Huddled in the Dark – Part II


[From Rourke: Part I can be reader HERE.]


Huddled in the Dark – Part II

– by Shirley Swift


            The past three months Deb, my eldest daughter, has been living with my son and I on Monday through Thursday nights. She works at the hospital about a mile from our house and is saving gas by not driving the 15 miles back and forth. She misses her family but with an able-bodied husband and two teen-aged daughters, the two young boys are not being neglected.

            It’s just a matter of emotion. It’s just a matter of doing what is necessary to make whatever money is available. The hospital has been one of few entities still working and able to employ others.

            Since she started living here we have been fine-tuning plans to move to her farm when the hospital lays off more employees. Having worked there for 15 years, her seniority is starting to falter as they have let about half the workforce go. She is tired, but glad for the long hours so their family can keep the farm.

            Her husband cuts wood all year round and sells it. He also runs a store and is licensed to hunt wild game, in season, to provide deer, turkeys, squirrel, and rabbit to his customers. Both of the teens have become experts in helping him skin and tan hides. My treadle machine will come in handy to sew articles from those furs and leather.

            I chuckle when I think of it. When I was 17 I was thinking about shoes and jeans and the latest 45-rpm record that was out. They don’t even know who Fabian is. Or what a “record” is. Okay, that’s another story. I’m just amazed at how these two young gals have grown up learning about survival skills.

            Every Thursday evening we loaded up my daughter’s car. She hauled things back to her place so our move wouldn’t be so difficult. They’re stacking our things in a corner of their pole barn. She truly is saving gasoline.

In the evenings Deb, my son, and I have gone over drawings of the kind of underground houses the men can build for us; basically, south-facing windows with an overhang, and a few necessary rooms. I like the open floor plan with a large kitchen with and eating and sitting area. The fireplace will be in the center. There will be a bathroom and one bedroom on one end and one bedroom and laundry/storage area on the other end. The overhang will make for a screened-in area in the future, and still get the southern sun. A cold cellar/weather shelter can be accessed from the kitchen. All the cars and trucks will be kept in one of the pole barns. We won’t be using them much anyway.

Monday Deb arrived about 5:30 p.m. after work. She was in tears and my stomach churned. Sure enough, she had been given her two week notice. That morning a foreclosure notice was delivered to our door. Perfect timing.

Well, at least they were decent enough to give the employees two weeks.

After a good cry together, we made out a list of what starts and fruits we thought we could bring from the garden. We’re debating if we need to salvage our fencing along with buckets, etc.

My son wrote a note to ask Deb’s husband what tools were needed there. The wood stove is essential. He’s been sorting through the garage. We had six shovels and three spades and two post hole diggers plus rakes, hoes, cultivators and wood-cutting implements. We will carry as many to the new place as we can but there will only be so much room.

He painted a large “wood for sale” sign and put it on the front lawn. No use in transporting the couple of cords of wood we have put by. Every extra dollar will go toward gasoline for a moving truck. We’ll be leaving everything behind that isn’t used for growing food, building, and keeping our bodies warm in the winter. Someone will probably move in after we leave, until the bank kicks them out. They’re welcome to what we leave behind.

Simple, but not easy. We put ourselves into making our gardens flourish. Personally hauling in cow manure, making compost, and turning it into our soil for years makes it ours. Putting up fencing – scaring critters away year after year makes it ours. Watching the fruit trees and vines grow from cuttings to bearers of summer bounty, well over our heads, makes it ours. Because greed, politics, and whatever else caused it, “ours” is now going to be “theirs.”

Well, since it’s going to be “theirs” I stopped paying the mortgage two months ago. It’s a sick feeling. But, we’re leaving and not intending to come back.  Besides, no one has money for mortgages. It is just a matter of time and this area will be a ghost town. I suppose everyone else has that sinking feeling too. At least we’ve not had “s & l” – “shooting and looting” – like the inner cities.

The bills are all paid – don’t want the township to come looking for us to pay for the use of their water. Credit cards were cut up three years ago. We almost drained the savings to do that, but it had to be done.

One of the last expenses was our wonderful solar generator. It powers battery charging and alternates between use for the refrigerator and water heater. It will help tremendously at the new homestead.

Oh my gosh, “homestead.” That’s exactly what we will be doing – living off the land – starting from scratch – homesteading. As long as we’re doing it – we might as well be totally ready to move in the day Deb’s job ends.




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4 thoughts on “Huddled in the Dark – Part II”

  1. We might be right behind you, Shirley. We’ve been working hard on becoming debt free, but, we are not there yet. DH’s company is cutting 10% of workforce for the second time in about 5 years – a large, national organization. Our city house is not paid for. Who cares?! We don’t owe a ton on it, but, still – who cares?! You can have my city house and all that mess and stuff in it – you can not have my BOL!!!!

  2. Book review- Rourke your book A Survival Plan part 1 was exc.Your writing style is unique.I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. I hope you will have part 2 ready
    soon !!
    The only part I wish to challenge is the rabbits.My daughter and I have been wild life rehabilitators for many years and most wild bunnies do NOT survive in captivity.Everything else was extremely real and very believable.If anyone has had other exp with wild rabbits I would like to hear from them. Arlene

    • Appreciate that Arlene. I have been wanting to go back and re-edit – some spelling errors and grammar mistakes after publishing I found.

      Take care –


  3. Rourke,I only saw a few typos .Its a fine book. I will be giving a few for gifts !!When will the next one be coming ??
    You taught a few exc ideas in it about building community during a crises- delegation of jobs, etc.I wont share them so your other readers will have their own surprises !
    I just received an e mail from BJs and they are now carrying emergency food- from Auguson (sp?) farms. Next probably will be the other chains and local grocery stores. Here no stores sell them unless its a small private emergency preparedness store. Do others out there see Emergency supplies in your chain stores? Arlene


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