Lyddie's mother actually makes two momentous decisions in chapter 1. First of all, she decides to move the family to her sister's house in Poultney. This is because Mama has got it into her head that the end of the world is coming. She's been spooked by the unwelcome appearance of the bear in the family home and has taken it as some kind of dark prophecy. As Mama's sister, Lyddie's Aunt Clarissa, is a deeply religious woman, Mama feels that she and her children would be better off staying with her in Poultney.
However, there's not enough money available for the coach fare, so Lyddie and her brother, Charles, stay behind while Mama and the other siblings head off to Aunt Clarissa's. Throughout the following winter, Lyddie and Charles make a good job of running the farm without adult supervision. Despite having no money and almost no supplies, they manage to survive a particularly harsh winter.
But in the springtime, they receive some very bad news. Mama has made another momentous decision, and it's not good for either Lyddie or Charles. She's hired out Lyddie to work at Cutler's Tavern and Charles at Baker's Mill in order to raise some much-needed cash. For good measure, she's also lent the family's pasture fields and sugar bush to Mr. Westcott to repay debts.