Category: Camino Del Monte

RV Trip 2021-02: I Wanna Go Home!

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, there are clearly defined limits to my ability to tolerate trips in my Class-C RV “El Camino Del Monte” (ECMD). You would think getting out of the hot city and relaxing in a cool woodland setting would be the goal of most intelligent humans.

Obviously, I don’t have two of those. No, I have the kind of humans that think that is fun to go someplace hotter and far less comfortable than Serendipity Farmhouse. Rather than listening to calming classical music, my humans would rather listen to the cacophonous, nerve-shattering noise of an air conditioner running 24/7. – It is my considered opinion that any common sense they may have ever had was baked out of their brains by overexposure to the infernal heat of Virginia in July.

We arrived at Shenandoah River State Park at 2:25 PM. Fuzzy completed setup in record time. By 3:12 PM, he had the weather station assembled, revealing the severity of our situation. The temperatures at the park had climbed into the mid-90s, so all windows and doors had to be shut and the sound of that miserable AC began to numb my mind. You can see for yourself that my humans had made another marvelous choice of camping dates. – What were they thinking, if they were capable of thinking at all?

Of course, the heat was followed by rain, a torrential downpour that crashed down on the roof of ECMD. The splattering of raindrops the size of golf balls shattered my inner peace and grated on every neuron of my highly tuned feline nervous system. By 8 PM, I was a useless, shivering pile of fur, incapable of reacting in any normal way. It was then that I first heard myself say, “Meoowww! I wanna go home!”

Dinner No. 1: Texas Hash

My humans apparently took no notice of my distress. Their only concern was pleasing their belly and their gut, preparing another “gourmet” meal. Granted, they prepared it to a human standard of perfection, nevertheless, its aroma and presentation aroused no interest whatsoever in my feline appetite. Yet, as the author of this post, I am required to give you details that might help those humans among my readers to recreate this culinary delight. So, here you go. The dish is called Texas Hash. The original recipe appeared in the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, 1950. Currently, the recipe can be found in the book Betty Crocker Lost Recipes: Beloved Vintage Recipes for Today’s Kitchen.

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As an interesting sidelight. In a moment of weakness, Ol’ Fuzz Face confessed to me that, when he was young, he thought that Betty Crocker was a real person and was devastated when he found out otherwise. Poor guy, he never learned the real truth, but I did after doing some internet searches. It turns out that Betty Crocker was a shapeshifter. Her true persona was Mamagon (ママゴン) the lovely kaiju (怪獣) of Japanese fame. You can find out more about her at the Ultraman Wiki.

As you can see below, Betty Crocker/Mamagon had nothing at all to do with the meals I was served on this trip. For me, it’s always the same old stuff. Nope, nothing gourmet quality or special for me. Nope, no ice cream or tasty treats, just the same old swill.

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The Case of the Obnoxious Fly

The second day of this misadventure was just as hot and steamy as the first. Fuzzy and Blondie attempted to humor themselves and enjoy their outing as if the weather was perfectly pleasant. It was apparent that they had spent too much time in the sun and were delusional. Blondie went so far as to pose for pictures to prove that she was having a delightful time. But, it wasn’t even a half hour later at lunch when she lost all of her composure.

Let me tell you what happened and what I saw through the kitchen window. At lunchtime, Blondie proclaimed that lunch would be served in her beloved screen tent. She opined that it would be ever so pleasant to dine outside and enjoy the sounds of nature and the gentle breeze. Blondie and Fuzzy carried all the fixings for lunch to the tent. They carefully zipped up the doorway screen and sat down to eat their midday repast. Simultaneously, two things began to happen. First, both of those “nature lovers” began to sweat profusely. They smiled at each other attempting to hide their discomfort, but moisture oozing from beneath their garments betrayed them. Second, it became apparent that the screen tent, when closed, does two things: it locks flies out and it locks flies in. In the case of my two humans, they had locked in with them the single most obnoxious fly in the entire Shenandoah Valley. It landed on their food. It landed on their beverage glasses. It did pirouettes on their ears and their noses. It caused them to swat and flail about, feverishly attempting to smush the intruder. And the obnoxious little fellow would not cease.

It wasn’t long after lunch before Fuzzy, at the bidding of Blondie, was taking the tent down, folding it up, and storing it away for the remainder of our misbegotten RV trip. Once again, I could be heard to say, “Meoowww! I wanna go home!”

Dinner No. 2: Persian Shish Kabob

There’s no real need to go into detail about dinner on the second day. Sure, the smell of the meat used for the shish kabobs was somewhat pleasant, but what cat can eat meat that was soaked in lime juice, garlic, and onion for 24 hours. Anyway, Blondie and Fuzzy exclaimed that the allrecipes Persian Shish Kabob recipe was really good and, of course, their cooking skills exceeded that of most mortals.

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Radicalized!!!

My dear feline friends, the second night was just as hot as the first. The air conditioner kept running, and running, and running. One could not hear oneself think. Of course that meant nothing to my humans because, obviously, they weren’t thinking. I mistakenly thought that it could get no worse. That was when Fuzzy and Blondie decided to add to the noise by watching a horrid British detective show. Because they couldn’t understand the British accents, they cranked the volume up to an intolerable setting. I was in pain. I was in agony. I had finally reached the point where I could stand no more. And that is when I devised my radical solution – there would be no sleep for anyone in ECMD until this cat was returned to his rightful place in the most peaceful and tranquil Serendipity Farmhouse.

I won’t burden you with the details of my actions, but you can be certain that all of the following tactics were employed: nudging, bumping, nibbling, biting, scratching, jumping, endless meowing, and repeatedly exclaiming, “Meoowww! I wanna go home!”

