The Widow in the Woods

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Not much had changed for Grace Sherwood.

Sure, she used candlelight, brought water in with a bucket, and heated with firewood now, but she’d often done that in the past. When she first moved to the old cottage in the mountains with her husband all those years ago when he returned from Vietnam, it took months before they were able to afford to hook up the power and water, so they simply used the things that had been in place for the almost two centuries the small house had been standing. At the time, they were young and thought it was ridiculously romantic.

There was an outhouse set back from the house, and if outhouses could be adorable, this one was. It was a little stone outbuilding with the classic crescent moon carved into the faded, blue-painted door. A handpump stood in the mossy sideyard, and a few minutes of pumping brought forth fresh, sweet well water.

Inside the cozy cottage, there was the one thing that Grace had demanded: a wood stove with a flat top on which she could cook. The little home was made of stone, and James had said that it had been standing for a couple hundred years before them and would probably be standing for a couple hundred years after they died. The cottage was like something from a fairy tale, and it blended in so well with the beautiful mountain setting that it almost appeared to have evolved naturally in the forest instead of being built there. A winding gravel path with one lane led you to the house if you knew it was there, but Grace had purposely allowed the entrance to the driveway to become obscured and overgrown when things began to go sideways.

For Grace, while things were not quite as easy as they were during The Before, she was still content in the home she had loved for more than 50 years.

Back when her television antenna could still pick up the news, she heard talk of a massive event that had rocked the United States, creating what Grace called The After. It didn’t really matter what the event was. It was difficult to believe that it was as it was presented, anyway. The news wasn’t known for its honesty and credibility. It hadn’t been since the days when Walter Cronkite had signed off with, “And that’s the way it was.” And sometimes Grace wondered if it had been then.

From what she had seen, people in the cities were rioting, starving, and pleading for help. She felt sorry for them, especially the children who had no choice but to abide by the decisions of their parents, whether for better or for worse. She included her fervent good wishes for those involved each night as she lit candles in her little cottage to break the unrelenting darkness that blanketed the forest.

Grace hadn’t been one for going into the city since she was young, back when her sense of adventure was far more acute. She had even lived in the Big Apple before it became rotten to the core with crime and violence. She’d had all kinds of excitement back in the day, but now, all she wanted was to tend her garden, do some needlepoint, and read some books. Being alone didn’t really bother her anymore. She had lived by herself since her husband James had died ten years ago, and while she missed him desperately, she was otherwise content with the quiet life of plants, crafting, and reading books.

Since her telephone no longer worked, people didn’t call her for help with delivering babies or herbal remedies anymore. She had delivered half the babies in the area and helped people with health matters from itchy rashes to arthritis to things that were far more serious.

But now, Grace was so far up the mountain and so hidden in the trees that it seemed like the world had forgotten all about her. Nobody had shown up in months to the cheekily named home that she and James had called Sherwood Forest, an ode to the legend of Robin Hood. And from what Grace had seen before the television and power went out, that was probably for the best.

On this particular evening, the sky had been threatening, dark clouds seeming to boil in the dusky light. After she locked her chickens securely in their coop, Grace went inside and made herself a cup of tea using chamomile from her garden and sweetened with rich, thick forest honey from her hives. She kicked off her boots and settled into the handmade pillows cushioning the rocking chair on her front porch. She was all set to watch the storm.

Mother Nature was putting on quite a show before the rain began falling, with thunder rolling and lightning crackling across the sky. “Better than anything on television,” Grace said to her one companion, her cat, Nightshade. He was a dark gray feline that she had found as a kitten. He’d somehow gotten into the part of the garden that she kept fenced off behind a sturdy locked gate that was meant to protect animals with two legs and four from the plants within. The scraggly little kitten had been just fine in there with the plants that could cure or kill, depending on the dose, which was why she opted to name him after one of them.

The clouds burst open, and the downpour began. The sound of the rain pounding the tin roof of the porch almost drowned out the sound of the thunder. Lightning illuminated her gardens and the trees beyond it to a brief brightness that rivaled a moment of daylight.

And it was the lightning that showed her someone – she had no idea who – was out there in the forest surrounding her home.

Grace wasn’t afraid, per se, but she was unsettled. It had been months since she’d seen anybody, and she was concerned that it was a person up to no good. Perhaps it was someone from the city who had made his or her way out to her little wooded oasis in search of food and shelter. That could go either way – hunger caused a kind of existential desperation that made nearly any person untrustworthy.

