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Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 6)

Hemlock (Softwood)

Although we now regard hemlock as an important lumber tree, early lumberman passed it by for more valuable white pine. Eastern hemlock is found from Nova Scotia westward to Minnesota and south to Tennessee.

While hemlock wood can be dressed for interior work, it most often used in rougher work such as bridge planks, sills, boxes and crates. Because this species retains its lower branches for many years, it wood is usually knotty. These knots probably contain the hardest wood of any eastern. They can nick an axe blade very easily. Hemlock is dangerous in camp fires, because it throws out more sparks than the wood of any other native conifer except perhaps cedar.

Early leather-makers leached hemlock bark for tannin, a dye and preservative. Indians poulticed sores and wounds with boiled and pounded inner bark. Settlers drank hemlock tea to induce sweating, and made brooms from the branch-lets

Elements of the Hemlock

Needles: Dark, shiny green and flattened, with two white lines below.

Cones: Similar to those of tamarack, but longer and not erect, pale green with slightly toothed scale margins, each fertile scale produces two winged seeds.

Bark: Reddish or greyish brown, changing with age from scaly or flaky to rough and deeply furrowed.

Wood: Buff with reddish tinge; tough ,splintery and fairly hard.

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 5)

White Spruce (Softwood)

This species has North American range slightly exceeding that of tamarack, and is the third most plentiful of Nova Scotia's softwoods. White spruce is our fastest-growing spruce, thriving on the moist, well drained soil along streams and lakes, and common on sandy soils along the coast.

Pulpwood is it chief use, followed by lumber, boxes, crates, and general construction. Straightness of grain accounts for its use in organ pipes, and arrow shafts. Reforestation is another common use for this species.

The Indians dug its long pliable roots for sewing birch bark on canoes and for decorating baskets. To prepare the slender roots they steamed coils of them for an hour or so in hot wood ashes, then removed and split them. Just before use, the roots were soaked in hot water. Examples of such spruce-root handicrafts can be seen in museums such as the
Halifax museum.

Although some people use white spruce for Christmas trees, its value is lowered by the rank odor. Moreover, like other spruces it quickly sheds its needles indoors unless the butt is placed in water.

Elements of the White Spruce

Needles: Four-cornered, long, sharp-pointed, blue-green, mounted spirally on little pegs and usually crowding toward upper side of twig.

Cones: Pendent, longer than those of red or black spruce.

Bark: Thin, scaly, ash-brown to silvery; inner bark streaked with rust-brown layers.

Wood: Nearly white to pale yellowish brown, with faint white dots, lightweight, soft, straight-grained.

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 4)

Red Spruce (Softwood)

This is our most valuable lumber and pulpwood species. Other uses include general construction, boxes and crates (because it imparts no taste to foods) boat-building, and ladder stock (where cross-grained wood is unsafe). The wood is often sold with the other two spruces as "spruce". On good sites it grows to 28m (92') tall and 0.3/0.6m (1'-2') in diameter. Normally the trunk is straight and fairly free of dead branches.

After balsam fir, red spruce is the most common softwood in Nova Scotia. Predominating in all but the Cape Breton uplands, and in western Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia's cool, moist climate ideal for the spruce, which also thrives in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the New England States, and ranges south in scattered pockets through the Appalachians to Tennessee.

The small branches make a good , springy mat to place under balsam fir boughs when making a camp bed or survival shelter. (Place the spruce under-side up, the fir face up)

Elements of the Red Spruce

Needles: Four-cornered, long, bright yellow-green, sharp-pointed, attached to tiny pegs. (part of the twig, not of the needle as in fir and hemlock)

Cones: Pendent, green to purplish-green in September, turning reddish brown and opening the first autumn to release two winged seeds per fertile scale, falling in winter. Cone scale edges nearly smooth.

Bark: Finely scaly, thin, reddish brown; inner black brownish yellow.

Wood: Nearly white to pale yellowish brown, lightweight, straight-grained, fairly strong, grain slightly more pronounced than in white or black spruce.

Dressing in Layers for Winter or Cold Weather.

Why should you dress in layers? The reason is that you can easily adjust or remove clothing to manage and achieve the best temperature that is comfortable depending on your level of activity or weather conditions to prevent sweating.

When you are in freezing temperatures and you being to sweat heavily, you become wet and heat transfer is greatly increased and can lead to hypothermia. "Sweat Can Kill You" in cold temperatures.

Base Layer:

A high quality base layer is really important part of the layering system. The base layer helps manage the moisture levels and helps wick sweat away from your body. The best materials for base layers are fleece or other synthetic material. Another popular natural material is wool and especially Merino wool, this type of wool is soft and less itchy then traditional wool and can still retain most of your body warmth even when wet. Wool can also be especially good around fires, as they don't melt from sparks or flying embers unlike its synthetic counterpart. Look for long sleeved shirt tops and long johns for the rest of your body.

