Episode 561: The Grass is Always Greener…

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Surviving Winter

When people talk about surviving the zombie apocalypse, they usually think about fighting zombies and scavenging for food. What rarely comes up is dealing with mother nature. In the first world, we enjoy an unbelievable amount of creature comforts, so much so that very few of us ever have to think about our actual needs. That’s right, our needs are often so assured that we’re more concerned with our comforts. And don’t think I’m being judgmental here, I am just as guilty of this as everyone else.

Of course, during a zombie outbreak, those assurances and creature comforts are going to be interrupted in a big way. Getting hungry? Forget about running to the grocery store. Feeling chilly? Don’t bother with the thermostat, gas service has been interrupted permanently. Suddenly, these things you never really think about are going to jump up your list of priorities quite a bit. And then there’s the weather. How do you cope with winter? Flooding? Heat waves? Droughts? Things are often more complex than planners expect.

About this Episode:

As promised, here are some in-focus shots of my trees. They’re not the greatest builds in the world, I know, but they just need to look decent while out-of-focus in the background. I think they do their job pretty well in that regard.


Discussion Question: Flying South?

I grew up in northern Michigan, so I’m used to cold winters. As such, I can see a lot of advantages and disadvantages with them in a zombie survival situation. The big advantage? Hopefully, the zombies freeze until spring. Of course, that leaves us struggling to find food and stay warm, things that might not be as easy as we would like to think. This makes me wonder: where would people be better off in a zombie survival situation: someplace that’s warm most of the year, or a place – like Michigan – with changing seasons?

26 thoughts on “Episode 561: The Grass is Always Greener…”

  1. Typo alert, Zombie Cliche Lookout, first paragraph, second sentence: “mother natures” natures–>nature 😀

    Same section, same paragraph, last sentence: “And do think I’m being judgemental here, I am just as guilty of this as everyone else.” do–>don’t People usually write this as wanting others to not be judgemental of them, it’s rather unusual to find someone who wants you to think they’re being judgemental. 😉

    Second paragraph, last sentence: “complex that planners” that–>than 😀

    • Fixed all.

  2. Regarding the discussion question: I think it rather depends on availability of fuel supplies. You’d think that with a zombie apocalypse ongoing, there’s probably going to be plenty of burnable fuel for your furnace or fireplace. But will that necessarily be the case? I know there are some cold and remote places that will probably be very difficult to survive in, even if the zombies are frozen.

    This gives me an interesting question: If you do live in a cold area, would it be to your advantage to attract lots of zombies during the early stages of winter, wait till they freeze solid, and then whack their brains dead before they thaw out in summer, thus eliminating a large portion of zombies fairly easily?

    Other related questions to winter and zombies: Does it make a difference if the zombie corpses are dangerous to handle? For instance, if infection can be spread by simply touching a zombie corpse, is it better to avoid cold climates where you might have to move frozen zombies out of the way?

    Would there be additional danger from animals, like bears that would be hunting frozen zombie snacks in winter that might be an easy target for such a large animal if the zombie simply can’t move or defend itself? This also assumes that bears somehow gained a resistance unique to their species from the zombie virus that infects humans.

    If the zombies are not dangerous if dead or frozen, and you have a suitable incineration means, does one want to risk using them as furnace fuel for your house instead of traditional fuel, gas, or coal supplies?

    Knocking a frozen zombie in the head might seem easy but it seems to me there will be pros and cons associated with them even if they are frozen. I’d like to see more discussion questions like this! 😉

    • A couple further points here: many people don’t have fireplaces. Heat comes exclusively from natural gas or propane. Once that goes down, they’re in trouble.

      I wouldn’t worry about bears. Here in Michigan we have black bears, who hibernate in the winter. However, we also have wolves and mountain lions (not a lot of them, but still).

  3. Regarding the comic itself, is this zombie outbreak that’s been going on for 561 episodes set in a cold climate? 😀 I wonder if Michael and Joy are people who love cold weather or if they’re trying to escape from a coming winter the regular cast will have to survive? 😀

    • The latter; the winter is something I very much want to address in the comic.

  4. Zombie Bears!

    • That would be troublesome, wouldn’t it?

