Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beating the Bounds

Okay not really, as a Hobbit Sherriff only does this when the shire is being threatened and as my farm is not being threatened at the current moment I went strolling around looking for strange folk passing through and livestock who had strayed away from their homes.

I was not lucky enough to find any strange folk as a hobbit may prefer it that way, but I did come across a horse who had let itself out. There was really only one thing to be done so I started waiving about my arms and coaxing it back to the gate. This however proved to be useless at the start and being that the horse was much larger than I, I gave way to that fact and let it run passed me down the hill and into the woods. After this I ran to the barn where I knew there would be some food to try and lure the beast out into the open. This did in fact work and into the pen she ran. I was very tired at this point and was ready for second breakfast.

In my research of the Hobbit Sherriff's on which there is little information I have found that herding livestock was a common occurrence. They didn't do much in the way of real police work. This is a very fun portrayal and I hope to find more information about them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Concerning Pipe-Weed or Herblore of the Shire

We know that Hobbits were the first to smoke the plant of the genus Nicotiana. Merry Brandybuck in his book "Herblore of the Shire observes that the plant was not native to Middle-Earth and most likely brought over the sea by Men of Numenor. It grew in Gondor and spread through out Middle-Earth.

In 2670 of the 3rd Age Tobold Hornblower was the first to plant and cultivate a certain specimen of Nicotiana that he observed was good for smoking. It grew nicely around Longbottom in the South Farthing and soon he had several varieties. Old Toby, Longbottom Leaf and Southern Star. Another variety was called Southlinch, grown near Bree.

I would like to observe some of the pipes and containers a Hobbit would have on his person or in his home. Above we see two different kinds of pipes. Both are clay but one is slightly more decorative than the other, maybe pointing to the fact that a higher class Hobbit such as Bilbo would have smoked it where as the other would have been the common Hobbits pipe.

Here we see a common Hobbits pipe-weed container. It is made of cow horn with the lid and bottom made of wood.

This Hobbit needs to refill.

This is a pipe tamper used for packing down burning pipe-weed. Historically pipe tampers were made in various designs and shapes.

Here we see a more well to do Hobbits (possibly Bilbo's) version of the container. This is also horn with a more detailed lid and bottom. And the inscription tells you
what it is for.

Eventually pipe-weed spread to many cultures including Dwarves, Men and Wizards. We know that Gandalf was quite fond of the stuff and smoked with Bilbo and the Dwarves at Bag End. That passage describes Gandalf with a short clay pipe, unlike the long wooden pipe in the films.

So take out your favorite pipe, fill up your bowl and think on these things awhile.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Hobbit Film Dwarves

After seeing the newly release photos of the Dwarves for the Hobbit film, and rolling it around in my head for a while to see if they would grow on me I have to say that I am really disapointed. Now, I know that Peter Jackson has broken some rules as far as staying close to the books in the LOTR films, but I feel these dwarves are so far off from what Tolkien described that it is hard view them seriously. Lets look at what Tolkien wrote...

The first dwarf to enter Bilbo's humble hole was Dwalin.
"It was a dwarf with a blue beard tucked into a golden belt, very bright eyes under his dark green hood."

For starters I haven't seen a colored hood so far yet. Maybe they will be in the film later. If not I that's what will disapoint me most.

The second dwarf to enter was Balin.
" A very old looking dwarf on the step with a white beard, and a scarlet hood..."

Kili and Fili are next.

" It was two more dwarves, both with blue hoods, silver belts, and yellow beards; and each of them carried a bag of tools and a spade."

Now Kili and Fili are shown in the Hobbit film pictures with no tools but swords, no blue at all, and only one of them has a yellow beard that isn't very long.

I won't go through the rest of the dwarves cause I feel I have made my point. Maybe on screen they will look better to me. I think there is to much WOW influence to their clothing. Please let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Traveling Hobbit Part 2 continued : Day 2

And here are some pictures of the trek the following day after meeting up with Jake Moyle at Bree we continued on towards the wilds...

