Seems like old times…

Filed under: Agriculture,Family Events,Farm — Chamberlain @ 3:59 pm
No. 186

Easter Sunday at Moone Athy this year was an extraordinarily beautiful spring day – picture perfect weather for our annual family outing. About 45 members of the Chamber were able to attend. It was especially nice to have Bill and Sarah Hollo there, as well as the healthy remnant of the familiatatum – (Helene and Adriana Tatum were present but Will Tatum, the perennial odds-on favorite to win the egg hunt contest, and papa Trey were sadly missing due to a viral something-or-other). It was also a treat to have Carrie, Cambell and Hart Miller (John McClelland’s sister and family) visiting from Billings, Montana. For those unable to bask in the balmy Missouri sunshine of that day, we provide a poor substitute below – a brief video of the occasion.



A hat tip to Sarah Dunn who with much help from the family at large coordinated this year’s event.

Here are a few snapshots of the festivities – thanks to everyone that shared!.


Montana Visitor Hart Miller
Scans for Eggs

Sam Qun and Toph McClelland
Hurl Seed Balls

Katherine and Hugh Law pose
for Sarah Porter

Closeup of Coreopsis Seed Balls
(see text below)

New Annex Retaining Wall



Two of the above photos may require comment. The new tenant in the farm annex, Robert Carmon, a master carpenter, has resurrected the dilapidated retaining wall outside the annex building. A superb job donated to the farm by Robert who charged only the fuel costs of running his bobcat! We are extremely lucky in our tenants.

Finally, wildflower seeding of the native prairie grasses in the Deer Print pasture was accomplished by the migrant workers video’d in the clip above. You may not know what’s involved. The Smith and Halcomb children meticulously mixed powdered clay, Coreopsis seeds and water to form the seed balls shown in the photo. Then specially trained workers accompanied by Mariachi musicians carefully disperse these seed balls, as shown in the video.

Next Easter we will no doubt see the fruit of these labors. Plan on coming to see for yourselves!


Almost Spring

Filed under: Agriculture,Chambers Quiz,Family Updates,Farm,Photography — Chamberlain @ 6:14 pm

A few random notes and pictures from recent strolls through Moone Athy, where the days are getting longer and warmer.


On the wildflower path, the first irises have just appeared – thanks to Aunt Delphine. This will lift one’s spirits.


Aunt Delphine’s Irises

In the winter each year we do burns of the pond berms and pastures to enhance growth of native prairie flora and to prevent damage to the ponds.

Controlled Woodland Burn

Here’s a field at the south end of the Deer Print pasture that was burned earlier this winter. Prairie wildflower seeds have been sown here.

Burnt pasture. Later in spring we’ll show the grasses that emerge.

Here’s a gigantic burl – we’d like to get this into the hands of Bill Cromie to see what he could do with it on his lathe.

Giant Burl

Another unusual sighting…evil eye ice formation at the northern property edge…

Look at this!

Finally, another Quiz. Where’s this? Winner gets a free sit…

Where’s This?




Farm Report for 2011

Filed under: Agriculture,Family Updates,Farm — Chamberlain @ 11:56 am



2011 was on the whole a good year. Other than the ongoing work on the three houses, there were not too many extraordinary expenses. We did have to replace the water heaters in both rental houses as well as a sump pump in the barn house. Neal Fuhr was able to get us the pumps and heaters at a discounted price and he and Robert Carman (the new tenant in the Annex) did the installation.

Surveying continues to be another capital expense. The northern boundary of the farm has been surveyed and Neal marked it with purple painted fence posts. If anyone would like to see how the line runs, please let me know.

With our goats gone, we have gone back to trying to eradicate honeysuckle manually. Anne Dollimore has arranged for the first annual honeysuckle eradication outing on Sunday 25 March – please mark your calendars and join up! Thanks Anne!

The rehabbing of the family house and the tenant houses continued this past year thanks to John Fuhr. On the barn house there has been further replacement of windows and some siding work done. Siding and window work as been also done on the annex. The family house porch has been replaced.

David Pentland has gifted Kildare to the farm as the farm horse. Sadly, Ti Femme will not be with us much longer. She is getting lamer and lamer due to her tendency to founder. The managers accepted David’s gift as there as always been at least one farm horse. The farm currently maintains one horse (once Ti is put down) and Blossom.

Improvements were made to the Jack Cromie Trail with the addition of a sign set up along the trail. It has one of Jack’s poems carved in it. A bench in memory of Rebecca Hollo is across from the sign. Both the sign and the bench were thanks to monetary donations as well as work contributions. We are trying to get wild ginger and Christmas ferns established in the area.