Grace studiously looked away from where she had seen the person and sipped her tea. She discreetly patted the pocket of her voluminous apron to reassure herself that her ever-present Glock was indeed nestled in her pocket. She was a skilled seamstress and had sewn a little holster into the pockets of all her aprons to keep her firearm secure. She was generally a good neighbor to the animals of the forest, but living out here alone, it was only common sense to be armed, just in case one of the creatures chose to violate their unspoken peace treaty.

The next flash of lightning illuminated a young girl who appeared in front of her steps as if by magic. The thin girl was soaked to the skin and shivering in the rain. Her face was pale, and her dark hair was plastered to it. Her big brown eyes were wide with fright. Grace assumed that she was afraid of the storm, and her heart melted.

That was Grace’s first mistake.

“Hello,” she greeted the girl warmly. “Would you like to come in out of the rain?”

The girl’s eyes widened even more if such a thing was possible, and she froze in place, getting pelted by the rain. She looked like she’d been turned to stone.

Grace padded down the three steps in her bare feet. “Come on, my girl, let’s get you dried off and warm.”

The girl began to shake her head frantically in silent warning.

“We’d love to get warm,” said a male voice.

Grace suddenly found herself outnumbered. She willed herself not to touch the gun in her pocket and give away her advantage. Two men and a woman joined the girl. “I’m Christopher, and this is Beth and my brother Luke,” he introduced himself and gestured toward the two adults. “The girl is Lexie.”

The man who spoke was tall and very good-looking. He smiled at Grace wryly in an attempt to be disarming, but she had always been a woman of quick discernment. And she did not like this man, not one bit. She noted that the girl had begun to tremble even harder when she was joined by the trio, and she suspected that her fear had nothing to do with the storm.

The man whistled sharply, and two more men appeared at the edge of the yard, one supporting the other. The woman quickly joined them to help, and Grace could see that the one being supported was younger, perhaps in his late teens, and his shirt was soaked in blood.

She couldn’t fight all of them. She knew she had no option but to play along and let them into her haven if she wanted to stay alive.

“Come in,” she said with a cordiality that belied her instant mistrust. “I have some medical training. I can help your friend.”

Chapter Two

Hunger is a powerful motivator, but fear is more powerful still. When bad things happen to you, sometimes all you can do is play along and try not to make things worse. Sometimes, you have to retreat into the only safe place you have: silence.

Lexie White was 15 years old, and she hadn’t said a word in 6 months. Her voice was the only thing she could control, and the only stubborn streak of rebellion she had left was her refusal to speak.

Things had gone bad when the country began to devolve into chaos caused by a complete breakdown of the way things were. She didn’t completely understand what had caused things to go upside-down, but she knew that there were no longer food deliveries made because there was no food to be had. If you didn’t already possess supplies, you were out of luck.

Lexie’s family was fortunate in that they had been preparing for a long time. The unfortunate part came when the neighbors discovered that they had supplies.

Her father, the kindest man she’d ever known, had always disliked the Hill brothers. That was saying a lot because he found the good in everyone. Nonetheless, when they came to him for help, he offered them a hot meal and some supplies.

And that was when everything had gone horribly wrong.

Christopher Hill, the oldest brother, had not been satisfied with the generous gift. Oh, he had pretended and acted ingratiatingly grateful, but Lexie saw the meanness behind his handsome smile. Lots of women had tried to capture the heart of the good-looking man with dark hair and vivid blue eyes. But before, when there were laws and cops, he couldn’t get away with being who he was deep down inside. He wasn’t in it for love and romance. He wanted power and control. He wanted victims.

She tried to tell her father. She told her mother she was uncomfortable with how Christopher looked at her, how he made her skin crawl by staring just a little too long. But she was just a girl, and her parents were fine people who couldn’t imagine how dark people could really be. They thought it was her imagination, a creation of her bookworm brain.

It wasn’t.

Christopher and his brothers, Luke, Rick, and Jon, had killed her family with sadistic glee. She wished fervently that they had killed her, too, because the things that Christopher made her do were worse than death.