Do not use cotton material in your base layer as cotton traps the sweat and holds moisture next to your skin. "Cotton Kills" in a survival situation.


The mid-layer is used to protect you from the cold by trapping the heat and keeping it close to your body. Once again fleece or wool clothing is great as a mid-layer and also find clothing that can be zipped up from the front for easy removal or to easily vent off access heat without having to strip off layers.

Shell Layer:

The shell layer keeps out the wind, rain and snow. Shell layers come in a variety of materials and styles; such as windproof fleeces, winter jackets, ski Jackets etc. Also consider breath-ability to help release the moisture. Gortex is one of the newest materials that offer waterproofness and the ability to release the moisture from the inside out.


If you do not protect your fingers, your chances of frostbite will greatly increase with extremely low temperatures and can cause a dangerous situation. You can start off with gloves that are not too thick as you will cover them with larger mittens. The layers system works well here, having the flexibility of gloves; that keeps your fingers protected from the elements and still have the dexterity to do tasks is a bonus when paired up with mittens. Mittens are best for warmth but are limiting in more precise tasks. You essentially are taking the pros and cons of gloves and mittens and making them both pros in the end.


A lot of heat can be lost from your head; so it’s important to have it covered up. Using a toque or head piece with ear flaps (Like the Russian Hats, I forget what they are called) can greatly improve comfort. Other Accessories like a scarf or Merino Wool Balaclava (Ski Mask) to completely cover the face, ears and head. Keep it simple and get it in wool or fleece.

Feet & Legs:

Winter boots are best in winter or sub-zero conditions, Hiking boots are not recommended in winter conditions as they lack the material to keep your feet warm in extended hikes or trips. Socks should again be wool or synthetic. Also consider liner socks; these fitted socks feature fabric technology that lets yarns next to the skin wick moisture to the outer sock to help keep your foot drier and warmer. By allowing some of the friction caused by walking to take place between the liner sock and the main sock, liner socks may also help reduce blistering. Always bring extra socks in waterproof containers or bags as increased activity can create a lot of sweat in the foot area.

You should have a good warm, windproof, snow/waterproof pair of winter pants. Ski pants are ideal for many winter activities and offer an all in one package for protection of your legs. If you don’t have access to ski pants, use thermal wool long johns , fleece jogging pants and some kind of waterproof/wind breaking material to help protect your legs.


The information above is some suggestions on how to dress for winter. Please do more research and do your homework when developing the layer system that works for you. Different situations will require different layering methods.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog and I hope this information helps you folks. If you have any suggestion please leave a comment.

Bushman Joe

The Survivalist Blog - Free Downloadable Ebook (A Must Have)

I have been a avid reader of M.D Creekmore and the survivalist blog. What I like about his blog is it's down to earth and is a perspective of the everyday person preparing for everything and sharing his experiences along the way.

There is an ever growing trend for preparing for "TEOTWAWKI" (The End Of The World As We Know It) and being prepared for natural, economical and/or political disaster is not a bad idea. You can start small and eventually build enough supplies to last 6 months, 1 year, 5 years or even 10 years. Such supplies include water, food, basic gear and medical supplies. When things start to fall apart these simple items can start to get hard to come buy. I find it funny when the first large snow fall hits and everyone is scrambling to get shovels at the hardware store and they are sold out in minutes, just imagine if something bigger or more serious happens and the power is out for weeks and stores are closed, most people would be shit out of luck.

So how does one start preparing? Well M.D Creekmore has done a lot of the research and posted numerous articles on his blog which he has packed into to his new Survival Ebook to help anyone with questions on how to start preparing for the unexpected. His new ebook " Its the end of the world as we know and I feel fine" is a collection of the most important things to consider when preparing for the end of the world or some kind of disaster.

I think M.D Creekmore has done a fabulous job in creating a great reference material that should be added to your library or collection of books. What I like the most about his ebook is that he has laid out the every basics. My favorite section is the food storage and how to prepare, what food are best to store and how to store them. The diagrams outlining food shelf-life is a bonus, M.D. Creekmore has created simple lists of gear that people should consider in there stockpile.

Even if your not into TEOTWAWKI I would suggest that you read it, you never know when this kind of knowledge will save your life! You can download it for free from his website or click on this link to download his ebook now.

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 3)

Tamarack (Softwood)

Tamarack is unique among native conifers in that each fall it sheds its foliage like the hardwoods. It also ranges more widely than most North American conifers, being found from Newfoundland and Labrador to the interior of Alaska. Its northern limits follow Hudson's Bay and the tree line; southward it reaches into the Lake States. In Nova Scotia it is found throughout; but never abundantly.

