Thursday, August 30, 2012

NO FISHING! in Wareham


This sign board was recently placed by the MoE at the side of the small bridge that runs at the NE corner of my property.
I own the ground (pretty much) down to the creek from that bridge along the bank as it runs downstream to the west. The image shows the east side, where the creek is bounded both sides from the bridge as private property.

Some argument might be made about public access to the water course. I sure DO NOT allow anyone on my property for the purposes of fishing.

I have had it with all this....

From the north bridge, roughly SE.

This is how the once clean creek now looks. 
See the choking algae?
*That* is there because the Mennonite farmer who owns the farm just north of the water course on that east side things the Ontario Waste Management Laws just don't apply to him. He spreads his manure right down to the running edge of the creek. He is new to Wareham, and this *never happened* for the 20 years *before* he started farming that field.

Stream bank, NE foot of the bridge
See this?
These are coffee cups, pop cans, beer bottles - and empty plastic worm boxes. 
Pack out your garbage!
Plus tangles of fishing line. 
Do I even have to drone on about the hazards of tangles of nylon fishing line to birds - possibly my cats?

See this?
My cat brought home THREE of these yesterday.
They all were covered in gravel, so had been lifted up from the river bank and tossed on the roadway some place.
Never heard of 'catch and release'?
These were all freshly caught, a couple of hours would be my guess. No, I had not specifically noticed anyone over there yesterday.

See this?
You do read, right?
You do understand English, right?
You do know what ENDANGERED means, right?

Look at this again.
(Colours fade after a couple of hours dead in bright sunlight.)

Looks like an ENDANGERED Red Sided Dace to me.

You had better not let ME catch you fishing off MY bridge.

You ain't gonna like it, not one fucking bit...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Going past the surface...

A cover of "Call Me Maybe" performed by US Army Infantry Soldiers in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Original by Carly Rae Jepsen. Directed, filmed, and edited by the troops as a morale boost for our Soldiers here and our families/FRG back home. See you in just a few more months, and thanks for all your support!
Ok - I don't normally go for this kind of 'Daily Morale' kind of thing

But there is something else going on here.
The MASH Method :
'The only way to stay sane in an insane situation - is to act completely crazy'

Some of you reading this will understand completely.

And something else :
"19. The average age of the infantry combat soldier in Viet Nam was 19."

Look at how *young* those soldiers are.

Reguardless of what you think of the involvement of the USA in the Middle East, those young people did not *ask* to be put in that situation.
The politicians elected by those safe and sound at home decided to send them.
'Old men chose - young men die'
Same Same

Get home safe guys...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

'Hand Made'???

 This is a comment provoked by the blog post and following comments made at:

It should look handmade…

(I would credit the author by name, but there is little to identify, and I got referred there via a Facebook cross link)

It should look handmade” may be in fact a description used instead of the better “It should not be mass produced by machine”.

I am a professional artisan blacksmith. If you look *really* closely at pre-Industrial age forged work, you see that even in large grills with regular, repeated elements, are in fact all individually hand forged over the anvil, one by one. This creates slight differences to each. Not what happens if forms and jigs are used for the shaping. The net effect is subtle, but even the casual viewer notices something that tells them ‘hand made’.
A trained and careful hand *can* in fact produce effects indistinguishable from machine work. (I’d say this most often seen in highly skilled hand sewing!) This should be a goal to be sought as one develops as an artisan.

Roughly 1200 AD - Hand forged wolf head detail, about 2 inches long (Victoria & Albert, London)
In my own *modern* work, I stress designs that feature the greatest possibilities of shape and form possible by the aggressive use of hand forging methods. This does create objects very obviously ‘modern’ in their overall look.

Note that I am not talking about *mistakes* here, but an approach to the work itself. I most certainly have undertaken detailed reproductions and replicas of historic objects in the past. Here the fine details of the objects most often also must be created using not only hand work methods, but sometimes replica tools and historic processes. (Carving with a dremel bur will *never* look like carving with a fine chisel - and certainly is not a duplication of a historic process.)

This was a return comment by the mind behind opusanglicanum:

Since I do silversmithing ... as well as sewing, I can confirm that perfection is far far easier with sewing! It that very subtle "should" that gets to me. Looking handmade is a wonderful thing, but the should is used as justification far more often than its ever used as a compliment. The agressive handmadeness of some modern pieces is a separate category which is in itself a reaction against the conformity of our society, and in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing it can be fantastic - but to deconstruct any art form you have to know how to do it "properly" (for want of a better word) first. To deconstruct something without knowing how to construct it just vandalism. To use deconstruction as an excuse for not bothering to learn to construct is mental and physical laziness, and that's where the "should" becomes a vital distinction
(I have highlighted a critical point there)

I would recommend my own readers not only check out the opusanglicanum blog, but also take the time to run down the line of comments to this specific entry.

I have been stuck with how thoughtful the responses have been.
This most especially since the other 'check this out' suggestion from that morning turned out to be whining drivel. I had hopes that a discussion of 'what fails at re-enactments' might yield some meat, but it quickly descended to mere fat and fluff.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


*not* a simple 'gravel quarry'!

What I'm talking about here is the Melancthon Quarry.
The 'Mega Quarry'. The frackin' huge hole that is going to be blasted in just 10 kilometres south of Wareham. The open pit mine that is going to blow up the whole thickness of the Niagara Escarpment limestone that runs under my home area. The huge operation that will force me to dance around road train transports when I try to drive out of here to the east or south.

Both sides of this are resorting to distortions and half truth. The official company web site is perhaps more significant for what it does NOT say, than for what it does...

So - just what is this open pit mine going to look like?

Comparison : Marmora Iron Mine
The image above is a composite of the open pit iron mine outside Marmora Ontario (web site).
Click to open the image up, a better assessment can be had looking at it at the full image size of roughly 8 x 40 inches.

The open pit at Marmora is 75 acres / 30 hectares in size.
Visible depth (above water) estimated at about 100 feet
"Total mine production: 1.3 million tons of iron ore / 3.5 million tons of waste rock."
To keep the hole dry, 666,666 gallons per day need to be pumped out.
Operations stopped in 1979.
The total depth is 540 feet - so most of the pit is under water, now that the mine has been abandoned by the company.

So - how does the the image above compare to what is going to happen at Melancthon?

(Data from the official web site)

The open pits at Melancthon will total 1840 acres / 765 hectares.
Operation depth will average 186 feet / 56 metres (greatest at 261 feet / 80 metres)
Total estimated mine production: 1 billion tonnes
To keep the hole dry, 13,198,154 gallons per day need to be pumped out.

Compare the image of the hole above, with the intended operation in Melancthon:

80 times the size
Twice the visible depth (three times at the deepest)
At least 200 times the material to be removed
Twice the daily amount of water to be pumped

The most rational voice on the side opposing this open pit mine is the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task Force.

Some examples of the double speak and vague information being provided by the Highland Companies:

1) They emphasize that 'only 120 acres will be actively quarried at any one time'.
This hardly changes the size of the holes being left behind as they proceed.

2) They emphasize that the 'average depth is 56 metres, with a minimum at 30 and maximum at 80'. Note that '56' is a straight math average. How much of the total excavation depth is actually going to be at that average?

3) They don't actually give the yearly estimate on production. They do emphasize the total aggregate requirements for all of the Golden Horseshoe area - as if this operation was the only one in existence in Ontario. (How have we been managing the requirements to date?)

4) That water needs to be pumped *forever*. Exactly how is this company going to remain accountable for this expense?

My favorite example of the Highland Companies misinformation is this statement:
" Dufferin Country Road 124 is currently designated by MTO as a “truck haul route” and is therefore an appropriate route to transport aggregate."
 The company does not actually give a number for the indicated truck traffic. 
Voices in opposition estimate that one double length 'road train' tractor trailer unit will be required *every 50 seconds* down DCR 124.
This road is closed so often due to white outs from blowing snow that it has permanently mounted barriers placed at either end (brackets the open pit site).
The road that ends in near by Shelburne, and then dumps into Highway 89 then Highway 10? You know, the Highway 10 that runs right through Orangeville and Brampton?

We are being so screwed...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Iron Smelt at Earth, Air Celtic Festival

Pulling the finished bloom!
 Standard 'Norse Short Shaft' furnace (clay/manure/sand) using roughly 28 KG 'DARC Dirt 3' ore analog to produce an estimated 8 kg soft, nicely dense iron bloom.


Watsons Home Hardware, 
370 Bayfield Rd, Goderich. 

Watson's donated all the charcoal required for this successful iron smelting demonstration at the Earth, Air Celtic Festival on August 11.

Great work by my 'Ancient Iron' students!

There are a number of images available taken by Linda Wiebe posted on Facebook - HERE

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Diggin' in the Dirt 2 - Primary Bog Iron Ore

One of the objectives of the recent trip to Northern Newfoundland was to gather a supply of primary bog iron ore.  To that end, one evening a group of us made our to a location in St Lunaire - Griquet where I had discovered a source of ore in 2001.

