Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ptarmigan Rattles

Most people 'round here say that its good luck to have a Ptarmigan "belly" (its actually their storage sac for willow buds, their food) hanging in their house. Somewhat like a "lucky rabbits foot" which isn't so lucky for the animals, but maybe for us?!

step 11

While at camp, the boys usually go out hunting on their own (boys: 9-14 yrs old) and come back with either ptarmigan or rabbits. Once in a grand while, they come home with a caribou, but usually, Ptarmigan and Rabbits. Unlucky Ptarmigan and Rabbits.

Who will bring US luck. I'm still not understanding that!

I remember having a few of these hanging around at any one time in our old house. They are all fragile and delicate. But after playing with them, they're not hard to make yourself.


First you have to have a son who will go hunting for you! (And it helps if they pluck, gut and all that good stuff too, like mine do. Momma taught them right!) A husband works too, or a daughter, but having a son is so much easier!

While they're doing their sonly duties and plucking, beheading, etc. Have them carefully go around the storage sac with their fingers and slightly pull on it. Its connected by two tubes. They're usually right next to each other, sometimes a little lopsided!

step 1

Make sure you have the entire sac and pull upwards and cut off.

step 2

Take it inside, and examine it, make sure you don't have any holes accidentally cut by an excited teenager who wants you to hurry up and give him back his ptarmigan, because "me and the other boys are going to make a fire and roast our birds and eat them outside." (Yes, they was HILARIOUS, watching them try to start a fire in the 20 above weather and "roast" their birds!)

step 3

If you want to give a Biology lesson to your six year old, this is a great time to talk about what Ptarmigan eat. They eat willow buds. There, biology lesson, check.

step 5

Then you get a few pieces of sinew, or if you don't have that handy, some dental floss works wonders. Take one of the holes, and tie it shut. I usually tie one half knot, then loop the string/sinew around and around, and tie another full square knot.

step 4

Again, if you're into homeschooling, or supplementing public school, or you just think its cool to share traditional knowledge and you don't want your kids to grow up squeamish, you can have your six year old do the above steps with you. (I mean, how else will they learn!?)

step 6

Then comes the fun part. You blow. Some people use a straw, but I just use my lips and blow into the other tiny hole. Seriously, we're going to eat the ptarmigan, there' s no need to be freaked out about sticking your lips on a storage sac. (No other comment!) Its sort of like a balloon that is very, VERY fragile!

step 7

And, of course, like any other balloon, hold tight and don't let it air out! Tie the other tube with more dental floss/sinew (folks, I don't really use sinew, I'm a floss kinda girl) very tightly.

step 9

And there you have it. Your very own good luck charm. Oh, and the kids LOVE playing with it too, you have to let it dry in the sun and it hardens into a semi-stable membrane balloon. Just don't let your dog have it, or he'll eat it for dinner. Buds and all!

step 10


Anonymous said...

What a great kid!! Maybe somebody would consider showing him where and how to set up a "roasting" fire? That young man is a good one.

Just call me Mommy said...

You fascinate me! I love reading your blog. I am so amazed at all the things your children can do.
I love how they can hunt and clean and then cook for themselves! They will grow up and make wonderful husbands!