The Hill brothers got increasingly plainer, like a printer that had less ink with each copy, creating a more faded likeness each time. Jon, the youngest brother, was the plainest of all. His hair was merely brown, not a swoop of raven. His eyes were so pale blue that they seemed faded. He wasn’t as overtly brutal as the others. Lexie figured that maybe the meanness faded right along with the looks.

They went through the supplies that Mr. White had carefully stored in no time at all, and they all left in the family’s van until they could no longer siphon gas out of other abandoned vehicles. Then, they set off on foot in search of other people with food and water. They were like a horde of locusts, except locusts just acted on instinct to eat, and the Hills enjoyed the pain and fear they inflicted on their victimes.

Luke’s girlfriend, Beth, despised Lexie and treated her like a slave. She woke most mornings to a sharp kick to her ribs from Beth’s pointed boot, only to spend the day walking, cooking, gathering wood, and carrying water. Beth was lovely, if you didn’t notice the cruelty in her narrowed eyes. She had vivid red hair, pale, flawless skin, and a perfect smile. But if you looked into her eyes, you could see the darkness there.

After a month, Lexie had cried so much that no more tears would come. It was like she’d only been allotted a certain number of tears for her lifetime, and she’d sobbed all of them out during her first four weeks in Hell. That was her calendar, her measuring point. Before Hell and in Hell.

The only rebellion she had left was refusing to speak. It irked Christopher, causing him to do upsetting things just to try and make her beg him to stop. She quickly learned not to let her emotions show on her face, extending her silence to her expression. It enraged Beth, who was Luke’s girlfriend, but inexplicably strove to impress Christopher.

It was Lexie’s sixth month in Hell when they picked the wrong farmhouse to attack. They always forced her to go to the door first, by herself, acting like she needed help. She refused to speak to the homeowners, too, and hated her part in this. Without fail, people felt sorry for the pale, thin girl and wanted to help her.

When they opened the door, the Hill brothers and Beth rushed the homeowners, killing the men. Sometimes they raped the women, sometimes they killed them because they put up too much of a fight. Lexie regularly regretted that she had not put up more of a fight so that they’d have killed her, too.

They were making their way up the narrow mountain road, using up supplies at one home, then moving on to the next cabin. All the houses here were isolated, which meant that people had let their guards down. It also meant nobody could hear the screaming as the families were brutally attacked. Nobody could help.

But the last house had defenses that the brothers had not expected. There were a couple of hidden family members who were guarding the house. When the gang tried to push their way in, they came under heavy fire. Rick had taken a bullet to the side, and there was no choice but to retreat. Lexie resisted then. She scratched and clawed and kicked, struggling to get away. She wanted to stay with the family who had successfully fought off the Hill brothers. The last thing she remembered was a sharp pain in her jaw and darkness.

When Lexie came to, her jaw hurt so much she wasn’t sure if she could eat. Christopher had punched her and thrown her over his shoulder as they fled. He wasn’t willing to lose his prize.

Rick was asleep on the ground beside her, blood soaking his formerly gray tee shirt. A makeshift bandage had been created from an extra shirt, wrapped around his torso but doing little to stop the seeping from the wound. She knew from the first aid class she’d taken to be a babysitter that direct pressure was needed to stop the bleeding, but she wasn’t about to volunteer that information. If he died, that was one less Hill brother to make her life miserable.

Jon returned to the camp, jubilant. “I found us another place, and it’s just an old lady. There’s food and a garden and chickens,” he informed them, filled with self-importance. “We could stay there a long time.”

Lexie quietly made her way around the camp, gathering fallen sticks for the fire. She didn’t talk, but she certainly listened. She willed herself to be invisible, wishing many times each day that she actually possessed the magical power to disappear.

The plan was to wait until it was dark, then send Lexie to the door yet again. She wished she could help the people that they were raiding. But she had no options whatsoever. Any fight she put up would lead to things that were unspeakable, things so depraved she never in her wildest nightmares could have thought such acts existed. She had realized after just a few days with Christopher that the devil was not an ugly, horned creature. He was a tall, dark-haired, handsome man with twinkling blue eyes and dimples encircling a charming smile.

As night began to fall, the sky began to roil with clouds. Thunder and lightning created an atmosphere as spooky as any book Lexie had ever read.

And when she approached the front porch silently in the rain, she realized that if demons existed in human form, perhaps angels did too.

