In mid December 2008 we began one of the most scary journeys of our lives. With nothing more than plane tickets and the clothes on our backs, we boarded a plane bound for New Mexico. We lost all we owned due to toxic mold contamination, and on more than a few occasions I nearly lost my life due to allergic reactions to mold which landed me in intensive care with pneumonia.
New Mexico’s dry high desert climate allowed my body to heal. We did still encounter mold when we moved into a rental, which caused another bout of pneumonia, but I was healing, growing stronger, and most important- I was not dead.
My children suffered greatly watching me go through losing my hair, being debilitated neurologically, partial paralysis at times, losing all their cherished and precious belongings, and being uprooted and moved thousands of miles away from friends and extended family. We quickly acclimated to the high desert and began restoring our lives back from the brink of utter destruction.
Losing everything to toxic mold is like losing everything in a house fire, or another natural disaster. There were times when I felt it was worse, however. With a fire or disaster, belongings are undeniably ruined and unretrievable. When you need to burn or throw away everything you own or risk contaminating a new home, that’s where it hurts. Many well-intended people in our family wanted to hold onto our things for us, our children wanted their things entrusted to other family members, and it broke my heart to watch them relinquish things so precious to them only to throw it all in the dump.
Musical instruments, precious blankets, clothes with special memories, photos, artwork from when each of them were just learning how to hold a crayon…everything was now gone. The mold was so advanced that there was no way to even scan the artwork to save it digitally. The artwork and most of the photos were all devoured by toxic mold and rendered unrecognizable.
One of the first things I purchased when we moved here was a camera to start new memories. Having everything digital and stored away in a cloud or on a drive somewhere was incredibly important to me. 20 years of memories were wiped away and I vowed never to allow that to happen again.
Dom remained on the east coast at his job, and actively looked for work in NM. It would take months for him to finally be united with us.
We believe that Simone’s neurological disorders and food allergies stem from being exposed to toxic mold from the time she was born. Her earliest years were spent being shuttled from doctor to doctor, specialists, geneticists, allergists, and neurologists. She too began to heal.
Here in NM, she had therapists work with her. Noah and Shoshie were also beginning to physically heal. When we lived on the East coast they would get infections, one of them got sepsis, two were on inhalers, and they had reoccurring infections. Every week they were sick with some sort of illness.
Here in the high desert, we all continued to heal.
In 2010 we moved to our current home. It was a time of celebration, of renewal, and of victory. We rehabbed the house, transformed different parts of the property, and began to garden.
We have made so many beautiful new memories here, and we feel so amazingly blessed to have everything restored to us that was once lost. Mid-July of this year would have marked five years in our home.
I’m glad that we get to close this next chapter of our lives because of our calling to the agrarian life, and not because we are running from mold, a disaster, or anything else destructive. Our lives are whole, filled with love and support, and we are strengthened and renewed as the new chapter in our lives begins to unfold.
Our story is now just beginning! Yes, for five years this space has been where I’ve discussed our plans, our triumphs, our failures, our heartbreaks, and our joys. Last year we felt the sea was calling to us. It has been an odyssey of emotion and soul searching, uncovering what we truly desired in life, and opening our hearts and minds to receive that agrarian calling with open arms.
On Saturday, June 20, we will be driving cross country to our new home and life at Darthia Farm. It is a manifestation of all we have ever wanted in our lives, and it holds fast to our spirits, awakening and reviving deeper parts of our souls.
In 5 weeks we will be hitting the road to our new home in Gouldsboro, Maine. Although our house hasn’t sold yet, we made the decision to move forward with our farming plans and relocate.
Our decision process on where to move was stressful at best. There were so many decisions to be made, as well as having no idea of which area would suit us best. How do you decide on a location when you’ve never even visited the state?
We had lists upon lists (okay I had all the lists) of criteria for the perfect location, the kind of people we wanted to share community with, the history of our future property and its uses over the year, farming needs, housing, and all while desiring to hold to the standard that we didn’t want a mortgage or to be in debt.
My original question posed to Dom last year was, “If we could go anywhere, where would you want to be?” Both of us answered that wanted to be near the ocean. Being in the high desert for six years became a constant reminder of how much we desperately loved and missed the ocean. Dom grew up on Long Island and spent most summers surfing, and I have always been in love with the ocean spending summers along the Jersey Shore.
Something deep was calling to us. We answered that call. We honed in on Maine and New Hampshire, searching for homes and land that were very inexpensive. The more I looked, however, the more discouraged I became. Were there homes and land in our price range? Yes, but most of them were infested with mold. Mold infestations can kill me.
As we continued to look for land, we decided that the only way to keep me safe and alive was going to be if we built our own little cottage. Up in Maine, many people will buy an Amish built large shed and convert it to a little hunting cottage or summer cabin. Armed with new a new plan, we set out looking for only land. We found many properties, but then we looked at each other and realized that if we go this route, we will be doing it all alone. We had no interest in being hermits living deep in the woods where it takes 1/2 hour to get to the nearest neighbor. We also wanted to be in community, and a strong one at that.
So we added strong community to our list of priorities, and kept looking. My next question to myself (I drive myself nuts with my constant questions) was how long would it take before we would get all our infrastructure in place so that we could actually farm again? That question nearly broke me emotionally. An agrarian life is our calling, and I couldn’t imagine going a year or more without having animals, a garden, and all the things that bring me to life each day, filling me with a sense of completeness and peace.
Feeling the weight of my questions bearing down on my soul as if I were about to give birth, I snapped inside. In utter frustration and feeling the despair of a life without a farm (even for a few years) I began looking for alternative ways to farm.
I started looking for partnerships in both New Hampshire and Maine. New Hampshire didn’t have any opportunities available, but Maine had about four partnerships open. I talked with Dom about it, we went over all our lists of wants and needs, and decided that a farming partnership would cover almost every single item on our lists.
After making the decision to seek a partnership, we sent out emails to the four farm prospects in Maine. We didn’t know what to expect, but we were hopeful. We looked up where each farm was located and immediately had our favorite farm of all four farms. I don’t think I breathed much that day. I would find myself constantly holding my breath, and forget to breathe, anxiously glued to computer as I waited for someone to reply.
Then it happened. I couldn’t believe it! Not only did they email back, they called as well. After the email, I quickly looked at my list to see which farm it was. Was it the one we really liked? Yes! The three other farms never contacted us. So we started talking via email and Facetime. It took all of one week for us to make the decision to relocate.
Cynthia and Bill thayer
The name of the farm is Darthia Farm in Gouldsboro, Maine. They have been certified organic for 37 years, and are most beloved in their community. Last year one of my deepest desires was to be in a place where the forest kisses the ocean because I love both the forest and the ocean, and that’s where we are going. Darthia Farm is located on West Bay and is a part of the Schoodic Peninsula in Downeast Maine. Click the photo to be taken to their website.
June 22 is our moving day so we can be to the farm by July 1 and start our training. We’ll learn how to run the farm and CSA, care for the animals, making products for the farm store, tending farmers markets, and everything else that goes into making Darthia Farm shine.
Luna Hill, LLC will be dissolved this month before our move. Our farm website will continue, but most likely in the future as Darthia Farm, with an archived section for Luna Hill. My blog posts will be not updated much until we are done making the transition, and once we do settle in I will start blogging regularly about daily life at Darthia Farm.
Here are some photos of the farm: