The one where we moved in and then moved back out again…in less than a week.

I spent the morning riding a 17.3hh Friesian Sport horse.  It was a nice change of pace to do something purely for the enjoyment of it, not because it had to be done.  My lesson went exceedingly well, and I left feeling positively gleeful.  That was also a nice change.

The past few days have involved a lot of…erm…poo…hitting a really big fan…metaphorically speaking.  (Probably literally as well, but that’s just life in a barn that runs fans.  We don’t like to think about it too much.)

August 22nd marked the first night actually sleeping at the ranch.  (If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting so much, that’s why.)  Over the past week, we have been nearly frantic with packing, then unpacking, painting and cleaning, and, of course, all of the things that we have to do every day to keep the animals happy and the farm running.  Our moving day began with a massive thunderstorm, then progressed into one of the hottest, most humid days of the summer.

And that was the good part.

After moving to the ranch, Jeremiah and I started to get ill.  First, I blamed my allergies.   My eyes were itchy.  I was sneezy.  (Incidentally, “Sneezy” is one of Jeremiah’s nicknames for me; I call him Grumpy in return.)  I had a vaguely sore throat.  Jeremiah had a headache.

Allergies, right?

But then it got worse.  I was fatigued.  I had stabbing pains in my abdomen.  My eyes went from itchy to burning (as in, I couldn’t even wear my contacts).  My sore throat became almost unbearable.  Jeremiah’s headache progressed from mild to near-migraine.  We both started having respiratory problems.

Turns out, the house has some issues.  We discovered the first issue when Jeremiah went downstairs to light a pilot light in the water heater.  To get to it, he had to make his way through one of the rooms with the previous owners’ belongings.  When he did, he discovered that the downstairs bedrooms have some serious mold going on.  That would explain my increased allergies.

The next day, when his mother came over and commented on the moth ball smell in the house, Jeremiah explained that moth balls are all over the place in the house, and that we had been removing them as we cleaned upstairs.  However, there are tons of them in the basement as well; we can’t remove them until the previous owners’ belongings move out.

She started thinking.

About an hour later she sent the two of us a text explaining the effects of moth ball poisoning.  Actually, it’s naphthalene poisoning, but you get naphthalene poisoning from moth balls, so moth ball poisoning.  Turns out, our symptoms read like a checklist of the early effects of exposure to naphthalene.

Did you know that moth balls are incredibly toxic?  Yeah…me either.

They can make you very sick if you breathe the vapor they produce as they break down.  They are also highly carcinogenic.  They can burn your retinas.  They can cause cataracts.  Turns out, they can even put you in a coma (but I’m pretty sure you would have to stir them up in your tea for that to happen).  Either way, nasty stuff.  If you have kids or pets, you probably shouldn’t have moth balls, and if you choose to use them, make sure that they are in a sealed container, like a garment or blanket bag.

But I digress…

Once my mama-in-law sent over that information, we started packing up (again).  Let me tell you, repacking household items only days after you had unpacked them is depressing.  I have no words really.  The first thing we did was load our pups into the car and take them to my mom’s place.  Tomorrow, I will bring them back to the Heights house, as we are temporarily set up again over there, but for the last day and a half they have been having a sleep over.  After that, we packed up the necessities and high tailed it back to the other house.

There is a plan in action to clean up the mold and the moth balls, so this is far from permanent, but for the time being, we’re back to managing the ranch from across the river.

This sort of thing is often referred to as a bump in the road.  Over the past few days, our road has gotten pretty darn bumpy.

The good news?  (And there is A LOT of good here.)

First, we figured this out RIGHT AWAY.  Long term exposure to either the mold or the moth balls can cause pretty nasty damage, so it is a huge blessing that we figured those things out when we did.  Props to Jeremiah’s mama for putting two and two together.  (Also, in case you were wondering, we’re both way better now; it took about 12 hours of being moved out of the house for pretty much all of our symptoms to go away.)

Second, we weren’t fully packed up, and a lot of what we unpacked can stay until this is remedied.

Third, we hadn’t moved any of the small critters.  The cats and hedgehogs were still in the Heights.  The moth balls could have caused serious problems for our hedgies delicate respiratory systems, so it’s fantastic that they won’t move in until this is cleared up.

The cats last night.  I think they were pretty happy to have us home.
The cats last night. I think they were pretty happy to have us home.

Fourth, even though it made us sick, living at the ranch gave us a bunch of time to get stuff done.  Half of the upstairs is newly painted.  The exterior of the house is about a quarter painted.  We got a bunch of cleaning done.

The house before Jeremiah started his work on it.
The house before Jeremiah started his work on it.
Slightly different angle on the same part of the house yesterday.
Slightly different angle on the same part of the house yesterday.

Finally, we both got a good taste of what it is like to wake up and be able to meander up to the barn to take care of the animals.  No drive.   No rush.  Bliss.  Even with all that has happened, I cannot wait for the day we can do that every morning.  I just have to get past a few bumps in the road first.

(SNEAK PEAK: Our fourth wedding anniversary is coming up in a few days.  I cannot wait to introduce you to…ummm…I mean show you…my present.  Stay tuned.)

 

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14 thoughts on “The one where we moved in and then moved back out again…in less than a week.

  1. Geez, I did not know that either about moth balls. How did the previous owner survive. And why all the moth balls anyway? Good thing your mama-in-law was johnny on the spot. Congratulations on your fourth anniversary and congratulations on getting your new place ship shape. One thing though that I am upset about: Why is everybody taking my name? Grumpy is mine and I am not sharing. There are six other dwarf names you guys can have. Just leave Grumpy alone.

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  2. Kudos for finding the positive in a really big BUMP. I’d be more than a little grumpy. Yeah, you don’t want to fool around with mold; I had no idea about the mothballs. Looking forward to meeting your present.

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    1. I’ve certainly had my moments of “Oh my God, I cannot believe this is happening,” but honestly, even as crazy as all of this is, this too shall pass. Our house in the Heights was built pre-1920, and we’ve had a foundation wall collapse, two staircases fall out from under us, and have undertaken a complete re-wire and re-plumb out of necessity. Home renovations will teach you perseverance for sure.

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      1. My old “barn” was built in 1915 and we have had our share of money-pit moments, as you know. No staircases falling out from under us, though, you definitely take the cake. We had a mold problem too. It seems there was a tiny leak in a pipe running down to the crawl space behind the living room wall. And that slow leak created a lovely environment for mold. We had to have the mold guys in and all is well now, but honestly, sometimes it’s like “what now?”

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  3. I had the same question as Don…how did the previous owners live there? Any why mothballs everywhere? I thought those were only used to pack things away. So sorry for all you’re going through right now. But honestly, after all you guys went through with your house in the Heights, you’re ready for anything, I think!

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