been working towards.

The EEAA Conference

Now If you’re like me you probably never realized there was even such a thing as an enviro-ed conference let alone one in Alabama. They’re a quiet group that I found to be among the friendliest and earnest group I’ve ever been around. Everyone there, vendors included, wanted to be there and believed in what they were doing. It was a genuine pleasure to hear any individual talk about what it is that they did for a living, old hobbies they used to have, or projects they were just starting to undertake. I hope that I’m close enough to Mt. Cheha for next year’s conference.

While there, as with any professional conference, there were talks or events you could elect to attend to gain some knowledge about a topic you hadn’t studied much, or techniques you were unfamiliar with. This conference also included a variety of field trips we could attend while at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to see the various aspects of the island and surrounding waters. I elected to take the boat tour and learned a great deal about Mobile Bay, the fishes therein, and an unexpected invasive species encroaching on the artificial reefs there. It was a great way to spend the first half of the day.

I won’t pretend to be heavily invested in this organization, as I myself an no formal educator, but I am grateful that they allowed me to attend. I learned a lot, I have more books to read, and I made some connections that could easily lead to some more permanent positions in the future.

The Book Corner

In the last post I recommended Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. It took me a little while longer to work through this novel than I had originally intended. I purchased both the kindle version and the audible version to test out the wispersync stuff they’re always going on about, but found I had more time to listen than to read. That being said, it was very easy to pick up on the paper where I left off in the audio version so the tech works as advertised.

12 Rules for Life takes a critical look at the most common problems Dr. Peterson has seen in his practice and online forums. He then proposes 12 rules along with essays better demonstrating their implementation that can greatly improve everyone’s well being. I found this to be a beneficial text, and I’m glad for the e-book version that I can quickly and easily access to reference anytime I need. I recommend if you didn’t check this out last week to do this week instead.

Book of the Week: Rise of Endymion book 4 in the Hyperion Cantos. I’m excited to see (or hear) how this four book collection ends. The universe Dan Simmons built this series in has kept me enthralled since I first started listening and I hope y’all finish this journey with me.

Reassessing Lofty Goals

February 11, 2018


Last week I planned to mill up 3.25 trees, make 3 staffs, 3 staff slings, 4 knives, and a bow. What I actually accomplished is to mill 0.75 trees and waste 2 days in traffic. The knives thankfully only need a little handle detail work and they will be making their way to the etsy shop and The Rendezvous store Tuesday night. The large part of this is a direct response to the slow progress on milling (detailed below) and 3 days wasted.

My goal is to work 5 days a week on these projects: M T Th F S. Sunday I hope to always use as a day of reflection, reassessment, and research. I’m also going to start completing at least one entry a night. Theres almost 100 partial plant entries unlisted on the site that just need a few details to finish them up to where I’m happy with them.

I’ll also be adding leather key fobs to the items for sale. Those will be available for purchase and order as soon as tomorrow night, starting at $5 a piece. Of course the designs that will be shown are only examples of what could be on the fob. Feed back on these and all items will be greatly appreciated.

Book of the week:

This week its 12 Rules For Life, and I’ll be reading it with you! If you’ve already read it, let me know what you think of it and these 12 magical rules for getting your life in order. Who knows, maybe shrinks actually have something figured out.

Alaskan Saw Mill, First Impressions

As I mentioned in my February update, I’m attempting to gather up timber from fallen trees around the property to use for projects. This past week I did manage to get almost 2 trees cut into rough planks and set up into a pile. I spent 2 days doing this, which is rather unremarkable as far as speed goes. I honestly expect to have three times the volume cut in the same amount of time, but there are a few factors are at play here, listed below:

  • Chain type and sharpness

  • Saw power and maintenance record

  • type of wood

The type of chain I’ve been using is a ripping chain recommended by the company. It was sharpened to the factory guidelines with a mounted electric chain saw sharpener to ensure the teeth were all sharpened to the same depth. (For the curious, 20 and 0 degrees)

I’m using a Stihl MS250 with the factory standard parts, all of which are original and4 years old. This includes the filters, which have since been replaced in an effort to increase the speed of cutting this next week. In hind-sight I should have had the saw overhauled at the first of the year instead of attempting this first.