Let me emphasize that point by showing you how I expressed my feelings to those two insensitive humans: “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!” “Meoowww! I wanna go home!”

Despite all that, Fuzzy and Blondie continued to act as if they didn’t understand. Finally at 2 AM, out of desperation, I went to the corner where the metal door to my carrier was stored. I clawed at it and dislodged it. I dragged it out to where Fuzzy could see what I had. Then I jumped into my carrier and looked at him and bellowed, “Meoowww! Listen you jerk, Meoowww! I wanna go home!”

But it was all to no avail. Even though they could not sleep, they insisted on ignoring my pleas. It wasn’t until the sun had risen and they drank their coffee, that they would begin preparing for the trip home. Meanwhile, I was sleepless and a wreck from my encounter with their ignorant behavior. I rolled over in front of my carrier, feet up in the air, and played dead. And so I remained until Fuzzy said I should get into the carrier. I immediately did as he said, all the time wanting to take a pound of his flesh, but I didn’t want to delay our departure. Forty-five minutes later, we were home. I quietly flopped on the floor in front of the fan and refused to interact with either of them for the remainder of the day. – May it ever be so humble there’s no place like Serendipity Farmhouse!

 

SFH Journal: 2021-05-02 through 05-16

May 15th, the Feast of St. Isadore

“Dear St. Isidore, you know how normal it is to cultivate the land for you were employed as a farm laborer most of your life. Although you received God’s help materially through Angels in the field, all farmers are aided spiritually to see the wonders God has strewn on this earth.  Encourage all farmers in their labors and help them to feed many people. – Amen”

A report and accounting of our labors at Serendipity Farmhouse.

In 2018, we first posted a Report to St. Isadore. This year, we will resume that custom.

Part I – The Herb Garden

Close to our back door, we have planted herbs to add flavor to our foods. Interestingly, our two parsley plants survived the Winter cold and are going strong. Other herbs are doing well and now there is a new basil plant. This year, we are experimenting with a different variety of cherry tomatoes – Sun Sugar Yellow Cherry Tomato. More herbs will be planted later

Part II-A – Vegetable Garden #1

Not all is going well in Vegetable Garden #1. Only three of our beet seeds germinated. Likewise, our beans have responded less than enthusiastically to sunshine and gentle rains. On the other hand, the arugula and lettuce are producing in abundance. Every clove of garlic planted last Fall has sprouted and all plants are thriving. Four types of hot peppers have been planted and they appear quite happy. There are now seven asparagus plants capable of producing for the dinner table, and all are doing well.

Part II-B – Vegetable Garden #2

Vegetable Garden #2 is reserved for several varieties of tomatoes. So far, we have planted one of each of the following varieties: Better Boy, Big Beef, Bush Goliath, Early Girl, and Pink Brandywine

Part III – Flowers and Plants

We planted grass where the new water line was installed last December. All of the flowering plants and trees have done well this year and small apples are replacing the white blossoms that adorned the yard earlier this Spring. Once again, the magnolia tree is promising many blooms come June.

On the 2nd, we held a May Crowning in our garden dedicated to Mary. Both azalea bushes are filled with flowers and the irises have grown so thick that we had to transplant some elsewhere.

Part V – Vineyard

Our vineyard is having its finest year ever. As you can see in our feature picture, a large number of vine (the number “1” is much larger than “0”) shows the potential to eclipse all past years.

Part V – Critters

St. Isadore, this next item is probably outside your area of patronage. If so, please talk to St. Francis and see if he has any advice. – – It seems that Mr. Monte, our Chief of Security, had to issue an eviction notice to some loony birds that thought that our RV would make a fine nesting place. Blondie and I were commissioned to serve the eviction notice to the squatters. Although those crazy birds weren’t present at the time, we had to move all of their belongings out on the road. — It’s important that you tell St. Francis that we determined that the nest was empty before we executed the eviction.

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That concludes our report, St. Isadore. We have tried to be good stewards of what God has bestowed on Serendipity. The fruits of these labors constantly bring us joy.

The First SFH 2021 Plantings

Date: Month-DayItemQTYGarden
03-15Red Beets20 seedsVegetable #1
03-27Arugula 4 rowsVegetable #1
03-27Lettuce4 rowsVegetable #1
04-18Italian green beans25 seedsVegetable #1
05-02Better Boy tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-02Pink Brandywine tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-02Big Beef1 plantVegetable #2
05-02Sun Sugar Yellow tomato1 plantHerb
05-02Mammoth jalapeno pepper1 plantVegetable #1
05-02Jalapeno pepper1 plantVegetable #1
05-02Anaheim pepper1 plantVegetable #1
05-21Italian green beans21 seedsVegetable #1
05-15Basil1 plantHerb
05-15Bush Goliath tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-15Early Girl tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-15Roma1 plantVegetable #2
05-30Cow's Horn okra23 seedVegetable #1
05-31Burgandy okra10Vegetable #1
06-07Heat Master tomato1 plantVegetable #2
06-09Cow's horn okra1 seedVegetable #1
06-09Burgandy okra1 seedVegetable #1

