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Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #92 More first day on the farm, random thoughts SHTF TEOTWAWKI

January 12, 2014

Walking around the perimeter, I come across a few of the guards on duty. Some of the guards carry ancient, beat up FAL rifles with X-Products 50 round drum. The FAL rifle was never one of my favorites. Lacking a sling connection, provision for optics or night vision, and a bolt that is intolerant of severe wear, the FAL was never a rifle I cared for in any fashion. Despite its shortcomings, the FAL is quite common in the Middle East.

The FAL in and of itself is a decent, if too damn heavy, 7.62x51mm NATO battle rifle. A gas block large enough to use as an anvil with a tendency to vertically string shots when it gets too hot puts the FAL in my less than favorite weapon category. I always preferred lighter and more accurate rifles.

The 50 round skeletonized FAL X-Products drum magazines stuffed into the FALs are very nice, however. The round drums do not take up too much room underneath the weapon. I prefer the drums, despite their cost, over cheaper alternatives such as the Surefire 60 and 100 round capacity stick magazines.

The larger Surefire magazines are excellent, but I feel that they hang too far underneath the weapon. I much prefer the X-15 50 round drum magazines for the 5.56 NATO. It is a shame that no one has yet recovered any 5.56 drums, as we could really use some. However, today I would certainly grab any larger capacity M-16 stick magazine that I could lay my hands on. One lacking feature of the Surefire stick magazines is that they are only for 5.56 NATO and not 7.62.

Not a problem for me as I only shoot 5.56 but for lads with a 7.62 NATO gun that want larger capacity, you cannot beat the drums. If your FAL (or other 7.62 NATO weapon) is select fire, you cannot beat the option of larger capacity drums. When rapid fire multiple target engagements are a distinct possibility, the drums are an excellent tool.

Some fool purchased four X-Products Apocalypse Packs .308 that someone in our company discovered tucked in a cache. I shudder at the cost of 36 drums plus the specialized black nylon backpacks not to mention the 1,800 rounds of 7.62 NATO stuffed into the drums. The special apocalypse packs are worthless for anything else but carrying nine FAL X-Products drums each.

It is a shame that the 36 drums were not stuffed with better ammo other than the gray lacquered steel cased Wolf ammo. Still the gray Wolf ammo is NATO spec 147 grain FMJ so it functions acceptably with reasonable accuracy.

I wish whom ever made the apocalypse packs had made provisions for either MOLLE or ALICE clip attachments. For a rather large and bulky pack that is dedicated for one sole purpose, the apocalypse packs are more gimmick than tactical. Granted the apocalypse pack does allow storing nine loaded FAL magazines in one convenient place.

I also shudder at the thought of the poor bastard with bloody fingers that loaded all of the X-Products 50 round drums. One of the few benefits of the larger stick magazine such as those made by Surefire, Blackhawk and Magpul, is their ability to be loaded from speed loaders.

No one has yet made a decent speed loader for drum magazines. One of the real drawbacks of the drums is that they can be unloaded much quicker than one can load them. Especially with our lads, in a panicked situation who can dump their magazines quickly.

I find Shack stripped to his brown regulation US Army tee-shirt, chopping wood under the guard of a few of our lads. I take a few moments to admire the play of Shack’s well defined taught muscles underneath his tee-shirt. Shack’s body type and lifestyle concentrated most of his muscular strength in his chest and arms.

Shack’s legs are well-defined as well – thankfully he does not have the Foghorn Leghorn syndrome. Watching Shack work, I can tell that he is trying to work out his anger and frustration. Maybe with the stop at the farm for a few days I can do something about the poor boy’s frustration.

The lads harvesting the wood do an excellent job of stacking the wood in the trailer attached to one of the shiny blue New Holland tractors. I wonder if we will burn all of the nearby hardwood around the farm necessitating further trips later for suitable wood.

