Endless Summer, bow- classes, family, things to do during summer and a dog!

Maybe you remember the "Great mulberry swindle"- article posted about one year ago? The mulberry has grown, this scene looks somehow so Chinese to me- I´ve never been in China.

Hey, back again, the longest summer ever? It really seems that a lot of time has gone since my last post. But behind the scenes I´ve prepared a lot of articles and even a new home for the bowXplosion which will be called bowXXplosion.

The main reasons for not posting too much are the great summer, a lots of bow- classes, my lovely family, some renovations at our farm( new fences, the extension of a former barn into a living room……), firewood making, the old- age disease of our both horses( they´ re at the age of 26) and my dog( the birthday present of my wife).

That´s a lot, our adult daughter spent 2 weeks here to relax from Berlin, where she lives since 10 years, we did a lot of  hikes in the Black Forest and in the French Vosges. We´ve had a great time.

Since 12 years  I did a bow- shooting project with mentally handicaped kids. We´ve 4 mornings, this time I let them flight- shooting only, no targets. I would never have awaited the kids shooting so thrilled, shooting without the limit of the target, as far as possible, that´s it. They came up with so interesting ideas to make the arrow flying further. I´ve never enjoyed shooting with kids so much! I´ll go further with flight- shooting in my archery- classes.

The US- National Flights at the Salt Flats have taken place from the 2nd – the 4th of September. Due to the bad conditions not to much exciting news, but more interest than ever and a lot of infos: Bede Dwyer of the ATARNET and PALEOPLANET´S Alan Case

Some weeks ago the gliding arrows- debate came up again in PALEOPLANET. This time I´ll take for real what sounds like a fairy- tale or some rumor. So the upcoming bowXplosions will be focused on flightshooting with kids, gliding flight- arrows, my trial on a Bill Folberth- flightbow- design( yes, Bill Folberth, the ingenious guy who invented the first automatic windscreen apparatus was a famous bow- designer too), Volume 2 of Bows of Roses and the final tillering of the prod for a crossbow. Now enjoy my pics of a great summer:

The Todtnau Cascades- Germanys longest cascade. That´s not the point- there´s a trail uphills just beside the cascade, halfways the cascade has built a pool, there´s a rainbow in the downfalling water. Such a strong place, it is called to be one of the holiest places in Europe, even if you don´t believe in it, for sure you´ll feel it. Such a far out place to be!
In the Vosges at the Hirschfelsen- there is a real thrilling trail right in the rock bank. Even it looks dangerous my wife succeded in overcoming her fear of heights.
My daughters posing around for some pics
Yesterday- another hot clear day- my wife doing some garden- work, her favourite. Our garden is becoming more and more a paradise.
That´s my birthday-present: Cristy- the street- dog from Spain. She was 4 month old when I got her, she is a bodugero/ Belgian shepherd-dog mix with a very pronounced herding dog behaviour. She turned out to be highly attentive and studiously. The right dog for a dog- beginner, she´s a real companion.
Cristy´s first hike at the Belchen mountain- a bit to long for her, she was really very tired the next days. For to use a cliche´: isn´t she lovely????
Kids- project at Rheinfelden- first trials with a selfmade bow and arrow
Shooting altogether now- the finish of an exciting week
Rheinfelden warriors summer 2011

O.k. that´s history, but a great time to remember, pics of upcoming bowXplosions:

A secretely taken pic of the crossbow- prod- drying time is over soon, final tillering has to be done.
Some bows ready to be finished- 2 flights 137.5, a sinew backed juniper bow, another rowan "Holmegaard"- style shortie...........some more
Giving the mysterious gliding arrows a try

Bow staves Vol.4- new year staves

After having survived 3 winters here in the heights of the Black Forest, the actual winter began a bit lately in December but such heavily with tons of snow.  Around the 15th of January there was a bit thaw, but the snow came back, again icy temperatures. We all were awaitng spring to come at the earliest in April. But my horse was telling me another story, since a week or so I was wondering why she was rubbing her winter coat off.

shayela- my 18- years old pinto mare forecasting an early spring 2011? The donkey of my daughter wants to be posted too

Last Saturday I found it to comfortable outside for not to go for staves. Last fall I´ve cut down some locusts nearby, time for picking them up and to split them. The last 3 winters there was no way to go to the forests for picking up staves cause of the heavy snows.

......still alive after the snow......its such impressive to feel the freshness all over
tracks of does, deer and maybe boars along my way to the locusts
tracks of does, deer and maybe boars along my way to the locusts
the locusts I´ve felled last fall

The slope where the ranger has adviced me to fell down the locusts is quite steep, the ground was still frozen, a bit dangerous for to handle my chainsaw. I preferred to use my heavy tenon saw.

It was quite exhausting to carry the logs to my car, cause I had to leave it about 100m away.

Last Monday I splitted the logs into staves.

A look at the cross- section shows a first drying crack

The drying crack indicates my way for to split the log, again self bowery is much on cooperating with nature.

A first wedge is blown into the drying crack

Using the first drying crack will guiding the split just right along the center of the log, 4 blows with a light hammer did the job.

The center of the log- on the right there´s the progressing split to be seen
Having split 2 logs into halves

Almost knotfree straight staves, some of them reflexed and so some deflexed staves too.

First staves 2011 are done!

After cutting of the bark it´s drying time, I´ll leave the staves outside till it will rain or snow, the first warm breezes of February will let the staves dry fast.

Next bowXplosion will be of “The perfect bow Vol.1”, a picture- heavy build- along of a real ideal design for wooden bows including how- to´s and measurements, heat-treating revisited and explaining “the tracking of a selfbow”.



