The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Fire in the Hole

Posted by Exile on October 22, 2019

I took my grandson out into the woods again last weekend. He’s getting used to tramping about out there and he enjoys being there with me. At least, I think he does. I try to show him stuff that I know he can do and last weekend it was time to teach him how to get warm, cook and boil water. In other words, get a fire going.

The woods here are not generally dry. Even in summer. Some preparation from home is needed. I had bought a folding saw and a ferro rod and striker for him. I had collected dry wood shavings from the shed and cut some small pieces of wood into strips as kindling. All that went into a bag for him. He has his pocket knife in his pocket and so we set off. I explained that we had to find some dry fuel in the woods. Preferably something dead but standing. He scurried about and found a dead standing sycamore sapling. We cut it down and sawed it up into six inch lengths. I then showed him how to split the wood using his knife and a heavy-ish piece of wood to use as a baton to drive his knife down through the length of the firewood. Soon, he had a pile of the stuff. The inside of the wood is dry even if the outer surface is wet.
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So, we’re ready. By now we had an audience too. Others had seen us at the firepit and wondered what we were up to…

I showed him how to strike a spark with the rod and started with the shavings. Instant fire. Then it was his turn. It was with some trepidation and doubt as I watched him take his first ever attempt at making fire in the woods.

He got it at the first attempt. The attending crowd was very impressed.

He piled on the thinner stuff we had brought with us and continued to add the larger pieces he had cut for himself as the fire grew. Soon, he had a real fire going. Thoroughly pleased with himself he sat back and warmed his fingers.
I sent him off to find some thin sticks to skewer sausages with and we ate a small, if not hearty, lunch.

I showed him how to place his firewood to dry it around the fire and how to heat small rounded stones and use them as hand warmers in his pockets. He soon realised that a slightly larger stone could be used as a body warmer inside his jacket. He tried. It worked. A whole new world opened up for him right there.

There are other things to show him with regard to tinder, fire starting and what to put in his fire kit. A lighter would be a good thing. Matches. Cotton wool soaked in vaseline, charcloth and other stuff. But at least now he has tried one of the more difficult of all these options and he succeeded.

On to the next lesson at a later date….

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