Surrounding the farm are large parcels of woods. Most of these scattered wood parcels contain only soft pine trees, very typical for this area. There are however scattered clumps of willow, birch and many, many red alder trees. I wonder if the clumps of scattered hardwood trees are natural or were planted by the former owners of the dairy.

I remember my uncle with the olive groves trying to teach me the benefits of planting wind breaks to reduce ground erosion. It was all very boring to me. In the desert it seemed that the more trees he had, the more water he had to purchase from the Jewish state. To my childish mind it seemed better to have fewer trees, than more trees.

Shack and the other wood gatherers are hacking apart a clump of red alder. One of the projects the colonels want attacked immediately on the farm is the building of a good smoke house. Red alder I am told provides a delicious smoke that is suitable for fish and fowl. I wonder how red alder smoke tastes on beef.

Very smoky BBQ was never a particular favorite of mine. Although Amy did often like to visit some of the better steak houses and BBQ joints in the greater D.C. area. Amy had spent some time in the South while she was between college and getting a “real” job as she referred to her firefighting position. In the South, Amy had developed an appreciation for Southern-style BBQ.

We are fortunate to have recovered several large two men and single man felling and bucking saws. Most of these ancient saws found as rusting decorations have been pressed into service with little or no maintenance. Believed to be quieter than using axes, the felling and bucking saws are giving the lads quite a work out. Can we afford the expenditure of calories, for what we gain I wonder?

We do possess some chain saws as well as mixed gasoline to run them. We debate over whether or not the chain saws production will be worth their noise and the attention they garner. We have a finite amount of chain saw mixture oil. We feel the need to husband even the slightest amount of petroleum products.

Using some diesel for lubrication and a couple of course honing stones, the lads cleaned the rusty saws removing most of the rust. Watching the lads struggle with the saws on the trees, I sympathize with their frustration. The lads finally give up on the manual resorting to more modern, but less efficient and quiet axes.

One area where we are unfortunate is in the fact that we have no one who knows how to maintain these ancient toothy saws. Our knowledge gap is vast. We have searched for books on the subject to no avail. Some of the mechanically minded lads have suggested that some light filing on the teeth might not hurt.

Most of the red alder trees and willows the lads are cutting down are fairly small, so they were getting by with the bucking saws, even as dull as they are. The axes which the lads are quite adept at sharpening due to much practice proved much quicker harvesting most of the trees.

The real test is going to be if we have to drop larger trees. I am told that the farm does have an ancient PTO powered saw mill so we could cut lumber. I believe we should build a smoke house out of logs rather than wasting the diesel to run the tractor’s PTO.

The question remains though – do we have the expertise necessary to build a good smoke house. In theory, must of us understand that we need to salt and smoke the meat to preserve it. None of us has ever had to preserve meat with the absence of modern conveniences.

I certainly have no clue how to build a smokehouse. Carpentry was neither in the IDF’s nor the Mossad’s training regime. I never took carpentry as a hobby either, despite my Jewish ancestry. One of the greatest things that our convoy lacks, which become painfully acute during times such as this, is knowledge.

Knowing how to shoot and survive are excellent skills. What we need right now is someone skilled in carpentry without modern tools, as well as butchering and food preservation. We need to find a bunch of Luddites real quick.

Leaning against our lone surviving battered faded woodland green Hummer I watch the lads and ponder our predicament. Looking up, I do not recognize the lad manning the M2 .50 caliber machine gun in the roof. The occasional wandering zombie attracted by the noise of the lads hacking at the trees, is quickly eliminated.

Since the zombies for the moment arrive singly, the lads are using the axes already in their hands to dispatch the zombies. There is no sense in shooting the poor things and wasting ammo, another finite resource. As long as the zombies remain in manageable numbers, using an axe or a shovel to dispatch them is sufficient.

Since we recovered the dregs of the other companies, there are more than a few new faces around camp. One of the more interesting new arrivals has been the M-50 Ontos tank destroyer. Armed with six (three per side) M-40 106 mm recoilless rifles mounted to the sides of the turret; the woodland green camouflaged lightweight tank destroyer is a formidable weapon.

