A Treatise on the Knowledge of Husbandship and Related Discourses
By Uester Rael
Produced to bring further glory to the name of Tempus the Foehammer by ensuring that those who follow his will and my words will prosper while those who do not shall be swiftly destroyed in his mercy. Being a treatise on the preservation and associated practices for the prevention of putrefaction and the laying-up of foods for long periods so that shortages such as those encountered in war may be endured. This manual, as with a previous work on the treatment of minor bodily dysfunction, is intended for use by those who are uninitiated in such matters.
Of the Nature and Causes of Putrefaction
It can be observed that water which is undisturbed by the flow of a river or stream will if given time grow unclean and unfit for drinking by man. The drinking of unclean water is to be avoided for it will cause sickness and even death. Further we may identify unclean water by sight and by smell. So from these observations we may deduce that water which is left at rest will become poisonous.
And we know that fruits such as apples, grapes and pears all contain water because when we bite or squeeze such fruits the water is forced from them. Also we know that fruits turn putrid. This is because the water in the fruit turns putrid through lack of movement.
Of Preserving Grapes, Figs, Peaches and Diverse Soft Fruits and Beans, Peas, Lentils and Diverse Pulses
These are the easiest of things to preserve. Once harvested it is possible to preserve them by drawing out the water with sunshine. Lay them out upon a wide surface in the light of day for many days and the sun shall draw the water from them. Once the water has been taken from them they will now endure a long time without putrefaction. To prevent spoilage water must be kept away from them so that they do not reabsorb it and thus quickly become putrid again.
Of Preserving Apples
The apple is the king of fruits, believed by many to be the first fruit ever created by the gods in ages long past. The apple contains much water and we can see that drying water from an apple does make it unpalatable. Apples, therefore must be stored with their water intact, but to prevent putrefaction that water must still be moved. We see that the apple does not rot while it grows upon the bows of a tree, this is because it is moved by the wind, so when storing apples they must be laid flat, not touching one-another in a place where the wind can blow freely between them. Thus will apples be preserved.
Of Preserving Foods Which Have No Water
Not all foods which are grown contain water. We may see that by squeezing or crushing wheat one does not obtain water and neither can water be found by biting. This is also the case of barley and other such foods. In preserving these it is not necessary to drive the water from them, but merely to prevent water from gaining access to them. In this case these foods must by laid-up in places which are sealed and to which nothing and no-one can gain access except to remove the foods. Neither must wheat be laid upon the earth, for the earth itself can contain water and this will damage the food slowly as it is absorbed. In this way wheat can be laid-up for many years without fear of putrefaction.
Of Preserving Meats
When a creature is alive its meat is constantly in motion and we can see that creatures which are still for too long, like the lazy man who lies in bed beyond his rest, will waste away and we know that creatures contain water for when we exert ourselves it does come from us in perspiration and when we are cut we bleed. So to remain healthy a man must remain active to prevent his waters from becoming putrid. However, once dead meat is not moved so easily and must have its waters removed. Meat may most efficiently have its waters removed first by bleeding, hang up the carcass and slitting its throat and allow the blood to drain out. This process will preserve the meat for a few days only.
But we may taste meat which has been treated in this way and know that it is still moist and so contains water. Meat which has rested for three days may be preserved still further by driving more of its waters out, this may be done by cooking the meat. Cooked meat may be kept for as long again as the uncooked meat. To preserve meats for a very long time it is necessary to drive their waters from them altogether. The meat must be cut thin and dried to drive the water from the meat. Meat dried in this way may last for many weeks.
The best way to preserved meat is to follow this guide. First let the side of the body be opened, and the carcass exenterated. Let the skull be opened and the brains taken out. Let the organs and the genitals be removed with the pith of the backbone. Then hang up the body by the feet for three or four hours. Then wash it with a sponge. dipped in vinegar and aquavita. Then let it dry. When done, strew it with unquenched lime, alome, and salt. Let it hang for two days in the smoke of myrrh, bay, rosemary, and cypress in a dry and open place. Then make a mixture of unquenched lime five pounds, of burnt alome one pound, good salt two pound, of aloes and myrrh half a pound. Of aloes wood half a pound, of the oil of spicknard three ounces, of the powder of rosemary flowers five, of burnt green brass and calcanthum two, of the best theriack four, of the dust of cypress half a pound, of dried saffron one ounce, of the seeds of coloquintida three and a half, of antimony beaten to powder one and a half, of the ashes of wine lees five and a half, of musk half a drachm, of amber two. Let all be diligently Brayed and mixed together, and strewn upon the body which must be strongly rubbed together for three days, in an open and dry place.
Of Other Ways Of Preserving Foods
It can be observed that other methods of preserving exist. We can see that brackish water, taken from the sea, or water which has been heavily salted, does not putrefy. Since we see the only difference between brackish water and drinking water is the addition of salt, it is thus the case that salt works to prevent putrefaction. Thus foods meats and other items which are kept wrapped in salt will preserve a long time, though it is necessary to wash the foods thoroughly before eating them and not to add salt afterwards to the cook pot.
