SFH Journal: 2019-09-30 through 10-20 – “V” is for “Victory!”

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I’m sure you remember that picture of me in late September. (See SFH Journal: 2019-09-23 through 29.) The wood for the coming Winter had just arrived and dear Hubby made a plea for family to come and help move two cords of wood to the shed behind me.

Well, schedules are schedules and often they don’t coincide. Likewise, families have obligations and, as much as they want to help, they cannot leave their obligations and commitments behind.

Even sweet Hubby had a serious business commitment and had to travel to Idaho. He wouldn’t and couldn’t be around to move the wood. So, to make a long story short, I resolved that this pioneer wife, this homemaker and founder of Serendipity Farmhouse would do what many women have done in the past. Just like the days when dear Hubby had to deploy for months at a time, I would rise once more to the challenge and move the wood all by myself.

I saddled up the lawn tractor and hitched the work cart behind it. Slowly at a measured pace, I loaded the cart and moved the many loads of wood to the shed. Then marshaling uncommon strength and stamina I carried logs, two and three at a time, into the shed and stacked them as high as I could reach. It was a marvelously neat and tidy job and I feel justly proud.

Over several days, it all came together. It was a success. No, rather, it was a victory. And as you can see dear friends I signaled with a “V” for “Victory”!

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Well, I guess the SFH Chief of Security found me out and caught me red-handed. No, dear friends, it was dearest Hubby and I who did the job together and we enjoyed every minute of it. What better way to spend a cool, crisp Autumn day?

Growing/Preserving Season Coming to an End

Almost Frost

There it is. Almost the first frost. When we heard the warning, we quickly harvested anything that looked even remotely ready. There were so many jalapeno peppers that today (Sunday) we had to pickle five jars of the spicy little rascals.

We still have arugula and romaine coming in. Even the little cherry tomato bush is still trying. We look forward to the coming winter days, enjoying the fruits of our harvest while sitting near the warmth of the wood stove.

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

Days for Faith & Family

A large, faith-filled family is more than the sum of its parts – it is the sum of its hearts.

You don’t get to be grandparents in good standing by just standing by. You must actively take part in all that makes a family. You must realize also that, as your children marry and have children, your extended family increases exponentially and becomes lovingly intertwined with in-laws, uncles, aunts, and many, many cousins.

So it was this week. My beautiful Spouse had the great honor and privilege to sponsor dearest Granddaughter #3 in the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation. It was for my sweet Wife an awesome and humbling experience accompanied by solemn responsibility and commitment. Though pictures were taken, they could not capture the radiance and peace that shown on our Granddaughter’s face that evening.

We then journeyed through time from the singular joy of Tuesday evening at the Cathedral to a raucous and jovial gathering of the clans on Saturday afternoon. Slightly less than 40 souls bound by family ties and friendship joined together in rural Virginia to celebrate the Confirmation. Three essential elements of the gathering of a true family set the theme for the day – prayer, food, and baseball.

Prayer: It was not and could not be forgotten why we were assembled in that loving home – Granddaughter #3’s Confirmation. All gifts, greetings, and actions centered around our common faith. No food would be eaten until thankful prayer was said. That is what we do in our family.

Food: The dining room and kitchen were both filled with an array of the tastiest assortment of party food. No one, not one single person could say that there wasn’t something there on those tables that wasn’t a special delight for him or her. Many brought special dishes or treats with them. For example Serendipity Farmhouse provided a fantastic banana nut bread, a jar of G&G’s Serendipitous Salsa, a jar of G&G’s Nick of Thyme Salsa, and a jar of Pete’s Pickled Jalapeno Peppers (the jars within the yellow circle). Unfortunately, yours Truly didn’t take a picture until the hungry hoard had made their first pass through the food line.

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Baseball: It must be explained that all in this wonderful extended family are great baseball fans. Many have roots in Houston, Texas. So, it goes without saying that enthusiasm was running higher than usual. All were convinced that the Astros were going to the World Series and that, once there at the Series, they would promptly trounce the Nationals. With that background in mind and understanding that the party venue was blessed with enough acreage for a full sized baseball field, it is no wonder that balls, bats, helmets, and gloves quickly made their appearance and – the game was on.