"There and back again"

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Traveling Hobbit: Part 2 : Into the Wild

Now that I have been sitting on this article for several months now I am finally able to post it.

Into the wild saw us going on a night and day trek through the country side heading west beyond Bree. The first night I was by myself (except for my wife hanging around to take a few photos) and the following morning I was joined by my friend Jake Moyle.

Day 1: This first picture shows me setting out on my journey. I have everything a hobbit might need on a longer journey.
-Copper cooking pots
-small knife
-haversack with bread, sausage, potatoes and carrots
-wooden ladle
-cooking knife
-extra shirts

In this next picture I am building my fire. Those of you who click on the photo and zoom in the fire may notice that the flame is crawling up my cross sticks. Well I would love to tell you that I did that on purpose to prove a point, but I in fact did it on accident and STILL can prove a point. The point is that you should always make sure your cross sticks are green, and not dry wood. And that they also are well away from the fire as to not burn.

So because I was losing light, I decided to just have my cold meal of bread sausage and carrots. I had hoped to make a stew with the potatoes and carrots and some seasoning I had but I was unable to.

And my cooking pots went unused for the night...

And I decided to have a pipe and call it a night.

Basic Ranger Kit (by Greg)

A Basic Ranger Kit should be rugged. Function is far more important than appearance if you intend to be out in the wilds for any length of time, and wimpy fabrics will be torn to shreds in no time. So let’s talk about fabrics.

Thankfully, historically appropriate fabrics tend to be quite durable. The people who wore them required durability of their garments, so it is in our best interests to seek out the materials that are accurate and appropriate for the period, because we know that they will work. Starting out with the right materials can and will mean the difference between making it once and having to do it over and over again.
For purposes of Rangering, I’ve found that Wool, Linen, and Canvas are the ideal materials for any clothing project, not counting leather. They will hold up to abuse, can handle weather, and can keep you warm.

Wool is my favorite for clothing, as it is thick and durable, and keeps you very warm, while being fairly water resistant. Canvas is my favorite for cloaks and other weather-repellent coverings because it is naturally water resistant, but not as heavy as wool. A cloak that is too heavy can become uncomfortable very quickly, as it will pull more on your neck than a lighter one. Linen I prefer to use mostly during the summer months, as wool is far too warm for hiking about in, and linen breathes nicely. You can easily use it to make undergarments, however, as well as for lightweight tunics and pants to wear under wool layers to prevent the rough wool from causing itching.

Now that we’ve discussed materials, let’s talk about style. Rangers should, above all, wear relatively simple clothing. They were from a line of Kings, as Tolkien wrote, but their raiment was definitely simple. They were tall men of noble bearing, but that doesn’t mean they walked around in luxurious robes and the like. Let your personality show the man or woman of Royal lineage; let your clothing show simplicity, functionality, and comfort.

A basic tunic can be made very easily and inexpensively, and will last you years. In addition, a tunic can be used by various cultures throughout middle earth by layering different pieces of clothing and equipment over it, so every Middle Earth Re-enactor should start out with a good tunic. I have a linen one for summer use and a dark green, heavy wool tunic that I wear over it which can handle winter weather, including snow. David, pictured throughout this article, is pictured wearing a light linen tunic.

Pants are a simple affair. Straight-legged drawstring pants can be easily and cheaply made, and, like tunics, can be used within a variety of cultures. I wear heavy wool pants most of the year because they are thick and durable, but I am working on a heavy canvas pair for summertime. David’ pants are of a medium weight canvas, and are comfortable and breathable, but still heavy enough to be durable.
Cloaks are one of the most defining pieces of a Ranger’s kit. Tolkien absolutely LOVED cloaks; he writes about their use by all of the free peoples of middle earth, and with good reason! They are extremely useful. They have hoods, which are useful for weather as well as camouflaging the face, yet they can easily be stretched out as a shelter/tent, or used as a blanket on chilly nights. Cloaks come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, so we will only talk about two: the half-circle, and the rectangle.

