Sunday, March 6, 2011

Skill Points

Damn, it got cold overnight. It's just below freezing outside, which is sort of scary. The farms have already started putting plants in the ground, and a frost could mean disaster. We've got our fingers crossed that doesn't happen.

Yesterday I mentioned something about people learning different skill sets. I've talked about it before--everyone training to do a little bit of everything. To a large degree, we've done a good job of that. Most people here have basic first aid training, know how to do CPR, and can treat a wound if it's not too bad. Almost everyone has been taught to fire a gun accurately as well as a bow and arrow, knows enough hand to hand combat to fight off a zombie, and can at least swing a machete or ax well enough to save their lives. That's awesome, really. I can't describe to you the headache that coordinating all of that early on caused me, but I'm really glad we did it. Now, others that I have taught can teach the basics, which makes it easier.

However, there are a lot of areas where skills and knowledge haven't been parsed out as evenly. There aren't many people, for example, that know how to cook for large groups and make it taste like anything other than shoe leather. There's also a real lack of people that know how to farm. Yeah, most of us have been able to grow food within the compound itself, each of us tending the gardens in our own space. There just aren't that many of us that know the ins and outs of real farming, doing it on a large scale. Most of the folks that go out to the farms to help out, guards included, are just following directions at present. After talking with the farmers, it's clear that this has to change. We can't leave it to chance that those men and women with that precious knowledge won't be killed or forced to leave. What they know, all of us have to learn.

The same goes for every other skill and trade around here. There are a few people that know how to make bows and fletch arrows. They will be teaching others. Same for smithing, construction, leatherwork, crafting chainmail, even sewing. Everything has to be shared. We can't afford to lose someone critical, so the only option is to make sure no one is critical.

We've got a good backup for knowledge with our ownership of a few copies of the Ark, but knowledge itself is only half of what you need. People with experience in a given trade are worth their weight in gold. It's all well and good to know something about how to plant corn when you read it from a book, but the farmer who's been growing it for twenty years will teach you how to do it right the first time, do it quickly and safely, and get the best possible yield with the least amount of work.

I'm not trying to harp on about this, but I think it's important. All of you out there who are in your own groups should consider this seriously. The beating we've taken recently proves that every able body is going to be needed to move forward. Over the last few days several of our injured have gone back to work in one capacity or another, and we're hoping a few more each day will do the same. The folks from North Jackson have left, just as the remainder of the people we left there have arrived here. It's not an even trade, as there are about twenty more of our new arrivals than people that left to go back to NJ. In numbers, we're doing better than we were. In experience, not so much. Most of these new arrivals are folks we picked up along the way, mostly from the town where Gabby and the doctors set up shop. They don't know their way around here, and most of them aren't familiar with what most of us do on a daily basis. We'll teach them, of course.

It just takes time.

The good news is that they brought a lot of food down with them, mostly stuff that Courtney and the convoy she led hauled back with them. Donations to help out the refugees from the compound. Lucky, that, especially since we're not refugees anymore. That food won't last as long since it has to feed so many, but it will give us the breathing room and strength we need to muscle through these last few weeks of winter.

Now I get to go learn how to make a pot of soup that will feed an army. I'm about as hungry as a whole platoon, so this should work out well...

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