Some families have feuds. That is unfortunate. Our family has friendly rivalries. This is how parents can challenge children and teach them to grow into adulthood. So, the match up of a father against a son on a baseball diamond is a priceless moment. It speaks to the meaning of a family – a place where children are nurtured and brought to maturity.

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And that, gentle Reader, is just a part of how we spent our week – how we spent our days for Faith and Family.



¡Basta! – A Justifiable Cat Rant

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

¡Basta! That’s enough – no more!

Even as I begin to take paw to keyboard, I can see that Serendipity Farmhouse is on the verge of falling apart. Am I the only one who can see it? Is everyone else here blind?

Consider: There hasn’t been a post from this blog for nearly two weeks.

Consider: Not one good recipe from Julia has been tested in the SFH Test Kitchen in ages.

Consider: The lawn is shaggy, overgrown, and in great need of trimming.

Consider: The pantry is growing low on food essentials.

What’s going on with my big cats?? Have they lost any sense of priorities??

It all began two weeks ago when Ol’ Fuzz Face pulled out his big green suitcase and started packing. He was constantly checking his reservations and fretting over what clothes to take to windy, cold, and snowy Idaho. During all of this, he took short cuts with my grooming, shortened our play times, and failed to show me the attention that is my due.

Meanwhile, Blondie puttered around aimlessly. Occasionally, she would ask Fuzzy if he needed a shirt ironed or needed some more fattening snacks to pack in his brief case. She was (I am understating), she was less observant of and responsive to my needs than she is required to be. On a scale of 1-10, her interest in my interests had dropped to an all-time low of “2”.

When the old man finally got into his car and headed to the airport, Blondie wandered about SFH aimlessly. She grabbed a book and read for 5-10 minutes. Then she was up bouncing about, looking for something to do. – – – She found it alright, there she was on-line purchasing this-and-that, that-and-this, this-and-this, and that-and-that from Amazon. Fuzzy’s pungent foot odor had barely vacated the room and Blondie had already charged several hundred buckaroos to the SFH credit card. ///Blondie takes issue with my statements – I report, you decide!///

Oh, she wasn’t totally forgetful of her duties. After all, I’ve trained her well in the preparation and serving of my meals. But, it was a lack luster presentation, just barely meeting the lowest level of reasonable expectations. – – The dear, sweet lady wasn’t really with it.

On Tuesday, good friend Nancy visited. She’s a fairly consistent and convivial guest. She’s knows how to show me proper respect and courtesy upon arrival. In that regard, she could teach Blondie a few things.

One morning was the worst in my recent recollection. Blondie made the nearly disastrous decision to perform my required daily grooming. She has little or no training in that most important of rituals. It almost cost her her life, or at least a large quantity of hemoglobin. – – To her credit, Blondie is a gentle and loving human. That was what almost cost her dearly.

She approached me with the stainless steel grooming comb. She uttered sweet, loving, and tender words. She smiled timidly and muttered that this would be an excellent experience. – – What’s the matter with her? Doesn’t she realize I am a full-grown, mature, male, Maine Coon cat with six long, sharp claws on each of my four paws. I also have big teeth. I don’t necessarily respond well to sweet, loving, and tender words.

She approached. I held my ground. She continued to approach. I responded with hissing and a low, unmistakably ominous growl. She still continued to approach and extend the comb. My paw quickly flew in her direction, flashing gleaming white claws. You could hear the swish as the claws slashed through the air. – – Blondie got the message.

For all reading this, Ol’ Fuzz Face, for all his weaknesses and lunacies, is the only human whom I allow to groom me. It may be that he’s not real smart, but he does not fear my grooming time temper tantrums. Whatever the case might be, the pictures you’ve seen of me with my shiny mackerel pattern coat are a reflection of his stupid, ill-informed fearlessness.

And so it was while Fuzz Face was gone. I loved Blondie with purrs and leg rubs while she was feeding me and gave me treats. But, she never ever approached me again with that stainless steel grooming comb.

