On April 18th Ancestral Knowledge hosted its first animal tracking workshop. The workshops was taught along t the Paint Branch Creek in College Park MD. This area is rich with animal diversity and hosts one of the finest sand bars in the area. I spent over 16 hours a week for over 2 years tracking and observing animals and animal behavior in this location, in essence this is were I became a tracker. It was a beautiful day reaching 70 degrees with a light wind from the south. We spent 6 hours tracking 4 different animals. Finding each print and identifying its species. The first trail we followed was a treat, having only seen clear tracks of this animal on 2 occasions in 2 years and never having seen a full clear front track. Today we had the gift of seeing several trails and trail conditions. The first two pictures are of this animals trail and I will leave it to you to try and figure out who it was we were following. As the day progressed the tracking became more and more difficult. The suns angle was changing and they were put on more and more difficult trails to follow. The third trail was along a run where fox traveled back and forth frequently. The trackers had to figure out which trail was connected to the original track I set them on. Track aging was crucial but not impossible to determine which tracks were from the night before and the ones laid that morning. The fox was doing its typical 2 x trot. After a short break to mend our tracker headaches we moved into the wooded area along the creek to look for some good deer tracks to follow. Tracking in leaf litter is a bit more challenging then on sand as you can imagine. After a short walk I found two great trails to follow. These trails taught the trackers a great deal about becoming the animal and seeing through their eyes. One trail was a meandering slow walk as it ate along the way. The other trail was of a cautious deer as it approached a bike path. The trackers quickly learned to expand their awareness to their surroundings to notice the different plants the deer nibbled on and the sight lines that the other deer paused for to check if anyone was coming along the bike trail before crossing. All in all it was a great day and I look forward to sharing the wonders of tracking in the future.
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Elena was one of our original students from when we started our homeschool programs over 7 years ago. Elena and her family have continued to support Ancestral Knowledge for several years after she finished our program. For her service project Elena collected clothes and toys to sell at the McLean Children’s Flea Market. The event was advertised in the Washington Post and Elena raised $200 for our Send-a-Kid-to Camp financial assistance program. Ancestral Knowledge would like to thank Elena for all that she did. She is an inspiration to all of us at Ancestral Knowledge.
If you would like to join Elena in supporting Ancestral Knowledge’s mission we accept donations in any amount. You can send your tax deductible donations to Ancestral Knowledge PO Box 6 Brentwood, MD. 20722. You can help us Send-a-Kid-to-Camp!
Over the weekend 7 people, mostly women, gathered together for a three day shoe making workshop. We gathered with Jason Hovatter from Portland Oregon with hopes of creating a moccasin style “turn shoe” using latigo leather for the soles and bison leather for the uppers. You might ask, “What is a turn shoe?” A turn shoe is a hand stitched shoe that is created inside-out and with the use of your hands forced to be turned right side in. The style of shoe we made is a 10th century Scandinavian style turn shoe that looks very much like an moccasin.
The work was steady over the course of 3 days with a total of 24 hours of labor under our belts. While going through the process we were each challenged mentally, physically, and emotionally. by the end of each step in the process we were glad it was over and but rewarded with something we could say was a success.
It was a wonderful time working together and sharing stories about family, friends, and travel. Eventually we lost track of what we were doing as hard work and it turned into fun. Our bodies pushed past the infantile stage of muscle memory for the new skill and locked into a more calculated free flowing pace. It was nice to see each person discover and experience their personal talents and skills during the different stages of the process.
On the last day of the workshop Jason surprised us with the promise of handmade coffee flavored ice cream to everyone who successfully turns their shoes. Jason roasted and hand ground the beans and proceeded to make a batch of what turned out to be the best tasting coffee ice cream on the block. with the newly added incentive we all quickly ended our race. In the end we were all winners and we each went home with a beautiful pair of moccasin style turn shoes that will last for many years to come.
We would like to thank Jason Hovatter from Laughing Crowe for his time and dedication to teaching this incredible skill and making sure everyone was successful with their projects. We look forward seeing Jason and hosting this workshop again in the future.