Day 14: Digging

Day 14:

It rained all day. When it’s dark and rainy, the local fauna tend to be more explodey than usual, so I stayed inside and dug holes.

It’s what I do best. And I enjoy it.

And when The Company arrives (maybe tomorrow), they’ll be quite happy with what I’ve dug up.

black and white sketch of a shovel, pickaxe, and box in a room . the box is labeled "rock box"
my supplies: some boxes, a pickaxe, a shovel. the boxes are easier to make than you’d imagine – all the trees split in straight lines. weird.

Day 13: And even more fences

Day 13:

Got up this morning to the sound of skeletons falling into my cow hole.

There’s a phrase I never thought I’d utter.

Also, maybe “half-covered back porch” would be a better turn of phrase than “cow hole”.

Anyway, went out and killed them and then realized that skeletons were going to just keep walking over the edge of the hole onto my porch unless I fenced it in. So I went up onto the roof and ran a fence around the chasm that leads to the back porch. I added some steps so that the cows could walk up onto the sod (besodded?) roof.

One of my chicken ducks followed me right up the steps, hopped across, and over the wood fence.

So now I have a double-decker wood fence around that area. All because I wanted to give my cows a little skeleton-free sunshine.

In other news, I mentioned recently that I’m carving out the space under my current cave.

  • It contains some nice stone
  • It contains some iron ore
  • It randomly contains those creepy giraffe corgis, that then explode and help the mining along, even if it’s at the expense of my skin.

With those facts being the case, squaring off the walls and putting in some doors seems expedient.

I understand a bit better now why The Company was so interested in this planet. Granite is everywhere! They could corner the market’s supply! So digging out the “basement” and filling it with chests so I can keep the stone sorted may help me when they come back for me.

They’re coming back for me.

I just don’t know when.

I wish it was soon.

Think I’ll go hug my cows again.

A sketch of my cow fence and stairs and cow porch

Day 12: Ranchers build good fences

Day 12:

There’s something innately relaxing about having a pet. It’s something about how we humans are wired I think; we’re more comfortable when we’re not alone.

I have three cows and four chicken-ducks now, all of which seem to be thriving in my cow hole just as well as they did out on the plains. The birds are laying eggs. The cows are mooing and wandering around contentedly chewing their cuds. I didn’t spend a lot of time with livestock when I was growing up, but I did read enough apocalyptic fiction to know that, at least in theory, these are good signs.

Not only are they thriving, but I’m feeling better too. If you can’t get a dog, hug a cow. It will disturb the cow mildly (don’t do it somewhere that the cow can crush you against a wall) but it will make you feel a lot better. The cows seem to genuinely be interested in me, although I admit it may just be because I’m the one feeding them. They’re more huggable than the chicken-ducks.

The chicken-ducks are friendly enough I guess, but they have a way of looking at me as if they can’t believe I’m here. “What are you doing with your life?” they seem to ask.

I’m a little bit glad they seem so condescending. It makes me feel a little better about taking their eggs. Nobody wants a thousand condescending chicken-ducks on their porch. But I do want a good omelette, made with fresh milk and cream and eggs and herbs from the garden. Might have some carrots for it soon too.

So: chicken-ducks, kind of jerks. Cows: friendly warm huggable sofas that are confused but respectful of my presence, especially if I bring food.

If the Company comes for me tomorrow, I need to remember to break down the retaining walls for my animals before I leave. I’d hate to think of them starving. Like the Company left me.

Starving is a bit more personal of a concept now than it was twelve days ago. It used to be a phrase I’d toss off for no good reason. “I’m starving for some french fries,” I said, before coming here. I think it’ll be a while before I can glibly say “I’m starving” when I’ve eaten within the last 48 hours. I can’t say that feeling your stomach gnawing on itself for lack of food is a satisfying experience, and I’m really quite surprised I was able to make it as long as I did.

I still look forward to leaving, especially leaving the unfriendly members of the local fauna. But today’s the first day I can say I learned something from the experience of being here, and I suspect even if I wanted to, I won’t leave these lessons behind.

A very judgy chicken-duck thing

Day 11: Cows

Day 11:

Today, I became a rancher.

So there’s wheat down here. It’s probably not really wheat, but it’s some kind of grass that comes to seed. I planted some of it a few days ago because I was really coddamned hungry and, just like everything else on this lunatic planet, it came to maturity in just a couple of days.

(“Lunatic” seems fitting. The moon is huge and scary and rolls across the sky every night, leering at me.)