Oh, by the way, Fuzz Face is good for one other thing – hunting. He is the prey – I am the fierce predator. It’s our game and he suffers greatly if he ever underestimates my abilities. This last week, I found out that Blondie is rather fearful of being the hunted one. – – She knows I don’t appreciate being sprayed with the water bottle. Maybe that’s why she resorted to sleeping with the water bottle all week.

Well, that’s my story. Fuzzy is now home again and he and Blondie (at my urging) are doing their best to get SFH back in running order. It may take a while.

If Fuzzy really loves his dear, sweet, lovable spouse, I counsel him strongly not to take any more business trips. It takes the three of us to run SFH. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s meant to be.





SFH Journal: 2019-09-23 through 29

Dear Children, Children-in-law, and Grandchildren,

This wonderfully beautiful and ever so sweet woman you see before you, your Mother, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother, is in desperate need of your help. This week, two cords of firewood were delivered to Serendipity Farmhouse. It represents the warmth that will be needed to sustain this loving caretaker of SFH during the cold, harsh, and long Winter to come. She is willing to carry every log herself to the dry safety of the woodshed you see behind her.

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If you can find it in your hearts to spare this dear lady from this drudgery and back-breaking task, please send an email or call us directly to offer your assistance. I’m certain that your work of charity will not go unrewarded here at SFH or in Heaven.

Highlights of the Week:

0924191434b (2)09-24 Tuesday: Without a doubt, the highlight for this week was the birthday of Serendipity Farmhouse’s Chief Security Agent and Master Chef – Mr. Monte. You can view his remarks about the festive anniversary here: My Birthday – 2019!

09-25 Wednesday: Our local tree and yard maintenance service delivered two cords of firewood. Compared to last year’s waterlogged stack of mushroom-filled bottom wood, this year’s wood is dry, well-seasoned and ready to go. – Count this as a blessing. (See:  SFH Journal: 2019-01-26 through 31 – Gourmet Recipes for the Wood Stove)

09-26 Thursday: Perhaps prematurely, we called an end to the growing season for our 0927191347b (2)tomato garden. Sustained dry weather and infestations of bugs were causing unacceptable losses to our late-season tomatoes. So, Yours Truly harvested the last few ripening tomatoes and a relatively large number of green tomatoes and then pulled out the plants.

Final tally on full-sized, usable tomatoes this season:

Golden Jubilee x 1 plant = 20
Mr. Stripey x 4 plants = 113, average of 28 per plant
Big Beef x 1 plant = 131

Despite the losses to weather and pests, 164 tomatoes is a lot of tomatoes. So, I can say unreservedly, this was the best year for tomatoes ever here at SFH. – Count this as a blessing.

Of course there was another highlight this day – Mr. Monte finally has found a feline-loving veterinarian to call his own. You can read about it here: Blondie Comes Through – Guilt Assuaged

09-27 Friday: Meanwhile, back at our second main vegetable garden there are other reflections of the change in seasons. Although still producing, the yellow squash have not been growing as large as a few weeks ago. They also were beginning to be more fragile while on the vine. For that reason, I had to end the season and remove the squash plant. That single plant produced a total of 43 yellow squash for our dinner table. – Count this as a blessing.

As of today, the garden now looks like this:

The arugula is prospering. The new asparagus plants have taken hold. The jalapeno and Cow Horn peppers continue to produce in abundance. And, as you can see below there is the prospect of many more servings of okra at our dinner table. – Count this as a blessing.

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Oh, and you might be wondering about the cherry tomato plant. So far this season, it has given us 609 little red tomatoes filled with garden fresh taste. And there are more coming.

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Count each and every thing shown or stated here in this post as a great blessing!

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2019-09-23 through 09-29

Blondie Comes Through – Guilt Assuaged

Hi, Mr. Monte here!

Note 1: This post is only to be read by my 23, 417 feline followers. Do Not! I repeat, Do Not! allow your humans to view the TOPCAT SECRET content herein.

Note 2: This post should not be read without first referring to my post Indignity – Mr. Monte’s Day with the Vet

Yesterday, September 26, stands alongside my birthday two days earlier as a truly great day! Blondie came through! – – No more Dr. Dog-man!!! – – Happy days are here again!

