Women of
             the
             Fur Trade
Aux Alimente Dupay             

          Aux Alimenete DuPay 
                    "Living off the Land"    

 

        "In this plight Sublette found himself, and finally resolved
    to turn north, in the hope of coming upon some better and
    more hospitable country. The sufferings of the men now
    became terrible, both from hunger and thirst. In the effort to
    appease the former, everything was eaten that could be eaten,
    and many things at which the well-fed man would sicken
    with disgust. "I have," says Joe Meek, " held my hands in an
    ant-hill until they were covered with the ants, then greedily
    licked them off. I have taken the soles off my moccasins,
    crisped them in the fire, and eaten them. In our extremity, 
    the large black crickets which are found in this country were
    considered game. We used to take a kettle of hot water, catch
    the crickets and throw them in, and when they stopped
    kicking, eat them. That was not what we called cant tickup
    ko hanch
, (good meat, my friend), but it kept us alive." 
                                                            Joe Meeks
                                                            1832

      

 

                                    CHRIS'S STORY

                                    My Aux Alimente DuPay
                                 
Christina Langstein
                            
"She Who Lights the Way"

                                   September,2006

 

    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
f
ish 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 Harvest

 

    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 enterained 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 alot 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
and
   pull.
 

            
                               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 t
hem!! 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.

                        

                                                             Diner                           

                  

 

    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 yamp
                
                       
                                                    Digging 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!).

    4). 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.

             Chris 






        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. 

              
                                     Harvesting Cattail

 

    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
   it is, but Im sure Im on-call for work that weekend.

                                          Your Sisters.

                                                       Sandra ( Swamps)

                                                       Jill (Stargazer)

                                                Sandy (Lays with horses)

_______________________________________________________________________
 



                              So here's our story.

                                     By Jill and Sandy

                                     September, 2004
   Day one:

    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!

      

                 
                                        OUR BEAVER

 

   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.

             
                                               Our Campsite

 

    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.

 

    Day Two:

    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 
   go 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.

 

 

    Day 3:

    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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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