Women of
             Fur Trade
Camping Primitive Style             
What is camping Primitive?

Well we will tell ya what it ain't. There are No coolers, No  air mattress, No chairs, dutch ovens , blue graniteware,   
  sleeping bags, coleman stoves or lanterns and all them      
     metal cooking Irons And No driving up to the camp spot with
     all that stuff. All that stuff would be enough to break the back
of a good pack Mule. Why we've all seen at one time or  
 another so called Primitive camps that had enough stuff   
in them to sink a Keelboat !                                                  

 So, ya say what do we do to camp in style and primitive?  
    Its easy, actually. Less is more and more is less, honest,      trust us!

Cooking for a feast.
These are enough pots to feed an aarmy and are not needed for most primitive camps.



Cooking on the trail.
     Here we are cooking for nine people note the number of pot.

              Cooking and food:

     Standard fare is beans and rice, rice and beans, or beany 
     rice. They are lightweight, don't spoil, and they are found in  
     fur trade lists as being brought to rendezvous. Beans and
     corn were also grown by the Missouri River tribes and
     traded with other tribes in the Rockies.Beans can be
     precooked till close to being done and then dehydrated so 
      in camp they don't take long to cook. Cereal grains like
     rolled oats, cracked wheat to cook for breakfast, along with 
     some muscarvana or brown sugar to put on it. Raisins and
     dried apples or other dried fruit  taste good in it, too.

    Meat we take frozen, wrapped in brown paper and keep it 
    in blanket weight wool bags which insulate and keep it 
    frozen a good while. Wild game meat is preferred, of 
    course but beef is acceptable. Smoked salmon is a treat 
    and can be bought at any grocery store. We freeze this, too.
    Salt cured bacon can be kept without refrigeration, and salt 
    pork is another staple but must be frozen like the other 
    meat. Another way of keeping meat is to put pieces of 
    cooked meat into a tin of lard. As long as the meat pieces 
    don't touch each other or the sides of the tin, and the meat 
    is covered with the lard it won't spoil.
    Don't forget the jerked meat and pilot bread. Parched corn 
    makes a good snack, you can add salt or sugar and 
    cinnamon for variety. Flour can be taken for bread on a stick 
    or ashcakes. Just mix it with water for a stiff dough and add 
    about 1/2 tsp. white ash from the fire for leavening, then 
    wrap it around a stick or put a patty on the coals to cook, 
    turning once. Pancakes of flour and water were a Sunday 
    treat at the forts.

      All our food we carry in small cloth bags.  No plastic, 
     remember.  If you are on the trail, eat the perishable meat
     the first three or four days and then go to the dried meat and
     bacon.  If you are in a camp, dig up a circle of sod, dig a
     pretty deep hole where the sod was, put your food down in
     the hole and replace the sod on top. That frozen food will
     stay so nice and cool down there! Who needs a cooler! Our
     food lasted a week this way. Another time, on a five day
     ride, we just put the meat into a snow bank every night, and
     this was in July! We ate fresh meat all 5 days.

    Green coffee beans are browned in a frying pan if you are 
     ucky enough to have such a luxury item, then put in a bag 
    and pounded with a rock till fine. cook in a pot, when its 
    done, pour some cold water in to settle the grounds and 

    Canteens are a must these days as is a water filter. This is 
    one place where safety rules over period correctness.  An 
    over the shoulder bag can carry your food. Our cooking 
    utensils are a small nesting set of pots, wooden spoons,
    and tin cups. Sometimes we carry bowls, usually just eat 
    out of the pot or use the lid for a plate. If we pack a  frying 
    pan it can also double as a plate.

Sandy cooking meat on a stick.
Diamond fly in background istied off to a tree limb.

