Authors: James Rafferty
A Survivalists Tale
James C Rafferty
Wolfyn Publishers. 2012
Copyright 2013 author James C Rafferty All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.
This book is a total work of fiction. The characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously so are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage or retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Wolfyn Publishers.
Good morning Mr Royals, Said Patricia as she breezed into my bedroom, throwing curtains open and letting in that fucking sunshine. I hate mornings, I really do, she bloody knew I had that late night drinking session with the new clients, I said you do know Pat as a personal assistant, this is a bit too fecking personal, she just smiled and said you know Billy doesn’t like waking you when you have a hangover. That’s because he is smarter than you, and tell him he’s fucking shite at being a butler and he’s sacked. She turned and said yeh he knows, blah, blah, blah, now your painkillers and a glass of water are on your side table and breakfast is getting cold in your living room, so hurry up and swallow your tablets and have a shower, you smell like a brewery. I was just about to shout you can’t get the staff, when I realised she had fucked off. So I sat up and that was a bad idea right there, for some little shit started knocking the crap out of the inside of my head, I didn’t know whether to throw up, die, or go and have the dam shower. Oh, god Pat was right I fucking stank of boos, I grabbed the painkillers and downed them, I then staggered my way to my full body shower.
Down stairs, Pat walked into the main kitchen and said to chef, you might want to give old grumpy balls another half hour before sending up his breakfast. Billy who was sat by the table eating his breakfast, looked up and said how is he this morning Pat, the usual after having too much to drink, he will be in the plane and half way there before he becomes human again. Just as Pat was sitting down to her breakfast, in walked Joe Stratton, Rick Royals cameraman, how’s the Rick man, this morning Pat, I would not go anywhere near him with your camera this morning, it would end up where the last two landed in the bin. Joe said I can’t believe the bugger is going on this survival thing without me, bollix said Pat you know the yanks wouldn’t let any of his normal staff go with him. It was part of the contract and besides you still get paid just like the rest of us, even though he will be away for five years, I think it’s really great that he is doing this for charity said Billy.
Rick Royal was seven foot eight inches tall in his bare feet, he was considered by most of his fans, as very good-looking man, others would say he was rugged everyone agreed he was super fit. He was the star of his very own survival program, which had been running for six years and made him a ton of money. His father had taught him the basic principles of survival ever since he could tie a knot.
He had a very unique upbringing, since he was seven he had travelled the world with his father and while his father was doing business, his son learned how to make everything from his own knifes to making his bows, arrows and hooks for fishing. His father also made sure he had a better than good basic education by employing a personal teacher to travel with him, the one thing that really annoyed Rick was no one taught the transition from survival to living as a normal person under extreme conditions. Ricks belief was a survivor was a person who done just enough until rescued and returned to their normal way of life, which is why he taught people not just to survive but how to live until rescued, which could be years.
When Rick was ten years old, a local newspaper ran with the story, Rick Royal survivalist guru, they claimed that Rick probably knew more about survival than any two so-called survival specialists on TV. The press and TV companies fought back saying their people were the top in their field and no little boy could survive out in the real world. Now that to my father is like a red rag to a bull, and he may have gone just a little too far, he put up a million pound to any off the so called survivalists if they could out last his son. Three of the top people took him up on it, the TV producers wanted to put up another million if they could have the exclusive rights. My father said no, we would let the world decide who was right; the whole island would be rigged with internet cameras so the world could watch.
The next problem came when the TV company who was behind one of the stars, argued about what they could take with them, my father shot them down with, they should all wear the same clothes, and take exactly the same as my son. They weren’t very happy when they found out I wasn’t taking anything with me at all, not even a knife. Four islands were found and specialists were brought in to make sure they had almost the exact same conditions, on each island, there was one that didn’t have a lot of fresh water, but strangely enough had a lot of pigs.
