The Day of the Cup Plants

This may be the last post from Serendipity Farmhouse.

Beautiful but terrified Spouse is in her office on the second floor, afraid of going down to who knows what may be downstairs. She is still in partial denial, nevertheless, she asked me to write this post. She also knew that a credible witness would have to help me and attest to the veracity of my statements, so Mr. Monte is here at my side. He and I are both a little shaken over what we’ve seen and heard these last two days. It’s important that we complete this narrative so that you may be forewarned.

It began a few years ago. A very sweet and precious, elderly neighbor lady asked dear Wife if she would like to have some cup plants (Silphium perfoliatum), which is a species native to this area. Without asking too many questions (never look a gift horse in the mouth), dearest Spouse gladly accepted the offer. Immediately, I was called to plant the small plants near our vegetable garden – a place where they could get lots of sunshine.

They prospered!

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Soaking up the sun

Oh, did they prosper! Each year, they grew taller and broader. Ever more blossoms appeared. We were so happy with them that we added pictures of them to our portfolio of blooms and blossoms at SFH.

Late last year, however, sweet Wife made what would turn out to be a terrible mistake. The cup plants had spread too widely and were blocking the sunshine we needed on our vegetables. Dearest Spouse told me to move the wonderfully prolific flowers to our wildflower garden. That was when terrifying things began to happen.

As I dug up the plants and severed roots one from another, there were strange sounds. One could almost imagine eerie cries of pain. “No matter!”, says I, the cup plants must be moved. And, though the roots fought my attempts, I finally removed the offending plants and transplanted them.

All was quiet during the Winter months, but that silence only lulled me into a false sense of security.

Spring, warm temperatures, and gentle rains woke all of the living things here at Serendipity Farmhouse. The cup plants began to grow in the wildflower garden, but were slow and sluggish compared to years gone by.

Then the strangeness began. A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Monte and I started hearing the cry of what sounded like injured small animals from the direction of the main vegetable garden. Each evening, they grew more frequent and more distressed. I checked out the SFH official critter camera, but saw no unusual activity. In fact, I saw no activity at all. There were no pictures of the usual raccoons, opossums, foxes, and other critters we usually see.

A few days ago, beautiful Wife and I noticed that the area where the cup flowers were originally planted was now being overrun by a myriad, nay, an army of of cup flower sprouts. I bravely attempted to mow them down one day. By dawn of the next day they had returned, but in far greater numbers. They were marching underground towards our newly planted vegetables. A second group started heading towards the Farmhouse.

And that brings us to today. We are now stranded inside SFH. On all sides, cup plants are growing, each of them with leaves pointed towards our windows, looking for a way to get in.

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This is all true, every word of it and Mr. Monte attests to the facts presented here. The pictures also bear witness to this report.

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Hopefully, Mr. Monte will devise a way to save us. Remember, Triffids were fiction, Cup Plants are real!!

SFH Journal: 2019-05-13 through 25

Highlight #1: Spring is rapidly moving into Summer here at Serendipity Farmhouse. Daffodils and irises are giving way to roses and magnolias. The wild chives are on the wane, but strawberry plants around the yard are bearing their sweet red fruits. The colors and smells are changing in accord to the dictates of the length of days and rising temperatures. So be it and let it be so.

Highlight #2: The promise of a harvest, perhaps a very bountiful harvest, is being announced in all our gardens and on our trees. If one were to walk through our vast, nearly 1.25 acre estate as I did yesterday, you would have seen some of these signs of promise.

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DSC_1151 (2)Highlight #3: This is our first year growing garlic and we are learning as we go. We planted 17 garlic cloves in Autumn last year. The first garlic sprouts bravely emerged in mid-January this year. One sign that the plants are beginning to mature is the appearance of “scapes” (the flower bud of the garlic plant). We let them grow, but not flower. If they flower, it will retard the growth of the garlic cloves. Scapes are edible and tasty. They can be prepared in several different ways and make a welcome addition to salads.

Harvest: Here’s a brief recap of what came from the garden to our table over the last two weeks:

05-17: 1 large bunch of curly kale & 2 asparagus spears
05-18: 6 strawberries
05-20: 5 asparagus
05-21: 1 bunch of curly kale
05-24: Parsley, basil, 2 garlic scapes (all went into a pasta salad)
05-25: Last harvest of curly kale

SFH WX Station Report: For right now, we have settled into what appears to be a normal Spring weather pattern. The gardens are responding quite well. So far, the rain has come at regular intervals and has been adequate in quantity. Hopefully, this pattern will stay with us over the growing season. For the sake of brevity and clarity, I am only showing the running, monthly summaries.

WX-A

WX-B

So Beautiful – She has left us too soon!

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

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Mr. Monte and his mean, grumpy face

What a very sad day this is. She was my YouTube idol. Though a few years my senior, I knew that if I ever we were to meet in person, she would fall for me instantly. She was a true beauty and a role model. Whenever old Fuzz Face would make a wrong move, I would give him me well-practiced Grumpy Cat look. He would back off and begin to tremble.

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Yet, that is the way it is in the feline world. Grumpy Cat (Tardar Saucue) was only given a very short time among us. Yet, as we all know,  she lived life to the fullest, never failing to let others know exactly what she thought of them. And, dear readers, that is the way I shall live my life.

Grumpy – I will miss you!

Thank you to Gage Skidmore and his picture of my sorely missed Tardar Sauce on Wiki Commons.