Other substances also do not putrefy. Vinegar does not, and vegetables may be kept long in it, honey does not and fruit may be kept in honey, as may some meats though for less time than with salt or vinegar. Fruit may also be kept in strong wine and afterwards the wine will still be fit for drinking. And honey will still be fit for eating or making into mead should you desire to. In all cases such vessels are used for storage should be at all times kept sealed to prevent the air from bringing more water to foods.
Of the Northern Way of Preserving Foods
In Cormyr and the Dales and all the South it is known that food should be kept in cool places and in the dark, such as in pantries, but in the north they have different ways. Beyond Waterdeep, where winter snow lies thick most of the year, it is possible to preserve food, especially meats, for many months by burying it in snow or ice. Snow and ice are merely water, so why do they not turn putrid when left still for many months? It must be the case that the cold itself preserves. Using this knowledge we in the south should then gather up snow and ice in the cold days of the year and take it to a cool place under the ground, there meats can back packed in the ice, making them last and keep fresh through the winter until the snow and ice melts in the spring.
Of the Preservation of Nuts
Nuts are best kept in their shells and will endure longest in the covering which nature has given them. Keep them shelled in coffers which allow no air or light to assault them.
Of Supplies in War Time
Thus we have discussed those things with which it is appropriate to do to make preparation for war, but all of these things are inappropriate once war has begun. An army must have food in abundance for the tasks required of fighting men exceed thrice over the work required from a common man. Though the common man is not to be derided, the business of the warrior requires that he be fed the best so that his arm is strong for combat and so that the land, the king and the common man may endure. So in war time there will be no opportunity to lay down food and reserves will be depleted.
As a mercenary and later a Priest of Tempus, praise be to His great name, it has often been required of me to travel in inhospitable terrain over long periods with few supplies. Now I shall relate certain tricks which are common lore to those aged battlefield veterans, and it this knowledge – the subtle lore of the uncommon foot-soldier – upon which more wars are lost and won than the folly of fools or the casual brilliance of generals and lords combined.
Of Training Soldiers to Survive
It is not sufficient for a soldier to only know how to use a sword, an axe or a bow. Though fancy tales will speak with honeyed words of battles that rage both night and day, such writers do not know battle. The battles which men fight last barely an hour, a conflict which lasts a day must have twenty thousand men to ruin and a further twenty thousand to fight on – and what general would commit his men to such slaughter? No, the battles most warriors see will last only an hour before both sides retire, beaten or victorious or exhausted they will retire from the field. This accepted the warrior’s job then seems easy, he must simply fight for one hour then he may sleep until called upon to fight again. Not so.
The warrior must always make preparations for attack, for his enemies will always be preparing to attack him. It is because of this that warriors must be prepared for unforeseen incidents and inconstant fortune. Losing a battle may be a blow, but if the war can be won it is not disastrous, for Tempus though angered might turn his countenance towards an army again with new favour and it is the final victory which pleases the Lord of Battles, not the first. For this reason an army must be prepared to extend their time in the field and be prepared to endure additional hardships. In war it is only necessary to outlast the enemy to achieve victory. An army which has died of starvation is only occasionally a threat. Every soldier must be able to hunt, to fish, to set snares or to forage and every unit must have a mixture of such skills, thus the unit will be able to subsist well in any environment.
Of Cooking in the Wilderness
If deprived of cooking gear there are certain items which can provide a substitute. If moving quickly and unable to stop to cook every meal, you may prepare food in advance. When roasting an animal or lighting a camp fire, place an unused sword in the flames. When the sword is searing hot insert it into a chicken which has had its innards removed, then cover the bird with cloths so that the heat may not escape. In this way, by lighting only a single fire for a short time, it will be possible to heat several swords and cook several meals at once, with preparation cooking with this method can even be done on the move.
When you do not have sufficient time to turn a spit and must attend to other duties or watch for enemies, make the spit from new hazel then roast lizards or small birds. The hazel twists naturally in the heat of the fire and will roast the creature on all sides without your attention. Cooking fish is sometimes difficult since it often falls apart and small fish are difficult to skewer. A frying pan can be made by coating a sheet of paper in oil and placing it over hot – not burning – coals.
Snake and bird eggs are often encountered in the desert or mountains, but less common is water and what water you have you would not want to waste in boiling. So it is often easier to carry quicklime. In a small hole, place the eggs, then sprinkle over quicklime, then sprinkle only a little water. The quicklime will grow hot as fire and the eggs will cook quickly.
Finally we deal with salt. Previously it was discussed that salted meat is preserved for a long time. To make such fare suitable for eating you must first boil it in milk, then wash it in water. If you are found without salt and must eat unpalatable food then sumach seeds combined with benjamin make an excellent substitute. Careful consultation with local people will reveal what substitutes might be found in any geographic area, indeed with regard to all the above, make use of local knowledge, the people who live in a land do so better than those who only pass through it.