The half-circle cloak is what most people are used to seeing hanging off of people’s backs. They drape very nicely over the shoulders, and flow quite prettily. I use mine as a tent on a regular basis. Rectangle cloaks are simpler, being a rectangle with a hood attached. They are also lighter, as they use less fabric, but this size difference makes them harder to use as a tent or for other large applications. However, they are really easy to bundle up your whole body in, in from shoulders on down, while a half-circle will only wrap around part of you due to its shape. The decision is up to you. I prefer to experiment back and forth with both. David’s, seen below, is of heavy weight wool, is dark green for concealment, and is of a rectangular design.

Boots are the most critical part of a good Ranger kit. If you don’t have proper, comfortable footwear, you will be miserable. Your boots should most definitely be made of leather, as no other appropriate material is as durable or authentic. Leather is simply the only choice. That being said, a well-fitted pair of well-made leather boots may end up being the most comfortable shoes you own. Tolkien described Aragorn’s boots as being “…high boots of subtle leather.” They should be soft enough to flex as your feet move, yet firm/stiff enough to offer protection to your feet should they get banged around in the wilderness. Thankfully, leather is just the material to make those requirements happen.

Unfortunately, Boots are not incredibly easy to make. If you must buy, shop carefully for boots, as there are a LARGE number of boots on the market that are intended exclusively for Renaissance Faire use. These will set you up to be miserable, not to mention missing a large chunk of money.

If you can make your boots, all the better!

Lastly, to top off our basic Ranger kit, a good leather belt is necessary. First, it prevents your tunic from getting in the way throughout the day and during any potential battles, and it will also give you a great place to hang all kinds of stuff. Someday, when you get a sword, you’re going to want a belt to hang it on, and every good Ranger should have a pouch on his or her belt to carry various things.
Once you have the basics put together, you can happily go out into the wilds as a full-fledged Ranger and begin practicing your skills. That being said, this basic kit is designed with one thing in mind: improvement! Experiment with color combinations that help you blend in with the terrain in your area. Experiment with other pieces of clothing or armor that fit into Tolkien’s descriptions of Rangers, and layer them over or under these essential basics to help give some additional life to your persona. Add a pair of leather bracers on your arms for protection and for archery. Perhaps you’d like to add a leather vest, jerkin, jacket, or chain maille shirt. Want to shoot a bow? Make a quiver!

Now that you’ve got the basics put together, your job as a Ranger is to interpret Tolkien’s writings to find out what sort of gear would be appropriate, get in it, and then get out into the world. More articles are on the way to expand on these basics, including camp tools, weapons, cookware, and sleeping arrangements, so be sure to check back! In the meantime, be creative, and always look back to the books!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Natural Shelter by Greg

You’re alone, a traveler coming from the Gladden Fields headed south, through the Dimrill Dale to Lorien. Clouds are darkening over the mountains to the west, and coming in quickly. The Sun has already disappeared, but the moon in the east is, for the time being, bright enough for you to see. You left the village later than you should have, so you need to find a place to hole up for the night. You didn’t plan for this, so you’ve no tent with you…just a blanket barely big enough to keep you warm. A chill north wind begins to pick up. You shiver against the cold, blowing through your clenched fists.

This doesn’t look good.

There are three main points I look for in naturally-occurring shelters. The most important, generally, is protection from the wind. Wind can and will make your night absolutely miserable. Your body heats up a thin layer of air around you, which is stolen away by wind. A good, solid windbreak can mean the difference between sleep and freezing. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A rock can do the trick just as well as a tree, and sometimes all you need is a one foot tall shelf eroded out of a hillside to lay up against.

