Trustees’ Corner

Filed under: Family Updates,Trustees Report — Chamberlain @ 11:48 pm
No. 160

To facilitate communication with the family, the trustees have requested that we initiate a dedicated platform for news and information about trustee and farm related issues. Here is our first Trustees’ Corner.

Dear Family,

There seems to be some confusion about the funding for the annual family gatherings at the Farm for Easter and Thanksgiving. We thought it would be helpful to you all to go over the history of these hallowed events and explain why there is now some uncertainty as to the best way to go about organizing them in the future.

Way back in the olden days when your trustees were young and carefree, the family would gather at Taille de Noyer for these holidays, with Old Granny providing the feast. When the celebrations moved to Moone Athy Farm, Old Granny continued to provide the feast, including the turkey for Thanksgiving, the lamb (and mint jelly) for Easter, and whoever was her cook at the time, John Harris, Paul Monica, Scott, would come out to help with the serving. Around that time, various family members began contributing one of the traditional side dishes. For example, Aunt Delphine would contribute a vegetable platter with her delicious dill dip, Aunt Alicia would bring a scrumptious salad with avocados, Sarah Hollo, followed by Jennie, would prepare the asparagus and hollandaise sauce for Easter and the lima beans and mushrooms for Thanksgiving. As time has gone on, many family members and their guests have been generously contributing food and beverages.

When Old Granny died, Uncle Polky picked up the slack and provided the main course for each gathering. Aunt Delphine and Aunt Alicia then stepped up to the plate to do the same when Uncle Polky could no longer do it. Aunt Alicia generously continued to do so after Aunt Delphine’s death up until last Thanksgiving.

Over the years, members of our generation in St. Louis took over the responsibility for organizing the event, issuing the invitations, getting the headcount, making sure that someone volunteered to bring each of the necessary dishes/drinks, going out to the Farm ahead of time to get the Farmhouse ready, setting the table, gathering flowers, etc. Last year we decided to make it a three-year rotating responsibility with the Gatch family taking responsibility for the first year in the rotation (2009), the Skinners the next (2010) and the Withers the third (2011), and then starting the rotation over again with the Gatches.

So as the responsibility for providing food and organizing the event have evolved over time, so has the job of serving and cleaning up afterwards. After Scott left Uncle Polky’s service, there was no one to help with the serving. For a while, we all tried to pitch in to help, but it did not prove satisfactory for many reasons — there are more of us every year, there are so many dishes all being delivered at random times, the clean-up job is so big, and so on. In sum, doing it ourselves meant that many were unable to really enjoy the day with the family.

Serendipitously, around that time the house by the barn was rented to Gina Osborne who had worked previously in the food service business. It was a perfect arrangement. In lieu of taking care of the horses as part of her rent, Gina agreed to clean the house and serve for the two holiday gatherings and clean up afterwards. It was wonderful for all of us as she was so pleasant and did such a good job, allowing the rest of us to have a wonderful day with the family.

Last summer (2010), Gina moved away. We were faced with a Thanksgiving celebration with no server. Again, serendipitously, Keith Eckenfels, a waiter by profession, became the caretaker at 4969 Pershing, where he is responsible for maintaining the public areas of the building, taking care of the yard, grass, snow and leaf removal, etc. Keith has graciously agreed to serve the two holiday gatherings at the Farm for us. This is different from the arrangement we had with Gina because we have to pay Keith for his services and as well as someone to clean the house. Further, as of last fall, the senior generation is no longer providing the main course (turkey/lamb) for either holiday, so now we have to find a way to provide that too.

A long story, but it gets us to where we are right now. For the 2010 Thanksgiving dinner, members of our generation in St. Louis agreed to pick up the cost of the meat and the server, so most of you were not aware that this cost existed. For this Easter, Aunt Eleanor as the organizer, decided to ask each of the attendees to share the expense. For the first time, the cost has become apparent, and it is understandable that many of you have found it confusing and are questioning why suddenly you are being asked to contribute money in addition to wine, beverages, dessert, etc.

We hope that this explanation will help all of you to understand the current request for contributions to this Easter gathering. It is possible that there may be a better way to proceed for future gatherings and the trustees plan to meet in May to discuss alternatives. To be prudent, we have to take into consideration the ongoing expenses for farm maintenance and the issue of fairness to out of town family members.

The annual family holiday celebrations at the Farm are a highlight of each year and key component in realizing Old Granny’s vision of all her descendants united by song, mirth, vittles, and a generous tolerance for each other’s eccentricities. We hope that we can come up with a way to continue the celebrations in the same spirit.

Your comments and suggestions about funding of future holiday gatherings posted to this web site are welcome and will be taken into consideration at our next trustees’ meeting. That said, we also really encourage anyone who has questions or needs more information about this or any other farm matter, to call one of us directly. If your concern is based on a lack of information or a misunderstanding, we can address it on the spot; likewise, where you bring a real concern to our attention, we can take action to address it immediately.

With love to you all,

Sarah Gatch Fehlig, Jennie Skinner Quick, Calvin F. Gatch, Jr., Anne W. Dollimore, Trustees

The trustees and indeed all the family owe a big Thank You to Eleanor Withers for her time and efforts to make Easter/Passover 2011 a special time for those of us who plan to be at Moone Athy this Sunday. Here are a few photos from Easter 2010 which capture the spirit of our annual Easter outing. (Hat tip to J Quick for these pictures)


Easter Girls

Elizabeth and Madeline

Jim and Charlie

Qun and Sam


Finally, a quiz for our botanists. Here is a photo of a plant that we didn’t know we had, and a second photo of its environs. What is this plant, and for extra points, where is it at Moone Athy? Enter your answers in Comments below or by email to the Chamberlain.


What’s This???

Where’s This?


Good luck with the Quiz – Happy Easter and Passover to the Clan…