The Spaniards around St. Augustine in the 1600's complained
that "much digging with the hands" was required in corn planting; that
the yield was small and that it took four months and more for the corn
to mature. In storage, the insects ate out the center of the grain leaving
nothing but empty hulls.
Another source of food was the China briar or pseudo-smilax.
From its roots a jelly-like bread was made which was called "conti."
This was said to be very sweet and nourishing. Pumpkins, grapes,
yams, various roots, and the acorns of the live oak were valuable
additions to the diet.
Since game and fish were abundant, agriculture remained
undeveloped. To be a successful hunter required the combined
abilities of an Olympian runner and swimmer, reckless disregard for
life and limb, and a large amount of cunning. Hunters ran down "large
hens" (turkeys). Dressed in deer skins, horns and all, they stalked the
unwary deer and stabbed or shot them before the animals discovered
the masquerade. Alligators were caught by ramming sharpened poles
down their throats. Indian fishermen lassoed the manatee, or sea cow,
and the porpoise, jabbed stakes into their air vents, and rode them until
they were landed.
Once the game was killed, the hunters set about preserving the
meat. Four forked stakes were set up and on these others