The world was to have got a chance to vote on who goes to which island, but in the end it was a lottery that chose the islands, everyone was checked and anyone found cheating would be eliminated and would have to live with the humiliation for the rest of their lives. My father was asked by the media how can you allow your young son to stay on an island for up to a year may be longer, what type of father are you. He would just look at the camera and smile, and say obviously a father who trusts his son a lot more than the poor adults who are challenging him. The day came and we all had to report to our boats that would take us to our island, the others had been cramming up on the islands they would land on. Which was a complete waste of time for none of us knew which island we would get until the boat took us there.
We had no radio and no way to communicate with the outside world, if we wanted off then all we had to do was wave to the cameras in a certain way. Well I landed on the so-called worst island, the one with supposedly very little water and lots of pigs. I jumped of the boat and got started, in my case the one thing I would quickly need was water. So as I looked around for it, I worked on finding a knife, I found some good wood and some sharp stones; I used some long grass to tie it with. I knew it wouldn’t last long but it was a good weapon as well as an axe, I was quietly walking through the trees when I heard pigs. Wild pigs can be very dangerous when scared, or defending their young, I was hoping they wouldn’t see me as a threat, so I allowed my scent to drift to them.
I saw through the bushes it was a family group, the boar was quite a large chap and had some dangerous looking tusks, but I knew the mother was the one to watch. She had three young from sometime this year and one a bit older probably last year’s litter. Now I had found them I started to graze, picking some fruit and nuts, very soon, they started moving off, and so I followed them. They were hard to follow as they had tracks or runways that went through scrub type tunnels, eventually my patience and hard work paid off, for as I had thought they had gone for a drink. A nice clear stream close to the beach but far enough inland I wouldn’t be hit by storms too much,
I followed the stream further inland and eventually found a natural clearing with a pool the size and width of a swimming pool. I now started to cut down branches from certain trees and making my shelter nice and high of the ground. I had just finished the base of the shelter when it was time to start my fire, I built a pit and collected wood, and got my fire going. Using some of the branches, I made a nice comfortable bed and had a good night’s sleep. I awoke to the dawn chorus and had a wash, I then headed to the beach to gather some food, after cooking a load of shellfish like Razors, Muscles, and clams I even found some fresh water oysters, I was well stuffed, back to finishing of my shelter. I took a break from the shelter to once again find some fruit and nuts, as they are high in what my body needs. I also started laying down some basic snares to see what was around, this is one of my favourite snares and keeps what I catch up and away from other animals.
The beauty of this trap is you can scale the size of it up and catch most any animals. First however I needed to make rope, it didn’t take me long to find a tree which had strong stringy bark, I like to braid this type it makes it a lot stronger. I laid this type of trap on runs through the grass I had seen, near the trees, I had a lot of fun making the rope and trying to work out just what type of animal I might catch. The one thing I had been taught was prepare your mind, it’s strange but most people especially adults are too busy thinking about what they are missing, rather than what they have. I had been taught to look to the future and plan your time; there was so much to do, by the third day I had made a better bed and a chair for my shelter. I had found some flint and was in my element making axes and knifes, I loved flint napping, it was like gods surgical instruments, I went down to the river mouth and set some basic traps, for fish.
I was starting to get more and more small rabbit sized fury animals, I had no idea what they were called, but with enough of them, I would have bedding and clothes for the winter. I had started a salt trap, it was just a large rectangle above the tidemark and every day I would fill it with water from the sea, while I was checking my fish traps. Eventually the sun burned of the water and the salt was left behind, I could use this for preserving meat for the winter. While I explored the island, I watched out for better-sheltered areas from the winter storms I had also being watching the pigs and seeing how many were around.
There was also some feral goats, they were almost the best thing I had seen so far, for I could build a loom and everything I would need for woollen clothes but better still I could make felt, goats cheese and goats soap, all that and I could eat them too. First though catch my goats, I watched them for days just getting closer all the time, there was a particular cave they all seemed to favour so I explored it while they were out grazing. There were a couple of tunnels I would have to block, but really no problem, I would make fences and place them close by so I could get them in place when I went for it. First, I would have to kill a few pigs, I wasn’t going to waste anything I could save so the family I had picked would be the mother and father killed and the baby’s I would keep, there were seven of them. I had built a smoke house and found some pleasant wood that would flavour the pork to my advantage, I also had more than enough salt for the salting method. I could now enjoy my favourite food pig’s kidney, I love it, and with the fat, I could fry it in my pottery frying pan. I had built four kilns with all my cups and plates and pots for storage and cooking, even a large water container.