The intimidating weapon now sits parked facing the main road, its six barrels towards any approaching traffic from the main road. I understand that the Ontos will be manned 24 hours a day, in eight-hour shifts. The ancient PRC-77 radio in the Ontos works, and is able to talk to all of the other radios in the convoy.

A relic from his days in Vietnam, Sam, bought and refurbished the Ontos, saving it from the scrap pile. For a small tank that is over 70 years old, it appears to be in excellent condition. Sam mentioned earlier while driving the Ontos off of the trailer, that he owned one of only a handful that still exist.

I am not quite sure how Sam hid the fact that the six recoilless rifles on the damn thing are viable. Most of these old relics I was led to believe had to have the breech blocks welded closed and torch cut so that the firing pin could not seat. How the devil did Sam squirrel away a fully armed Ontos I wonder.

The modern M240E on top of the Ontos does look a little out-of-place, but no more so than the squat, ugly little tank killer sitting in the roadway. I am told by Sam that the Ontos usually carried an old .30 caliber Browning machine gun on top of the turret. The M240E is a suitable replacement for the old Browning machine gun.

The Quad .50 and the 20 mm cannon are also secreted elsewhere, hidden until needed thwarting an attack. The way the convoy has positioned its forces, the colonels, are expecting an attack. The MGS Stryker and the mortar Stryker are hidden as well near the outskirts. I understand that all of the ammo for the cannons and mortar has been pre-staged.

Some of this ammo is quite old, some pushing 80 years or older. The Ontos is loaded with several different types of ammunition including APERS-T, canister, HE, HEAT, High Explosive Plastic-Tracer (HEP-T), and High Explosive Anti-Personnel (HEAP). The lads manning the Ontos remarked that most of their ammo is of French, Austrian, Swiss, Greek or Italian manufacture.

Most of the 106 mm ammo is more than 80 years old and of dubious vitality. Still anyone possessing a tank, even a small one with obsolete recoilless rifles on the turret is a menacing sight that might cause someone to reconsider attacking. While pondering the Ontos and the state of affairs with our convoy, I stand watch over the lads collecting wood. Shack does not say much to me the rest of the morning until we sit down to eat lunch.

One of the Scouts on a multiple speed black mountain bicycle towing a canvas canary yellow trailer originally designed for carrying a small child brought lunch to the wood cutters. Lunch is a simple affair consisting of several hard-boiled eggs, reconstituted peanut butter, MRE crackers, MRE snack bread, and MRE cheddar flavored squeeze cheese in OD green plastic tubes. Our choice of drinks is orange flavored bug juice or nasty cold Spruce tip tea.

As with most people accustomed to eating MREs, a brisk trading session ensued following the issuance of lunch. Soldiers have long traded their issued rations to one another hoping to gain something better. One of the wood cutting soldiers apparently despises the squeeze cheese, so he traded his cheese swapping it for another hard-boiled egg.

Law of scarcity condemned the dollar, gold and silver as means of trade. Thousands killed themselves when money was returned to worthless paper; few could face reality that paper was now worthless as you cannot eat it, it does not keep you warm, and it will not protect you. About the best use for paper currency is burning it which might keep you warm for a few minutes.

  1. medicine man permalink

    I enjoyed your change of flow for the story, it can’t get mired into one storyline or subject matter ( as you have shown) without losing the flavor of the ongoing matters of a large convoy of survivors enduring TEOTWAWKI.
    Well done!
    Are we going to see a zombie or raider attack soon? I see a slight color rising as to the position of the large military attack vehicles around the farm, but don’t give anything away because of my inquiry, a subtle hint will do.
    We will be at almost 30 degrees Friday morning here , but it never stays that cold very long before it’s back in the low 80’s. It has been a warm winter this year in South Fla.
    Be well and warm. M.M.

    • The next chapter will have some hints suggesting where the story might travel.
      Our weather has been colder than normal, but we are bundled up and have plenty of heat in the house.

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