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PULLING THE TEETH
OF THE DESERT John L. Cowan IT is a strange and puzzling circum stance that the regions in the arid southwest that are now the most Bcantly populated are the very ones that once supported the largest aborig inal population. When Cabeza de Vaca, Coronado, Alarcon and other early ex plorers traversed the region between the Pecos river in Texas and the Colo rado on the boundary between Cali fornia and Arizona, they found a popu lation estimated by some authorities at twice or thrice as large as that now living In it, notwithstanding the de velopment of modern transportation, raining and stock raising industries. Tet when the first white men visited the country the population had been reduced by tribal wars to a fraction Of what It had once been, as shown by numberless prehistoric ruins scattered throughout Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas end southern Colorado, Utah and . Nevada. To give a single Instance mentioned by the late J. W. Powell of the Smith eonlan Institution: The Aravlca valley of Arizona now has a population of less than 100. These could hardly subsist without the Importation of fooU sup plies. Yei In this little valley have been found the ruins of seven prehis toric villages. One of these villages contains the ruins of 120 houses, so that It must have had & population ap proxlm&tinsr 600, and the valley Is be- Ueved to "have been inhabited by be tween 8,000 and 6,000 persons. How does lt-fcappen that the desert is so much more Inhospitable than It used to be? It has been customary to account for the creat population that used to inhabit the arid lands on the supposition that there has been a vast change In cllmatlo conditions. Modern research has proven this belief to be baseless. The desert has been a 'desert for ages. The only change Is that the aborigines of prehistoric times knew better than we do how to utilize its natural resources. .It Is well known that they practiced Irrigation, as we Tempting Dishes for the Camp Menu x-*ONFROXTED by the conditions ex- V^ isting in a camp kitchen, which differ Bomewhat from those of a mod ern town chefs realm, cooks are apt to "spoil the broth" by trying, to do too much or construct too elaborate dishes. The simplest foods are most appetising when camping and they are the' best to eat. They shonld be simply prepared. Coffee made in camp has a different flavor from that made anywhere else. " An experienced camp er gives this rule for making it: Have the coffee ground fine,* place eight lieaping dessertspoonfuls in a hot col Tee pot. add two quarts of boiling water and set the pot near the tire for a few minutes. The coffee should never be boiled. This amount is for four persons. T« jc*k« chocolate the same author ity says: Take two' heaping dessert spoonfuls of milk powder and eight dessertspoonfuls of chocolate; add a little water and make a- paste; then pour in two quarts of boiling water and add a little sugar. Biscuits — Take two pints of flour to which have been added two heaping teaspoonfuls of baking powder and sift into a bread pan; add one level tea epooniul of gait, some cold pork fat the size of an egg and mix all to gether thoroughly while dry; -add, six heaping dessertspoonfuls of evaporated milk, or twice as much fresh milk, with enough cold water\ to make as soft a dough as can . be rolled on the bread board, which has been- sprinkled with flour. Roll the dough about one half inch thick and cut into circles with a i china or tin cup, ' the rim of which has been dipped in flour, or use a knife. Place the circles in a greased are just beginning. to do, and that they were experienced and successful "dry farmers." In addition, they utilized for food purposes many forms of vege tation that have long been neglected.. So it is believed that the white Amer icans of the twentieth century may learn some useful lessons from the red aborigines of the sixteenth or from their surviving representatives. To that end the Smithsonian institution has long been conducting researches in aboriginal economics, with particular regard to their sources of food supply prior to the coming of. the, white men. Among their natural food resources that are now neglected perhaps the most important were the forms of desert vegetation known as agaves and cacti — only the last named of which will be considered in this article. Con- or floured pan, set in;tne racK oi.ine baker before the fire and leave un til light and brown," on \ top. \u25a0 .. Corn Bread— Take one pint of flour and one pint of ' cornmeal' and put in the bread pan, with two 1 heaping tea spoonfuls of baking powder.- one level teaspoonful of salt, two dessertspoon fuls of. dried egg. one teaspoonfulj of sugar ahd:cold pork fat the sizo of an egg. Mix thoroughly while dry. Add six heaping dessertspoonfuls of evap orated milk and enough cold water to make a thick batter; stir until -' well mixed and pour' into a greased "pan; place in the : rack of the baker . and stand the baker in front of the tire. : Griddle Cakos— Take, two pints of flour, "to which have, been • added two teaspoonfuls of baking ; powder; add one lev,el, teaspoonful of salt, two des sertspoonfuls of dried egg and mix together dry. Mix with this six heap ing dessertspoonfuls of evaporated milk and enough cold water to make a. creamy batter. Do not have the batter thin. Fry, in the frying pan, which, has been greased with a piece of pork fat. , Boiled Rice— Thoroughly wash and rinse one "cup of- rice in cold water, drain and place in" about two quarts of boiling water in an uncovered] pot,' add two teaspoonfuls "of • salt and 'boil steadily for 10 or 20 minutes,; adding water, if necessary,: as; the . rice ; boils. When tender; drain and place: near the fire to dry. it: a- little::; : . V ; Hasty Pudding— To. a quart; of ..boil ing water add half a; teaspooriful of salt and stir. in slowly, a cupful ; of corn meal.. Boil . 