                           Bed and Shelter:           
   Oilcloth makes our shelter, goes over and under our bed to 
   hold the heat in, and is the outer wrap on our bedrolls when 
  we pack in. We made ours out of 100% Egyptian sheeting 
  240 thread count , which we bought as a king size sheet at 
    the department store. This is very lightweight which is a plus 
 when you're packing it in on your back. Two wool blankets   
should do you fine for the warm weather, but in winter add 
a  buffalo robe for sure. We like to use a little buffalo           
  epishamore underneath the blankets even in nice weather, 
   just for added comfort. Lay out the tarp, lay blankets on top, 
add any clothes you need, and roll it up , tie it, and you're  
    ready to go.Tie your burden strap to the bedroll and head      

     If you're on a horse, the blankets folded in fourths become 
     your saddle blankets, the oilcloth makes a tiny roll behind 
     your saddle, and the food carry in Indian type saddle bags.
    These are just a tube of buckskin with a slit cut in the 
    middle. Food goes in both ends and any extra clothes go in 
    where the slit is. Put it right on the seat of the saddle and the 
    clothes make extra padding on those long rides.

     A trick for comfort is to dig a hip hole and shoulder hole. Lay
    down and test the holes and make adjustments before you
     lay out the blankets. Tying your blankets together at the foot
     keeps cold drafts out.

     For shelter, we set up the oilcloth diamond fly style, which is
     very versatile. It can be tied to a tree limb, or a pole laid in
     the middle and then staked out. It can even be set up like a
     wedge tent.


Diamond Fly set up with two poles

Two oilcloths used to make a large Wedge Tent

Chris at her Fall Beaver Camp 



    See Winter Doing's for Women for more on winter wear. 
     An extra pair of moccasins in case you get wet is a smart 
     thing to have, as is an extra pair of socks if you wear them.
     When the temperature drops at night in the mountains a
     wool shirt helps you keep warm at night. These two things
     don't take up much room in your pack.

   Stop and rest often and enjoy the view. Drink plenty of water
Its very easy to get dehydrated.  


Jill and Sandy packin' it in on their backs. 

                                    Pumpkin Balls: 
     From Buffalo Bird Woman, Hidatsa,or a quick way if 
     you're  short on time is:

                                    2 pkg Jiffy corn muffin mix
                                    1 large can pumpkin
                                    1 can refried beans

     mix together, it should be like stiff cookie dough, if not, add 
     a little cornmeal or flour. Make into balls, flatten them out a
     little and put in the dehydrator or dry in oven on low. These
     keep very well on the trail.

                             2 cups water  
                             3 tblsp. oil 
                             2 1/2 tsp salt 
                             1 tblsp honey 
                             2 eggs

                             1 cup powdered milk 
                             1 1/2 cup wheat flour 

                             2 2/3 cup rye flour

                             3 tblsp caraway seed 

      add 4 to 41/2 cups flour a little at a 
      time.  Knead  till really stiff.  Roll golf ball size pieces till thin
      like pie crust and cut into two inch squares.  It will rise in 
      the middle and be golden brown and crisp
bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes.


     This is my Favorite recipe for Pemmican.
Most others are barely   

     My family receipt for pemmican comes from my Cherokee
     Great,Great Grandma and it does not have any extra animal
     fat, so it's not so much a heart danger. Everyone seems to
     like it and it's easy to make .I make my own jerk and dried
     fruit/veggies so I mix up batches for events as needed

     Pound together 1/2 pound each of the following:

    jerk meat (venison or buffalo)
    parched corn
    dried cranberries
    dried apples
    dried squash
    sunflower seeds

     The oil in the sunflower seeds acts like suet and binds the
together slightly. It's great as is by the handful,
     washed down
water, but it makes a good stew base
     with tomatoes, onions
and beans 
when you have a chance
     to cook.




                          French dumplings:
     As described in Ferris' journal and perfected by Wynn  
     Ormond :

    Flour or flour with a little cornmeal white ash for leavening, it
     can be seasoned with allspice, cinnamon, sugar, salt, any
     or all of these.

     If we had the luxury of a little baking powder and some dry
     milk, how much better it would be! Sigh!

