Aux Alimente DuPay
"Living off the Land"
LIVING OFF THE LAND: Must spend at least three days and two nights living off the land in company with no more
than 3 other people.
No food can be brought in with you.
All substenance is to come from what you can find in nature.
It is expected that you are able to find food and that you provide your share of food for the group.
So far we have 5 sisters who have completed this requirement! Two of them have done it Three times.
2) Jill (Stargazer)
3) Sandy (Lays with horses)
4) Sandra (Swamps)
5) Chris (She who lights the way)
Alice being the first one to do this. She spent time alone in the mountains for 3 days. She enjoyed it so much she was going to do it again for a longer period of time. She used wild edible greens for Salad and ate Berries. Alice is the modest type and doesn't like you talking about her accomplishments.
My Aux Alimente DuPay
"She Who Lights the Way"
Jill and Sandy had already done 2 Aux Alimente DuPay's so I felt confident when they said they had scouted out
an area for us to camp and that all would be well. Three weeks earlier they had scouted the area and found the creek had
fish and there were grouse, berries and Yampa to harvest. I took Gabriel, 2 yrs old, and I knew it would not be easy to do
my share of the hunting and gathering with him along but I wanted to try. I couldn't take the chance of him eating something
that didnt agree with him, or him going hungry, so I took food from home for him.
There were cockleburrs everywhere and we constantly were picking them out of our clothes and hair. I had red wool
plugs at the bottom of my dress that quickly filled with burrs and turned into scouring pads against my legs. I ripped them
out within an hour. Another reason I say the trappers wives did not live in wool only.
Sandy, Gabriel and I filled the canteens and cook pots with water, while Jill scouted for yampa. She found a couple just
for tasteing and we now knew were to find them.
We collected hawberries, chokecherries, rose hips, elderberries, and a very small amount of currents and service
berries. The service berries, elder berries and currents were raisins or very sparse because it was past their season,
but there were tons of the others. The service berries were the very best but there was only a handful of the them and I
ate almost all of them! They were so good!
Chris and Gabe picking Berries
We had also collected fireweed but it had gone WAY past season to seed,
which we did not know until we had taken a bite of them. Have you ever sucked in when blowing on a dandelion after it
had gone to seed? Perfect example of what fire weed seed is like, only 3 times more seed. Fluff! Kinda like sucking
on a hole in a feather pillow.
Our Berry havest
We set up camp and I was so excited! Not only was I with 3 of my favorite camp buddies but I was fulfilling a dream
come true of doing my Aux Alumenti Du Payees requirement. Jill and Sandy set up a lean-to of their own and Gabriel and I
were in our own. Camp went up quickly. Hmmm, it was so nice to not have an excessive camp, but only what we needed for
3 days, minus food and a husband.
Chris at camp
We had a berry snack and Jill and Sandy went fishing. Gabriel had gone down for a nap so I couldnt leave camp. I
didnt want him to become a snack or to wake up and be terrified because he was in a strange place. I watched them walk
up and down the stream banks about 75 yards from camp. I wanted to fish something terrible also but I knew my turn would
come. I took out my bow and looked for squirrels and the grouse they said were here, three weeks ago. I ended up
shooting cow pies for practice, and that was my trophy hunt.
Sandy and Jill returned from fishing empty handed. It was evening by then and we werent quite hungry so we made
some rose hip tea, snacked on berries and a couple of yampa roots Jill had found. We had a very nice evening around the
fire, while entertained by a 2 year old seeking attention the silly way, and then turned in for a great nights sleep, after
picking the cockle burs from our clothes.
The next morning we all tried fishing again. We tied new hooks and used grass hoppers and mayfly grubs we had dug
from the creek bank, which was fun. We just knew the fish could not resist the grubs. Funny, we didnt see any fish in the
stream like Jill and Sandy had seen 3 weeks ago? Boy, the stream is a lot lower than it was then, too! We caught no fish.
Ok, Jill is resourceful and experienced so she caught a tin of grass hoppers. Hold on to the gut, twist the head
Field dressing grasshoppers
Put them in a tin with a lid and cook until you can smell them. Take them out, pull the wings and legs off, salt
and eat. I literally could not get the disgusted look off my face. Jill actually told me "dont look at me like that"! I then
took the look off my face and laughed because I hadnt realized my expression looked as though we were getting ready
to eat my child. Once they were done, we commenced to eating them. They have the flavor of overcooked, gamey elk
meat. Once I took the first bite and realized I wasnt going to dry heave I commenced to munching. Gabriel saw us
eating and he just had to have some. We had to rush our grasshopper meal because Gabriel wanted them! He loved
them!! The hoppers, along with a hand full of berries, filled the void for a while.