It all began mid-morning. Ol’ Fuzz Face went through his hilarious routine of trying to round me up and get me inside my cat carrier. First, he tries to distract me. Then, he goes into his stealth mode, sneaking up on me. Foolish, foolish human! Once I tire of his manifest idiocy, I just walk over to the carrier – all the time he’s thinking he’s outwitted me.

I must say that I experienced some anxiety when we got into the car instead of the RV. There are only two places they take me for rides – the dump (I’ve never figured that one out) or to Dr. Dog-man’s veterinary practice. – But, to my ever so minor dismay, we passed both places by. – Blondie & Fuzz Face had managed to capture my attention – where were we going???

The ride took about 25 minutes. Blondie rode in the back to attend to my needs. Then we arrived at what looked like a common residential home. The waiting room was definitely that of a veterinary clinic, but it was unusual. The air was filled with the smell of humans and cat, but no other animals whatsoever. I did my best to relax in this entirely new environment.

Suddenly, there were two human females with a juvenile feline in their hands. – My interest was immediately piqued. There was a question concerning the gender of this fuzzy black juvenile. One human gently lifted the tale of the juvenile feline. Her head leaned to the left, then to the right, then back again. She, not so confidently, announced that this was a “girl”.

Of course, by this time my body had gone rigid and my gaze was locked onto the juvenile feline – Friend or Foe? – Playmate or threat? – But, beyond those simple instinctual questions, I had to ask – how can you not be sure if it’s a girl. All they had to do was ask me. – – Humans, I just can’t figure them out. They get paid even if they don’t know the most basic things – like girl or boy?

Then I was taken to a room – a room about the size of a bedroom – a room not unlike a human child’s room. Fuzz Face put my carrier down and opened the door. As he was doing that, a human female walked in and did the strangest thing – she sat on the floor. Despite her sitting position, I knew that she was a veterinary technician. In my usual response to all in the veterinary profession, I hissed and bared my teeth. That’ll show her who’s in charge.

Rather than lurch back in mortal terror, she merely sat in place and smiled at me. Huh? I had to investigate. So, I left the security of my carrier and circled the room two or three times. She continued to smile and talk with my humans. “What’s up here?”

In a short while, another human female entered the room, and she too sat on the floor, right on my level. She also smiled at me and addressed me in a very pleasant low tone. After a while, she attempted to have me play with some cat toys – I was too smart for that ploy. But it wasn’t a ploy. She was willing to play.

Oh, and before I forget, both of the human females offered me yummy cat treats. I knew that had to be a ploy. But, no, that wasn’t a ploy either. The just left them on the floor. I could have any or all that I wanted, no strings attached. Again I said, “What’s up here?”

After a long while (no one seemed to be in a rush), I got the idea that I should check out the second human. To my surprise, I discovered that she was a veterinarian, but not like Dr. Dog-man – she had cat skills, very well developed cat skills. So, as I sidled up alongside her, she stroked me gently and sincerely. “Could this really be?”

In the background, I could even hear classical music just like Fuzz Face plays when he’s at work or writing a post. – It was like being home.

She let me smell a metal disc thing connected to a tube. I sniffed and felt no threat. Slowly she put the disc near my heart and listened – she smiled at what she heard. After that she looked at me as if asking “May I?” Then she looked at my teeth, just a simple look.

Then I was urged to get onto the thing I dread most – the weight scale. The numbers went round and round, up and down and finally stopped at 19.  She smiled approvingly. There were no words of reproof.

I ate some more snacks while the humans talked about my favorite subject – me.

All too quickly the visit had come to an end. I had been to my first visit at a veterinary practice that understands cats – important cats like me.

I don’t remember the ride home. I was in cat heaven, and in my memory I have been there all day. And, had you come to Serendipity Farmhouse today this what you might have seen.

Now, to my 23, 417 feline followers, here is the lesson to be learned about human behavior. Humans have something we cats don’t have and would consider a weakness if we did – GUILT.

(Be advised, dogs, because of their long, subservient relationship with humans, also have guilt.)

