My Whit’s End Book Club–The Education of Little Tree–The Way 2

Get ready for some lessons in outdoor live’n.  We gonna build us a fire and ketched us a turkey.  Go grab some twine and come along.


“Yes, sir,” I said, and kept the proud out of my voice.” –great! 

“The sun hit the top like an explosion, sending showers of glitter and sparkle into the air.  The sparkling of the icy trees hurt the eyes to look, and it moved down the mountain like a wave as the sun backed the night shadow down and down.”–If you have ever seen a winter sunrise, it is an explosion of light.

“It is so with people who store and fat themselves with more than their share.  They will have it taken from them.  And there will be wars over it. . .and they will make long talks, trying to hold more than their share.  The will say a flag stands for their right to do this. . .and men will die because of the words and the flag. . .but they will not change the rules of The Way.”–worth considering

p. 6:  “pine knots spluttered in the fireplace” – from this source

By Dan Beard 

ohb312.gif (6762 bytes)
Fig. 312
The Fire Won’t Burn

Lafe, I can’t make a fire; we have no paper and the wood’s all wet.”

Lafe is a Pike County backwoodsman. He only smiled; then shouldering his axe he walked over to a moss-covered log that lay on the ground as soggy and wet as a sponge in the water. With a few blows from the butt end of his axe he knocked out of the rotten wood the remnants of what were once the noble limbs of a giant pine tree. These remnants were now nothing more than spike-shaped clubs, the largest not over two feet long.

Fig. 313.
A “Fat” Pine Knot.

“Here’s what we use in the woods for paper,” said Lafe. Upon examination, we discovered that the spike-shaped clubs were almost as heavy as lead, but it was not water that gave them the weight; it was the sap of the tree, the pitch, that colored them a rich red and made them hard and impervious to rain. Lafe pulled out his one-bladed jackknife and began to whittle the pine stick, but he allowed no shavings to become detached (Fig. 313).  

ohb314.gif (1373 bytes)
Fig. 314.
Starting the Fire.

When he had three cut in the manner shown in the accompanying drawing (Fig. 314), he set them up on the ground, with the small ends down and the big ends resting against each other, placed as the sticks are that form the frame of an Indian wigwam. He touched a lighted match to the shavings, and immediately a flame burst forth with a black smoke. Selecting some sticks he had previously split in halves, he piled them around the blazing pine-knots in a conical wigwam fashion, and soon we had a fire that was hot enough to ignite the wet, unsplit wood we gathered.

Here are some more photos from this source.

Figure : “Fat” Pine knot fire starter

fat Pine knot fire starter

p. 6:  the high trail

p. 7:  the hollow – a small valley between mountains

p. 7:  turkey run – a “run” is usually a walk animals use.  However, I did find this interesting fact on Indiana’s Turkey Run State Park site.

There are many legends about how Turkey Run got its name. One story says that wild turkeys, finding it warmer in the canyon bottoms, or “runs”, would often huddle in these runs to avoid the cold. Pioneer hunters would herd the turkeys through these natural funnels into a central location for an easy harvest. Since historic accounts suggest that large numbers of turkeys lived here, it follows that turkeys in the runs prompted the area’s name, Turkey Run.

Here is a little information on turkey traps.  It is not the trap described in the book, but interesting.  The information is from this site.

Turkey traps are man made on site mostly. Although you can purchase some forms of turkey traps from outdoor and hunting type stores, the man made ditch, logs and corn method has been working just fine for trappers, and hunters for hundreds of years. Building a turkey trap is fairly easy and cheap to construct. The actual structure that holds the birds is made of logs, sticks, large branches, pretty much what ever you can find on the floor of the woods or laying around the yard.

The turkey trap should look something like a box made of logs. The most laboring part is the actual ditch digging. The cage structure is built somewhere in the center and on top of the ditch. It must be covered and the logs should be tight enough together that the birds can not escape but they can still get air and light in the box. After all the construction is complete corn gets thrown around and in the ditch leading into the cage or pen that will hold the birds.

No bottom should be necessary for the turkey trap and it will not drop down and catch the bird once inside because the fact is turkeys are just not smart enough to duck down and escape the same way they came. As long as the ditch is not so long that they can see the light well from the bottom of the trap coming in the pen they will just walk in circles until they get pulled out by the trappers hands. Adding a pile of corn in the trap will keep the birds calm and stop them from panicking after all that is what they were after when they walked down into the ditch and up into the pen and got trapped.

A method similar to the one used in the book was found at Yahoo Answers. 