The second point I look for in a natural shelter is the shape of the ground. I always want it to be self-drained. You want to be lying on a high point relative to the features on the ground. If you’re in a small bowl, any rain that might fall nearby will funnel straight to you and you’ll be soaked. The only reason I think that natural drainage in the ground is more important than an overhead shelter from the rain is that you can find a well-drained location absolutely anywhere; even if there’s no windbreak. You can’t always find overhead shelter, but with a well-drained location in a rainstorm you’ll be alright, if not a little wet, and if you’ve got a decent windbreak, you might even stay dry.

Third, the one thing that most everyone looks for first: I check for overhead shelter from rain/snow. The main reason that this is of lowest priority in my book is that if I’ve found a decent, well-drained windbreak, odds are there are some sticks and branches nearby that can be leaned against the windbreak for an overhead in just a few minutes. Still, a naturally occurring overhead shelter will usually do better than a cobbled-together one, so if you can find one, by all means.

Though generally unnecessary for survival situations, there is a fourth point that Rangers and Travelers alike in Middle Earth should look into, and that is concealment. You may have a fantastic windbreak that is well-drained with a nice rock overhang for overhead protection, but you may also be leaning your back against the only large rock for three miles in any direction in the wide-open plains of Rohan. You may not be visible to the naked eye, but any patrol of Orcs or Men crossing will gravitate towards the rock, and find you there. Find shelter that does not draw attention, is unobtrusive, and, preferably, keeps you out of sight. You can’t always have concealment, but it’s a good thing to look into.

Large Rock is most always an excellent source of natural shelter. If you see large rocks in the distance, make a point of looking them over. Rock is, for the most part, immovable, solid, and dependable. It’s not going to break down on you in the rain, and it won’t blow over in a windstorm. The first thing I look for in a rock is, of course, wind direction. Rock, as a material makes, without a doubt, the most dependable windbreaks. That doesn’t mean that every rock will be a perfect one, but every good windbreak made of rock will be a better one.

Large trees are great in that they can offer a windbreak and at least a mild overhead cover at the same time, but watch the ground. Exposed and buried roots can be a curse. First, they often make the ground uneven, whether they are buried or exposed, which makes sleeping uncomfortable. This is something we can usually suffer through, but it creates another problem. The way roots grow tends to funnel rain in towards the tree to soak into the ground and find the roots. With my luck, that usually means the water goes directly to where I’ve chosen to lay down. Trees can be well-drained just like any other patch of ground. Just be extra careful if you’re expecting rain.

Caves are a favorite with a lot of people, but caves can be dangerous in themselves. The air coming out of a cave is almost guaranteed to be several degrees cooler than the outside air, as it never sees the sun. Caves and abandoned mines also have a tendency to collapse without warning. If you must use a cave, stay as close to the mouth as you possibly can. Lastly, a cave can easily wind up being some big-to-do Goblin’s backdoor as well, so proceed into Caves with caution, and bring a Wizard with you.

Dry creek beds offer many excellent opportunities at shelter. They often have deeply undercut banks and vertical shelves that the water has cut away during the wet season, providing easy concealment, soft sandy bottoms to sleep on, and big, robust windbreaks, often covering two directions. Often there will be large trees whose roots have become exposed due to the bank eroding away. These exposed twists of roots are often easy to lie beneath, and weaving branches or rushes between the roots to patch up the spaces between them for overhead is a simple matter. In the image shown, there is a large mossy fallen tree branch off to the right that would be excellent for putting together a lean-to out of materials on hand if one has time to prepare. The danger here, in a dry streambed, of course, is rain. If you are 100% sure that there will be no rain, that’s fine. I’d still recommend finding the highest patch of ground within the creek bed to ensure that, on the offhand chance that there is rain, it will go around you. At least, as long as the rain is light, it will. If it becomes a torrential downpour, you will obviously need to seek shelter outside the natural drainage.

