Most people we talk to about Sabbatical Ranch are very interested in what we're doing. Whether it's growing chemical-free, nutrient-dense edibles and medicinals; building superadobe/hyperadobe domes with the earth beneath our feet; low-tech, simple, DIY projects without electricity (we're off grid - EMFs are a real problem for some people); rainwater harvesting without expensive tanks; regenerative soil building with forage-fed animals; perennial food forest development using swales and berms on contour; overcoming Mold Toxin Illness with toxin-free living; the list goes on and on. We have a lot of stories to share and there's a lot of people who want to hear them. So I guess it's time to start a blog to share our story as it unfolds. Our main website shares the background story of Mold Toxin Illness that led us to start a nonprofit to help others who are faced with the same difficult circumstances and decisions we have faced and still face. One of the problems associated with Mold Toxin Illness is multiple chemical sensitivities (in addition to mold sensitivity and random food sensitivities). This becomes extremely challenging to eat, build, or do just about anything in the modern, chemical-filled world! That's why we have had to learn how to do just about everything in unconventional ways. Let's pick up the story where the website leaves off. We actually have four children, but only the younger two were still living with us when we went on our mold-avoidance sabbatical in May, 2021. Almost exactly one year after we walked away from everything we closed on the ranch property. The following week the older of our two younger daughters was to be married, so we drove half way across the country and enjoyed a wonderful event and reunion with Christian friends. Three of us came back to Arizona in mid May and did what we call a "tricky transition" or "reset." Some of our belongings from the sabbatical were starting to feel problematic. It's tricky to get rid of all your old stuff - down to the very clothes on your back - and get new stuff without contaminating it with the old. Try it and you'll see what I mean. We feel fantastic here except when we have to go to town. We replaced our vehicle twice - including at the start of our sabbatical. Unfortunately, we started reacting in the first replacement after about six months. We replaced it several months ago and started reacting to the new one a short time later. When any of us have to make frequent trips to town, it definitely takes a toll on our health. Vehicles are a real challenge. A brand new one takes a good year to off-gas the toxic VOCs. They say half of all buildings have mold problems and I would concur it's at least that. But vehicles are probably just as bad. The air conditioning unit is a perfect place for mold to grow. Then it blows spores and mycotoxins all over you. If you don't use it, it is still used by the defrost to dehumidify the air. Some people have it disconnected, but that's a safety issue when driving in wet, rainy, or cold conditions and the windows fog up. If a used vehicle has ever had spills on the carpet or seats, there's a pretty good chance it has mold problems. If it hauled around contaminated items, it's likely problematic. Dealers typically shampoo vehicles before they shut them up and put them on the lot. If it wasn't allowed to thoroughly dry with plenty of ventilation, it likely resulted in mold growth. The list could go on but you get the point. Vehicles are expensive and can't be changed out without a lot of time and effort. I'd like to find a cargo van with passenger seating with leather or vinyl seats and without any carpet. But you can't even tell if you're going to have problems with a vehicle on the test drive if your symptoms are masked. I should probably explain masking. When you get a "hit" from mold or something else you're sensitive to, you often have an instant reaction. I commonly react with a flash headache, but people can experience any number of minor symptoms. I actually get different types of headaches depending on the source, which can help me identify the problem. Others have learned how to distinguish between problems with symptoms as well. Their experience clued me in to pay attention to patterns. If you get hit with the same problem repeatedly over time, the minor symptoms tend to go away only to be replaced with deeper symptoms - often seemingly unrelated - indicating more serious damage being done to your body. Your minor symptoms are masked. Sadly, I believe this is being experienced by millions of people living in sick buildings or working in toxic environments - and they don't know it! They're typically prescribed drugs with innumerable side effects that don't solve the root problem! Anyway, when you get away from the offending source for a period of time, it gives your body a chance to recover. You know you're unmasked when deeper symptoms fade away and minor symptoms only return when you're re-exposed to the problem. That's your clue to avoid it like the plague! That gets us back to the purpose of Sabbatical Ranch and the reason for starting this blog. We want to spread awareness and provide helpful, valuable information. We want to be a demonstration site and help as many people as we can, both through online learning as well as hands on experience. Are you ready for a sabbatical?