It sounds really dumb but this works. Take a 50 gallon barrel or something like that and turn it bottom side up. Put corn on top of it. Leave it there for a few weeks and keep supplying the corn. The turkeys will jump/fly up and stand on the barrel and eat the corn. After a week or two, turn the barrel upright again. The turkey will not be able to see that and it only knows that it got corn when it jumped up on the barrel. It will jump up and fall in the barrel and it won’t get out because there’s no room to expand it’s wings. Make sense? Why do you want to trap a turkey anyway?
p. 8:  sour biscuit – I think the author is referring to this type of biscuit.  Information is from this site.

SOUR DOUGH BISCUITS by “Pepper” Martin, 1964

Ranch Style

One of the most important items in making and keeping Sour Dough Biscuits going is a proper container for the “starter,” the best one being an earthenware crock with a good lid, close fitting but not air tight. DO NOT use a tin container as the sourness of the dough will cause a poison. The size of the container will depend on the number of people you have to cook for and the amount of “starter” you wish to keep made up. For the following recipe a 3-quart to gallon size crock is sufficient. If the container is too small, the sponge will run out when it starts “working.”


1 cake of yeast or 1 pkg. Fleishmann’s dry yeast dissolved in 2 pints of warm water.
Add 2 tablespoons of sugar
Add 2 pints of flour
Mix in crock and let rise until very light and slightly aged, 24 to 48 hours, but do not let it get too sour and do not let the sponge chill.


Form a nest or hollow in pan of sifted flour. Pour approximately 2 cups of “starter” into the hollow; add 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon sugar; 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder sprinkled over sponge. Mix well to a soft firm dough. Turn out on a lightly floured board. Opinions differ among chuck wagon cooks about what to use to roll biscuits, some think a Four Roses bottle is best, while others use Three Feathers or Old Crow, as for myself, I pat the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cut the biscuits with a small cutter (10 cent Bak. Powdr. can is good) and put into well greased pans. Tin plates give excellent results. Grease tops of biscuits generously.

Sour Dough Biscuits, like cowboys, need a rest, so at this point set them in a warm place to rise from 3 to 5 minutes before baking. Bake in a very hot oven, 500 degrees, until nicely browned, 10 or 12 minutes.

The closer the biscuits are crowded into the pan for baking the higher they will rise. The heat for baking Sour Dough Biscuits is a very important factor. Preheat the oven so that you are sure of a steady high temperature at the time the biscuits are put into the oven.

If you have some dough left after making Sour Dough Biscuits, do not throw it away, but return it to the crock with the “starter”, add a cup of warm water and the amount of flour to mix to consistency of first “starter.” If a larger amount of “starter” is desired, add more water and flour. Set aside until biscuit time again. You never have to add yeast after the first time.

For best results your “starter” should be used daily, If not used often it will get sour and die, then you will have to make a new starter. In case it gets a little sour by not using it for two or three days, especially in warm weather, it will still give good results by adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of soda dissolved in a little warm water along with the baking powder. Do not be discouraged if your first Sour Dough Biscuits are not a howling success as the “starter” improves with age. Some cooks are known to have kept the same “starter” going for years.

p. 9:  crow scout – from Wikipedia.
It may have been my state of mind, or just the accent, but for some reason I greatly enjoyed this 4 minute clip on a Crow Caller.  In fact, the tears streamed down my face I was laughing so hard.  Maybe it will lighten your day also.  Give it a try.
 p.  9:  sweet root –  I think this link is the “sweet root” reffered to in the book.  I couldn’t copy it, but I can add the link.
Thanks for joining me,
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2 Responses to My Whit’s End Book Club–The Education of Little Tree–The Way 2

  1. wowmomwow says:

    The conversation between the crows on the electric lines–must be read with an Australian accent, or maybe a scottish one.

    GRACKLE: Aye, CAWford, wot du eu thank that bloat down thair isa doeing?
    CAWford: Wot bloat?
    GRACKLE: Aye, the ‘un in the camo!
    CAWford: Itsa clar as the beak on yun faace. ‘e sa lost un, ‘e is, an ‘e sa calling for ‘elp.
    GRACKLE: Wood ja look at the essspression un ‘is faace.
    CAWford: Iffen any boody be a-asking me, ‘e needs to put mo’ effort into a-blowing ‘is whistle, ellssen ‘e be ‘ere un the morrow.
    GRACKLE: Aye, mo’ ‘an the morrow, ‘e be ‘ere next moonth! ‘ill be time to call in the waste management by then.
    CAWford: Goood business fur Buzzard. ‘e be neden sum ovatime fur Christmas.
    GRACKLE: ’tis truu
    CAWford: Aye ’em Aussies, they be rar’ uns!


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