Although iron bearing rock all across the northern hemisphere does produce natural deposits of iron ore at surface bogs, exactly where you might find a viable deposit is not so simple to discover. In the simplest terms, the chain of production is this:
1) The under laying bed rock needs to contain quantities of elemental iron.
2) The local geography needs to have areas flat enough to allow the formation of relatively stagnant pools of standing water.
3) The conditions need to promote the formation of bogs - with rotting vegetation producing low concentrations of tannic acid in those pools.

The classic signs of an active iron producing bog

This allows the acidic water in the bogs to leach out the iron from the under laying water. The water will have a distinctive brownish red colour, looking like weak tea (this primarily from the tannic acid content). There will be a distinctive 'oil slick' layer that appears on the surface of the water along the margins or in  smaller puddles around the larger main pools. This effect is caused by small amounts of iron, at the level of individual molecules, that has oxidized to Fe2O3 in contact with the surface air.
This all is sure sign that a viable deposit of primary bog iron ore may be nearby.

Thin 'pudding' deposits of iron oxide - Canadian one dollar coin for scale.

Small amounts of this surface oxidized material may precipitate out, forming a kind of 'pudding' like layer of Fe2O3. As small amounts, this material is very hard to gather in any useful quantity, as it contains a large amount of water. Left for long enough, especially as it would fall and collect into thicker mats at the bottom of pools or lakes, certainly this can form useful deposits. The 'lake ores' gathered in Sweden is just this type of deposit. This resource would be harvested using wide rakes mounted on long poles worked from boats historically.

To find a working deposit of primary bog iron ore, you need to find a small brook that tumbles downwards from the source bog. Once again a specific geography comes to play.  The tumbling of the brook over stones will inject oxygen into the stagnant bog water, thus creating molecules of Fe2O3.

Now comes the strange (and not entirely understood) part. There is a specific bacteria that is anaerobic, (oxygen hating) which lives along the boundary layer between the vegetation layer on the surface and the sterile subsoil. The bacteria absorbs the water as part of its life cycle, but considers the iron oxide as a poison. So the iron oxide is deposited, grain by tiny grain, in small sacks (called vacuoles) in its body. When the bacterial dies, these grains are left behind. The bacteria lives in colonies, so over years lumps of Fe2O3 are gathered and left behind in lumps under this action.

As the stream course wanders back and forth, these lumps are exposed along the margins. There is some relationship between the location of the source bog, the amount of elevation drop and size and action of the individual stream. (And sorry, I can't give you more than a very vague gut call on this. At this point I just have not had enough experience successfully gathering bog ore in the field.)

A section of the stream back cut and lifted back. 
The line of rust red is a thin deposit of primary bog iron ore particles.

The normal way to find a deposit of primary bog iron ore is to first examine the potential source bog for the indicators. Then you work downstream from the bog along the draining stream. Every so often (suggest about every 5 metres or so) you reach down along the side of the bank, feeling into the boundary between the top layer and the sterile gravel underneath. Primary bog iron ore can vary in size and colour. The deposit in the image above is an obvious rust red colour, the individual particles about the size of small peas. Individual pieces at other locations have ranged up to the size and shape of a thumb, even as large as fist size. Small amounts of other metallic oxides can vary the colour of the material considerably. The ore found along Black Duck Brook for example contains traces of manganese, which turns it a dark black colour.

The trick to all this is of course finding a large enough concentration and large enough volume of bog ore that it can be usefully gathered in quantities required for an actual iron smelt.
In 2001, the location where these images where taken yielded about a five gallon pail full of primary bog ore, when washed and dried roughly  *** kg total.  The image above was taken at almost exactly the same place as I had gathered over a decade earlier.
The bad news is that there has been a 'rune stone' 'discovered'  further up the rough trail leading to the upland source bog here. The curious have torn up the surface of the bog and ripped up the natural stream course. To make matters worse into the future, the local tourism board has decided to install a permanent gravel trail bed with drainage culverts up into the area. This all will have the result of pretty much destroying the natural environment that allows for the chain of elements needed for bog iron ore creation.

Regular readers have noticed a huge gap in postings of late. After getting home from the DARC at LAM 2012 adventure, I embarked on a problem plagued 8 days to the Goderich Celtic College and Festival (where I still am as I post this). More regular postings should resume in a week or so!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Trotting in the Bog - for Iron Ore (1)

Although the focus of DARC's recent interpretive program at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC was not iron smelting (unlike 2010), we did take the opportunity of being in Northern Newfoundland to do some searching for primary bog iron ore.