The trees I’m cutting up include 2 freshly felled pine trees, 1 three year old red oak, 1 six month old pecan, and 2 red oaks that were felled during a bad wind storm. The pine trees are nearly completely turned to timber while the other trees remain untouched because of the major time investment this has been thus far. I’ve debarked all of these log segments with a draw knife prior to milling to extend chain life as according to the manual.

Before I pass judgment on this attachment I do plan to see if the new fuel and air filter improve its performance considerably. I will also be testing with a hardwood chain to see if that improves speed at the urgings of my father. He really just wont let up on that idea because of how well they cut across the grain. I’ll also refrain from debarking the trees unless I see a drastic decline in performance from skipping this step. Obviously this can hold risk of hitting bits of old fence or stray bullets, nails and the like that otherwise could be spotted if the bark was removed.

Update (Feb 06, 18)

It’s February, shortest month of the year and I’m packing it out with a busy schedule. I’ve got a good lead for a job, and some fun wood working projects that I’m excited to finish and start selling. Let’s jump into the long version after a brief mention of this week’s audiobook shall we?

This week’s book is Endymion, 3rd in the Hyperion Cantos. This book’s unique vantage an placement in the events of this four part saga means you can jump in on this novel, then go back and read the first two. Sure there are references a fan of the first two books would understand better, but the way these things are referenced make this a good starting point as well. If you like sci-fi novels then check out Endymion here:

So back to business. Let’s talk about the job hunt. I’ve been putting out applications for a month and I’ve had my first interview. Thats not to mention the five other positions I’m waiting to hear back on. The interview is with a non-profit organization called “Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards” or SAWS. There will be a link at the end for you to check out their site if you’d like to. The job I was interviewed for is a Trail Crew Leader position. In short my job would be to lead a team of 4-6 volunteers 10+ miles into wilderness areas to build and/or maintain trails out there for 9 days at a time! In all seriousness this sounded like a dream job to me from the start. With any luck I’ll be making plans to move to North Carolina next week.

In the mean time, however, I’ve set my focus on becoming more disciplined with my weekly schedule as far as craft making and content creation is concerned. This means that this week you’re getting this update blog, two more plant entries by the end of the week, and a beastiary entry on a local creature story I’m wanting to preserve on here as well. I’m also in the process of sawing up downed timber around my house into usable boards. These boards are going to be used for repairs and projects around the farm. By the end of the day Saturday I hope to have prototyped walking staffs, staff slings, and perhaps a hand sling as well. If these go according to plan I’ll also be uploading an illustrated guide on making these yourself in the Codex Informata section.

Now in order to get these logs sawn into boards I’m using an Alaskan Saw Mill. This has been a mildly frustrating device, that is getting easier with practice. I’m confident that if I work on the chain a bit more I’ll have these logs finished up right fast. Once they’re cut properly, I’m going to be storing the rough cut timber until it’s needed and only further refining about three planks until the products start moving.

Thank you interested or faithful readers for making it this far. If you have any thoughts or tips on using a saw mill like the one above, leave me a comment or shoot an email my way. The patreon is no more, but if you like the info I’ve posted so far and want to see this site achieve its full potential consider donating to me one-time via ko-fi. Any support, request, or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Check out these books and tools I’ve found useful during these projects down below, and have a great week this week.

Chainsaw file:

The Axe Book:

Safety Helmet:

Safety Chaps:

January Update

So its the new year and we've all seen made our resolutions. I'm no different, I've made mine and I'm into my second week of training for a marathon. Before this the furthest I'd ever run was 3 miles! Anyways I digress.

What's important for the site is that I've not forgotten it and have some plans for moving on in the future. I've signed up with Amazon affiliates to start putting a few adds on here and start generating some income, I'll be curating the adds and only promoting items I have either looked into and find promising, or have used or read myself.