A fast-growing tree that tolerates no shade, this species is often forced by shade-tolerant species to inhabit poor open sites such as peat bogs and swamps. Rabbits like the needles, and ruffed grouse and other birds eat the seeds. The branchlets are sometimes browsed by deer. Porcupines seem to prefer its bark to that of most other softwoods species.

Boatbuilders still use tamarack to make the curved bow piece that fastens to the keel to receive the forward planking; here strength is essential. But today tamarack is cut chiefly for fence posts, poles, and ties. The wood is said to last over 15 years underground without preservatives. Most softwood posts rot within 3 years. As a fuel wood its gives off great heat but the creosote content are hard on stoves and stove pipes.

Elements of the Tamarack

Needles: Soft, blue green (turning gold/yellow in the autumn) ; in clusters of 12 to 30 needles on older twigs, but singly on new shoots.

Cones: Upwright, short-stalked, thin scaled, light brown, resembling a miniature, oblong rose; opening the first fall to drop seeds, falling the second season; bearing two winged seeds per fertile scale.

Bark: Thin, in young trees a smooth bluish-grey, later red-brown and roughened by fine scales.

The heaviest and hardest of native softwoods; white to yellow-brown and more or less oily.

New Hiking Gaiters

I now and again I will venture over to and look for outdoor gear. Usually I don't like ebay because sellers advertise there items cheap but extremely over charge you for shipping. Plus on top of that depending on how much your item is worth you might get hit with duty fees, if its being shipped cross border or international.

Well did I come across a great item, gaiters for my hiking boots. If you don't know or never heard of gaiters they are protective covers for your foot wear. when you are out in the bush you should always have a good quality hiking boots and joining the boots with a set of compatible gaiters, creates a good outdoor footwear combination. They will help keep out small rocks, pine needles, debris, snow and anything that finds a way into your hiking boot. The impact of an accidental step into a mud hole/water hole is reduced when wearing gaiters and do a good job of keeping the mud out. Also walking in the rain feels much better with gaiters forming a cover over the top of the hiking boot.

I bought these Gortex Gaiters on ebay and was surprise with the quality and price. I ended up paying $17.00 CND altogether with shipping included.

There are a few features I liked when I found these; firstly they were made of Gortex, which makes them water proof and breathable. Secondly instead of a big leather strap to secure the gaiters to my boot, you can use a shoe lace or 550 paracord. I think this is a great feature because the straps on other gaiters can wear away pretty fast if moving over rough terrain like rocks and such. You could be looking at $5.00 for each replacement strap. That can add up over time, where 550 paracord or shoe laces are a fraction of the cost. Also I probably won't carry a replacement strap in my pack as I already have enough gear in there, so being able to use rope or shoes laces to secure my gaiters is a win, win situation. If for some reason I lose my pack which has my 100 feet of 550 paracord I know that there always some right at my feet.

Typically gaiters can run you any wheres from $30.00 to $75.00, that being said these gaiters are not the end all or be all either. I myself think that for $17.00, is a good bang for your buck and if I do end up destroying or ripping these gaiters up, I won't feel bad cause I know it won't be expensive to replace.

Here is a link to the gaiters I bought on ebay;

Ebay Seller: manda_1213 (99.5% Positive Feedback)

Ebay Item Link:

Shipping for me in Nova Scotia was about 1-1/2 weeks, not bad for being shipped from china.

I hope this post will help someone complete their gear or improve their hiking experience with gaiters.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today,

Bushman Joe

Show and Tell

What I Got For Christmas

I thought this would be a fun post to see what everyone has gotten under their tree this Christmas. I'll start with what I got this Christmas and post my review of each item.

Leatherman Surge Multi-Tool

I did a lot of research on Multi-tools and I kept coming back to leatherman over any other brand that I have found. I have had several of the cheap mutli-tools over the years and have broken them all.

I replaced the cheap Mutli-tools with a small Swiss Army knife and I can't count how many times I have used it. I have been using my Swiss Army knife for the past 3 years. I have recently been doing things that require certain tools that my Swiss Army knife could not provide.

In my search for the mutli-tool that had the tools I needed, I found the Leatherman Surge that had almost every tool I needed on a daily basis. I need a mutli-tool that I could use at home, work and in the woods.

Things I look for in a mutli purpose knife/tool are; for more information please visit their website

  1. Large Blade & Small Blade
  2. Scissors
  3. Pliers
  4. Philips & Flat Head (Small & Large)
  5. Metal File
  6. Wood Saw
The Leatherman Surge and rest of of their product line is built to last, I love the beefy feel and solid stainless steel of the Surge. I'm a carbon steel kinda guy when it comes to my knives, but I can settle for stainless steel in my multi-tool. I will probably follow up with an update on how my Surge holds up to my tasks later this year. I would highly recommend this Multi-tool/Brand to any one looking for superior made tool.