The First SFH 2021 Harvest

Date: Month - DayItemQTYMeasure
04-27Asparagus5Spears
04-28Asparagus2Spears
05-03Asparagus5Spears
05-04Arugula1Bunch
05-04Asparagus3Spears
05-04Lettuce1Bunch
05-04Parsley1Bunch
05-06Arugula1Bunch
05-06Asparagus5Spears
05-06Lettuce1Bunch
05-06Parsley1Bunch
05-10Arugula1Bunch
05-10Asparagus1Spear
05-10Lettuce1Bunch
05-14Asparagus8Spears
05-16Arugula1Bunch
05-16Lettuce1Bunch
05-19Arugula1Bunch, end of season
05-19Asparagus2Spears
05-19Lettuce1Bunch
05-21Asparagus3Spears
05-23Strawberries7Berries
05-25Aspraragus3Spears
05-29Garlic scapes8Scapes
05-31Garlic Scapes22Scapes
05-31Strawberries3Berries
06-03Strawberries4Berries
06-17Beets5Beets
06-23Garlic30Heads
07-02Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow 2Tomatoes; 1st of season
07-03Green beans, Italian 28Bean pods; 1st of season
07-03Pepper, Jalapeno1Pepper; 1st of season
07-03Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow5Tomatoes
07-04Green beans, Italian 9Bean pods
07-06Green beans, Italian 24bean pods
07-06Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow3Tomatoes
07-07Basil1Bunch
07-07Green beans, Italian21Bean pods
07-07Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-09Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-10Green beans, Italian14Bean pods
07-10Pepper, Jalapeno1Jalapeno
07-10Strawberries1Berry
07-10Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes, 1st of season
07-11Green beans, Italian4Bean pods
07-14Pepper, Jalapeno, Mammoth4Jalapenos
07-14Tomato, Big Beef2Tomatoes
07-14Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-15Green beans, Italian26Bean pods
07-15Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
07-15Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow4Tomatoes
07-17Green beans, Italian2Bean pods
07-17Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-17Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
07-18Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow11Tomatoes
07-19Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-20Tomato, Big Boy2Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-20Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Better Boy2Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
07-23Tomato, Better Boy2Tomatoes
07-23Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-23Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-24Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-24Tomato, Roma3Tomatoes
07-24Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow12Tomatoes
07-25Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-25Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-25Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomato
07-26Tomato, Better Boy4Tomatoes
07-26Tomato, Big Boy2Tomatoes
07-26Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-27Green beans, Italian2Bean pods
07-27Pepper, Jalapeno6Jalapenos
07-27Tomato, Better Boy3Tomatoes
07-27Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
07-27Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-27Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-29Pepper, Anaheim2Peppers
07-29Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
07-29Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-29Tomato, Pink Brandywine3Tomatoes
07-29Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-30Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
07-30Tomato, Big Boy3Tomatoes
07-30Tomato, Early Girl4Tomatoes
07-30Tomato, Pink Brandywine2Tomatoes
07-30Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-30Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow7Tomatoes
07-31Okra, Cowhorn2Pod, 1st of season
07-31Okra, Purple1Pod, 1st of season
07-31Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow1Tomato
08-01Green beans, Italian7Bean pods
08-01Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
08-01Okra, Purple1Pod
08-01Tomato, Better Boy3Tomatoes
08-01Tomato, Bush Goliath3Tomatoes
08-01Tomato, Early Girl7Tomatoes
08-01Tomato, Roma3Tomatoes
08-02Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow5Tomatoes
08-03Green beans, Italian1Bean pod
08-03Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
08-03Okra, Purple1Pod
08-03Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
08-03Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-03Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-03Tomato, Roma1Tomato
08-05Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
08-05Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow7Tomatoes
08-06Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-06Tomato, Heatmaster1Tomato
08-06Tomato, Roma2Tomatoes
08-07Green beans, Italian5Bean pods
08-07Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
08-07Okra, Purple2Pods
08-08Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
08-08Tomato, Roma4Tomatoes
08-08Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
08-09Okra, Cowhorn6Pods
08-09Okra, Purple1Pod
08-09Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
08-09Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-09Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow3Tomatoes
08-12Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
08-12Okra, Purple1Pod
08-12Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-12Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomato
08-12Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
08-15Basil2Bunches
08-15Green beans, Italian35Bean pods, end of season
08-15Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
08-15Okra, Purple5Pods
08-15Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomatoes
08-15Tomato, Pink Brandywine4Tomatoes
08-15Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow1Tomato
08-17Okra, Cowhorn5Pods
08-17Okra, Purple1Pod
08-17Tomato, Pink Brandywine5Tomatoes
08-21Apple, Staymen3Apples
08-21Okra, Cowhorn8Pods
08-21Okra, Purple1Pod
08-21Pepper, Jalapeno11Peppers
08-21Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-21Tomato, Pink Brandywine2Tomatoes
08-21Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
08-24Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
08-24Okra, Purple1Pod
08-24Tomato, Big Beef2Tomatoes
08-24Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-24Tomato, Heatmaster1Tomato, end of season
08-24Tomato, Roma2Tomatoes
08-24Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow1Tomato
08-27Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
08-27Tomato, Pink Brandywine4Tomatoes
08-27Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow3Tomatoes
08-28Apple, Staymen2Apples
08-28Grape, Catawba 1.5Pounds
08-28Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
08-28Pepper, Jalapeno1Pepper
08-31Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
08-31Okra, Purple1Pod
08-31Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
08-31Tomato, Big Beef2Tomatoes
08-31Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-31Tomato, Pink Brandywine3Tomatoes
08-31Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes, end of season
09-01Pepper, Jalapeno17Peppers
09-04Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
09-04Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato, end of season
09-04Tomato, Big Beef8Tomatoes, end of season
09-07Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
09-07Pepper, Anaheim1Pepper
09-07Pepper, Jalapeno6Peppers
09-07Tomato, Roma1Tomato
09-10Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
09-10Okra, Purple1Pod
09-10Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomato
09-10Tomato, Roma2Tomatoes
09-15Okra, Cowhorn4Pod
09-15Okra, Purple3Pod
09-15Pepper, Anaheim2Peppers
09-15Pepper, Jalapeno1Pepper
09-15Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
09-15Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomatoes, end of season
09-18Okra, Cowhorn9Pods
09-18Okra, Purple1Pod
09-18Pepper, Jalapeno8Peppers
09-18Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
09-21Okra, Cowhorn2Pods
09-21Okra, Purple1Pod
09-23Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
09-23Okra, Purple2Pods
09-23Pepper, Jalapeno7Peppers
09-24Tomato, Bush Goliath6Tomatoes, end of season
09-24Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes, end of season

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what has been planted and what has been harvested since our last Journal post:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-05-03 through 05-09

SFH WX 2021-05-10 through 05-16

SFH Journal: 2021-03-29 through 05-02 – Whew!