I had done them four times for you never get all your pots and dishes you want, this had increased my chances in one go, and had been better than I thought, so I had more than I needed. The dead fall was just a much heavier variation on the four-shaped trap.
The difference with this trap for the pigs would be scaled up so that I caused as little pain as possible. It wouldn’t be easy and would have to take out the boar first, the trigger in the four-shaped trap wouldn’t need bait for the boar would attack the trigger as I would be behind it. I knew the mother may think of attacking me but she would have the baby’s to think of, or so I hoped, still if I had to I had a heavy log placed so if she did attack I could drop it on her and the spikes I had attached would kill her outright. It would be best for me to deal with one pig at a time, I'm good at skinning and butchery but two in one go would stretch even me. Now I did miscalculate slightly, I had timed everything to perfection, well almost like I said, I could just imagine the people watching on the internet gasp, yeh it wasn’t the boar that almost got me it was my own bloody trap. Behind me coming down out of a tree was a log with a spike attached at the front, as the boar charged it would knock the number four trap loos, re-leasing the log. Now the boar would be in front of me with its head lowered so it could rip into me with its tusks, and I had a log swinging down with a great spike to smash into the head of the boar coming from behind. Slight miscalculation, how long does it take a ten year old boy to get from between them both, I could see the boar so no problem there I however had to guess at the log, and as I jumped sideways the log scuffed along my clothes, it had been that close. I jumped up and with my flint knife, I stabbed the boar in the side of the neck, cutting its jugular, while the blood was still pumping out, I attached the two hoops to the back legs and released the second dead fall. This lifted the boar into the air by its back legs, so that its head was just above the ground. I then opened it s stomach and empted the guts on the floor, saving the liver and kidney for a treat later, I had to work fast, so I started butchering the carcase straight away. I placed the legs and every piece of meat I could into the sledge I had made and covered them with smoked leaves, I had to beat the fly’s or they would ruin all the meat, I eventually flung the rest of the carcase on top and pulled it to my smoke shed, which was going nicely. I had made my smoke house with two doors one at the front and one at the back this was so I could pull the sledge straight in and I could leave it in the smoke while I escaped out the back. I went down to the stream and washed myself and my clothes once I had the blood gone from me and my clothes I hung them to dry, I then put on my fur shorts and my home made moccasins. Then it was back to the smudge or smoke shed and get my reward, my lovely livers and kidneys, along with some of the fat for frying. I couldn't eat it all but I wasn’t wasting it either, the bits I had cooked went back into the smoke or smudge shed and I would use them for fishing the next couple of days. I went back to make sure all the ropes from my traps were taking down, you just can’t waste things that have taken you hours of hard work to make. I was glad that I had grabbed the intestines and bladder for myself as the rest of the mess was gone just blood covered with fly’s. Later I would take the intestines bladder and stomach down to the sea and wash them in salt water, then in fresh water until they are clean, the intestines would be the string to my bow I had made and my fishing line. The bladder would be my mobile canteen for when I hunt the goats, I reckoned it would take about three days to sheer the goats and hard work it would be. The months flew by and I was so busy enjoying myself that it was a bit of a shock when the two boats came ashore, I looked up and noticed for the first time there was a ship just outside the bay. The boats held my father and a load of other people I have never heard of, I did however recognise my competition they were all there, my father was saying I had won the contest hands down. Even the guys I was up against were so impressed, it seems they had it bad, we had all being doing brilliantly, until a month went past and they all had their camps set up just like they taught everyone to do. They all had very basic wooden plates and forks they had struggled with the stone hammers and axes. There traps were the same ones we all had used but they had failed with getting a pig and only the one had caught a goat and he ate it, one had been cut badly by a sow pig he hadn’t seen till last moment and was too late, he had been medivact to the nearest hospital. He watched me on the internet, and learned a lot so he said, the others had slowly gone downhill having spent too much time thinking of the ones back home. I had never felt lonely, for the cameras kept me company as far as I was concerned, I just found a camera and talked to it like I was talking to my father and friends, I would explain some of the traps and what I would expect of it or how I would build it differently next time. I basically had a great time, after I went back to so-called civilisation, I was a hit, the whole world wanted a piece of me, my dad however kept them back and gave me the time to settle back to my routines of a normal life. The producers wanted me to make some short films about how I had survived differently to the others, which I must admit made me millions. Along with my book deals, which I didn’t write, a ghostwriter done them and I got the cash hardly seemed faire; she however became famous also and made tons of cash, we both won.