In Canada the Leatherman Surge runs between $100 -$115 in most retail stores.

MEC High Camp Cookset

The high camp cookset is really nice for the price. This set will run you $35.00 at the Mountain Equipment Co-Op website or in-store.

These pots feature bail handles with stainless steel rivets, stepped bottoms to prevent warping, and lids that double as frying pans. These lids are rounded for easier cleaning. An aluminum pot gripper is included. I really like this gripper, its extremely light weight and can be used on the lid/frying pan or pots. This cookware set would feed 2-3 people depending on the food made.

This is a lightweight set, that I will put to good use. Having not used any other cook sets like Zebra or similar. I will definitely find out this spring and summer when I head out in to the woods.

I also received socks, clothing etc... not anything that is bushcraft/wilderness survival/camping or otherwise related items. I will post my survival pack and the items I do carry with me in a later post and also any new items that I might come across.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed my blog.

Bushman Joe

Wilderness Survival Links

Here are a couple of links to some great videos on Wilderness Survival. Check them out!

Here is a website from Dave Canterbury, he has got quite a few great videos to watch.

This website has a bunch of get articles on wilderness survival.

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 2)

Red Pine (Soft Wood)

Red pine is only a scattered tree in Nova Scotia, being found mainly in sandy and rocky soils on the lowlands of Colchester and Cumberland Counties, and in northern Queens and southern Annapolis Counties. The Natural range of red pine centers on the Great Lakes, but extends from Newfoundland (a few pockets) to southeast Manitoba. It is found both in pure stands and mixed with white or Jack pine. Jack pine tends to replace it after clear cutting or forest fire, unless special measures are taken to encourage the red pine seedlings ; so this useful species may in time become scarcer.

The sturdy wood and ease of rot-proofing make it ideal for wharfs and bridge pilings, hydro poles, and the like. It is also valued for reforestation, since it plants well and grows rapidly. Most pine species are susceptible to attack by fungus, especially young plantations of red pine and jack pine in frost-probe areas.

Elements of the Red Pine

Needles: The needles are in pairs of 2 and they are long, dark, yellow green in color and not twisted as in Jack pine.

Cones: Oval in shape and maturing in two years, they are much smaller then their white pine counter part. When the cones are mature they will be hanging and chestnut brown, and will open to release their winged seeds.

Bark: Orange-brown and flaky on the young trees, later breaking into flat red-brown plates.

Wood: Yellowish to reddish with a pronounced grain. Lightweight, straight-grained, heavier and harder than white pine; takes creosote very well, has fine dots in growth rings.

Trees of Nova Scotia (Part 1)

White Pine (Soft Wood)

This tallest and most stately of eastern softwoods has been prized in Nova Scotia since long before Halifax was founded. After the first sawmilling rig was set up near Riverport in Lunenburg County around 1632, white pine was eagerly sought and cut first for home construction, and later for shipbuilding and export.

This native of the Appalachian and Great Lakes regions is found throughout Nova Scotia,but is most common in the western half. Formerly its best development was on sandy or gravelly soils in Shelburne, Cumberland and North Colchester Counties, and in Annapolis Valley.

It grows in pure stand or mixed with red spruce, hemlock, yellow birch and sugar maple. Although white pine grows largest in such mixtures , up to 1.2 m (4 feet) across and 30 m (100 feet) tall, it is found also on bogs with black spruce and tamarack, and on dry sandy ridges with jack and red pine, probably as a result of forest fires.

White-tailed deer eat the needles and twigs, and red squirrels and crossbills extract the large seeds from the pine cones.

Elements of The White Pine

Needles: On older twigs the needles are in bundles of 5 (think of W-H-I-T-E), and grow singly on new shoots. The needles can grow as long as 3 to 5 inches long and are slender, soft and with a blue-green color

Cones: The cones tend to be longer than of other native pines and are cigar shaped when closed. The scales are thin bearing two 1/4" winged brown seeds that ripen in September.

Bark: On young trees their bark tends to be smooth, dark green or brown-tinged and somewhat fir-like but without resin blisters.

Wood: Highly prized for interior finish. Straight-grained, even-textured, durable, light weight; taking nails, planing and painting very well. The sap of the tree has a creamy white texture and look, with the heartwood being a pinkish color with a distinctly fragrant.

Happy New Year 2010

Happy New Year! This is the official launch of Backyard Bush Craft and I'm excited to have started this blog to share my knowledge and learning experiences in bush craft, hunting, fishing, camping and all things nature.