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, “I’m late, I’m late for. A very important date. No time to say hello, good-bye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”

This post is long overdue. It should have been published last Sunday. Obviously, it wasn’t. Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face haven’t had time to sit for even a moment. That means that they’ve dumped many of their tasks onto good old reliable “FELINE PRODUCTIVE.” And now I haven’t had time to sit for even a moment.

Suffice it to say there are not sufficient time nor words to suffice. So, major insufficiency will have to suffice.

Here’s just a small sampling of what was going on through May 2nd:

04 April – Easter: See post Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia.

10 April – Grandson #7: See post Breaking News: Grandson #7!!

12-14 April – RV Trip 2021-01: See posts RV Trip 2021-01: A Very Tent Situation and RV Trip 2021-01: Project Sausage

23-24 April – Tree Removal: From the SFH treasurer – “To the person who planted those four willow trees on the now vast SFH Estate: You owe us over $10,000 for the removal of those ghastly, hideous, dangerous, menacing, destructive willows.”

25 April – Godzilla v. King Kong: Fuzzy tells me he had a glorious three hours respite from the cares of this world when highly cherished Daughter #1 and her family took him to see his hero in action. As he always says: “Godzilla is real, everything else is fake!” See post: SFH Godzilla Birthday Bash

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28-29 April – Masked Marauder: A major breach to SFH security took place on these dates. Blondie was horrified. Our friendly avian residents were distraught. Fuzzy came up with an almost a good solution. He sprayed WD-40 on the pole. Unfortunately, it dried too quickly, so we intend to use Vaseline in the future.

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In the meantime, we gathered the SFH Security Staff, including Fuzzy. We all confronted this felonious, masked bandit and I made it quite clear to that maleficent marauder what would happen to him should he violate our security perimeter again. The last time we saw him, he was hightailing it off the property.

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30 April – Deck, Porch, Furnace & Dinner Guest: It is difficult enough when one contractor or handyman must do work on our soon-to-be-famous, historic mansion. Schedules must be adjusted; parking space must be made available; and, the SFH Security Staff must be alerted. But, April 30th, the potential for schedule conflict went over the top. First, SFH was visited by contractors to prepare the front porch and rear deck for painting and staining. Next came the contractor who maintains our newly installed furnace to perform seasonal maintenance. And, if that wasn’t enough, the entire, soon-to-be-world famous SFH Test Kitchen staff was engaged in a maximum effort to prepare a delicious meal for a highly esteemed dinner guest. – – Fuzzy and Blondie, under my close direction, rose to the occasion. All workmen visits went without incident and there was no mutual interference. – – Our dinner guest was happy with the SFH Test Kitchen’s latest experiment and he went back for seconds. As a Russian Blue cat friend of mine once told me” Всё хорошо́, что хорошо́ конча́ется. (All’s well that ends well.)

In the midst of and intermingled with all of the above, Blondie spent many, many hours in the vegetable gardens. She is really good at directing Ol’ Fuzz Face at moving bags of dirt, turning over soil, weeding, trimming, and bringing those gardens to the highest quality level possible. Because of her efforts, the SFH gardens stand out as among the finest in all of  Rappahannock County. And also to her credit, Spring planting is underway and the first fruits of the 2021 growing season have already been harvested.

The First SFH 2021 Plantings

Date: Month-DayItemQTYGarden
03-15Red Beets20 seedsVegetable #1
03-27Arugula 4 rowsVegetable #1
03-27Lettuce4 rowsVegetable #1
04-18Italian green beans25 seedsVegetable #1
05-02Better Boy tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-02Pink Brandywine tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-02Big Beef1 plantVegetable #2
05-02Sun Sugar Yellow tomato1 plantHerb
05-02Mammoth jalapeno pepper1 plantVegetable #1
05-02Jalapeno pepper1 plantVegetable #1
05-02Anaheim pepper1 plantVegetable #1
05-21Italian green beans21 seedsVegetable #1
05-15Basil1 plantHerb
05-15Bush Goliath tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-15Early Girl tomato1 plantVegetable #2
05-15Roma1 plantVegetable #2
05-30Cow's Horn okra23 seedVegetable #1
05-31Burgandy okra10Vegetable #1
06-07Heat Master tomato1 plantVegetable #2
06-09Cow's horn okra1 seedVegetable #1
06-09Burgandy okra1 seedVegetable #1