Chris and Gabe eating Grasshoppers
Crazy stopped in for a little while to get watered and dined by we women but we didnt dine him too much. He gave
us the idea of planting our poles and weighting them with rocks. We went for another walk up the stream and hunted for
more grasshoppers. While looking for nice plump grasshoppers Jill and I came a cross a snake. An unknowing
bystander may have laughed at Jill and I stomping after a snake, trying to step on its tail. Once stepped on, Jill
handed me her knife and I cut it's head off and went on looking for more Grasshoppers or another snake. You gotta
have the nice big grass hoppers because the little once are all exoskeleton. We all met back at camp and watered
and dined on grasshopper and snake.
Crazy had a jug and homemade Italian dry salami, and we almost killed him for eating it in front of us. More rosehip
and horse mint tea and that was dinner. Crazy wasnt impressed with our dining fare so he, and his brand new shiny
braintan pantaloons went home.
We had another wonderful evening around the fire, with a couple more handfuls of berries, tea, excellent company,
WFT business, Gabriel entertainment and beautiful stars. We all went to bed but sleep was thin for me. The extra
energy of foraging, as well as carrying Gabriel when he got tired, really burned calories. I was so hungry that it kept
me awake. I would wake up and drink water to fill my stomach but then I had to get up to answer the call of nature.
Not quite the restful, peaceful night like it was the night before. I wonder what it would have been like 3 weeks earlier!?
When we got up the next morning it was very difficult to not share Gabriels breakfast with him, but I resisted.
Coffee and a couple more berries, which wasn't as yummy as they were on day one, and we were off to try for fish again,
with no success, and to dig yampa, which we ate as fast as we could dig it. I was feeling a little week and nauseated but
I knew the energy spent digging would pay off. Jill doesnt quite weigh enough to sink a shovel in dry soil so I had to stand
on her shoulders, I mean, dig the yampa.
After putting something in our stomachs, we went back to camp and packed up. I had Gabriels food tin just waiting for us when the clock hit 12 noon, the end of the Aux Alimeti DuPay.
Yes, I got pretty hungry but I would not change anything during that camp. I would have liked more food but I
enjoyed myself. Jill and Sandy then told me that this was their leanest Alimenti camp. There were a couple things different
at this site than the other sites before. After evaluating the three days and the area, they now have some pointers for all.
1). Keep a minimum to the time between your scouting and your camp, especially close to a change in seasons. Too
much changes quickly; animals move on, or hibernate, water levels change and plants come and go out of season.
2). Make sure there are staple tuberous plants, such as, cattail and burdock to help fill the stomach.
3). Be proficient in your hunting skills. Dont rely on a skill you havent been successful at before your camp, such as
fishing with primitive tackle (even if there are no fish in the stream!).
40. Keep your weapon with you at all times. Chris missed a shot at a grouse because she had left her bow and arrows
at camp while we were digging yampa.
The Women of the Fur Trade do Aux Alimente DuPays on the Bear River.
Sandra Roberts story...........
We arrived along the Bear River above Onieda Reservoir. Jill and I discovered last minute leaks in our bullboats and proceeded straight to camp for repairs. Our plan was to fish all weekend and eat our fill. Its amazing how plans change. While Sandy and Rick canoed down river to our camp, we set up. When they arrived and set their camp up, we started dinner and the fire.
We served roasted grasshoppers for horederves. Over the course of the weekend, we found that simply throwing them on some hot coals works easily. You can place them in a pan or on a hot rock, but they tend to jump off, even if you pinch off their heads. Another simple method to roast and still prevent escape, is to collect them in a lidded tin and simply throw the tin on the hot coals. It kills them quickly and only takes a few minutes to cook. Add a little salt and theyre quite tasty. Sort of like meaty French fries.
Jill eating a Grasshopper
We followed the hoppers with a nice frog leg stew with dandelions and red clover. When picking dandelions, we recommend picking either the very young leaves or blossoms, as the older leaves can get very bitter. For dessert, we had hawthorne berries. Jill likes them fine, but I think theyre disgusting.
Sandra with her Frog Dinner
As the sun set, Jill, Sandy and I canoed out to catch all those fish that were jumping around. They jumped wherever we were not and would not take our bait, even when we offered frog guts. Well, not being the most patient fisherwomen, we soon became frustrated as the carp swam all around us and even waved their fins at us. Something in us snapped and I started trying to beat the carp with my paddle as Jill decided to take the direct approach and grab them with her hands, convinced she could throw them in the canoe. Jill did get her hands on one, but it was too slick to hold. I did come into contact with a couple, but they were too stupid to be stunned so I could get them in the canoe. Sandy kept yelling at us the whole time that we were crazy and didnt know how to fish. No comment.
