1.06.17 | Deer and Fawn Day - Icy Microcosms, Shelter, Cordage and Corvid Calls

We had a fantastic Deer and Fawn Day this past Friday at Frozen Fairhaven Park!  Due to being the first week of the New Year and the tail end of a deep cold snap here in Whatcom County, we were not sure if anyone would be willing to meet us this time! Luckily a few rugged families who bundled up and braved the weather and we all were rewarded with a gorgeous day!

In the morning, the ice forming tiny crystalline universes all over the park was (not surprisingly) a huge draw! There is something magnetic about those tiny intricate structures that draws most children (and grown-ups!) in.  And you know a bunch of young ones cannot help but stomp on some ice! With a combination of these factors, some icy universes were destroyed while other crystal structures were brought to life! 

Within the midst of the icy action, a number of crows started to get quite agitated and called loudly as they all circled around the same tree! Alerting the kids that this could be the crows sending out the alarm and calling out a predator in the tree, we morphed into scout mode and crept over the the huge douglas fir tree where all the ruckus was... A large shadow flew across the gulley closer to the river -- all the crows followed! "CAW! CAW! CAW! CAW!"

Gift from our owl friend in the Morning

We watched and listened a little longer and then searched under the fir for clues.  Lo and behold, a beautiful Owl Pellet was sitting under the tree with a rodent jawbone sticking out of it! So cool.  It was amazing to connect with that owl energy and we brought the pellet back to show Melissa and the Mommas what we had found and explain what all that racket was! We will bring the skull we found inside the pellet back to Deer and Fawn next month with our Animal Skulls field guide to find out what our feathered friend was eating.

While we were away stalking owls, Melissa had been showing the parents a simple ancient craft -- making cordage. In a survival/primitive living situation cordage is the jumping off point for so many projects and many types of plants can be used! One of our favorites around here is done using fibers from Stinging Nettle plants! Melissa had a few stalks of dry nettle she brought and the moms worked on their cordage throughout the day! 

While we sipped some Cedar/Nettle tea, Melissa told an inspiring story about two young boys from NJ who got some advice on building shelters by a sassy squirrel! The squirrel said you can never have too much insulation in your shelter! Pile that debris high! 

We ventured into the forest and found the perfect western red cedar tree that had fallen to serve as our ridge pole for a quickie lean-to shelter.  With some good squirrel energy, the bones of a structure were up in less then an hour! Wow!  It would not have been ready for a rainstorm but it sure was nice to gather in for snack and a story.  We dismantled it for now but we will rebuild! 

If you have older children (aged 7-12) who might be interested in this sort of thing, we will be going much more in depth into shelter building we will be running an "No School Day" program next Monday, January 16th at Fairhaven Park. We cannot think of a better way to spend of day off of school then a day outside learning from the book of nature!  You can learn more or enroll!

We will be running programs on the following days:

Two mommas show off their awesome Stinging Nettle Cordage! Pretty amazing for a first time and one was immediately put to work repairing a torn mitten, Clever!

The Ice formed gorgeous landscapes across the Park. Beauty.

What a day -- building, climbing and sharing stories under the cedar trees! As it was meant to be.

A fallen cedar provided the perfect ridge pole to build a Lean-to upon!

A little Bird in their Nest of Fir!