  5. As far as the question goes and being from the northern 48. I would (myself) prefer Michigan like climates more toward the U.P. Live stock would have less chances of being attacked by zeds and since there would be no deer control )and no 1.2 million hunting for deer) there would be ample food supplies as long as you know how to butcher deer and or livestock. Also Regular Zombies shamble along dragging there feet which would not bode well in any snow over three inches. You would have a lot more bites from fallen and half frozen zombies buried half in snow. Also Here in Michigan with the Great Lakes, fresh springs and pre drilled wells. I have a place half way up the state has plenty of wood to burn and wildlife to eat

    • You and I agree pretty much completely, BT. Where do you have a place? That’s one of my long-term goals: a cabin in the woods.

  6. Depends on the zeds themselves. If they do indeed freeze then

    • That is a pretty important question. Another concern: mild winters. We’ve have a lot of them lately.

  7. Depends on the zeds themselves. If they do indeed freeze then someplace like southern Michigan makes a lot of sense. Lots of wildlife (on land and in the lakes), plenty of freshwater and other resources. Not to mention no venomous snakes running around in the summer months like you would have to deal with further south. Get a little north of the metropolitan areas and most of the homes are set up for colder weather. They are well insulated and many are equipped with wood burning stoves or furnaces as a supplement to conventional heating. I have a friend with a vacation home in the northern lower peninsula that equipped with a modern wood burning stove. He can heat the entire 1500sqft house for 12hrs on 3-4 pieces of firewood. Even is the dispatched zeds are dangerous to handle, I would rather be bundled up in biohazard gear in 20degree weather than 100degree weather. 3-4months of little or no zed activity gives you valuable time to work on fortifications, repair equipment, and rest up for the coming spring.

    In one piece of zombie fiction I read, the survivors built a fenced enclosure in the middle of their compound and placed a frozen zed inside it. That way, they could observe the zombie and gauge the condition of the “wild” zombies by it. Once the caged zed started to move again in the spring the survivors knew they had to be on the lookout for zed activity. The spent the winter fortifying their base and clearing out frozen zeds from the area.

    • Man, Michigan is awesome.

  8. You know, I never thought about zombies freezing. In TWD, Rick hoped that winter “would slow those things down,” but since they are no longer endothermic, why not? I mean, that’s a lot of meat to freeze, and it’s not below freezing every day or even all day on the days that it does dip below, but I’m sure that several hours several degrees below freezing would serve to immobilize or at least greatly slow them down.

    This could be a storyline of its own…the group settles in for winter, but on days when it’s been below freezing for X hours, patrols go out to stab the heads of immobilized zombies. It could be part of a regular patrol for the camp/cabin/farm/whatever. That opens up to the stories of those who get lost as it warms up, get hurt, have random wackiness ensue, etc.

    On the other hand, what happens if the brain stem freezes? Fluids freeze and expand, doing tissue damage. Does this leave the zombie dead after the thaw? Some frogs can freeze, but they have special chemicals in their blood that prevent tissue damage from ice crystals.

    • Excellent points here, I especially think this is interesting: “On the other hand, what happens if the brain stem freezes? Fluids freeze and expand, doing tissue damage. “

  9. Do bears, especially the bigger brown bear, hibernate in mild winters? 😀

    • I’m no zoologist, but I believe they do, although not far as long as colder winters.

  10. A topic that’s come up in several apocalyptic stories, is that without the industrial might of man-caused global warming, the climate takes a turn for the much-colder in winters. (Not that I necessarily agree with the premise, but let’s assume it for the sake of a fictional story.) Even the summers might be milder, as if man’s industries have kept the next Ice Age at bay, and now any survivors will have to face that, in addition to the aftermath of the war against the Zeds.

    • That’s a damn interesting point. I wonder how long it would take for the man-made climate changes to fade away.

  11. Add to that the fact that bears will only hibernate whilst they have body fat with which to do so, and might wake up earlier if they aren’t doing so well in the food department, and winter in general will probably be a lot less pleasant to survive.

    • They might indeed.

  12. Its West of Standish down 61. Roughly 12.6 miles from the closest store.
    Small river flows on property, plenty of trees, hunting runs throughout and the state has just been through the area to clear trees, so I won’t see them for another 20+years

    • I know the area; very nice!

    • Bad reply

  13. Down here in the deep south our summers are worse than our winters, Factor in the humidity and it is unbearable! But you have to think about Hurricanes and flooding too since Mother Nature doesn’t stop just because of Zombies and a Hurricane can be Devastating without early warning and detection systems. Without cooling and maintenance during the summer months some buildings could eventually crack under humidity and pressure.