We've had to make a lot of hard choices since all of this began. The world we live in is now a harder place, with the odds stacked against us. As strange as it may sound, we have had a hard time with making decisions about animals. Sound weird? Think about it.
We keep dogs, in large part because they act as a wonderful early warning system for zombies. Even small dogs can smell them coming from a long way off, and tend to freak out when a large group is coming. Of course, Jess and I have our big boys, Riley and Bigby, who double as guards when the need comes up. But dogs have to be fed, and while food isn't a huge problem right now, winter is coming and stores have to be put aside.
It's hard to imagine our lives without our pets. Jess and I have cats and two ferrets, and they have large stocks of dry food, enough to last another year at least. All or our animals bring us comfort and unconditional love and companionship. We kill people when the need arises, and zombies every day....but all of us came up against a hard wall when it came to man's best friend. Dog food just goes too fast, and takes up so much space that we didn't stock up that much of it.
The solution we came to isn't a pretty one. We have to stock up on food, and having a steady supply of meat is crucial to keeping up our strength through the approaching cold.
So we have decided to measure out exactly what we will need for ourselves and our dogs protein wise, and add twenty percent to it, and we are going to slaughter cows to get it. Some of the ones at our nearby farms, of course, and as many as we can find in outlying areas. Then we release every cow that lives out into the wild, try to herd them into a large mass. We intend on letting them breed and migrate as they will, but try to keep track of them so that we can hunt them down when the spring comes. We'll be wanting milk, I am sure...
The big reason for this is that cows need a lot of pasture, and since they were our only domesticated livestock option until now, we pretty much had to keep them around. But Will Price and Aaron got to talking after one of Aaron's classes the other day (as a fellow "outsider", Will has made it a point to reach out to our new teacher, and to try and get to know him. They also happen to share a love of accumulating errata and odd bits of trivia...) and during the course of that conversation, Will learned that Aaron knows where several very large sheep farms are located. This is awesome news, because sheep are a perfect staple animal.
They produce more meat per square foot of grazing land required than cows. They reproduce faster. They are covered in warm, fuzzy wool with which we can make lots of clothes. Well, next year we will, can't shear them right before the winter...
The hard part will be getting them here. None of us have quite figured out how we are going to do that yet, but a party will be heading out this afternoon, following Aaron's directions and hoping for the best.
I told Will, after he passed this information on to the council, that he and Aaron should come over to the house tonight. Jess is coming home, finally, after so much time recuperating at the clinic. I wish Pat could be here for it, and the small homecoming get together I have planned, but he and the volunteers with him are still gone and out of touch. So instead of pining for my best friend to be here when he can't, I will focus on getting to know new friends better, and maybe helping draw Aaron out of this shell he's drawn himself into.
Come to think of it, maybe I will invite Roger and his wife over as well. I'd like to see some familiar faces tonight...
Jess isn't a fan of beef. I might go look and try to find a chicken somewhere, though most of them have been moved out to the neighboring farm. Damn cold mornings, making everything harder.