The First SFH 2021 Harvest

Date: Month - DayItemQTYMeasure
04-27Asparagus5Spears
04-28Asparagus2Spears
05-03Asparagus5Spears
05-04Arugula1Bunch
05-04Asparagus3Spears
05-04Lettuce1Bunch
05-04Parsley1Bunch
05-06Arugula1Bunch
05-06Asparagus5Spears
05-06Lettuce1Bunch
05-06Parsley1Bunch
05-10Arugula1Bunch
05-10Asparagus1Spear
05-10Lettuce1Bunch
05-14Asparagus8Spears
05-16Arugula1Bunch
05-16Lettuce1Bunch
05-19Arugula1Bunch, end of season
05-19Asparagus2Spears
05-19Lettuce1Bunch
05-21Asparagus3Spears
05-23Strawberries7Berries
05-25Aspraragus3Spears
05-29Garlic scapes8Scapes
05-31Garlic Scapes22Scapes
05-31Strawberries3Berries
06-03Strawberries4Berries
06-17Beets5Beets
06-23Garlic30Heads
07-02Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow 2Tomatoes; 1st of season
07-03Green beans, Italian 28Bean pods; 1st of season
07-03Pepper, Jalapeno1Pepper; 1st of season
07-03Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow5Tomatoes
07-04Green beans, Italian 9Bean pods
07-06Green beans, Italian 24bean pods
07-06Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow3Tomatoes
07-07Basil1Bunch
07-07Green beans, Italian21Bean pods
07-07Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-09Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-10Green beans, Italian14Bean pods
07-10Pepper, Jalapeno1Jalapeno
07-10Strawberries1Berry
07-10Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes, 1st of season
07-11Green beans, Italian4Bean pods
07-14Pepper, Jalapeno, Mammoth4Jalapenos
07-14Tomato, Big Beef2Tomatoes
07-14Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-15Green beans, Italian26Bean pods
07-15Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
07-15Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow4Tomatoes
07-17Green beans, Italian2Bean pods
07-17Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-17Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
07-18Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow11Tomatoes
07-19Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-20Tomato, Big Boy2Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-20Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Better Boy2Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
07-23Tomato, Better Boy2Tomatoes
07-23Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-23Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-24Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-24Tomato, Roma3Tomatoes
07-24Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow12Tomatoes
07-25Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-25Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-25Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomato
07-26Tomato, Better Boy4Tomatoes
07-26Tomato, Big Boy2Tomatoes
07-26Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-27Green beans, Italian2Bean pods
07-27Pepper, Jalapeno6Jalapenos
07-27Tomato, Better Boy3Tomatoes
07-27Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
07-27Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-27Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-29Pepper, Anaheim2Peppers
07-29Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
07-29Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-29Tomato, Pink Brandywine3Tomatoes
07-29Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-30Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
07-30Tomato, Big Boy3Tomatoes
07-30Tomato, Early Girl4Tomatoes
07-30Tomato, Pink Brandywine2Tomatoes
07-30Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-30Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow7Tomatoes
07-31Okra, Cowhorn2Pod, 1st of season
07-31Okra, Purple1Pod, 1st of season
07-31Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow1Tomato
08-01Green beans, Italian7Bean pods
08-01Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
08-01Okra, Purple1Pod
08-01Tomato, Better Boy3Tomatoes
08-01Tomato, Bush Goliath3Tomatoes
08-01Tomato, Early Girl7Tomatoes
08-01Tomato, Roma3Tomatoes
08-02Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow5Tomatoes
08-03Green beans, Italian1Bean pod
08-03Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
08-03Okra, Purple1Pod
08-03Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
08-03Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-03Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-03Tomato, Roma1Tomato
08-05Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
08-05Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow7Tomatoes
08-06Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-06Tomato, Heatmaster1Tomato
08-06Tomato, Roma2Tomatoes
08-07Green beans, Italian5Bean pods
08-07Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
08-07Okra, Purple2Pods
08-08Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
08-08Tomato, Roma4Tomatoes
08-08Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
08-09Okra, Cowhorn6Pods
08-09Okra, Purple1Pod
08-09Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
08-09Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-09Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow3Tomatoes
08-12Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
08-12Okra, Purple1Pod
08-12Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-12Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomato
08-12Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
08-15Basil2Bunches
08-15Green beans, Italian35Bean pods, end of season
08-15Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
08-15Okra, Purple5Pods
08-15Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomatoes
08-15Tomato, Pink Brandywine4Tomatoes
08-15Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow1Tomato
08-17Okra, Cowhorn5Pods
08-17Okra, Purple1Pod
08-17Tomato, Pink Brandywine5Tomatoes
08-21Apple, Staymen3Apples
08-21Okra, Cowhorn8Pods
08-21Okra, Purple1Pod
08-21Pepper, Jalapeno11Peppers
08-21Tomato, Bush Goliath2Tomatoes
08-21Tomato, Pink Brandywine2Tomatoes
08-21Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
08-24Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
08-24Okra, Purple1Pod
08-24Tomato, Big Beef2Tomatoes
08-24Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-24Tomato, Heatmaster1Tomato, end of season
08-24Tomato, Roma2Tomatoes
08-24Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow1Tomato
08-27Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
08-27Tomato, Pink Brandywine4Tomatoes
08-27Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow3Tomatoes
08-28Apple, Staymen2Apples
08-28Grape, Catawba 1.5Pounds
08-28Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
08-28Pepper, Jalapeno1Pepper
08-31Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
08-31Okra, Purple1Pod
08-31Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
08-31Tomato, Big Beef2Tomatoes
08-31Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
08-31Tomato, Pink Brandywine3Tomatoes
08-31Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes, end of season
09-01Pepper, Jalapeno17Peppers
09-04Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
09-04Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato, end of season
09-04Tomato, Big Beef8Tomatoes, end of season
09-07Okra, Cowhorn1Pod
09-07Pepper, Anaheim1Pepper
09-07Pepper, Jalapeno6Peppers
09-07Tomato, Roma1Tomato
09-10Okra, Cowhorn3Pods
09-10Okra, Purple1Pod
09-10Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomato
09-10Tomato, Roma2Tomatoes
09-15Okra, Cowhorn4Pod
09-15Okra, Purple3Pod
09-15Pepper, Anaheim2Peppers
09-15Pepper, Jalapeno1Pepper
09-15Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
09-15Tomato, Pink Brandywine1Tomatoes, end of season
09-18Okra, Cowhorn9Pods
09-18Okra, Purple1Pod
09-18Pepper, Jalapeno8Peppers
09-18Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes
09-21Okra, Cowhorn2Pods
09-21Okra, Purple1Pod
09-23Okra, Cowhorn4Pods
09-23Okra, Purple2Pods
09-23Pepper, Jalapeno7Peppers
09-24Tomato, Bush Goliath6Tomatoes, end of season
09-24Tomato, Early Girl2Tomatoes, end of season

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what has been planted and what has been harvested since our last Journal post:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-April

 

RV Trip 2021-01: Project Sausage

I will not lower myself to respond to the grossly erroneous and highly embellished statements made by Mr. Monte in last week’s post RV Trip 2021-01: A Very Tent Situation. Besides that, I’m not at liberty to discuss the screen tent incident due to current ongoing libel proceedings in the case of Fuzzy v. Monte.