After finally giving up, we returned to camp. And it began to rain. And rain. And rain.
For Breakfast, we collected more greens and steamed them like spinach. We boiled the hawthorne berries in water, mashed them and made a fairly palatable juice to drink. I certainly feel this is a much better way to get hawthorne berries down. We fished in the morning and lost a very pretty primitive fly to one carp.
Sandy and rick canoeing
Around noon, we shifted camp further down the river. As it continued to rain, Sandy and Rick canoed while Jill and I decided to make a net to catch those damn carp. We finished and left around 4:00pm to try our luck. I dont know if it was the rain or the time of day, but there wasnt a fish/carp to be had. Figures!! While canoeing back to camp, we harvested young cat tail shoots (the most tender) and some pollen. The pollen was a little old but had a simple starchy taste.
Once we were back at camp, we started to gather some dinner. We dug up some Burdock roots to boil. (BTW, Burdock leaves make good toilet paper) and added our cattails shoots into the pot. Jill found a chokecherry tree with a few berries left and a loaded Elderberry bush which we quickly harvested.
While Jill and I gathered berries, Sandy and Rick continued to try to catch a fish. Its very difficult to cast with primitive gear. Rick had an idea to row out a long line into the deep part of the river for Sandy. This seemed a great idea especially since Sandy had an aversion to being out on the water and getting struck by lightening again. I really feel she would have caught one if supper hadnt distracted her. Unfortunately, while Sandy ate, the %@#!&^*$# fish made off with her hook. It was at this point, I discovered I hate fish, especially carp.
Rick was working on other requirements for Boshloper, so he cooked meat on a stick right in front of us! He seemed unaware that he was taking his life in his hands at that moment! Oh well, the fresh chokecherries were delicious, but had an aftertaste like dry under ripe bananas. The Elderberries were heavenly and I ate a large portion both before and after the meal of roots and hoppers. I went to bed with my stomach content.
Sandra starting a fire
Our 3rd day dawned beautiful and sunny. Finally the rain had stopped. We drank an elderberry/chokecherry juice with a few hoppers and some fresh elderberries for breakfast. During the morning Jill bull boated down the river. I borrowed Sandys bullboat to cross the river and harvest more of the cattail shoots for a mid-morning snack.
Alas, our alimente dupays came to a blessed end. We celebrated with a meal of sausage and corn cooked over the fire and a delicious rice and cheese dish that Sandy made. We toasted our completion with sips of a great port wine. This was Jill and Sandys second alimente and they plan on another one next month with our sister Chris. Luckily, I cant make it that weekend. I dont know which weekend it is, but Im sure Im on-call for work that weekend.
Sandra ( Swamps)
Sandy (Lays with horses)
So here's our story.
By Jill and Sandy
Jill and Sandy did theirs together. They spent 3 days and nights in the mountains foraging for food and trapping Beaver. The traps were set in the Ponds. The first morning when we went to check the traps, we removed our moccasins and waded barefoot through the ponds. The water was very cold but we pushed forward through the mud and guck, the thistles and stinging nettle. At the last trap we noticed the rope was wrapped around the stick. Good sign a Beaver may be there. Yep, sure enough there was a Beaver in the trap. We had to remove the Beaver and reset the trap using squeeze sticks. (A trick taught to us by Allen Hall) Squeeze sticks being made from two Quakie limbs tied together. They worked great!
We had to skin and gut this Beaver and we still hadn't set up camp. So we sat on the ground and skinned this Beaver. We had about 12 pounds of meat to last us three days. We knew at this point we would not be going hungry. We saved the claws, the bladder(for a toy quill container), the tail (Which made a nice Quiver for our knives), and of course the wonderful Caster Glands for the next time we trap Beaver.
JILL SKINNING THE BEAVER
We know had to find a spot to set up camp. Somewhere where we can't be seen, yet we could see all. So with a Burden strap we put our bedrolls on our backs, a fresh Beaver Pelt in hand, and still barefooted we waded back through the Beaver ponds in search of a campsite. There was no site to be found on this side of the Beaver Ponds, so back through the ponds and to the other side. We found that spot! It was about 1/4 mile up the mountain. We were hidden from all Hostiles and yet we could see for miles. We dropped our packs and begin to set up camp. We were hurrying because it looked like rain on the Horizon. Not paying attention to what we were doing, we forgot to dig hip holes. (Bad Mistake). We finally had camp set. Made a fire ring, gathered nesting from the inner bark of Quakies and started a fire with flint and steel. Gathered enough wood to get comfortable for the night.