One of the reasons I had got drunk last night was it was the last time I would be able too, with decent booze, the biggest challenge ever was on the books, the world had been holding its breath waiting to see this extravaganza, six of the world’s best survivalists. And we were going toe to toe with the world watching, this time would be different though we had ten of the world’s worst survivalists, they were picked by the TV studios. It would be five years, and for every year, we made it we would make a million pounds for our favourite charity and for every person that we lost, by them leaving not dying. We would lose twenty-thousand dollars, there would be five men and five women in each group, and we had no idea where we would be put. We knew it would be twenty miles squared and the animals were the ones you would normally find there. The people were getting forty thousand dollars per year for themselves as personal motivation but would get only one thousand dollars if they didn’t make it.
It was the big one, however between the six survivalists; it wasn’t so much a competition, as could it be done, could ten people not just survive but actually live for five years and live well, this would be as much a social experiment as anything else. At least I would have Pat looking after my everyday affairs and Billy looking after the house and grounds, and Joe looking after everything else. I was so going to enjoy the next five years of my life, I know for a fact that the TV people had been planning this for years. They kept getting specialists in to find out how best to set up the compounds, using which plants and which animals, however over the years most of the same specialists were people I called friends. I had been working with a group of specialists studying our ancestors and how they lived, what they ate and the tools they used. We had even from the midden piles they left behind, built a useful data base for around the world of what types of food our ancestors had been eating. Even by studying, the tools they left behind, we could work out how they were grinding seeds to make a type of flour. By the fishing spearheads, we could tell what size of fish they could expect to catch, also thanks to science checking DNA on the edges of blades we could tell exactly which fish and which land animals they were butchering. It had been brilliant and now I was going to be able to try some of their techniques, the one thing we had problems with, was we could understand intellectually how the changing from hunter-gatherers, to farming. They both have survival benefits, the males we believed done the hunting and the females the gathering of roots, seeds, and herbs well not so, to bring down a large animal the whole family unit was involved. If the animal was, large enough the nearby neighbours would help as well so, why make the switch.
Well the belief was, hunting was becoming less successful than we believe, as groups grew so did, the problems on how to feed them, when the hunters moved into an area there was no guarantee another group hadn’t just moved out. We believe the switch came from the hunters having dogs, usually with some salt and pepper, yes I know, now a day’s people would jump up and down saying oh cruel people, but when the group was starving or even just hungry the good old dog was for dinner. We know this as a fact from their middens, so it would be a small step from this to keeping other young animals on ropes and culling them when hunger strikes. The looking after the animals would be down to the children and anyone who couldn't hunt or gather any more, basically the old and infirm.
As you might guess, I'm going for the hunter to farmer with my group, but with luxuries thrown in, yeh our ideas of luxuries may be slightly different, but my group will have a good time if I have anything to do with it. The producers had sent a leer jet for me and it would stop and pick up the others, the only one I didn’t know was the young woman they had found, she was supposed to be really good. I didn’t mind for most of my life I had been learning from others anyway, this was life as far as I was concerned, also, they were allowing us to take six things with us, to help us survive.