    Stir together for a stiff dough, flatten out small amounts in 
    the  palms of your hands and put a spoonful of filling on the 
then fold over and squish the edges together. a little
    water on the edge helps it stick together. Filling can be
    chunks of cooked meat or for dessert use dried apples and
    raisins  that have been cooked with water, sugar and
    cinnamon. Deep fry in that oil you carried that meat in. The
     tin cooking pots will hold up to being used as a deep fryer,
     just be very careful not to spill grease into the fire! We
     suggest doing this over coals  with very little flame.What a



                         Dried pumpkin soup: 
    Eschionque is a Seneca historical soup of shredded meat
    or fish cooked with dried squash and thickened with a meal
    made of parched, dried corn. W.A. Ferris, in Life in the
    Rocky Mountains, mentions ten free Iroquois trappers with
    wives and children departing from Fraeb and Jarvis to hunt
    the tributaries of the Bear River. No, there is no mention of 
    this soup, but then again I find few recipes listed in the
    mountaineers' writings.

                                      Melinda Miller


Making Oilcloth
by Allen

    A few issues back in the T&LR, Jim Hannon wrote of a
    new fly that he'd made.

    Jim used a 100% cotton King size sheet. It was made
    of Egyptian cotton, with a 250 thread count. Jim and I
    are friends and so I contacted him to see how it had
    worked out. Jim told me that he'd had good luck with
    his, so I figured I'd try it out.

    I procured the sheet at our local Dillards store. It turns
    out that 250 threat count sheets are not all that
    common, and worse, not cheap. Cheap is always high
    on the priority list, but so is weight savings, and this
    was my goal here.

    After getting the sheet I washed it to remove any 
    sizing, then I proceeded to undo the factory sewn
    hems. This is when I learned that a King size sheet is
    pretty big! It took a while, but finally I got it done.

    Next was to get the lindseed oil and paint thinner
    together. Jim recommended 2 parts linseed oil to 1
    part paint thinner, so that's what I went with. I got 2 
    quarts of linseed oil to go with 1 quart of paint thinner.
    It is recommended to add a little iron oxide pigment in
    the mix for
color. Rick Palmer provided me with some,
    which was a reddish brown color. I mixed the mess 
    together in a bucket, in went the sheet. The 3 quarts of
    liquid was just right for that size of sheet.

    Here's a major tip.....wear LONG rubber gloves when
    you mix up the sheet and liquid. The mixture really
    sticks and the pigment is highly effective. Wear clothes
    that you don't mind relegating to work and not social

    I hung the sheet up to dry in the barn. Using 2 lines
    attached to the exposed rafters I draped the sheet over
    the lines to dry. Another tip. If you have the room, only
    hang the sheet from a single line. This way the liquid
    will drip off more evenly than mine did. Also, plan on at 
least a week of drying time in warm weather.

    I took the sheet/tarp along with me on our 5 day ride in
    2002. I found it to be completely waterproof. The
    pigment was a little more red than I'd hoped, but at
    night it was actually harder to see than a darker brown
    one that Jim used.

    What would I do different? I think the major difference
    would be, having ripped out the factory hem, I'd sew in
    a hand-sewn hem. In a pretty good wind storm before
    a rain, the corner of my sheet/tarp tore. We'd set it as a
    wedge tent and one staked down corner ripped a little.
    We worked around it, but I think that having a hem
    would have prevented the problem.

    Overall, I'm really happy with this project. It's
    considerably lighter and much more waterproof than
   my canvas fly. These were the goals I was hoping for in
    the new sheet/tarp, and these goals were
    accomplished. I'll probably have it with me when we're
    out camping, so if you're interested, come take a look. 

   We hope these recipes and ideas were of
   some help.

   Remember when it comes to camping  

   Less is more and more is less and that is what
   we call doing it in Style!

                           See ya in camp
                            Jill and Sandy

    with a little of the Crazy touch.

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