We had supper of Beaver, cooked on a stick and chokecherries. We cooked the chokecherries in water till tender and then we ate them. We put the meat from the Beaver in a canvas bag and stored it outside. It was cool enough at night to keep it good for the next few days. We had no seasoning for the meat, but to our surprise it was really good. It is said that Beaver was a Mainstay in the Trappers diet. They ate what they trapped.
Eating supper of Beaver and chokecherries
We sat around the fire and planned for the next day. We figured we would hunt some grouse after checking the Beaver traps. We were tired and settled in for the night. It was sleepless night because we didn't take the time to remove sticks and dig hip holes.
We got up and had breakfast of Beaver and chokecherries. We then re-did our beds, digging those hip holes. Our hips were sore this morning and it was sure to be a better night tonight. The day was very cold and overcast, but we headed down the mountain to check those traps. Being sure to hide from the hostiles. Again we removed our moccasins and barefooted we headed into the cold Beaver Ponds. We had three traps that had been sprung, but no Beaver! We re-set those traps using our squeeze sticks, and put out new caster. Then it was back through the ponds. Thats when we noticed there were leaches on Jills legs. We pulled them off and flung them into the ponds.
Re-setting the traps
So back to camp to get the Flint Lock. We loaded it with Bird shot and headed out to find a grouse, gathering any edibles we could. It was still overcast and cold. The clouds were getting darker and heavier. Down the side of the mountain and up another, but no grouse. We decided to around the Mountain to the other side because we could see Pines. We found some Rose hips and sat down and ate some off the bush. We gathered some up to make tea back at camp. (They are very good-have a taste of orange to them) Headed back down the Mountain but all we could see were the Beaver dams and the swamp. We were going to back track so we didn't have to go through that again. But, Low and behold, there was a grouse in a bush at the edge of the swamp. We wanted him for dinner so we went after him. Big Mistake! We lost the grouse but found ourselves in the middle of a swamp! There was no way out that we could see. it was thick with Willows and dead limbs. The water was murky and up to our thighs and getting deeper. We began crawling over dead Quakie and Willow limbs and moving thick weeds out of our way. Then we noticed we were surrounded by Poison Hemlock and Deadly Nightshade, not to mention the stinging Nettle around us. It was getting darker with the sky covered with thick grey clouds, adding an eerie feeling. We weren't sure how to get out of there so we plunged forward, knowing it had to end soon. It did. We crawled out of the swamp with our legs and knees scratched, bleeding, stinging and cold. We crawled out right into a patch of thistles! We started heading for camp and came upon some cattails, so we dug into the mud and pulled out the roots.
Jill pulling out Cattail Roots
With Cattail in hand we headed back to camp for more Beaver on a stick, chokecherry juice, Hawberries. Cattail sprout, Mint and Rose hips. we peeled the Cattail Roots, then boiled and mashed them so they would be ready for our morning breakfast.
Boiled Cattail Roots
Back at camp we started a fire and ate our dinner. It then began to rain. The rain let up after awhile ad we able to enjoy the evening campfire. Then it started to pour down rain so we retired for the night. It rain all night, in fact it poured down rain. The diamond fly was leaking on top of our bed. When we woke up we had puddles of water on top of our oilcloth, but the bed was dry.
It was a might wet and that is an understatement! We had taken nesting to bed with us so it would stay dry, but it was still damp and hard to light. We had to break out the emergency fire supplies. Birch bark (Which will light even when wet) and dried mushrooms. Once we got the birchbark burning we used beeswax candles to keep it burning till we had a good hot fire.
We then had breakfast of Cattail root prepared the night before, mixed with more berries and of course some more Beaver meat.
Our gathered Berries
This morning was colder than last two mornings and the ground was wet, but we had to check the Beaver traps one more time. So we headed down to the Beaver Ponds and checked the traps.
Again we removed our moccasins and went into the freezing water, stinging our toes. None of the traps had been sprung.
Back to camp to load up and head out. We thought about our past three days and realized that with foraging, hunting for grouse, checking Beaver traps and preparing meals, we had no down time. We were busy the whole time and we now have a new appreciation of what the women lived through back in the fur trade era.
With our camp on our backs we headed out and headed for home.
So sisters, You send us your stories of your Aux Alimente DuPay and we will tell it!
Sandy and Jill