Well I’m back from vacation and I had an amazing time. I spent the week at Rivercane Rendezvous in Lafayette, Georgia. Rendezvous is a primitive skills gathering that happens twice a year. They offer classes in a wide range of subject matter including Blacksmithing, bow making, primitive beer brewing, trap and snare making and many many others.
Earthskills Rendezvous was formed in 1985 as a way to preserve and promote indigenous primitive skills like making white oak baskets, foraging for wild foods, starting fire by friction and tanning deer skins with brains and smoke. During the day there are dozens of classes going on at once. At night there are campfires with music, dancing and story telling.
On the fist day I took a class on blacksmithing. This was by far the class I was most excited about. I’ve been borderline obsessed with forging for a few years now. The instructor was very knowledgeable and did a great job of teaching. He first gave a demo on forging a hook to hang things on. Then we all got a make one of our own. Shaping the hot metal almost spiritual. My hook was not perfect but I’m very proud of it.
Next up was a class by Russell Cutts the hand drill friction fire method. This is a method I have been unsuccessful at mastering but with the instruction from Russell I’m sure I will achieve it. During the class I got three embers but had trouble blowing them into fire. After four attempts though blisters were starting to form and my arms become too tired to and sore to continue.
The next time I attended a class on primitive beer brewing. We brewed a traditional Scandinavian way filtering in a log through juniper branches. The beer was made of twenty pounds of malted barley with a little juniper and a hefeweizen yeast.
The beer was un-hopped and open fermented for a day and a half before being bottled. Temperatures was tested by finger to guess how hot was. The wort was brought up to temperature by placing hot rocks into it. The instructor gave us some terminology and beer history which I always find interesting.
I was excited for a knot and tarp hanging class. This is one of the skills I’m working on improving on. In this class we were taught the double clove, timber hitch, chicken knot, truckers hitch, sheet bend and a few others. I love the simplicity of the timber hitch and when combined with the truckers hitch you can get a nice tight line. I actually went right back to my hammock and used the truckers hitch to get my tarp tight.
I took a really great class on various snares. Really insightful and can’t wait to give it a try. This was followed by a class on making the figure four dead fall trap.
Those things are much more difficult and labor intensive to make than I thought. I was a little proud that I was a little late to class and was the first to make and get mine working. I managed to trap an elusive stuffed bunny.
There were many other classes I took and many more that I wanted to attend. Everyday was a hard choice on what to take that day. There is such a variety that you will always find a class that interest you.
There’s also a huge social facet to the even. Many of the people who attended have been coming for years and have made great friends in the community. I have to admit that everyone I met was incredibly friendly and giving. There were games going on all the time for children and adults. Music was always being played somewhere. Twice during the week was a trade blanket. I love the idea of a trade blanket and wish I had something to trade. I did meet a guy that had some homemade Egyptian style mead and was able to strike a deal with him on several bottles. By far the best mead i have ever had.
For meals they provided breakfast and dinner with lunch being up to you. I was slightly worried that the meals would be completely geared towards the vegetarian/ vegan crowd. I am happy to say that i was wrong. They had choices for both meat and meatless at the meals. I was able to find at least a few things that fit my paleo lifestyle there.
All in all I had a blast there and definitely plan on going again next year. If reclaiming the lost skills of our ancestors and having a great time while doing it sound like fun to you I highly recommend you check out Earthskills Rendezvous. They have both a spring and a fall events.