The Chain is Weakened

photo of supermarket

A Short Story

“Honey, that was a trip,” I said as I dropped the load of groceries on the kitchen counter. I had just made a trip to the grocery store 5 minutes down the road from our small ranch in Cave Spring, Virginia.

This was week 5 of 14 days to stop the spread of what, I was not sure now. Weeks 1 through 4 had been uneventfully. The bi-weekly trip to the grocery store had been uneventful. We had a well stocked pantry, but did not want to delve too deep into that since there was still food at the grocery store. Thankfully, my career had been determined “essential”. I had come to realize that meant expendable. If this pandemic was so deadly, then how come I had to risk my life along with so many other “essential” workers. After about day 5, the lack of bodies in the streets was enough for me to realize that the threat to my age group was minimal, besides I realized that we had the “horrible deadly” virus a few weeks prior.

My wife was taking care of our four kids so the task of going to the store fell to me. On this fine morning in April, the effects of shutting the country down was starting to be seen. The run on toilet paper was surprising but not concerning as wholesale commercial toilet paper was still available.

Meat though…. What happened to all the meat? Shelves were starting to be bare… really bare. Pork, chicken, and beef had gaping holes where the most popular cuts had been this morning.

I had been starting to notice something more alarming than empty shelves over the last few trips. Several grocery stores had begun to rearrange the aisles. Aisles had been taken out and the remaining ones widened. “updating” was the reasoning behind it. But the shelves appeared to be better stocked but the selection had been significantly reduced. “I wonder how many other people noticed this,” I thought to myself. Cheap chicken which was normally ~$1 a pound had nearly doubled, if you could find it. Steak… I won’t even go there.

“Babe, I don’t recognize the grocery store any more. People are quiet and scared. Families are not shopping together. The air seems heavy as if society is holding its breath waiting for the line veil of civilization to collapse. People are scared of each other. They glare at you as if you are going to kill them.” I remarked to my wife as she put groceries away.

The last few days the news had been full of stories of chicken and hog farms slaughtering the animals because there was no processing capacity. Stories abounded of tens of thousands of animals be culled from piglets and chicks to hogs and hens. I knew we would feel it in the stores in a few weeks as the limited supplies in the warehouses were exhausted. This too would pass but at what cost? The supply chain was fraying but had not completely broken. Streaming services and food had kept the masses complacent this time.

“yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” -Thomas Paine The American Crisis


-Jeremiah Deborde

Passel Hills Farm is a family owned farm located in Union Hall, Virginia on Smith Mountain Lake. Shifting careers from a fiber optic splicer to a farmer, this is our story of life on the farm and a few tales from years past as we have time to tell them.-

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