My six items were no surprise to anyone who knew me, it was four axes and two good sized knifes, I couldn't believe it when all six of us had got on board, they informed us of where we were going for the next five years. America, they had secured the land for the project from the native Indians it was reservation land, this way they had complete security, and the natives were helping them, they had built the compounds and had placed native species in each, I fucking loved it more and more. Then they said we could chat to each other but not about what we would do, we then found out one of the people in the ten would be a doctor. Like any of us would need a doctor, producers were chicken, they then informed us, the rest of the group were rich armature survivalists and would have paid millions just for the experience, they weren’t kidding when they said it would be a hard group to shepherd through the years. Better to have someone with no knowledge than a bunch of idiots second-guessing you, I could see the rest of the guys thinking the same thing, fucking nightmare. My approach to them would have to be entirely different to what I planned, I done the exact same as the rest of the group, we would load ourselves with plenty of food and water, before we arrived. We landed at a private airport about four o’clock in the morning and there was the six helicopters waiting to take us to our new home for five years. I climbed aboard my helicopter and there was my four axes and two knifes, however someone had thought about them, as the axes were all for chopping no splitters, thank god, and the two knifes were a good size eight inch blades and could be used for skinning and butchery work, excellent. As we approached my area, I could see that it was part mountain and part plains, plenty of trees and water, I saw as we landed a grizzly scampering up through the rocks and thought you sly bastards. I landed in the open planes, and just as I got out with my tools, my helicopter flew off, there was a log flat in front of me so I stuck the axes into it to keep the blades sharp and stuck one of the knifes in as well. I was keeping for myself one knife and one axe, the rest would be for communal use, I hadn’t long to wait before I heard another helicopter, this was big enough to be delivering my ten new friends for the next five years.
When they got out of the helicopter I was watching the way they moved, they were all I recond between the ages of thirty and about forty, mabe forty five ish, that was good and they all looked like they were fit and moved like they were healthy. Mike was the first to intruduce himself, closely folowed by Amanda, then Sharon, Peter, Tom, Babs, Clair, Jack, Joseph and Jess, I sat them down and watched who done what, and where they sat in relation to me, it was psychological, if they sat close to me they would need me the most, good and bad with that, they would be the keenest to learn, bad they had the least personal strenth, that sort of thing.
I asked my team just to see what they knew, who can tell me the next thing the team should do, I had some good answers, like build a fire, build a shelter, lay out traps, and locate water, all good answers but wrong, with only one being even close. Don’t you think with all your good ideas we best find a good place to set them up in, one off you said water, almost correct, but we have to think five years, simple things like never at the foot of a slope. Why is that said Amanda, I have never heard of that, well simple really doc cold air moves down hot air rises, she said wait did you just call me doc, sure did Amanda I could tell by the way you look at the others and by the way you act. I explained to the others that we had been provided a doctor just to be on the safe side, Amanda was quite surprised I had picked her out so quickly. Don’t worry Amanda you were harder to pick out than the psychologist that they provided, even after I asked them not to, would you like to introduce yourself Mike. He got up and ran through his qualifications, I stopped him and said sorry Mike but that is why I didn’t want a psychologist in the first place, I meant introduce yourself not your qualifications, they can be used in survival but not very important. I had them all introduce them self’s to the group and then some of them started to ask sensible questions. Like how will we spot areas we shouldn’t camp in, so I said can any of you think of a visible sign, the wind leaves, when it blows in one direction more than any else. That got them it is kind of a hard question for people who work in offices most of their lives, but to someone who works outside all the time it’s so easy. Jess who was an outdoors type said straight away, well the shape of the tops off the trees, they always point away from the direction of the wind. Everyone started to take note of the tops of the trees and sure enough, they bent over in a slight angle. Now I want you all to stop thinking so much as adults I said and start thinking as children, they looked at me as if I had grown two heads. I explained children create more than adults, when you reach the adult stage you tend to just follow the norm, or normal, the same as everyone else or as you have been taught, the mind of a child will look beyond that and marvel at building things that seem stupid but work. Also, you have to think of this as a reward for all the years you have worked hard, it’s a chance to show the world just how clever you really are, no one has done this before and believe me we are not alone, millions of people are watching. If you feel lonely for anyone on the other side just find a camera and talk to them they will hear you and be comforted, also if you truly know that person you know what they will be saying to you. Also as we, travel always be looking for your tools and anything that will assist us for we are now a family. There were a series of hills that would block the winds also there looked like a whole bunch of trees running in a line, good indication of a stream. Five hours later, we arrived at a cracking site a very large rock face, trees and plenty water just two hundred yards away, I showed them the type of shelter we would need for tonight and probably the next week so we could have time to build shelters that are more permanent.
