Spring here in North Wales has begun with some glorious sunny weather. As well as making sticks my winter has been busy harvesting shanks from local woodlands and collecting rams horns from various places around the country. Horns and shanks are the core materials for my walking and working sticks. The shanks are not difficult to find and each year i probably cut up to five hundred, mainly hazel but also some Holly and Blackthorn. Once cut, these will season for at least twelve months before they can be used.
Good quality sheep horns however are increasingly difficult to find. When I began stickmaking thirty plus years ago, the supply was plentiful, mostly from local abbatoirs and from local farmers. Now the demand for them is high, mainly due to the popularity of stick making but also for other craft uses for the horn. Inevitably that demand has pushed up the price of raw horn. Buffalo horn too is difficult to obtain and i have not been able to purchase any for more than a year so eventually when my stock runs out, these will no longer be available.
It is late March as i am writing this update. The weather is sunny and warm and luckily my workshop has a plentiful stock of rams horn and hazel so back to my stickmaking .