From poison to paradise
Recovering from severe chemical exposure, this New Farm reader finds health and peace in organic farming.

Posted November 23, 2004

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Dear New Farm,

We came to our farm looking for fresh air. In 1994, I was poisoned by Dursban with xylene during a termite extermination in our home by a professional exterminator. After looking for almost 10 years for a place to live on the East Coast and not finding one, we decided to give up and just try to get me well. The environmental doctor I was going to said I should go to the mountains for the summer; I was already spending winters at the oceanside. It sounds enviable, but I was in constant pain, on oxygen and living in a foil room when I was home.

Anyway, we landed in Central New York in 2000, bought a barn and some land. Then we met the organic farmer who had been haying the fields for the land broker. He tutored us and we began raising chickens to get rid of cluster fly larva. Then we got dogs to help with the bulls we were grazing for the farmer. Then we got a goat and now I milk daily. I no longer am on oxygen, I don't need the air filter much and I am able to move about with little pain (though I am still not consistent or reliable because any kind of petroleum exposure, including fragrances, can trigger weeks of immobility; then my husband has to take on my chores as well as his).

The growing season on our little hill (1,700-foot elevation) is short, but we grow whatever is willing in any given year...apples, berries, potatoes, corn, sunflowers...none of it perfectly reliable. This year a friend built me a cold frame and I have peas, parsley and lettuce growing and it has snowed the past two days! I am living large. We have two more years of renting the land to the farmer for heifers and hay in return for his tutoring. Then we are on our own. My husband is handy and has good woodworking skills. He has been doing a few odds jobs for cash. We have a few customers for our beef and pastured poultry and eggs. It is enough for now, but we want to be able to call ourselves a real farm and not a hobby farm.

We are blessed to be here and grateful for your site, which gives good information to the pros and longtime farmers, as well as to us newbies.

That's our story and I am sticking to it...for now.

Connie Kille
New York