My primary goal was to make some kind of pathetic bread with it. Wheat flour ground between two of the tons of stones I’ve removed, water, bake in forge.

But now, maybe I can make good bread, with milk and eggs in it!

OK, let me move back a step. So I cut down the wheat in my tiny garden, and gathered both seeds and wheat stalks from it. I planted some of the seed, but I had too much to replant… so I started wandering around, looking for another good site to turn into a garden… and I suddenly felt like I was being followed.

Of course I assumed that it was the camo-giraffe-hell-bomb creatures, and dove to the ground. But just like the other day, I was greeted not with a bombastic BOOM but with a puzzled MOOO.

The cows were quite interested in my wheat stalks. In fact, they were following me.

Slowly, casually even, I wandered across the field back toward the cow hole/back porch/covered cave entrance I’d dug out. The cows followed. I stepped into the hole. They followed. I fed them the wheat. THEY BEGAN TO FRATERNIZE. And while they were fraternizing, I quickly piled some stone up into the area they’d just left, trapping them on my porch.

I HAVE A COW PORCH.

And also I now have a baby cow, because apparently these animals gestate for about 10 minutes. The baby cow isn’t exactly small. I’m pretty sure it outweighs me.The amount of energy the mama cows must use has to be pushing the laws of physics.

Do you remember the ancient film Gremlins, where the creatures got wet and suddenly multiplied by the dozens? Apparently that’s how wheat affects the cows here. I’ll have to keep that in mind when deciding when and how to feed them.

But the effect isn’t limited to cows. I noticed not long after luring the cows to safety that two chicken-ducks were following me when they noticed I was carrying some of the wheat seeds. (This must be some kind of superfood. Can’t say it makes an overly tasty bread though.)

The chicken-ducks were just as easy to lure as the cows, and just as easy to breed. They just prefer seed over stalk. So now I have three birds and three cows, and in theory, I can gather eggs, milk, and flour.

If I go get those pigs again, I could probably have some bacon too.

I think I’ll need more fencing before that.

Also some fencing to keep the skeletons out of my cow hole would be good planning.

Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day.

My first cow, Bessie, a sketch
My first cow, Bessie

Day 10: Hey look! Double digits!

Day 10:

Hey look! Double digits! I’ve survived on this hellish rock for 10 days!

Crap, that means that The Company has left me stranded here for 10 days.

Well, now I’m depressed.

Didn’t do a lot today, mostly dug holes. That’s what we miners do: we dig holes.

The only good news of the day (and it was super exciting news until I wrote the date above!) was that, while digging out some space under my main residence, I hit a vein of iron ore.

ACTUAL IRON.

I’ve reinforced my fire into a forge, not an easy trick with stone I might add. I’d kill for some metal buckets. I made a wooden one but it leaks like a sieve, because I am a miner, not a woodworker. But since I lack good buckets, I’ve at least built a smelter good enough to turn this cubic meter of ore into a solid ingot. (Some of those classes I took on “what to do with the ore after you dig it up” paid off after all. I’m as surprised as you are.)

It’ll take me a bit of time, but in theory I should be able to turn this into some armor, which might slow the zombies down a bit. I had intended to make some leather armor out of cows, but honestly, my experience trying to tan the sheep hides was so bad I’m not looking forward to skinning any cows.

My bed has maggots. MAGGOTS.

Still softer than sleeping on rock though.

I vaguely remember reading something in one of those pioneer porn-style books I inhaled as a kid that you can use animal brains to tan hide.

I’d give anything for my network connection into the collective. Or even a good encyclopedia.

Ugh, now I’m sad again.

Let’s see, I’ve been here 10 days. I’ve been cut off from civilization for 10 days, forced to forage for my own food and build my own tools. I’ve dug an impressive amount of ore for someone working with stone, but at the same time, I’d’ve cleared this entire prairie in about four hours with a suitable mining laser and a transporter.

The Company has failed to contact me. I try to think positively; perhaps they’re held up in political negotiations with the ruling power. Perhaps they’re refueling or in danger themselves. It may just be a matter of time until they land and pick me up.

But at night when the fire’s banked low and the pony-sized spiders are hissing on the porch, I can’t help but think that something horrible happened, leaving them all dead. Or that they’ve left me behind for some infraction I don’t even remember making. Or they just don’t care enough to notice I’m gone.

Whatever. I have iron to smelt. If I can’t do anything else, at least I can prove I’m just as good as Laura Ingalls Wilder at protecting myself.

a sketch of my smelter.
a sketch of my smelter.