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Voices: Real stories

Four years without electricity or water

I’ve been an auto diesel mechanic for 30 years, but I do everything—carpentry, tractors, cattle, farm work—anything I can find. I work on a cattle ranch every spring, and last year we branded over 300 head of cattle. In Burns, we all do hard jobs like building fences and digging ditches, but that ditch-digging job isn’t there anymore.

I was staying with my mother when she died. That was a rough time. I had no food, no money, no nothing. I inherited the house but had to pay the  back taxes to keep it, so my only choice was to live for almost four years without electricity or water. I did it to save the house. Otherwise I would have been homeless. I’m out of that situation now and at least now I’ve got power and water.

Summer’s not too bad because there’s ranch work, but in the winter there’s not much here. I take every odd job I can find. Winter’s coming on right now and I might have a choice between water or lights. Hopefully work comes up and I won’t have to make that decision this year.
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