10' minutes,' ;stirring con stantly; to' prevent^ scorching. \u0084.; Hasty . pudding served with- milk '\u25a0 and /sugar makes *an* appetizing and wholesome" dish. hHHBHS^^^ WiLL vAL:rI;: kfll , i"PINE-PRQfECTED WATER BARRELS OFTHE GREAT WASTES, YET: ., PROVE A JOURCE OF iU/TENANGE ' AND RICHES FOR MEN? cerning" these the following statements are. quoted from the twenty-third an nual report of the; Smithsonian institu tion: "Among neglected crop plants are various cacti (locally known as sa guaro, pitahayo, nopal, saguesa,, etc.), whose" fruits sufficed to, support the native population for some two months each year, though they are rarely util ize J: by white settlers, o These cacti are products of v the desert; par. excellence, '.. adjusted to their habitat during geolo-, - qic ages, and in some way not, yet made but .deriving' thelrivitai^ energy chiefly - from light, and.they- give promise that ; unless exterminated by vandalism; they,; will 'some' day. yield to intelligentjcul tivatioh and add an: invaluable resource to • our . arid': districts." On Tumahroc; hill,' two males' from Tucson, Ariz., the scientists of "the Car negie '-desert \u25a0< laboratory - (a branch ot \u25a0< the ' Carnegie institntion) - ; are. conduct ing 'experiments and investigations for; the further utilization of desert 'vege tation. \u25a0'': Naturally 'the , great; family of " cacti receive *a • large" share |of = their \ at tention anditis expectedithat their re- searches.will; greartly extend : the field: of *.' usefulness [of ; this characteristic prod uct of the c'llanii! of little ; rain." ' Sim- ilaV experiments/and. investigations. are : in progress by the .scientists : of the ' de- „ partment -of \ agriculture, and . at^ state;. : and; territorial agricultural colleges and j experiment stations. 'Tnen>the labors off Liuther Burbank for the production of. a spineless cactus for use as a forage plant have been widely commented upon in newspapers: and magazines. Not so well known, however, is the fact that ages before .the^plant wizard of Cali fornia was born a spineless cactus grew abundantly throughout the southwest. The fact that it was spineless lea to us extermination, excepting ; in isolated spots in the mountains, or in f ence_d hi yards and gardens.. The sheep and cat tle liked it so ) well that it , disappeared from ) the 'ranges -so' long ago that only a, few of the "old timers" remember that^it used to.be one of the most com momvarietles. • With* scientists': and others- thus, in vestigating the cacti as sources of; food supply. (either directly \u25a0as"* 'producers, of edible ~- fruits, ~i or; indirectly^ as forage plants)'- it isprobableithatithe prevail ing opinion that these plants are of^lit tle value will soon have to Jbe revised. [ The cacti; exhibit' a remarkable \u25a0 adapt ation to deseVt conditions.; Their struc ture; is, peffectiy suited. for the collec tion ;,and- -storage] \u25a0.' of water, ' for resist^ ance to the high winds and sandstorms of [the treeless region,; and 'for. self-pro tection against animals that:would;cer tainly, /destroy them for'?' the"; moisture they 'contain; but fbr.thelr; armament of numberless istrbng/ sharp spines. . .Most of jV'thie \ rainfall;' of ? thej region ij in 'Which the cacti'~flourish'" occurs* in. the 'winter months, ,in some places .averaging [not more than .four or five-inches annually. To absorb as much of the precious moisture as possible, the cacti are* pro vided with a ; very extensive root sys tem, extending 'in till directions just beneath -\u25a0the surface. To store this moisture* up for. time of need in the hot. rainless 'and dev/less. suYnmer months, thebody of'the plant consists mainly of coarse dellular tissues.* The surfcoe,cx posure of the plants is vary small in proportion to their mass. As a- rule they liavc no leaves; belngsimpl/; a Hat, columnar or mass of," water holding: oell3, surroun-lVd" by.-, a- tough, skin so slightly porous that evaporation is red ucech to t'.ie lowest point consist -ent with the continuance of vegetable life. Protection from animals 'is ? : se cured, by. the spines, and their, form is such' that the severest winds that sweep tlie, deserts never, blow them v. down. £ Their flowers are usually showy, gener-; ally red, : yellow: or , white in color, of ten of large size^and sometimes/ of "great beauty, in strange contrast with- their • harsh and forbidding, surroundings. , As \u25a0 " a rule, the fruit Is .rather small, -'. pear » • shaped; red" or yellow in;color,;subaeld > and rather insipid in flavor." . .'; \u25a0 'The largest and mostTimposing.mem • ber Vof the great- cactus ramlly* is the i . cereus gigantea, or giant_cactus,'. which '. sornetirhesjattaln3 L