Tent Life in Siberia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 467 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.
and of their dogs throughout the long, cold northern winter.  During the summer, however, their bill of fare is more varied.  The climate and soil of the river bottoms in southern Kamchatka admit of the cultivation of rye, potatoes, and turnips, and the whole peninsula abounds in animal life.  Reindeer and black and brown bears roam everywhere over the mossy plains and through the grassy valleys; wild sheep and a species of ibex are not unfrequently found in the mountains; and millions upon millions of ducks, geese, and swans, in almost endless variety, swarm about every river and little marshy lake throughout the country.  These aquatic fowls are captured in great multitudes while moulting by organised “drives” of fifty or seventy-five men in canoes, who chase the birds in one great flock up some narrow stream, at the end of which a huge net is arranged for their reception.  They are then killed with clubs, cleaned, and salted for winter use.  Tea and sugar have been introduced by the Russians, and have been received with great favour, the annual consumption now being more than 20,000 pounds of each in the Kamchatkan peninsula alone.  Bread is now made of rye, which the Kamchadals raise and grind for themselves; but previous to the settlement of the country by the Russians, the only native substitute for bread was a sort of baked paste, consisting chiefly of the grated tubers of the purple Kamchatkan lily. [Footnote:  A species of fritillaria.] The only fruits in the country are berries and a species of wild cherry.  Of the berries, however, there are fifteen or twenty different kinds, of which the most important are blueberries, “maroshkas” (mah-ro’-shkas), or yellow cloud-berries, and dwarf cranberries.  These the natives pick late in the fall, and freeze for winter consumption.  Cows are kept in nearly all the Kamchadal settlements, and milk is always plenty.  A curious native dish of sour milk, baked curds, and sweet cream, covered with powdered sugar and cinnamon, is worthy of being placed upon a civilised table.

It will thus be seen that life in a Kamchatkan settlement, gastronomically considered, is not altogether so disagreeable as we have been led to believe.  I have seen natives in the valley of the Kamchatka as pleasantly situated, and enjoying as much comfort and almost as many luxuries, as nine tenths of the settlers upon the frontiers of our western States and Territories.

[Illustration:  Travelling Bag made of Reindeer skin]



At Okuta we found our horses and men awaiting our arrival; and after eating a hasty lunch of bread, milk, and blueberries in a little native house, we clambered awkwardly into our saddles, and filed away in a long irregular line through the woods, Dodd and I taking the advance, singing Bonnie Dundee.

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Tent Life in Siberia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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