Nevertheless, I must note that the erection of the screen tent was closely tied to a nearly month-long joint effort by the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen staff and the intrepid crew of the Class-C RV, El Camino Del Monte. This ambitious effort was conducted under the once secret code name: Project Sausage.

It all started more than a half year ago when a fellow Ohioan named Tom raised the exciting possibility of gathering a group of friends for a day of sausage making and mirth-filled camaraderie. I had no sausage making experience and Tom had very little, so it would be necessary to test the feasibility of his plan with a two-man experimental run. – It was agreed, March 20th would be the day.

While waiting for the big day, I consulted with the entire staff of the SFH Test Kitchen and we planned for a broad-based endeavor that went far beyond just the making of sausage. Project Sausage would bring together several cooking disciplines to include: sausage making, long-term storage, at-home preparation, and ultimately, RV cooking in the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Mobile Test Kitchen.

The big day finally came. Tom was so kind as to provide the necessary equipment (grinder and stuffer). He also procured the pork butt and the hog casings. His well-appointed kitchen became both a cooking laboratory and a playground for two Ohio boys who grew up with a great appreciation for East European sausages. – It wasn’t a pretty sight (no one ever describes sausage making as that), but, oh my, it was fun!

The pictures below show some of the highlights of the day.

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At the end of this post you will find the recipe I adapted for this venture. Tom made his own adaptation. Once we had completed step number six, just before stuffing, we cooked up a small sample from each batch. That was our lunch and our chance to determine if changes to spices were needed. – We were both happy with what we had done. Our break was over and we stuffed the casings, cleaned up the mess, and each ended up with over eight pounds of homemade sausage.

The SFH Test Kitchen is no stranger to preparing foods for long-term storage. On March 24th, the Staff assembled for a quick session with the Food Saver and bagged and froze the sausages. That day, seven packs of links and two packs of unstuffed sausage were stored away in the freezer. Two links were reserved for a taste test after grilling. The taste test resulted in a thumbs-up from Blondie.

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Now that brings us to the true goal of Project Sausage. The objective was to turn our homemade sausage into a staple food for RV expeditions. We wanted to take the simple product and turn it into a fine food, suitable for Blondie’s notion of high-end glamping. In so doing, we manged to transform this humble SFH Hungarian Sausage into a dinner delight and a breakfast treasure. And to all that, we added the ambiance of eating in the bug-free comfort of our new screen tent. It was an ambitious pursuit, but, despite my minor tangle (tango) with the screen tent, it was both successful and rewarding.

Below are pictures of our evening meal served in a romantic yet adventurous way. Next you will see a simple brunch featuring SFH Hungarian Sausage (leftover from the night before) with delightfully seasoned scrambled eggs. – – Two meals, one featured item, and great taste all around. – – Project Sausage was a success!!

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Note: This SFH Test Kitchen recipe was adapted from Hungarian Homemade Sausage (Hazi Kolbasz), written by Barbara Rolek

Serendipity Hungarian Sausage

Prep Time 1 hr 45 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Meat grinder, manual or electric
  • Sausage stuffer, manual

Ingredients
  

  • 6 pounds well-marbled pork butt
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 4+ garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 ½ tbsp salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • tbsp paprika
  • 1 cup water
  • 14+ feet hog casings (rinsed three times)

Instructions
 

  • Gather the ingredients.
  • Rinse hog casings and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • In a small bowl, mix garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and water, and set aside.
  • Slice pork into strips small enough to fit in meat grinder. Coarsely grind the meat in a hand-cranked or electric grinder. Place meat in a large container.
  • Add ground beef to ground pork and mix thoroughly.
  • Combine water-spice mixture with meat until thoroughly incorporated. To ensure the seasonings are just right, fry a small patty and taste. If desired, refrigerate the meat mixture, covered, overnight before stuffing so it flavors.
  • Remove casings from refrigerator and knot one end. Lightly coat the stuffing funnel with cooking spray or some leftover fat from the pork. Slip the other end of the casing over the mouth of the funnel. Continue to push the remainder of casing up onto funnel until you have reached the knot.
  • Begin to force the meat into the casing with one hand while using the other hand to control the thickness of the sausage as it is extruded. - The sausage will shrink when it cooks, so you want a nice plump sausage. But be careful you don't overstuff or the casing will burst.
  • Keep extruding until the casing is used up. Tie a knot in that end. You can either leave the sausage in a large coil or twist it at 6-inch intervals to make links. Use immediately or store sausage refrigerated and covered up to two days until ready to cook.
  • For long-term storage, freeze sausage in suitable freezer bags. The SFH Test Kitchen packs four sausage links in single Food Saver vacuum sealed bags. - You can also freeze un-stuffed sausage for other cooking purposes.

RV Trip 2021-01: A Very Tent Situation

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, immediately above the picture of yours truly, providing that your browser is properly configured, you will see the latest addition to the El Camino Del Monte (ECDM) glamping experience – a 15 x 13 FT INSTANT SCREENHOUSE. The purchase of this newest piece of glamping equipment was politely requested (read as: ‘ordered’ or ‘commanded’) by my big cat Blondie. As you can see, it can be set up adjacent to the ECDM covered lounge and relaxation area. It is large enough to cover an extended length picnic table and it protects glampers from sun, rain, and bugs. Blondie insists the screen tent is the perfect solution for comfortable outdoor activities.