a ; height_of from 50 : ''\u25a0 to j60..j 60.. feet. •;\u25a0_ Sometimes it : grows in;.: a : i single ; perpendicular \u25a0 column,- but more : •: commonly i it' 'divides at la.' height "of -10 ; - > \u25a0 or 20 feet above the ground Into several columnar branches. Prom its form and from the circumstance that it is thickly covered with sharp .spines that, burn freely when touched \ with a lighted match, it is often called the Arizona candle. It blossoms in May and" June, the end of each branch often display ing 50 or more large, waxy white blos soms. The fruit .ripens In August, when the~lndlans may be seen riding on horseback from plant, to plant, knock-, ing off the fruit with longpoles. The fruit- is either eaten fresh or' preserved for" winter use. . Through , the whole length of the trunk' and each of its branches extend long, woody fibers from one to three inches in diameter. These sustain the mass of succulent tissues that -form the body, of the plant, re maining upright like the bones of a skeleton, even after all the rest, of the plant , has decayed. Large numbers of these skeleton cacti in western Texas ; gave to * that region the :\u25a0 name "Llano Estacado," or "Staked- Plains." -On the east slope of life peninsula of -Lower California'this species of cactus grows in. extensive" forests known as the 'tar . don':forests." --Nothing grows -in the arid lands. that :is more ; eagerly watched for by the ex perienced prospector ..and '-traveler "than the * "Bisnaga," or barrel cactus, often called -; the : : of, the This is a large.Tcylindrical, spiny, green.cac tus,', from; three : to five f e*ef high, in .the top^of^which'.the* Indians. and others fa milliarV with, its peculiarities cut or scoop out a shaped - depression. This "soon., fills with" the: Juices O f t ne Plant, > supply ing ; a cooling ; drink has /.saved- many ; a .way .".worn : wanderer from * perishing •-; [ot ' :_ thirst. .; Unf ortU nately^mVny'me'n'haye'been lost on the \u25a0 i JXw ' - i3^*«* \ J» * mi** p Mojave and Colorado desert* who were unacquainted with the virtues of this "well of the desert," and some hay© died of thirst surrounded by these plants that would have afforded relief. No other variety of cactus 13 so widely known as the so called prickly pear, grown as a house plant In the eastern states and found In the wild state all over the west. In Colorado and other states, where cold winters prevail, this variety of cactus does not grow to a height of more than three or four feet, but in southern 'Califor nia, Mexico and other regions enjoying an equable climate plants 15 feet or more In height are not uncommon. In Mexico this is known as the nopal and was' formerly of very great economic value throughout tropical America, for the reason that the cochineal Insect flourishes upon It. In many regions it is utilized as a hedge plant, forming a barrier that no animal without wings can pass. The fruit Is sometimes used for making jellies. The spineless cactus of the plains is similar In ap pearance to the prickly pear. lacking only the spines, and the new variety developed by Luther Burbank origin ated from the same species. It Is the expectation of the plant wizard even . tually to produce a variety that will yield a delicious fruit of great food value. Altogether more than 1,000 species of cacti are known to botanists, prac tically all native to America. The cushion cactus, melon cactus and pumpkfn. cactus are sufficiently de scribed by their names, which how ever, are botanically Insufficient for the. reason that there are several species of each.' >$ Most varieties of cacti have no common or popular names, and their scientific appellations convey no mean ing to the unscientific reader. In Mexico the cardona. amarillo. palo altena, fafayuca. bianco and racherla are cultivated extensively for their fruits, from which are made "tuna honey" and "tuna cheese." The former '•; Is -sometimes made by economical housewives of the American southwest as a substitute for molasses. It Is made by simply taking the juice of the cactus fruit and boiling It until the desired consistency ia obtained. It is rich In sugar, agreeable in taste and will keep indefinitely. The fruits of nearly all -varieties are eaten raw by the Indiana and many are dried and preserved for winter use. The red. fruits of some varieties have long been used by the Indians as dye stuffs .for the coloring "of grass and yucca fibers for basket makinsr. Their processes are too slow for modern in dustrial use, but experiments are being conducted for the concentration of the cactus dyes In the hope that a new and unfading dyestuft may be - glven to tex tile manufacturers. One Arizona man claims to. have invented a process for the treatment/ of the cellular tissues of the barrel, melon and pumpkin cacti,; whereby they are shrunken to a mere fraction of their natural size and madeiato a cheaD and durable substi tute for Heather, suitable for the soles and heels of. shoes. However It is probable thatrthe greatest usefulness of- the- cacti will be as food and forage plants. ..The production and shipment of cactus - fruit* . may yet become an Important Industry, and it can ' hardly be .doubted .that- the spineless varieties will be largely grown for stock feeding Purposes nn-Tresrlons too arld;for other foliage plants to flourish. '