As this would take, the group several hours to construct both myself and Jess went to the trees to strip bark to make cordage, we would then set traps for small game, however this didn’t go quite how we expected. We were deep in the woods when we saw a young deer it wasn’t to far from us and up wind so we hadn’t been scented yet, the group of around nine or ten slowly appeared. Luckily the first thing I had us make in the woods were spears and clubs, they couldn't see us for we were behind good-sized trees and in tall grass. I was just about to throw my spear when Jess, who had been maintaining eye contact with me indicated to my left, a good sized young stag had come out of the grass just so close to me I would have been a fool to miss out on such an easy kill. It had been injured there were claw marks down its haunches and it was limping. It would also pass me within six feet, I wasn’t going to take any chances though so with my eyes I looked at another deer about fifteen feet from Jess and indicated she should try for it. I slowly crouched down as the deer came level and I thrust forward just behind the front shoulder. I got it right in the heart, it went down dead before it hit the ground, just as the herd looked in my direction, Jess threw her spear and then ran at her deer, she had hit it in the right area, but it hadn’t gone deep enough. It staggered and that was its lose, she hit it hard just behind the head and threw herself on top of it, my one was dead so I ran as fast as I could to her, when I reached her I cut the deer’s throat. Between the two of us, we could have skinned and butchered the carcases no problem, however this meant stepping up certain things, so I asked Jess to nip back to camp and get the entire group, I laid the two carcases together and it was a lot of meat. When the group arrived, we only had enough cordage to hang one at a time, so I had Jess, show Mike and Peter how to strip cordage using the axes. The rest of the group I had them lift the biggest one into position while the others tied its hind legs apart, I checked with them who knew how to skin and butcher the deer, two said they knew so I gave them one knife and said, one skin and one butcher, you decide. I got on with the help of two others moving the carcase with me to better positions, I quickly skinned and butchered my carcase and the rest who weren’t now doing anything I had build a sledge, to carry the meat back. One of the guys I had find a branch to use as a rake and sent him to rake moss up and gather as much as possible. I showed Sharon how to make a bow and fiddle fire starter, and she assured me she had done it before, so I had her draw me it in the dirt.
She was spot on so I told her go back to camp and start two fires one good sized and the other about two foot by two foot, she asked how far apart. I said where you would want a smudge fire to be is the two foot one for smoking the meat that is spare, and the other should be long enough to take a carcase and about two and a half foot wide, she got the idea pretty fast.
I just finished the butchery of my carcase in time to see the end of the butchery on the other, the ones not doing the butchery were putting the meat on the sledge and covering it with good layers of moss, I saw two paying close attention to the butchering. I asked why and they gave me the right answer, so when we need to butcher we will know what to do, perfect. I noticed that Clair was missing so I asked where she was and Joe said she had gone back to camp to build a smoke frame for the meat to hang in and also a larger box type smoker for the main meat to sit in, to help keep the flies off. I liked this group better and better all the time, now it was back to camp with our prize, god there were a whole load of black type flies around and biting like crazy. The guys built a frame over the pit fire and once we had washed, the blood of I showed them the two ways we would cook the meat. We dug a long trench about a foot deep this we lined with hot rocks from the fire, we then placed in all the legs and some of the other cuts, then with more hot rocks on top of the meat, we placed green branches across the top of the pit and then covered the sticks with plenty moss. On top of this, we sealed the pit with soil I had left a single stick stuck into where the meat was, pointing straight up, once it was sealed, I removed the stick and poured water down the hole. Then sealed it, we then pushed the fire ashes and branches over the top and we would give the meat a couple of hours. Tom and Clair had found some fragrant leaves and fruit branches, which were giving of a lovely smell, they were also cutting some of the meat into thin strips to hang on a frame she had built. It was the shape of a very pointy pyramid and she had used lots of branches with leaves to help keep the smoke inside so that it would cook and smoke at the same time.
