Winter Time Primitive Skills
By Neal Ritter
We just wrapped up our youth and teen homeschool programs for the Fall. Teaching primitive skills to teens and youth is a wild, energy filled adventure. This fall I am so proud of our students. They focused hard, going deep into new skills, like atlatl, primitive blacksmithing and shelter building.
Now the rhythm has shifted, in many ways matching the rhythm of the season. As we enter winter, life slows a little, and all of the instructors at Laughing Coyote spend some time honing our skills, and experimenting or deepening our relationship with primitive skills.
This is when we dive into bowmaking, setting up Osage Orange staves in the vise, shaving down to a single growth ring with a drawknife. We like to braintan around the woodstove, finishing furs or deerskins started earlier in the year.
Time is spent on the land, harvesting willow, tracking in snow, and hunting for the next year’s meat.
Our approach has always been a holistic one, meaning teaching is one facet of our time throughout the year. When we don’t have students on the land, there is a shift, yet we are always learning, practicing and preparing for the next time we have together.