Whatever! If it makes Blondie happy, Fuzzy and I are well advised to support her quest for glamping excellence. And that brings me to the question of whether Ol’ Fuzz Face is really up to the task. It’s well understood in the Serendipity Farmhouse community that Fuzzy can be quite methodical and analytical. In fact he lives by what he calls his ‘Fundamental Laws of Analysis.’ In fact, he does have a fairly good professional record of following his own rules. But … …

There are some days when Fuzzy gets out of bed that it’s obvious that he has been taken over and possessed by his inner-dork.* Monday April 12th was one of those days. It was apparent from the time we rolled out of the SFH estate in our Class-C RV that he was supercharged with grandiose visions of what a great trip this would be. When we arrived at Shenandoah River State Park and finished setting up, he could no longer contain his excitement. This would be the day he would have his chance to instantly set up the new 15 x 13 FT INSTANT SCREENHOUSE.

He sprang into action. He pulled the INSTANT SCREENHOUSE from the ECDM storage bay and immediately removed it from its carrying case. He hollered to Blondie, “Get the camera! The world has to see a real expert at work!” Meanwhile, I sat at the screen door awaiting the inevitably inevitable to happen – and so it did.

Within minutes, it was apparent that Fuzz Face was on the path to defeat. His impatience and ill-conceived confidence had got the best of him. His first mistake was that he didn’t follow his fundamental laws – he had not read the traffic, he had not read the directions. And that brought on the near disaster we see below. He had no clue of what he was doing. First he tried working from the outside, but nothing seemed right. He could be heard muttering to himself, talking to himself, reasoning with himself, and, all the time, never going back to consult the instructions.

Then it happened! The monster he had made lured him inside, swallowing him whole, and threatened to consume him entirely. He battled with this ravenous creature. He struggled and pulled tent legs. He grunted and groaned. He let out gasps. He had started to sweat and their was true panic and terror in his face. The monster had him almost completely entrapped.

Guardian angels exist. Fuzzy’s angel was well aware that Fuzzy needed saving, but …. only after he had learned his lesson. At the right moment, Fuzzy was inspired to withdraw from the jaws of the beast. He finally considered that it was time to read the instructions. Once he had done that, it was only three minutes until the INSTANT SCREENHOUSE was fully erected. It is beyond me why Ol’ Fuzz Face seemed so satisfied with himself once the tent was set up. His inner-dork was still there and presented a dorky smile on that fuzzy face.

Now, Fuzzy wasn’t the only one to commit a grave blunder that day. While Blondie was taking pictures of this most ridiculous affair, she made the mistake of laughing at Fuzzy and asking that question that husbands never want to hear, “Why don’t you read the instructions?

Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed at him, he looks a little annoyed!

Fortunately for Blondie, I interceded on her behalf and persuaded him to reconsider. He took my advice, recognizing that his sweet Wife is the heart and soul of Serendipity Farmhouse. – – And at that moment of truth, Fuzzy’s inner-dork departed and never reappeared for the remainder of the trip. As you can see below, Ol’ Fuzz Face did a much better job of taking down the screen tent and storing it in its carrying case.

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My Last Digs: I like Ol’ Fuzz Face, but when that inner-dork overcomes him, he loses all common sense. Even if he hadn’t read the instructions, he should have at least seen that the picture on the carrying case clearly showed what the screen tent should look like when erected. Also, just prior to him being swallowed by the tent beast, he should have seen that the tent was inside-out. The logo and other writing was backwards.

*Dork: a silly, out-of-touch person who tends to look odd or behave ridiculously around others; a social misfit

 

SFH Journal: 2021-03-08 through 03-14 – Spring into Action

SFH Unwritten Rule (until just now): No matter what the calendar says, when the warm weather comes, make use of it.

And this week that is just what we did. Daytime highs ranged from the upper 60s to a high of 80.4° F on Thursday the 11th. With no high winds and no precipitation, there was no excuse. This was an early window of opportunity that called us to Spring into Action. Chronicled below are just a few of the tasks accomplished here at SFH this past week.

08 MAR – Bread Making: Early in the day, my most resourceful Spouse performed another test with the new official SFH Test Kitchen bread maker. This time she made Scandinavian Light Rye using a recipe by Beth Hensberger as found in The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook. The result was PERFECTION. The success was based on the combination of a great recipe, a properly functioning bread machine, and masterful execution by the love of my life. – One note: Dearest wife has an aversion to caraway seeds, but the flavor of truly well made rye bread is not diminished by the absence of the little black seeds that tend to plant themselves firmly between one’s teeth.

09 MAR – RV Uncovering: Despite the countdown posted on the left hand panel on the blog for the last several weeks, the SFH Unwritten Rule and lack of patience dictated that the cover would come off the RV on this day. No one told me that I would have to become a parachute packer if I bought an RV. But as you can see below, getting a 26-foot long RV cover back into its storage bag is not an easy job. My only regret is that Mr. Monte decided not to allow us to post the picture of beautiful Wife and me both sitting on the folded cover in an attempt to reduce its bulk.

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10 MAR – Gardening: Never ever put off prepping your garden for Spring planting. Get it done while the suns shines. Raking out dry dirt is much easier than working in the mud. ‘Nuf said!

11 MAR – Maintenance & Repair: (SFH Saying: Anything a man can make, either time, another man, or both can break.) For the record, RV hot water tank drain plugs were not designed to last more than a couple seasons. Even when using the proper tools, that plug will wear out quickly. As you can see, I will have to work on a corrosion problem with my propane water heater.

