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Russian family that fled into the tagia, what could have they done better?  RSS feed

 
Gilbert Fritz
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I'm sure most people here have heard of the Russian family that fled from the Soviets and lived isolated for more then 40 years. They made their own clothes, grew their own food, and lived off the land. Somehow, even though they fled at the spur of the moment when the Father's brother was shot, they took with them seeds, pieces for a loom and spinning wheel, and a few tools.

One of their biggest problems was a lack of means to boil water once their kettles rusted out. What could have they done then? How could they boil water? Smelting and casting metal would have been difficult or impossible.

They had no way of easily killing animals. Guns or even bows would have made a huge difference.

Salt was a problem. I suppose their might have been a salt spring, but baring that, not much to do.

More diversity of crops might have helped; some were lost to them when they failed two years running, and that was the end of the seed.

And the biggest lack of all; a few more families to flee with. They could have done all sorts of things with more people.

But all in all, an amazing survival story. Here is a link for those who don't know about it. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/for-40-years-this-russian-family-was-cut-off-from-all-human-contact-unaware-of-world-war-ii-7354256/?no-ist

NOT saying they did badly! I consider it quite an achievement that most of them survived.
 
Dan Boone
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I have lived in the taiga (in Alaska) and I have a solution using local materials for the boiling water one! But it comes to me from the cultural heritage of the Hankutchin (or Hungwitchin) Athabascan Indians who lived in the chunk of Alaska where I grew up so the Russian family may have had no way to know of it. Basically you make a basket of folded birch bark and stitch it together with spruce root. There's a way to do this so that all of the punctures for the spruce root are near the top edge of the basket and it is water tight, or you can seal any holes or sewn seams with spruce pitch. If you use the folded variety, you can put it right on your fire and it will not burn so long as water is inside it; it's the same principle as the lab trick involving the paper cup full of water held over a Bunsen burner. If you use the spruce-roots-and-pitch design, the fire will eat the pitch, but you can put the basket full of water near the fire and cook by exchanging red-hot-rocks out of the fire and into the basket, replacing them as they cool. None of this is fast or efficient, but it does work.

The Athabaskans did not have much tradition of archery (I was told) and they ate a lot of river fish, hunting mostly with spears. Killing large game was a problem and bears were a BIG problem, so much so that a hunter who had killed a bear was often (usually?) made chief.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Good stuff Dan!

I once read of a family that survived freezing weather in the mountains after their fan skidded off a precipice. They heated rocks in a campfire, then transferred them into the van for the night.

I suppose the heated rocks thing would have worked even in a wooden trough or bucket. Now that I come to think of it, I seem to recall hearing that is what the natives did to make Maple syrup.
 
Dan Boone
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Oh, now I see that they did know how to make birch bark baskets, but didn't know how to use them directly over a fire:

A couple of kettles served them well for many years, but when rust finally overcame them, the only replacements they could fashion came from birch bark. Since these could not be placed in a fire, it became far harder to cook.


It sounds like they may have been using some variant of the hot-rocks method for cooking ... which is indeed "far harder".
 
Byron Gagne
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I think we should look at this differently?

We should study what they did right!

I would love to have seeds that they kept, as they would be very strong!

There skills on foraging would be superb! A plant walk with anyone of these folks if they were still around would be amazing!

Crafting skills, building with limited amount of modern materials, just learning how they operate day to day would be amazing.

I know they lived very "rough" but they figured out a lot in the conditions they were living in that one could only learn in such circumstances! I beleave they would have a lot of knowledge on how to live.

I beleave a lot of there knowledge and way of doing could be adapted and complimenting to a permaculture life style. Man I would love to get my hand on those seeds they kept growing every year. As into live far north.
 
Byron Gagne
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My bet they made birch bark baskets possibly and used rocks to heat and cook with in the baskets. My thinking is there or stands of birch in taiga. Could have even used hollowed out logs or carved bowls very likely.

Also possibly the stomach out of animals could also be used for a pot. I shouldn't say possibly but was used by other native groups. Just a matter of if they used the stomach or not when they had the opportunity to harvest a animal.
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