There are many more things one can find to incorporate into a shelter, such as a surface to reflect heat off of to direct the warmth of your fire into your shelter, but these main key points will get you by when you’ve little time to construct something more formidable. A night spent in a natural shelter with these three basic needs covered won’t be the most comfortable one, but it will suffice. You will stay dry, for the most part, you won’t freeze to death, and you can bet you won’t forget your shelter tarp again!

The wind has picked up now, but you can only hear it. Your back is to a large, curved rock that extends a short distance overhead. A large log with some pine boughs leaning on the rock partially block the moonlight streaming in, and you watch as the clouds slide across the sky like a curtain, snuffing out the stars like tiny candles until all is black and it begins to rain. You smile. Your hands slide back and forth over a small bed of coals in the corner, and then you curl up against the massive rock, bundled warmly in your blanket, falling asleep to the sounds of the rain upon the branches overhead.

~ Greg

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hobbit Boots

We have discovered through Tolkien's writings and original drawings that Hobbits wore boots. In the East Farthing Hobbits were descendants of the Stoors and during muddy and rainy days wore dwarven boots. And also the East Farthing Hobbits grew beards.
(source: Concerning Hobbits:Prologue:Fellowship of the Ring)

So I have put on my dwarven boots for a little trek today out into the Shire. We have had rainy weather the past days and the snow is beginning to melt so it made a fine setting to test out Hobbit boots!

The rest of the photos can be viewed here:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Traveling Hobbit: Part 1 "A Stroll to the Dragon"

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

The traveling Hobbit is not something you see much of outside of the Shire. However Hobbits roam the Shire freely walking here an there to visit there friends and relations or sometimes down the road to the Green Dragon or the Ivy Bush.

Lets take a look at what a hobbit grabs as he goes out the door of his hobbits hole...

Here is his pipe. This pipe is made of clay and has been smoked plenty by the hobbit, as you can tell by the black stained bowl and stem.

Here is his pocket handkerchief. If you remember in the Hobbit, Bilbo leaves with out them. Gandalf brings him a whole bundle of them along with his pipe.

Here is a apple that he might have stuffed in his pocket. Sam is given a whole pocket full when the four hobbits and Strider leave bree. Sam was fond of apples.

Here is a little knife a hobbit might stick in his belt to shave off an apple peel or to skin a rabbit if he was hunting. We know that Sam knew how to skin a rabbit.

Here's the waistcoat and breeches. The waistcoat is made of wool and the breeches are a cotton canvas.

Here is the coat over the waistcoat.

To top off the coat and waistcoat a hand woven wool scarf has been put on.

Now he is dressed and ready for the walk to the Green Dragon or cross country an hour or so to his cousins house in the next town to sup and spend the night.
At his side is a haversack for his apple and maybe some extra pipe-weed to give to his cousin as a "thank you" for supper.
His walking stick is made of hickory and provides a good crutch to rest on while he stops along the road to smoke his pipe.

I will posting some more pictures of the clothes and such up close in a second post tomorrow (the computer is loading slow).

Remember to check back for Part 2 "There and Back Again" to be posted in April.

I plan to go on a 2 day trek dressed in Hobbit gear and have pictures of my pack, all I am carrying along with pictures of the journey.

-Jake Book

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Hello and welcome to Into the Wild, a publication of the Middle-Earth Reenactment Society.
The goal of this publication is to provide you with researched and accurate information about Middle-Earth and all it's various cultures.

The goal of the Middle-Earth Reenactment Society is:
#1 To form reenactment groups across the country. For instance...

Say you are a fan of the Ithilian Rangers. You contact a few friends, fellow Tolkien fans, and decide to start a "group" or "unit" dedicated to Ithilian Ranger portrayal. You research Tolkien, outfit yourselves to the BEST of you ability and then take that knowledge to the wild and camp and trek in your gear.

#2 To hold various reencactments based on Tolkien's world

#3 To have FUN!

This blog will be a resource for members of the society.

We will be posting articles on everything. Hobbits, Elves, Men, Dwarves, Wizards Orcs etc...

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for future articles.