When we left Dr. Dog-man and his chamber of catly horrors, Blondie saw that I was in the midst of a near nervous breakdown. She saw me tremble with pain from the injections, poking, and prodding. She visibly winced when Dog-man body shamed me due to my weight.

To some extent, Blondie made her decision to seek a new veterinary practice, out of love. But, be assured, she was even more strongly motivated by severe GUILT. She had put me in this position; it was her duty to make it better by finding a “cat friendly practice” where I could be fear-free.

No matter whether it was GUILT or LOVE or both, she finally did the right thing. She went the extra mile. Sleep well tonight, Dearest Blondie, with guilt assuaged and me snuggling close to you.




My Birthday – 2019!

Hi, Mr. Monte here!

As you well know, modesty is perhaps the most well developed of my many virtues. I would never call myself a prideful cat. Today, however, I must admit my attitude and actions could be described as less than humble. Yet, how could it be otherwise? Today was my fifth birthday and today was allllll about meeeee-ow.

Ol’ Fuzz Face and Blondie, for every good and just reason, doted on me today. Each of them greeted me early with sincere birthday wishes – this was a day when my bowl was never empty. Blondie couldn’t have been nicer. Fuzz Face, on the other hand, could always be nicer. Nevertheless, he tried hard to be hospitable.

0924191435b (2)For example, grooming today went on for almost twenty minutes. He did his best to remove a troublesome knot in my fur – a knot that would not have been there if he had groomed me properly before. I guess the nicest thing he did was get me a new box to lounge in while sitting on the porch. (Of course, it was at no cost to him – he stole it from Aldi’s and just threw it on the floor in front of me.) Nevertheless, it is a pretty nice box and I suppose I can forgive him for his cheapness.

Blondie sometimes gets some strange ideas about what type of toys might amuse me. This year, I think she outdid herself in the strangeness department. After Barney, there can’t be a more detestable creature than Gumby. First off, he is green. Next, he’s not so smart. And thirdly, he isn’t all that tasty. I confirmed that today when Blondie gave me Gumby as a present. As you will see below, Gumby is no more. He had a distinct aroma of Play-Doh and the texture of used chewing gum. – – – Maybe, Blondie will get it right next year.

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Well, all’s well that ends well, and at least Blondie and Fuzz Face got the annual ice cream ritual right.

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Although Blondie had given me a descent size portion of the best ice cream she could find, and I thought that would be enough, I noticed that her portion far exceeded mine in volume and quality. Of course, I had to correct that error in judgement on her part immediately.

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Blondie’s wounds should mend fairly soon. Fuzz Face, as usual, hid in a corner until I finished correcting his dear, sweet spouse.


SFH Journal: 2019-09-16 through 22

It is the last day of Summer. The autumnal equinox will take place at 3:50 AM on Monday, September 23. Today, in anticipation of Fall, the first magnolia seed pod has burst open and the bright red red berries have made their debut.

We at SFH will not be dancing around a fire Druid fashion tomorrow in the early morning or any other such thing. We will, however, begin our preparations for the coming Winter. The chimney must be cleaned. Firewood must be purchased. And, one-by-one, the vegetable gardens will be prepared for the next growing season.

This last week has been among the best of the year. You can read about some of what went on in our post Three Grand Time Travelers.

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Another great high point was celebrating Daughter #2’s birthday at Montpelier, the home of James Madison. Soon, I hope to have a post with many pictures from the day. For now, here is a view of Daughter #2, her family, and beautiful Spouse strolling through the gardens.

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SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2019-09-16 through 09-22

Three Grand Time Travelers

The featured picture shows the Cleveland skyline from the East Side. As a view of Cleveland today, it makes a bold statement about growth and new prosperity for a city that used to be called “the mistake on the lake”. Yet, in a way, this picture obscures the past, making it more difficult to understand. Where we now see the Key Tower as the most prominent feature, we cannot see what is hidden behind – the Terminal Tower and what it meant to Cleveland in its time. And that, Dear Reader, is why we have grandfathers.

Before I move any further into this tale of the Three Grand Time Travelers, let me confess, there would be no grandfathers, if there were not children and grandchildren. Therefore, you must understand this story belongs as much to them as to me. Consequently, it was my honor to serve as guide during this journey in time – yes, a distinct honor and a great joy.