Midsummer on hornbeam- mountain

Every midsummer my wife, our daughter Maja and me used to climb up the Belchen, the highest mountain in the region. It is not to far, our farmhouse is just at the foot of the Belchen, it takes us about 3 hours to hike the top. The Belchen is told to has been a magic place, where Celtic Druids have done their rituals, above all it is assumed that it has been a kind of observatory of the Celts for to watch the movements of the planets. It is told that our Belchen here is one section of a big observatory of the Celts, being connected with the Ballon d´Alsace, the Petit Ballon, the Grand Ballon in France and the Jura Belchen in Switzerland. The name of the Celtic god of the sun is Belakus, so this region has been a place of sun-worship.

mountainside of the Belchen- forested grazing land- osier, hornbeam, pasture beech, mountain maple

It´s really the 21th of June in 2010, but it is cold today: 54F, a long cold winter, almost no spring, hard to believe. The steep rise makes us sweating, the trail is sometimes stony, sometimes a bit muddy, again no sunshine.

looking south from Belchen- clouds and the village of Neuenweg

Not to long ago during summertime the slopes of the Belchen has been a precious grazing land for the cattle of the farmers here. Cause of the rural exodus, this is history. The trees are coming back, at the foot of the Belchen you hike among coniferous woods, the slopes up hornbeam, pasture beech, moutain maple, osier and rowan is growing becoming more and more smaller,at the top of the Belchen you´ve passed the timber line.


bizarre pasture beeches and hornbeams

About halfway we were passing one of most strange forests I know, it´s like a magic forest, there have to be elves and dwarfs. The beeches and hornbeams growing here had been damaged by the cattle grazing here in the past. When the cattle has gone, the trees grew into bizarre shapes.

bizarre hornbeams and pasture beeches- my wife, my daughter

Passing this forest makes me always thinking about the appearance of Mother Earth, of how to come over with every kind of conditions. Every obstacle is a challenge for to try something new, for to create new designs…………..that´s evolution.

multifaceted trunk of a pasture beech
very, very old hornbeam

Due to this forest I call the Belchen hornbeam- mountain, even there are growing only a few but very impressive hornbeams. The so- called pasture beech is white beech damaged by the cattle, whereas hornbeam is a member of the birches.

Leaving the magic Belchen forest
rock and osier

Climbing up the Belchen every years midsummer made me thinking of what has grown within myself. Have my dreams come true? It is time to take care of the fruits, from now on days are becoming shorter. Hiking up the steep slope passing the beauty of the trees and rocks is a my way of  honouring all the trees I ´ve cutted for to make bows and arrows.

When we reached the valley again, summer has begun. Since 3 weeks it is really hot at the foot of hornbeam- mountain.

finally summer has begun!!

selfbow- basics harvesting wood, when winter has just gone

We live in the heights of the Black Forest in the very southwest of Germany, winters are usually long with a lots of snow.  The last winter wasn´t to snowy, but very icy and cold.

frozen maple

This winter we could enjoy pics like this, just by a look through the windows of our farm, frozen mountain- maples, such a mighty look, I´ll never be able to cut them for bow- staves.

So every year on Easter I go into the woods for to look which trees and branches usable as bow- staves had been broken down by ice and snow.  Usually my daughter came along with me since she is able to walk. Cause its Easter we´ve a can with us, for to fill it with water from a spring, we call it the Easter water. This is an old custom, we like it  as a starting shot for the spring.

This year we went to our so- called secret valley, a small valley, nearby a road, surrounded by a widely used hiking trail, but nobody has been around, whenever we went there. It seems to be more and more a phenonemon, that nowadays people are using always the same ways and trails, not taking notice of what´s beside them. They are hiking from A to B, the trail has nothing but to be done. They miss a lot, our secret valley too.

secret valley

Yes, amidst a lot of junipers. I guess this is one of the largest crops of junipers in Germany.

If you enter the secret valley you´ve to pass a guardian, I call the hawthorn- queen, everytime I pass her, she seems to be alive like an animal, she is unbelievable old.

hawthorn queen

She is just a bit sleepy after the long winter time, I like her gesture so much.

The secret valleys´creek, just one day after the ice has broken.

secret valley creek

Junipers are growing at the sunny slope of the valley, the opposite slope is grown over with birches, mountain maples, hazels and blueberries. I´ve even found some buckthorn there.

A closer look to the junipers made soon clear, that this winter has broken down some of them. I checked them if they are matching what a selfbowyer is always dreaming of.

died juniper
some dead juniper branches
more juniper

Finally I decided to cut one for today, some days later I asked the forest- ranger about the other branches and some dead maple and hazel. He allowed me to take them: take everything you need! The rangers here have a new problem, the woods are coming back, cause more and more farmers are giving up agriculture, looking for other jobs. The kids of the farmers are leaving their homelands, no one wants to be a farmer anymore, they are longing for clean and somehow more comfortable jobs.

There is a small back to nature- movement, by families like ours, but anyway the woods are enlarging again, the forest rangers are really thankful if anyone is cutting wood. I´m always wondering how quick a former  grazing land is  overgrown again with small brushes and trees.

The cut juniper- stave will make an elegant designed snaky bow. At first I´ll have to debark it, to split it and to dry it for a while. The upcoming making of a bow of this stave makes me nervous: cause I never succeded in making more than 300- 400 shots with a juniper- bow, they all have broken, but for to be serious in at least in 2 times I handled them to careless.

Juniper backed with sinew makes superior bows. Juniper is very elastic, but can´t withstand to much tension. So you should sinew-back a juniper- bow. I´ll update you.