The group were working so well together, when they saw a job to do they just got on with it, I had the guts and sinew in the stream washing it, others were cooking the livers and kidneys and some of the meat so it had that nice roast taste. If anyone got a bit stuck they just either asked me or someone else who wasn’t so busy. We had seven of the shelters finished and a smoke house where the meat was being stored, even after cooking, Clair cut up the livers and kidneys also the hearts, and was going around with them on small sticks with their bark stripped, you have to strip the bark from any branch that comes in contact with meat. The bark is where the bacteria is, we were eating while working, when we were thirsty we would just go to the stream and drink, this was ok for now but we would improve it as we had time.
As night fell, it was a happy bunch of campers who sat around the fire, we caught up with who we were where we had come from and it was a brilliant experience, I think I got the best group possible for this challenge. I covered the next problem as we were sat around, I explained that the nighttime was the worst as you would be cold and miserable, so to avoid this we would have two people at a time awake for two hours, keeping everyone’s fires going well. We had everything ready for lighting them and each personal fire had a heat reflector to throw the heat back into the shelters. I had shown them how to dry the moss for their beds and the grass was nice and long so I showed them how to use the grass and moss, to make a type of simple blanket, to help keep the heat in. The next morning it was quite hard to get them out of bed, they were saying it was the best night’s sleep they had in quite some time. I showed them the advanced shelter we were going to build and they asked why, so I explained to them, when we make the cabins for the winter, we will want seasoned wood, unfortunately, the only way to do that is to season the wood and that takes time. These shelters will see us through the winter no problems, this will give us plenty time to build cabins and furniture, I also have plans for running water straight to the cabins. So these shelters will give us that time and comfort we need.
It’s a simple build but can take a lot of time, so we will build one at a time, at the same time we will carry on hunting and checking out the plants and roots around us, not just for food but also medicines.
One of the guys found a red berry type plant and as there were plenty of them, she asked if we could use them, they were a brilliant find as far as I was concerned. Wild chillies, or Pequins, these chilli seeds are dropped in the birds solids all over Texas, but mostly south Texas so we now had a better idea where we were. We would now have something to pep our meals up with, all year round, what a find, the next great find was in an open valley, the bottlebrush tree, this was a good find as the flowers and leaves could be used as a really nice tea. Also, flavouring in stews, if you crushed the flowers and leaves you could apply it to skin to keep off insects, also if you put it where you didn’t want insects it worked a treat. The plants just kept coming we found Chickweed, Indian strawberry’s, Blackberries, and our first true medicine plant the Pimpernel. They just kept coming our guys really knew how to look, which brought up another project, good clay for plates, pots and jugs.
Most of the team had noticed we were getting the smaller fish in the traps, along with some crayfish, they wanted to know how to get the bigger fish, as we didn’t have enough cordage for nets yet. I showed them what to do with the bones from the deer we had killed and some of the small animals we had started to catch in our traps. Like the fox, Gopher, Mink, and Muskrat, there were more but they wanted fish, and were quite right, fish is a very important part of our diet. So with the bones I showed them how to make a good fish spear.
The most important point of fishing with a spear is aim in front of the fish, due to the reflective quality of water, and don’t throw the spear, it is best used with patience and a quick jabbing motion, this way you don’t break the ends so quick.
While everything was going well, I knew there was risk in my next venture and discussed it with the team first, I was planning to check out the Barbary sheep, these had been brought in to replace the big horn sheep which has vanished from the area, while we were there we would set some traps for feral pigs. We would be after the sheep for their fleece and was also looking to pick up some young ones to keep and domesticate, we would do this with any young pigs also. The biggest danger was black bear for when I realised where we were it wouldn’t have been a grizzly I saw it would be a black, but most danger would come from the areas we would be climbing through.