Friday, June 24, 2011


A little good news this morning. The homesteaders that have been organizing hunting teams had a good run of luck yesterday eight or nine miles away. They went in the direction of Shelbyville, toward one of the farms near my brother's old house. We raided a lot of those places last year, as the crops had been left to rot by the farmers who had fled their land or been killed.

One interesting fact about Kentucky, and I think most states that had historically had a heavy agricultural industry, is that this place is a giant magnet for rabbit populations. Around here they're considered pests, and there was period of time last year when it was all the rage to see who could catch the most of them in the compound.

The zombies moved toward supplementing their diets with animal meat a long time ago, which has helped keep the population low around us and where we farm. That's one of the few advantages of having zombies congregate around centers of human habitation: pest control. It doesn't make up for the danger we face in having the flesh-eating dead surrounding us at all times, but it does add that silver lining.

A lot of the old farms are perfect breeding grounds for bunnies. The soil, so often hard and dense because of the high clay content here, has been worked for generations in most cases. It's soft and fertile, which makes it perfect for bunnies to burrow in. It also means a lot of plants will take root there, including some food plants. The homesteaders brought back two dozen rabbits yesterday, three deer, and a few baskets full of early corn and other assorted vegetables.

It isn't enough to feed us all, but it helps. Everything helps.

The recent tension and troubles haven't been doing any favors for the new folks we brought from Tennessee, but one person the homesteaders hate above all others has been feeling the heat even more. Will Price was already unpopular with that crowd, though many of the people that would become homesteaders had goodwill toward him because of his actions during the occupation by the Richmond soldiers. Now, that's changed, if only because of the strange mob mentality that the homesteaders seem to have.

A few loudmouths start getting people behind them, and the group seems to follow suit. There are always a few who disagree, of course, and it's not exactly a uniform message. There are degrees in the intensity of hate or dislike that most of the homesteaders have been showing to Will. It's actually a pretty wide range. But they're still getting worse because a few people are egging them on, constantly pushing the message that Will is evil, awful, bad.

This, despite the good he's done. Since we took the compound back, Will has been under punishment that frankly I thought he'd try to get away from long ago. Instead he's tried at every turn to do what was best for the people here, and gone far beyond everything that's been asked of him. Some of our best innovations in security and defense are because of him, yet he gets no credit.

Hell, he's even coming up with ideas to stretch our food supplies as far as they can go. He's been working with Patrick all morning on designing and fabricating very large containers to cook in, so we can make huge portions of stew.

That sounds simple, and it is. I'm not talking the five or ten gallon pots we've collected over time, either. So much of what we eat is usually veggies and fruit that we've never really thought of stews and soups on a large scale. Will, though, has been doing some math, figuring out caloric content, and has discovered just why stews were so widely popular for so long.

They've got tons of calories for relatively few ingredients, and you can put just about anything in them and get the nutritional value of whatever you add right there in the pot. Vegetables for vitamins and minerals, meat for fats and protein, water and flour as a base and for carbohydrates (the fuel for bodily energy, after all) and what milk we can spare to add calcium. It's pretty brilliant, and Will says a very efficient way to get an even mixture of all those things into a simple serving. He says it's a far better way to feed people as efficiency goes than the piecemeal way we've been going about it.

All this time, and we're still learning very simple lessons. I just hope the next time we need to learn some basic fact like this, it happens well before we need it. I'm getting worried that we don't have many more last-minute solutions ahead of us.

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