Because of heavy rains and rising creeks we had to do more gaveling of the road this past year plus recover the wooden bridge to the pond as it was carried downstream by the flooding.

We continue to have the edges of the fields brushhogged in late August to keep the woods at bay. This year both pond dams were burned in early spring and then brushhogged in the late summer which has helped keep the brush and saplings at a minimum on the dams. The wildflower garden is also cut and cleared in late summer.

The farm continues to be a place where the family gathers and friends come. New City School has come out once in the spring and again in the fall with the first grade class. The St. Louis Mycological Society spent a day in the spring searching for mushrooms, and will do so again in 2012. Reunions, Easter and Thanksgiving were again celebrated.

Projections for 2012 inlcude more work on the family house and the barn house plus regrading and reseeding of the family house because of the work on the porch and the need to direct the water away from the house. Likewise we may need to do some work on the little pond to keep the water off the road down at the barn.

We also want to make sure that we are prudent when it comes to farm liability issues. With that in mind, we plan to fill up the cistern at the barn house as it has been compromised. We have had the one at the family house checked and it is fine for now. We will have a binder at the farm house containing the hunting, vehicle, fire and livestock policies. Please review them with your family and your friends. By following these guidelines we will be protecting not only the farm but all of us who use it.

Sarah Dunn, Farm Manager

Emily’s Notes

Filed under: Agriculture,Entertainment — Chamberlain @ 4:34 pm

Thanks to our West Coast correspondent Emily Gatch we have the following byline from Autrans, France. (If the following link doesn’t appear refresh your page please…)

Does this seem far fetched? Not at all. Consider the following post from the Punjapit blog May 2010:


“While it seems incredible to play music to cows, breeder Guo Zhixin actually hires a musician to play music to his dairy cows for one hour every morning, saying beautiful meledies can make his cows produce more milk.”

“Guo, who raises 860 cows on his farm in a village near city Luoyang, central China’s Henan Province, says playing music to cows brings forth one more kilo of milk from every cow, every day, resulting in 700 yuan’s more worth of milk every year, reported on Monday.”

“Guo began offering music sessions for his cows last March, when he learned the idea from a foreign cow magazine.”


We also know that one version of the lyrics of Bessie Smith’s tune Hot time in the Old Town Tonight resulted from Patrick and Catherine O’Leary’s cow kicking over a lantern in her barn resulting in the great Chicago Fire of 1871 (see Wikipedia here). Another Smith, Sarah, of Wilmette Il sings a particularly hot version of this tune…

Hat tip to Emily for her agro-musicological update!


The Bull Rent Goes Up

Filed under: Agriculture,Family Updates,Uncategorized — Chamberlain @ 5:03 pm

Editor’s Recommendation: Click on this brief audio file to capture the ambiance of what follows…

Each year a favorite event for the Wisconsin Gatch family is the Bloomington Wisconsin Livestock Exchange. Here they enter their calves for sale at auction, and this year, as the following video attests, they did themselves proud…



And here is how Grandpa Gatch described the day:

“..[the video] doesn’t do justice to the event itself, which is our annual ritual at this time of year.

It’s always accompanied by great excitement. The auctioneer was complimentary in his comments on the calves, and the bidders responded. Calvin either topped or came close to topping the market for the weight class of his calves — which at 657 pounds for the steers and 617 pounds for the heifers — is the best he’s ever done. We are pleased cuz our cows are a rather motley bunch, and we rent our bulls from Perry Leibfried, who owns Leibfried Feed in Platteville. We called Perry to tell him the good news — on the proviso that he doesn’t raise the bull rent next year.

At the end of the video, Calvin scans to the top of the sale barn bleachers where Cal IV is hiding out. He was not as riveted as Calvin and I were by the event.


I’m certain that most of us have no idea how much work is involved in getting these calves to 657 pounds. So a congratulations is owed to Cal III on this achievement.

Addendum: Cal III has just re-enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. Semper Fi Cal Boy!



Eat your spinach!

Filed under: Agriculture,Family Updates — Chamberlain @ 8:24 pm

This timeless admonition may no longer be heard if the Fusarium wilt fungus has its way, a pathogen that threatens the soil for spinach seed production in wide swaths of the Pacific Northwest. But carnivores shouldn’t celebrate just yet. This fungus is in the cross hairs of our Emily Gatch, a PhD candidate at Washington State University. Watch this video which features Emily and describes her research in combating the effects of this disease by identifying the areas where spinach can be grown safely…

A sigh of relief from Popeye and vicarious pleasure for the clan to see Emily doing her thing! Keep us posted Emily on the status of your important work.


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