Readers have heard me expound upon natural iron ore formation before :

Finding Primary Bog Ore?

To be clear, what I am referring to here is as I defined 'primary bog iron ore' in my paper 'Adventures in Early Iron Production' (2006):
 " There is considerable confusion among the current generation of North American iron smelt enthusiasts about exactly which material the term 'bog iron ore' refers to. The term has come to describe materials with a wide range of physical and chemical properties, and seems to be applied regionally to describe any iron rich material, not obviously a rock ore, that is found in lumps near water. The term 'primary bog ore' is therefore proposed to describe ... material which:
- is newly formed
- is a product of the chain of iron rich bedrock, leached by tannic acid bog water then deposited via the action of bacteria along the margins of small streams immediately below the source bog. "
This is hardly the only deposit method for a natural bog iron ore. The sheets of clay like material that forms in plates on the bottom of shallow lakes and bog pools being another type widely used historically in places like Sweden. In earlier visits to the L'Anse aux Meadows area, I had spent a little time 'prospecting' for primary bog iron ore. One wrinkle is that gathering of any kind of raw materials is *not* permitted on Parks Canada grounds.

One of our group is a geologist, so had an interest in looking at the actual chemistry involved in iron ore formation. To that end, we did secure permission to take some water samples along the course of Black Duck Brook. This is the small stream which cuts down from the upland bogs through the centre of the LAM archaeological site.

Finding a viable deposit of primary bog iron ore is 'easy' - but very time consuming. The physical arrangement of the primary elements (rock, bog, stream) have to be just right. The best way is to wander along the course of a stream, every so often reaching down the side of the bank and running your hands along the interface between the upper vegetation layer and the sterile gravel soil underneath. The bacteria involved is anaerobic, so if the organic layer is too thick, you can not easily reach the deposit locations.  At LAM this level is down roughly 12 - 18 inches. Your best chance is along the outside edge of a bend in the stream flow.

When I was part of the week long research group for Parks Canada in 2001, archaeo-metallurgist Arne Espelund had shown us some tips for finding possible stream edge deposits. One had forgotten was 'check just downstream of a spruce close to the bank'. Staff interpreter (and the blacksmith in the Norse Encampment) Mark Pilgrim would remind me of that tip later.
'Some lovely filth down here...'
For the exploration at LAM itself, we would start where the brook is cut by the entry road to the Visitor's Centre. The road roughly runs along the height of land point, marking the flatter land containing the bogs, and the start of the downward slope that forms the bowl running down towards the archaeological area (on the shore). This line is also roughly the original treeline of 1000 AD. Black Duck Brook curves back and forth across this descending bowl of bog, which is dotted with small clumps of stunted black spruce.

The image above shows Marcus and myself searching along the creek bank, just down from the road. (At the end of an interpretive day, so we are still in VA costume!) The material we found along the upper reaches of the brook was a dark, almost black colour. I had been told in 2001 by Espelund that this was a sign of slight amounts of Manganese present. Breaking open a nodule would reviel the red iron oxide layers.

The joke involved here is that Marcus is just about to check a spot where I had found the first traces of a bog ore deposit. There were some small fragments at that location, most about the size of a peanut. As he had never collected the material in the field before, he was a bit uncertain of just what to look for. I had moved along another 3 metres or so further downstream to check again. Marcus would hold up a couple of small pieces, "Is this it Darrell?". Meanwhile, the second spot proved excellent. "Yea Marcus, it looks like this", says I, holding up a lump about the size of my fist! Moving another 3 metres down further and the deposit tapered out yet again.

The lesson there is that the exact conditions required for a thick deposit of primary bog iron ore are very specific. There is a combination of the conditions within the bog itself, then some variable of distance, elevation, volume, motion within the draining stream. I think I might be developing some kind of visual and experiencial feel for this, but with only a few attempts at prospecting (and finding!) bog ore, this might be an illusion.

The next day, Mark took me off to show me the 'secret special spot' where he gathers small amounts of ore to show to visitors to the site. Guess where?

Note to my readers:
Just home from DARC to LAM 2012 - and off in a few hours to a week at Goderich Celtic. My internet connections, and available time, has been spotty at best. I do have a number of pieces in mind based on the LAM trip especially. Bear with me and I will get some new materials here as quickly as I can manage.

February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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