The journey began at 4:00 AM with the call to reveille. Two grandsons, now both adults, rose to the call, wiping sleep from their eyes. My beautiful Spouse had made ready scrambled eggs, ham, and coffee, all in great quantities. Plates were emptied rapidly, packing was completed, and all took their seats in the family car. Then, we prayed for safety along our way.

The very first stop, the visit that would set the tone for discussion of bygone times, was at All Souls Cemetery in Chardon, Ohio. There lie my Dad, my Mom, and my Sister. There we enjoyed the opportunity to think and speak of important things.

The central point for one growing up in northeastern Ohio during the 1950s was Lake Erie. It was fitting and proper to stop at Headlands Beach State Park and view some scenery that has not yet been ravaged by all that is “new”. It was a perfect day for enjoying the breeze off the Lake and taking pictures of seagulls and the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse. Being two young men who have only seen the ocean, they thought that like most other lakes they would see the other side of Lake Erie. They were wrong – and, in that error, there was a lesson to be learned.

Day One continued with many other stops, including a visit to Crown Hill Cemetery to visit my brother Tim. We spoke of him. When you are the last in your family, there is a responsibility to pass on the family lore and legends.

That evening, there was a family gathering. Grandsons #1 & #2 had the opportunity to meet family they had never known and family whom I love and cherish. The discussion was of travel, food, baseball and football. Who could ask for better topics to enrich the bonds of family?

There has been an ugly rumor in the family that Granddad tells tall tales and embellishes on his stories. The second day of travel for the Three Grand Time Travelers tended to show that perhaps Granddad’s tales were not quite so tall nor quite so embellished. As we visited my grade school, we had the good fortune to be allowed to view halls and rooms not often seen by the public.

It was there that I could confirm there really was a hallway with a down ramp. Milk really was delivered on a cart from room-to-room. But, most of all, it was confirmed that there really was a likelihood that a young student, after delivering milk, went cruising down the hallway at high speed down the ramp and ran into Sister at the bottom.

The world could have ended that day for the young student – but, it didn’t. Though it is only speculation, one might suspect that Sister secretly wished that she too could speed down the hallway on that milk cart.

We visited many, many other places on Day Two of our journey and much more was done than there is space or time to relate. It is essential to understand that, as they saw old baseball fields, high schools, and even electric power plants, Grandsons #1 and #2 were not mere spectators. For them, this was a grand adventure and there were questions about everything. They not only saw that there had been change over time, they also saw what might have been lost or gained through that change.

The evening ended with another visit with family. Thank you, Caroline and all, for taking the time to spend with us. Be assured it was greatly appreciated and will be a topic of stories for years to come.

So, Day Three arrived and we had to put Cleveland in our rear view mirror. Our destination was the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA. Though the Grandsons knew that this memorial spoke of a defining moment during their early lives, they never had the opportunity to encounter that moment so closely and personally as they stepped back to September 11, 2001.   –  Here is some of what they saw.

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Yet, even during their solemn reflection, they did not lose their sense of humor, their love for life, or their sense of imagination. That is why we took time to speak of the future, to speak of a project we are working on together for this Christmas. And though the next two pictures will mean nothing to those outside the family, one can see that our DD&D Christmas story is now on the story board.

The day ended with the world’s best chicken wings made by Granny in the soon to be famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen. There was no shortage of wings, conversation, or humor.

Thank you to my adorable Spouse, my family in Ohio, to Grandson #1 and Grandson #2, and to all who made this story possible.

We all journey through time. That journey is more meaningful, if we understand it for what it is. – “… seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…”

SFH Journal: 2019-09-09 through 09-15

On one hand, things have been very good this year. For example, the Okra harvest keeps coming in bit-by-bit. To date, we have frozen six packages and pickled eight pint jars of that tasty vegetable. This year’s crop has also provided for many meals for ourselves and for guests.

WS5On the other hand, weather events from as far back as March of last year continue to rack up their toll in destruction. During Winter Storm Riley in March of  2018, our beautiful pine tree in the front yard was damaged and was leaning at a bad angle. (See our post SFH PPP 2018-01: Living the Life of Riley for details.)

