Dear Family,

2009 happened to be a very good year for the farm. We were lucky in that other than the capital repairs to the house, we had very little in the way of unexpected expenses.

The Backhaus’ continue to run their cattle and hay the fields. Jay Deatherage is growing his goat herd. The family work day was reintroduced thanks to the initiative of Charlie Judy. On November 19th a family crew representing most generations blazed a new trail in memory of Jack Cromie.

Our main expenses for the year have been:

Continued surveying of the property lines and corners
Continued removal of honeysuckle
Finished clearing of Round Pond
Shored up a collapsed part of the barn loft
Added gravel to bare spots in the road
Purchased lumber for footbridge
Began rehab of family house: shoring up of foundation, replacement of dormers, replacement of main door and several windows including their frames, more venting of crawl space.

Work donated by family members:

Building of the footbridge
Jack Cromie trail building and signage.
Filling of cracks in the tennis courts with limestone mixture
Tuckpointing of fireplace
Thistle, thorn tree, and honeysuckle removal
Burning of brush piles
Legal advice
Organizing Easter and Thanksgiving *

Neal has helped keep expenses down by his continued work around the farm which includes:

Clearing of culverts
Supplying the family with wood
Keeping up with the fencing
Maintaining the furnaces at the three houses
Checking on the family house
Feeding horses and livestock
Improving the electric at the barn
Grading the road


In addition to the mandatory expenses, our planned expenses for this year will be the continued work on the family house and some needed maintenance of both rental houses.

We are looking into paying a contractor to burn the warm season grass acreage. We hope to finish the survey of the northern boundary of the property which will be expensive, but Mark Ditch is giving us his off hour rate and we should take advantage of it and try to finish up the project. If I can fit some more honeysuckle removal into the budget, I will. The goats, though, are beginning to make a dent on the honeysuckle.

Unfortunately, the start of 2010 already produced some unexpected costs. The barn house sewer system was backed up. After an unsuccessful attempt with a rotor rooter, Neal came up with a way of getting at the blockage from underneath the house and the plumber then discovered two possums in the sewer line.

Calvin and I have been working on getting an aerial map of the farm and its boundaries. Thanks to Calvin’s research we may be able to get an aerial from the Farm Service Agency at a relatively inexpensive cost to us. Our plan is to distribute smaller copies to any family member who would like one. The aerial map would be a main component of Calvin’s vision for the development of Moone Athy’s trails. He hopes that going forward and building on Charlie’s initiative — and Jack’s memory– we could develop a master plan for the trails of Moone Athy. That plan would include a periphery trail and a network of trails to various spots on the farm. (Neal has already cut a narrow periphery trail several years ago that allows one to get around the farm without coming into contact with fences or gates, but it needs to be maintained.) Calvin’s vision includes naming the trails and signage along the trails that will help the family learn more about the flora and fauna at the farm. The master plan could include the location, type, degree of difficulty, length of trail, fauna and flora present, and recognition for those who hike the Jack Cromie Trail or perhaps a tally for trails hiked with the goal being all the trails on the farm.

The water should be back on early March. I’ll send an email around when it is done. Given the coldness of this winter, the heating expenses should be kept within bounds with the heat off January and February. The cost of heating the house in December came to $560. We will have to revisit the decision to keep the house open for the month of December.

Love to all,


*If family members have donated work which I have not listed, please feel free to update me.