The Codex Plantae tab has seen the most love so far, though most of those entries aren't complete. You can expect the text entries to be finished before I incorporate pictures into the post, but fear not those are coming.

I have a friend or two that might be interested in contributing to the site. One acting as editor, and the other working to fill in th more practical side of things, though I'm making no promises here. Let's all just assume that I'll be doing this all on my own from here on out.

The forge is almost up and running again. Next Monday (Jan. 21) I plan to work on and finish some projects I've not been able to work on yet. Once I figure out a good pattern for and-irons, spits, and utensil sets you can bet those will be in the store! Before those Items can make it though, I'll be posting my fire starters there. The shop will be a collection of useful items for a fair price until such a time I can start publishing books from the information collected here. Which is my ultimate goal.

Another project, since I seem to be unable to limit myself in any way whatsoever, is to start up a weekly legends/bestiary podcast. I want to tell the stories my grand dad told me, the legends around my home town and all the tracts of forest... then dive into strange creatures from game and ancient bestiaries.  Likely mixing it up until I find a niche.

I'm also scrapping my you tube channel to start one up under the Rendezvous brand. I have a logo now. its a brand as far as I'm concerned. It's going to be nature and craft themed. Mixing together hiking, animals, plants, blacksmithing, woodworking, cooking by a campfire, and things of that nature! Plus i might rag on a few movies that miss the mark so badly I just have to say something. (The Bay is top of the list. It'll be a short video, but hopefully humorous)

I believe that about sums it up. Let me know what you think in the comments below, look for those amazon links to begin appearing as soon as i figure out how and if you'd rather give me the money directly, then buy me a kofi!

Want to support the channel on a monthly basis or even get a custom knife from me? Become one of my patrons at

Finally Have a Bachelor's!

Well after many long years I've finally graduated Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science Degree, focused on Wildlife Ecology and Management. It was a long road, and now the job hunt begins. In fact I'm hoping to have a position by mid-January or early February! Who knows, all depends on how the job market responds to recent events and how well I can fill out the forms online.

Until then, however, I'll be uploading the info I've promised to get on here. Hopefully some cool entries about my current casting project and shelter construction in the family forest. I've taken to the idea of ASMR style videos about my shelter building and outdoor cooking. We'll see how that goes. If it goes well enough I'll get some better camera equipment and start doing more of it!

Hope to get this up and going now that classes aren't hanging over my head. Look forward to this having a long long life ahead of it.

Update 3-12-17

Alright It's been a while and I've put some lofty goals out there, with absolutely 0 results so far. Classes are almost over though and at long last I'll be a lot more free to start developing all this. I have the start to several species reports ready to roll out and a handful of projects lined up. I'm not going to spend too much time here talking about it but here's whats coming up in summary:

  • 76 mammal descriptions comprising of track and skull descriptions, quick identifying factors, and a range map of each
  • 80-100 plant descriptions including significance, uses, identifying characteristics, and a range map
  • At least one recipe, one video of a campfire meal, and brush shelter building instructions and video.
  • Some blacksmithing projects including pewter casting and a dagger I'm making

Can't wait for a bit of traffic coming into here and to actually get some content up.

Week 1

It's up and working perfectly! I realized one thing though, in order to keep the categories I have present I'll have to add an embedded link in the appropriate pages to non-listed pages containing the relevant information. I'm doing this in order to maintain a cleaner, more easily navigable workspace. Keep watching for updates to come!

Launch Day

Well... here we go. After two weeks of planning I've finally decided to commit and launch. It's a big jump for me, making a website and all is as closed to following through on a hair-brained scheme as I've come! The lack of content here is a little saddening, but that's not terribly hard to correct so long as I can hold myself to a proper update schedule. Thankfully I'll be doing a lot of writing anyways to accompany my classes right now.

First up, basic plant reports. I'll need to expand them, but it'll be a nice quick description to start things with. I'll include a description of the plant's physical properties as well, it'd help with identifying them after all.

After that, I'll just have to see what feels the most natural to begin!