Apparently, the tree was damaged more than we suspected. This year, when the rains subsided, the tree began to go brown. Now, it looks like the tree is past saving. It’s likely that some of the root structure was damaged and, when water became scarce, the roots couldn’t supply enough water to sustain growth. It’s a sad thing, but it looks like we will have to have it taken down and removed.
SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2019-09-09 through 09-15

Crisis Averted in Rainy Day Catch Up

Question 1: What was the crisis?

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Running low

Answer 1: The official Serendipity Farmhouse Pantry inventory revealed we were almost out of popcorn – the single most important and tasty food snack known to humankind.

Question 2: What relationship could possibly exist between popcorn and dehydrated Cow Horn peppers?

Answer 2: Both items have an extended shelf life when they are dry canned.

Question 3: What in the heck is “dry canning”?

Answer 3: Read this post and find out.

0913190927_HDR (2)Normally, we buy popcorn twelve pounds at a time. There is a cost savings when bought in quantity. When we realized we were running low on this essential snack, we found that the dealer had been out of the large bags for almost two months. So, we purchased two four-pound bags to get us through the crisis.

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Note:  Not Cow Horn peppers

Meanwhile, we had amassed a quantity of Cow Horn peppers from the garden. They weren’t needed any more for canning with salsa. Following our SFH maxim “never waste anything”, the Cow Horns were dehydrated last week and temporarily stored in a mason jar.

Now, with popcorn and peppers ready for preserving, we waited for a convenient lull in household activities. Yesterday came with rain, fog, and cooler temperatures. There was no outside work that could be done on our vast, rambling, 1.24 acre estate. This was the perfect time for “rainy day catch up”.

With Mr. Monte’s advice, consent, guidance, and watchful assistance, I assembled all that was needed to do the job at hand – dry can five quarts of popcorn and one pint of Cow Horn peppers. All that was needed for the job was:

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FoodSaver with regular & wide mouth sealers

1 FoodSaver unit,
1 regular mouth jar sealer,
1 wide mouth jar sealer,
1 one accessory hose,
6 oxygen absorber packets,
5 quart size mason jars,
1 pint size mason jar,


The rest was simple. (Only because Mr. Monte kept nagging and pointing me in the right direction. He has no patience for those who obviously have inferior intellect.)

0913190940a (2)Popcorn was added to the five quart jars and Cow Horns were added to the pint jar. One oxygen absorber packet was added to each of the six jars.


0913190943a (2)Because oxygen absorber packs immediately start absorbing whatever oxygen is available, unused packets need to be vacuum sealed to preserve them for future use. So, even before I sealed the jars, I made a new bag for the unused packets and sealed them.

Next, I sealed the five wide mouth jars. I finished up by sealing the regular mouth jar containing the Cow Horn peppers. Note: The ring is not screwed onto the jar until after the sealer does its job.


Question 4: What was the result of my half hour investment in time?

Answer 4: When dry canned, dry food goods such as popcorn and beans remain unspoiled for between 10 to 20 years. For example, we have some great northern beans that were dry canned in 2012 and they are just as good as the day we dry canned them.

Rather than growing four or five different types of hot peppers each season, we usually

0913190928 (2)
The perfect jar of  Cow Horn peppers

grow only two types – jalapenos and “something else”. We dehydrate the “something else” peppers and dry can them. Last year it was serranos, the year before it was habaneros, and this year it is Cow Horns. These can easily be reconstituted by sitting in water or merely cooking them in with whatever recipe calls for them.

We also mix three or four types of dehydrated hot peppers and crush and grind them. This becomes a spicy topping for pizzas or it can be applied (very carefully and cautiously) to various dishes.

In addition to dehydrated peppers, we have dry canned dehydrated apples. Over the coming years we hope to expand the dehydrating and dry canning to other foods.

Bottom Line: It’s easy. It’s practical. It’s not overly taxing on the nerves. And, it saves money.

So, now you know how to prevent a popcorn crisis and turn a rainy day into a sunshine event. God bless!