It only took twenty minutes and one try to get the canopy up and staked down.
Adrian was pleased as they gathered around him again.
“What’s next, Jeremy?”
The lightly bearded man considered. “The bottom of our area?”
“Yes. We’ll be here for another day, so we can’t let it drain onto the ground. We’ll stake down the tarp, but leave the edges loose. Curl them so the mess runs into the watering tubs we have in the trucks. We’ll also cut two metal cans in half and keep fires burning to deter the insects.” Adrian looked at his watch, “You have twenty minutes, gentlemen. Go.”
It took them less than half that and they gathered around him again.
“See how Kenn keeps a slipknot in the end? That’s for the hooves. Always double your rope over the branch, but not on top of each other. Place them side by side on the limb and you’ll get more support because the weight distribution is better. Doug, how thick should the branch be for a cow?”
“At least ten times the size of your rope. You have to account for not only the animal’s weight, but also the lift and struggle, and then the hours it has to hang.”
“Alright, we’ll need four pullers on each rope and two steadiers with me. Strongest people go on the inside of the rope line, while the men on the end stake it down. Those with me should know there will be blood and I will not tolerate being puked on again,” Adrian said.
The reference to the previous month’s lessons at a chicken farm in Northern Wyoming provoked laughter, but they also knew he was serious. The man who had done it was no longer a part of Adrian’s Eagles.
Doug and Kenn were on the inside of each rope, the big Irishman’s face swollen and black where it wasn’t covered by the bandage. Every man there was glad he’d come anyway, especially when the vet came through the trees leading a huge black-on-white cow by a thick rope around its neck. Attached to the cow’s wide back was a harness tied to a sled. On the sled was a large wooden crate that grunted and squealed to protest the bumpy ride.
Chris handed the ‘leash’ to Adrian and left, not looking at any of them.
Adrian knew his men felt the vet’s displeasure. The man had been allowed to stay, despite his nasty mouth, because the camp needed to raise food. But the vet was angry and sullen. He believed slaughtering animals, even for food, was wrong. To Chris, not only humans had earned a new chance by surviving the war.
Adrian agreed they didn’t want to raise animals by the thousands in warehouses again, but they would produce their own food. They had to.
“We have to eat,” he said getting their attention back. “We’re going through the stuff we find as quickly as it’s brought in. Fresh meat will keep us out of the reserves, but anyone who feels like Chris is excused. I won’t force you.”
No one moved and Adrian was pleased. These were hard-asses, this team handpicked for their strength, and he had high hopes for them. He turned to Jeremy and Kevin, his steadier’s. “Your job is exactly what it sounds like. As I slice, one of you will slide the tub under and then help the other keep the flow going into it. When they pull, I’m gonna cut, but the legs will kick and they can knock you out, so be careful.”
Adrian gave the pulling crew a look. “Slow until I make the cut, then fast and steady. Don’t jerk any more than you have to and watch the other rope. Don’t race. Stay even.” He looked around. “Everybody ready?”