The lady sitting on her rocking chair held a cup that sparkled in the flickering light. She had long silver braids that gleamed when lightning danced across the sky. If it weren’t for the color of her hair, she could have been any age. Her tan skin appeared unlined, and her long, flowy dress stopped just above her ankles and bare feet when she stood. Lexie could see kindness in her the same way she saw meanness in the Hills and Beth. Her cat, startled, vanished off the porch into the forest in a streak of gray.

She stopped short of the porch, trying to wordlessly convey with her eyes that the lovely older woman was in danger. She couldn’t make herself take that another step if it meant putting that woman in danger. She shook her head frantically to warn her, but it was too late.

Christopher stepped up beside her, that sickeningly charming smile pasted on his face. He put his arm loosely over Lexie’s shoulders, and she forced herself not to flinch away.

In a moment of communication that felt almost telepathic, she realized that the beautiful old woman saw everything with clarity, too. It filled her with a wild burst of hope, quickly followed by dread. She had seen the Hills in action.

What chance could an old lady possibly stand against that kind of evil? Even if that old lady was an angel in human form.

More fiction from Daisy Luther: Good Citizens and Three Miles

This little story is a work in progress that I started a while back and just recently picked up again. I wanted to create a very different kind of hero. Your feedback is welcome!

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • It left me wondering what happened. I like the protagonist as an older person (about my age coincidentally, lol)

    Keep on writing it please.

  • I would buy the book.Please finish it! As a man of a similar age to your heroine it would be different to read a story where we are more than auxiliary characters.

  • Love the angle. I was sad when the exert ended. As a non-military, middle aged woman, I like seeing how others will survive.

  • I like it too, Daisy. Being a woman over 70, nice to see a story with a woman that age as the lead character. And i too insisted on a wood stove with a flat surface to cook on! Much more to identify with here too. I think it is more realistic as the majority of the folks are not ex-green berets, are just common folks doing the best we can.

  • As a woman in her sixties living alone in a rural area, I’ve often wondered how I could protect myself against a group of people with malicious intent. I’d never thought about using my herbal skills to offer them help as well as a weapon to disable or kill them. Thank you for the idea! I’m looking forward to your next installment of this story. 🙂

  • Loved this! I really like seeing a main character that is outside of the norm. I really enjoyed the setting as well.

  • Great story so far. I look forward to more chapters.

    Just FYI, in the 3rd paragraph, the water coming out of the pump is ‘well water’. Spring water comes out of the ground without the need for a pump.

  • I want more, please….I was upset when I realized that was all there was. I will buy it as soon as you are done with it…..

  • Please finish the book. I would like to buy it…very intriguing with a glimpse into what is coming in the near future. Thank you:)

  • Very good. The story is leaving me on the edge of my seat, and I’m hoping to see how our heroine copes!

    Given your work with Selco, I would love to see you place a similar story in an urban setting if you ever get a chance.

    • Yes! Reminded me of a D&D character I came up with for one of my sons’ campaigns: Granny Parks, who does accidental alchemy with her tea – turning the unwary into cats. (inspired by Arsenic & Old Lace) My son’s campaign was to return those “cat-ified” back into humans. It was a lot of fun! I am borrowing your idea for more Granny Parks’ shenanigans!

  • I’ve been following your blogs for many years now and you have a talent for writing. I read a far amount post apocalyptic and this story was very well done. I want more!

  • thank you so much for this story Daisy.
    this is what i try to teach my dear wife, along with many other things. i fear for her when i am gone. she is far to trusting and has a heart as big as our house. nothing or no-one ever leaves our house hungry if she can help it. if they leave hungry, it’s their own damn fault.
    that’s just the way southern country girls were raised and i hope the situation never changes. myself, i think we’ll be OK.

  • holy moly daisy, dont stop now!!! this is like a thriller, its wonderful!! please finish it and let me know when its done! I’m in my 70s, and its frightening to think that we may be in the same situation here shortly, have a hubs but it still worries me that bad things are coming… I cant wait to see what happens with this story……hurry and finish and put it up….cant wait! stay well and safe. God bless

  • Oh my goodness – this story has me on the edge of my seat! I want more! I (we all) have to know how this all turns out!!!! Please continue and soon!

