Dinner for Thousands

Today I am pleased to share my platform with my dear octogenarian aunt, Elsie who recently sent me this story that she wrote years ago. She never got the opportunity to publish her stories and I am delighted to share this one with my readers.

Tonight my husband and I served a conservatively estimated crowd of 2000 at an impromptu fly in dinner.

Some came gliding silently, while others arrived squawking in anticipation of the feast ahead. Unlike most social functions of today’s hustle and bustle, all guests arrived right on time, and without exception, unabashedly enjoyed their visit to the limit!

Not one looked askance at the menu. Each and every one went home full, contented and appreciative. Between courses they very politely moved aside. They took the quiet moment to stretch, yawn or preen their dinner suits.

They all looked so lovely in their basic white jackets, trimmed with grey, their black headgear and each so immaculately groomed. It appeared they had primped and readied themselves the whole day for this festivity.

Not all conducted themselves according to Emily Post. In the beginning there was a certain amount of shoving and elbowing but when they realized there was more than enough food for all, they settled down to act the ladies and gentlemen they were.

The only cleanup to do will be to wash down the tractor in the morning. Despite that, we wish them all well and hope to see each and every one again when we work the summer fallow the next time!

Here is a picture of our dinner party:

Sea Gull Dinner Guests, June 20, 1974

Sea Gull Dinner Guests, June 20, 1974

It was one of those unexpected happenings that make you so thankful to be on the land and not in the city. The gulls had always visited as we worked a field, but not in the unbelievable numbers as this evening. They must have homed in on the only tractor moving for miles and miles.

It felt like a scene from a Hitchcock movie, The Birds, with the gulls making the fallow white for a hundred yards behind, above, and to each side. Eerie but beautiful.



Sadly, after years of spraying anhydrous ammonia on the fields, the seagulls disappeared. The soil may never recover. A hard lesson that some have yet to learn.

Elsie Matthie



9 thoughts on “Dinner for Thousands

  1. Thank you, Shelley, for publishing Mom’s story about the seagulls. She is a keen observer of nature and this incident impacted her a great deal as one of the true highlights of working the land and running the tractor. Despite not having a large amount of land, my parents passionately believed in crop rotation, summer fallowing for weed control, and took the greatest amount of pride in having healthy soil in which to plant and raise their crops.

    Like most area farmers, they eventually succumbed to the use of chemicals to control weeds and to fertilize their crops. So few farmers understood the importance of organic farming and felt they couldn’t compete unless they used chemicals in their farming practice. Even worse than using anhydrous ammonia is the pervasive and increasing use of glyphosate (commercially know as RoundUp). Evidence of the harm these chemicals wreak is mounting daily and the chemical companies are slowly losing the battle to suppress the truth. I am absolutely convinced that the chemicals that my father had exposure to while farming was the ultimate cause of his liver cancer and subsequent death.

    Like you, I am a passionate supporter of organic food and am willing to pay whatever difference in order to support those growers committed to providing healthier food and to organically grow as much of our food as possible.

    Thank you for honoring my mother and for sharing her story. It’s a beautiful memory for her and, sadly, an occurrence that may not ever happen again because of our use of chemicals in farming.

    • I agree. Here’s a sad fact: all newborn babies in North America have glyphosate in their blood. I’ve long maintained that the global warming hoax is designed to distract us from the reality that the real problem is that we are poisoning ourselves. Every day billions of pounds of chemicals are applied to our crops, rendering the soil sterile and decreasing the nutritional value of our food. I suspect you are right about your dad’s cancer being caused by chemical applications.

  2. Thank you Shelley for printing my humble offering. We truly loved the land and like so many others innocently did so much damage to our precious soil with the idea of improving our yield. The chemical companies have not only have done this dastardly deed but even worse affected the health of all of us who consume the food products. Have they no conscience!

  3. Thank you, Elsie for sharing your wonderful story and your affirmation that chemicals on the soil are extremely harmful to the soil, the plants, the environment, the animals and ultimately the people. I am frequently writing to elected government officials about the dangers of chemicals.

  4. what a cool story, even if it has a bit of a sad ending. sometimes we don’t get our happy endings.

    no doubt your aunt is thrilled to discover she has officially been published. and now for the nosy questions. . . the Innisfail Matthie’s? Linda Matthie as in Linda Jacobs? . . she is your cousin? Linda that worked at the Innisfail shop for the County? if so, now we know where Linda gets her creativity as the Linda I knew loved photography and drama. Lovely people. . . and if i have the wrong people, it’s still a very cool story. thanks to elsie for writing it and thank you for sharing it.

  5. A very enjoyable read. I clicked on the photo but it didn’t enlarge… these old eyes can sorta see the gulls.

    I had to google Anhydrous Ammonia & the first article I read was from 1998… it was still being used. Sadly, I imagine it is still out there. I’d like to read more about the effects of these chemicals on farms from a first hand experience.

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