Saturday, March 5, 2011

Working Out the Kinks

I slept for fourteen glorious hours.

While I was knocked out, my brother and a bunch of other people came up with a way to at least slow the zombie population down if they decide to come at the farms again. It required burning through a lot of diesel fuel to do it, but Dave managed to coordinate three crews of people and got it (mostly) done. Basically, he dug a trench. It isn't all that deep, maybe a foot and a half, and it isn't very wide--just the width of the backhoe's scoop. For all of that, it's a brilliant idea and one that can be finished quickly. Zombies, after all, aren't all that perceptive and will slow down when presented with an obstacle.

All Dave had to do was set the scoop and drive, scraping out a channel in the ground. Took a couple of passes, but with three teams doing it the work was pretty quick. There's about a quarter of the land we use to finish, but I'm impressed as hell that so much was accomplished so quickly. Dave wants to pile up the dirt on outside the channel, so the zombies have to climb over it. I think he's hoping they'll lose balance and fall in, maybe breaking bones. I think we can do better than that if we can make some stakes to set at angles. It would take a lot of work, but lining the outside of the compound with stakes here and there has been very useful in keeping them from massing at the wall.

In all the ruckus over the last week, I've been neglectful of some of the more important news. Dodger, who has taken charge of the defenses, tells me that about half of the big guns brought here by the Richmond soldiers are functional and have ammunition. Surprisingly, we also discovered that there are few bullets for the soldiers' own personal weapons. We're still not sure if they hid their supplies or if they were low from the start, but it does mean that we're going to be very strict in our conservation of ammo from here on out. We've done a good job of that to this point, but there have been enough emergencies to tax our stocks pretty heavily. You might remember early on that a few of us had the foresight to collect what we'd need to make our own bullets. We still have plenty of lead, powder, and of course we save our casings...but primer is the real issue. Running low.

There's still a lot of work to do around the compound. Gabby, Evans, and Phil are still working on making sure the injured are safe from infection and healing properly. I hope that continues to go well, because we need the workers to finish some of the projects that really, really need to get done. Mostly the final touches on the north wall, but there's also the farms to think about, and one or two construction projects that haven't been touched since before the new year. All that aside, we're still running short all over the map: less guards on duty than there should be, less folks to help out at the farms, less secondary work being done.

I just don't think people outside the compound can really grasp just how much gets done here, or at least how much we were getting done. There aren't enough people physically able to work at the moment to justify making chainmail, which is always in demand for the scout crews and guards to protect from bites. We don't have anyone working on making clothing or other fabric goods. No construction going on that isn't security related. It sort of reminds me of a recession, how the basics are covered but no extra stuff gets attention. Irritating, but unavoidable.

I have to give him credit, Will is doing everything he can to help. I don't doubt that a good chunk of it is self-serving, but that doesn't change the fact that the guy is getting maybe four hours of sleep around twenty hours of frantic activity. He's still taking the honey wagon back and forth to the farms, but he's also doing a dozen other things to help, from carrying messages to cooking at the mess to acting as a gopher for the folks at the clinic. This morning I saw him working at the forge with Patrick, who is trying to learn how to do the job with one hand--and Will made the big guy smile for the first time in days.

Just for that, I gave him a huge bowl of rice and venison. I think it's the first bit of food he's had in a few days.

One major task left to us is figuring out exactly how we're going to do the whole leadership thing. We've done it democratically in several ways, but right now we're just sort of doing what needs to be done and putting any vital decisions before the council. I'm not sure how it's all going to turn out. Seeing how things in North Jackson have worked out, I have to wonder if an authoritarian voice isn't what we need to get through this rough transition. That will have to wait until the repairs are done and things have settled a bit, but all of us on the council have started telling people to think hard about it.

I love being back home, but I see it so differently now. For so much of the time that I lived here before the Richmond soldiers took this place in December, I was sitting behind a desk or going on trips to bring in folks from far away. Being a refugee taught me a lot about the world as it is now, and for all the insane danger of it, I enjoyed going on scout missions and doing new things. I've made it a point to tell the council and my brother that down the road I intend to spread my efforts out a little more. I've got this idea about everyone doing something similar, but that's for tomorrow's post.

For today, I've got my happy little spreadsheets and a mountain of logistical nightmares to put on them. Back to the rat race and all that.

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