  • Outstanding writing! Thank you for making the woman a senior lady. Too many times, seniors are portrayed as soft, slightly addlepated oldies, who just can’t cope with modern life. Newsflash! Those sophisticated young ladies in John F, Kennedy’s time are today’s seniors. They handled the shooting of a President, rock & roll, the crazy hippy ’60s, moon landings, and Civil Rights. Seniors can handle most everything. And I am just betting there are lot of tricks in that old cottage. Can’t wait for the book!!

  • I love a competent main character who has a different set of skills than the norm for SHTF fiction. Please continue the story!

  • I love it! As I get older I look for books with older heroes to remind myself that I can keep going. Looking forward to reading the rest of the book!

  • What is the hold up? You haven’t finished the other 29 chapters yet? I’m guessing the rest of the people are going to want to read the rest of the book, also. You did good, Daisy! Two thumbs up again!

  • I’m no writer, but i have been working on a similar story for years from a mans point of view. a man looses his wife during a EMP event and how he copes with the loss of her and everything the world had to offer, everything is now gone. the working title is “the quiet house”.
    i have the start and the ending done, now i just have to fill in the blanks, I’m working on that. I seldom have the time to sit down to write during the spring and summer months.
    I gain a lot of inspiration from everyone here. Thanks again

  • So far that I have read, it sounds like it is going to be whopper!
    I love mysteries. This one has a very good start.
    Good luck on the rest of it. Thank you.

  • I love this! As a 70 something herbalist who lives in the mountains, it is so good to have a relatable heroine. Yes, please flesh out and expand the story, then finish it!

  • It’s cruel to leave us hanging, girl! The story is amazing and spellbinding already. You are so very talented, descriptive and creative. Keep writing and I’m looking forward to buying your book! I see a happy ending for your ankle confinement period. This will give you the time to continue writing. I can’t wait for the next chapter. Keep going!

  • Love this! Would love to read more when you get around to writing it (maybe talk hubs into buying the book for me, and saving up to have it printed out). I can see Grace suggesting “tea or soup, I’ve already eaten today” and giving Lexie “something special”. Lexie helps bury the bodies (blackfly farming for the chickens?) and Grace teaches her everything she knows and hands the house down to her when she’s gone.
    It’s how I imagine a “hedgerow witch” would have done things, and as happy as an ending one could get in that world.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • I LOVE IT! You definitely have a gift for writing and I am looking forward to reading the whole story 🙂

  • Daisy, you told your Dad before he passed that you wanted to be a writer and a magnificent writer you have become. I’ve read your other very practical books and enjoyed them thoroughly. But these two chapters are much different and have enormous potential for a much wider audience. I’m ready to buy the book.
    (I’ve also written a bit, as part of my former profession and more recently, some short stories for my grandkids.). I’ve done a bit of proofing/editing too, if you ever need additional input.
    Keep it up – you have a wonderful future.

  • Hi Daisy,name here is Paul in Florida. Have followed your site for awhile now. The “Widow in the Woods” is a interesting story. Enjoy your gifted writing. Am prepping myself,not just regarding self defense. As a current gun writer states,must know our “ABC’s” as this person states. “Always be carrying” is a mantra that could easily save your life. The precursor for that would be to always maintain situational awareness. Am enjoying life,but these days is a false concept to believe certain places are safe. Evil travels in vehicles and by foot,so being able to take care of yourself is critical.

  • This reinforces my desire to have a fence just in case the schtuff really hits the fan. I’m of the mind to have a solid wooden fence so no one can see in and see what there may or may not be. None of their business. Probably good to keep razor wire on hand too that you could put on top. I know this can prove costly, but it’s what I intend to do so that anyone like the antagonists can’t get through in the first place. And, if they do, that’s what big dogs and others means of “insurance” are for (wink wink). Many people get a false sense of security being at home. Don’t let your guard down; trust your instincts and use discernment. In a scenario like this, be much more quick to assume someone is an enemy as opposed to your friend. Time will tell what they really are. The eyes are a good place to look for starters though. Like Christopher Hill, you can look like an angel outwardly but really be a demon within. And, with everyone in the country from here, there, and everywhere now (due to failed border policies and sheer incompetence), and especially those from cultures that don’t regard women highly, don’t be fooled by appearances. I’m younger, and a line from an old Taylor Swift song comes to mind… “Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” Also, I know it’s hard, but keep your guard up. It’s like in boxing, you let your guard down and you get sucker punched in the face. Keep your dukes up.

