I asked about that, and the guy assigned to be our aide took us out to a farm. It's only a mile or so from the edge of the main complex, and it's HUGE. Like, all capital letters huge. When I said they've been stripping places bare, I may have been understating the case.
The very large tract of land NJ is using to raise animals is surrounded by fences and barriers. It's the sort of hodgepodge you grow to expect from groups of survivors who use whatever they can find to build things. The really neat thing about the animal enclosure is that for the most part, it's a living ecosystem. There are two small ponds and a large creek running through it, and the populations of animals inside live as naturally as possible. Except for the fact that they're in a pen and the population controls they live under, it's pretty close to the way they'd live in the real world.
Add the animals they slaughter to keep the habitat viable to the hunting they do as far as a hundred miles away, and you get a place that has access to a surplus of meat.
North Jackson needs that. While I've been writing this, there have been two attacks of moderate size by zombies. 'Moderate' being a term relative to the size of this community. If either of them had hit New Haven, our people would have all been called to defend at once. The soldiers and guards can't use ammonia for every attack, but it isn't necessary for medium ones like today. So, they fight. Every day.
Protein is important. We all know that. Physiologically, animal meat contains fat for energy, protein to build muscle, B12 for proper mental function. Beyond that, the psychological satisfaction from feeling full and strong, not fighting constant and exhaustive battles, is priceless.
That simple difference between North Jackson and New Haven makes this place seem like a whole other world. My people are doing better now than they were six weeks ago by orders of magnitude, but we're still hungry. We've found a renewed determination and resolve, but as of yet no true level of comfort. My people still fight tired and hungry, still afraid of the slip-up that could kill us all. Not living in fear, but it's there.
Not that I'm complaining. Not at all. My home is better off today than yesterday, and tomorrow better yet. I'm just starting to get into the mindset of understanding the differences between us. Everywhere we go from here on out will be a study in evolution, each community as isolated as the Galapagos islands. The people living in each will have their own strengths and weaknesses, needs and wants. I'm trying to look at those pieces of information and glean what understanding I can from them.
Tonight or tomorrow we'll be heading out and the mission starts in earnest.