SFH Journal: 2019-05-01 through 12

Highlight 1: This year’s major garden project was the addition of two, two-section raised garden boxes, dedicated to growing tomatoes. In addition to the boxes, other materials for the project included:

  • 76 feet of wire fence,
  • 6 six-foot fence poles,
  • 7 five-foot fence poles,
  • 2 one-foot bungee cords,
  • 28 cubic feet of garden soil, and
  • 1 five-gallon bucket of seasoned cow manure.

Good things: The project is complete and several tomato plants are already in the garden. Beautiful wife is now happy because Mr. Stripey, who has resided on the porch for two weeks, now has a permanent home. “When Momma’s happy …..”

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Not so good things: As you can see from the picture, several of the fence posts are crooked, especially the one on the far right. That, dear friends, is because one of the primary and most abundant crops in this part of the Piedmont is rocks – big rocks – boulders – bedrock – nay, actually an entire tectonic plate. Yours truly and a three-pound sledge hammer are no match for the rocks that reside on the vast estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse. Despite my desire for perfectly vertical, firmly planted fence posts, I will have to learn to live with the soon-to-be-world famous “leaning fence posts of the Piedmont”.

Highlight 2: With an expression of great gratitude to the previous owners and to my industrious wife, SFH is adorned with the gentle and inspiring beauty of flowers everywhere. Here is some of what I am seeing out the window as I write this post.

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SFH Garden & Harvest Report: Not only are the vegetables growing, we are already bringing the bounty of the harvest to the table. Here’s what we’ve brought in during this period:

  • 04 May – Five asparagus;
  • 06 May – Curly Kale and 2 asparagus;
  • 10 May – Basil for a Mother’s Day lunch.

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SFH WX Station Report: The last couple of days have been cool, but earlier in the month were were looking at temperatures in the high 80’s. Rain has been abundant, perhaps overly so. The gardens, however, seem to be pleased with current conditions. Here are summaries of recent weather statistics.

May 01-11 Summary

May 06-11 Summary

May 06-11 Summary-B

Mother’s Day at SFH

When it comes to Mother’s Day, either there are not enough words or there are too many words. For example, I cannot say enough about my Mom and my Mother-in-law, but the cards you buy in the store never ever get it just right no matter how many words they use. – Perhaps the best I could ever say to my Mom and my Mother-in-law or hear from my children is just a simple, “I love you, Mom!”

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DSC_0341 (2)I spent today with wonderful Daughters #1 & #2. They are both mothers and, because of that common experience, we have so much we can share. I’m so proud of the mothers they have become. There is no greater joy.

Daughter-in-law #1, a truly wonderful match for Son #1, is also a great joy in my life. Today, we spent over half an hour on the phone talking about children, and cats, and gardening, and all the great loves of our life. She too is a terrific mom.

Finally, in this beautiful month of May, it is a time to remember our Lord’s Blessed Mother. By His words, she became a mother to us all.

I love you Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

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SFH Journal: 2019-04-21 through 30 – First Harvest!!

Highlights: The longer days, the weather, and available free time continue to dictate our daily schedule and routine. We are now at a high point of activity outside, caring for the vast estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse. There is much demand for physical labor and very little time for writing posts. In addition to our first harvest from Vegetable Garden #1, here’s a sample of what we’ve been doing. Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-04-21 through 30 – First Harvest!!”

SFH Journal: 2019-04-14 through 20 – Easter Vacation

Question: Why have there been no posts over the last two weeks?

Answer: Life at Serendipity Farmhouse requires a balance between activity and time for reflection; conversation and silence, work and rest; and spiritual and physical endeavors. That is why Holy Week and the Octave of Easter are so very important to us. – We don’t take a “Spring break” – We take an Easter Vacation.

That is not to say that nothing has been happening here at SFH. To the contrary, much has been going on. But instead of cluttering this post with words, let me show you some pictures so you can see for yourself. Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-04-14 through 20 – Easter Vacation”

SFH Journal: 2019-04-07 through 13 – Things You Never Expected!

Beautiful wife and I started the week by listing tasks to ready Serendipity Farmhouse for planting season and the changeover to warm weather routine. More than 35 tasks emerged from this session. Many of these are non-trivial and labor intensive.

When the list was complete, sweet and loving wife looked at me, smiled at the thought of how beautiful SFH would be once the tasks were accomplished, and then looked at me with a stern expression that said: “Well, what are you waiting for? Get to work.” And so I did, and so I have been doing all week. But, I must add, my industrious spouse has been working just as hard as I have.

Highlights: Here are just two recollections of this week’s many memorable events.

Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-04-07 through 13 – Things You Never Expected!”

SFH Journal: 2019-04-01 through 06

Highlight: Spring has given Serendipity Farmhouse a wake up call. It’s time to shift gears from the reflective and peaceful calm afforded by Winter to the active and physical preparation of SFH for yard and building maintenance, gardening, canning, and RV touring. So, here’s a day-by-day list of just a few of things we accomplished this past week. Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-04-01 through 06”

Busy as a Bee

Camera in hand, I took a walk along the river – I found bits of springtime in splendid array and was given a vision of what Spring should mean to me and my life at Serendipity.

Highlight 1 – The Real Meaning of a Cherry Tree: Above you see a common everyday photo of a cherry tree at peak blossom. The photo is in no way different from others you may have seen. It will never win a prize and it is too cluttered with background distractions to be worthy to frame or hang on a wall. This is an example of the random way we look upon things of beauty – so much remains unexamined. The following pictures reveal how our cherry tree has a much deeper meaning and purpose than I had ever supposed.

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Highlight 2 – Along the Riverside: The water in the river has receded to a more acceptable level. The trout aren’t waiting in plain view – they know how to hide. Despite their evasion and deception, however, we now have good evidence that they are hungry and willing to strike at the proper lure.