    We are getting close to a time where it is probably good to limit who visits your house and property. There are other places to meet people. Unless you know they can be trusted, more people may mean more liability in the future should things escalate, especially with situations like the one in Texas. Figure out who you can count on; be leery of those unknown to you. If they have good intentions, they will prove them over time. Until they demonstrate that, however, beware.

    That being said, great story! Can’t wait to see how the unconventional hero socks it to them!

    Stay frosty my friends! Not sure what this year holds, but with it being an election year and all I’m sure it’ll be memorable if you know what I mean.

  • I am enjoying the story so far. You picked the right last name and description to match my nightmare first husband. Crazy good-looking rapist and killer. He died before ever being charged with anything major. Long story short- I survived by escaping and living 10 months alone in the woods with nothing but a pocket knife, half a book of advertising matches, and enough desperation to overcome anything to survive. I am curious to see where your story goes.
    I’m 77, and have outlived three husbands, 2 lost babies, a brother, parents, grandparents, all aunts, uncles, first and second cousins, and recently lost a grown son. I am Engaged again to a great guy, a widower with two grown kids who have also accepted me warmly. I live on 10 acres now in steep rocky hills in Southwestern high mountain desert country. 6,800 ft elevation. I’ve been busy remaking my living corner … added almost 100 fruit trees in the 5 to 7 ft height range so they will be stronger and bear sooner. Most are semi-dwarf. That adds some to earlier maturity. Last year I added 50 new 2-year-old asparagus crowns to a 30 year old long unused garden area and 25 berry vines. Ordered for this spring are 75 strawberries-25 each early, mid, and late season bearing varieties. My 2 new Chicago Figs arrived this week. Dwarf black mulberry trees are due in 3 weeks. I have enough heirloom saved garden seeds for a farm… not just a home garden. And like your lady character, I’m gray-headed, have delivered babies, grow and forage herbs for teas and medicinal uses. I’ve canned and sun dried enough food for several years for me and when I marry and we combine things, plenty there for us for several years if we grew nothing more except a bit to eat fresh in season.
    I have a hydroponics set up in the downstairs glassed-in long porch area. I start my garden seeds there also. I have solar power so I don’t really need the power company but there is power here on this property. I have containers for water catchment and for gravity-fed flow to the garden. I use a small solar-powered 12v pump for the orchard area. I just bought my dead sons’ 2, 20 ga shotguns and sent the cash to his widow in a foreign country. So I have an overabundance of firepower these days. I kept most of his ammo as 9mm and 22 etc fit things I have.
    I’m anxious to see how the story develops. Can I learn more and do more? Probably. Only a few know where I live now. My old home is still filled with my things that I bring a little at a time. It hasn’t been a real obvious move yet. I may look for another friend in need of a home and place them there to enjoy the fruit and garden areas and quiet life. A friend of the past 46 years lives in a small mobile home there already with her 3 grandchildren she’s raising. She just covers her living expenses. I need someone there on the property so it is advantageous to us both. One more friend in the main home which is around 1,000 sq ft would be to my advantage.
    I’ve taken over the second living space here for an art studio. I may begin selling at the Farmers Market a bit this year. I should have excess fruit beginning in the next year or two. I always grow more garden than I need for a year’s food. I do plan to plant an abundance of fast-maturing tomatoes as that is one thing that is hard to harvest enough of here. My chickens are happy here. I need to start over with rabbits. My last two have died of old age. I didn’t even breed them the last 2 years. Just made sweet pets of the 2 old bunnies.
    My soft spot is being too compassionate. Three times I’ve had house guests with lots of children because of hard times. It turned out well and I have a bunch of young adults who call me grandma. In a really deep depression, I know I can’t take in families and support them at all. Turning them away would be hard to do. My only savings is in my debt-free properties and homes. I must pay taxes but owing no one is a nice feeling.
    I’m still healthy but noticeably slowing down at 77. I’m still reasonably aware of people and my surroundings. I often feel danger or a sense of something wrong before I can see what is a problem or a danger. I have cultivated that by paying attention to it. It has paid off in surviving some bad situations.
    This year I’ll be teaching a few younger women how to can. I’m trading canning jars for classes. I have about used up my extras. I am fermenting more these days and will be sun-drying a lot more. The storage is easier and a different amount of space is needed for the dried things.

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