Of course, lawn mowing season is only weeks away. On this day, my lawn tractor was returned after full service maintenance. The expansive meadows, fields, and lawns of the SFH estate shall receive the very best of care this year.

12 MAR – Grass Seeding: Speaking of the expansive meadows, fields, and lawns of the SFH estate, the damage caused by the pre-Christmas water line repair required the purchase of some seed, some hard work with the garden rake, and daily watering.

 

13 MAR – Car Washing: Winter road salt, a muddy lane, dust, dirt, and collateral damage by rude avian creatures require that the entire stable of SFH vehicles receive a thorough cleaning. Industrious Spouse was up to the task. In addition to these pictures, please refer to the footnote at the end of this post.

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14 MAR Day of Rest: Sunday truly is a day of rest at SFH. So it was, so it is, and so it always shall be.

Footnote: All serious works of non-fiction should include footnotes. Beautiful Wife is now ready for Spring with her robin egg blue nail color.

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-03-08 through 03-14

SFH Journal: 2021-02-08 through 02-14 – Winter Dreams & Valentines

Thinking of my dearest Miss Fleur

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia, I am a most fortunate feline. My dearest Miss Fleur remains faithful and has grown in her affection for me. When I was young, I thought that love would be an unwanted distraction. Yet, now that Miss Fleur has entered my life (and my heart), I can’t help but feeling fully fulfilled and far more capable of facing any unpleasantness that might come into any of my nine lives. – I hope that each of you can find the happiness and  consolation of your own “Miss Fleur”.

This year my Dearest One sent me a quite thoughtfully selected toy and she baked the most tasty heart cookies. To thank her for all that she means to me, today I will call all members of the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen to join me in preparing the special Valentine’s pie that Miss Fleur so loves.

And now for the incalculably valuable words of wisdom that you humans, including my two big cats, have come to expect from yours truly. – –

For some, Winter, especially the month of February, is synonymous with dark, cold, damp, and dreary. There are days when even I, with my most commanding and positive personality, can fall into the trap of surrendering to the Winter doldrums. Consider for example my two big cats, Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face. They are gardeners, hobbyists, and RV-enthusiasts. When weather permits, they actively pursue their interests. They seldom sit while the sun is shining. But February is quite another matter. Then they are locked into limited routines and chores.

Path to the woodshed

This picture of wagon tracks shows the path Fuzzie takes from our old farmhouse to the woodshed. When the cart is filled with wood, Fuzzie struggles to pull the heavy wagon through the snow. But that is what he does to keep the wood stove fueled and to provide the warm, comfortable fire going for Blondie and me. He’s not as young as he used to be. In fact, no one really is. That trek past our vast vineyard and huge tomato garden and then back again represents devotion and love on his part, but it is not done for the sake of fun.

Likewise, Blondie washes clothes, cleans floors, prepares meals and does my bidding. She works harder than anyone here at SFH. And just like Fuzzie, her work represents devotion and love on her part, but it is not done for the sake of fun.

El Camino Del Monte in an ice storm

So this is why Winter is filled with dreams – dreams of working in the garden, dreams of canning tomatoes and pickling okra, dreams of walking beside a flowing river, dreams of hitting the road and finding a camp site for our RV El Camino Del Monte.

There are only 29 days to go before Ol’ Fuzz Face will remove the cover protecting El Camino Del Monte from the Winter wind, snow, and ice. Yes, only 29 days to go before the big engine is started again, the generator is tested, and preparations are made for a warmer season.

Until those warmer days come, we at SFH have the wood stove to keep us warm; we have our chores to keep things as they should be; and we have our plans to make for warmer days. Most of all, we have each other.

———————–A Word from Blondie & Fuzz Face————————

Mr. Monte, as usual, is absolutely correct. We would like to point out that here at SFH this day is celebrated as the traditional feast of St. Valentine, a man who gave his life for his faith in the God he loved. He is the patron of “courtly love”. It’s not just hearts and chocolates. Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

 

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-02-07 through 02-14

 

SFH Journal: 2020-11-30 through 12-16 – 1st Snow!

The featured picture above shows one of Mr. Monte’s cardinal friends patiently reminding us that his feeder needs replenishment. He has been with us for many seasons and he is confident that, even if the weather is severe, someone at Serendipity Farmhouse will tend to his need. – For him, the first snow is nothing to be feared.

We at Serendipity Farmhouse live within our beliefs and our traditions, even if the tradition is as simple as providing food for our resident cardinals. However, holding to tradition is not always easy. For example we are now deep within the season of Advent, a period or preparation. Our thoughts should be centered on the coming feast of Christmas – this should be a season of peace and prayer. Yet, all to often, the ways of the world, with all their artificial fuss and clamor, stand as obstacles in our path. – Nevertheless, we hold fast.

So, the last few weeks have been very busy, but SFH keeps the coming of Christmas clearly in sight. Here is a short sampling of the many preparations underway.

04 DEC – First Fire: As we approach the Winter Solstice and Christmas, the days grow colder. In order to keep SFH cozy and warm, and to reduce stress on our brand new propane furnace, we use our wood stove as our primary means of heating. The first fire always starts off with a little smoke, but then, as the stove and chimney warm, we end up with a clean burning fire and a very warm and comfortable SFH.

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08 DEC – Official Theme: As noted in our last post, the official theme for this year is recreational vehicles (RVs). That is because our Class C RV, El Camino Del Monte, served faithfully as our “getaway vehicle” and provided us safe haven during this disquieting year. The obnoxious, little red elf will lead off in showing you some of our RV collection.

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12 DEC – Outside Decoration: The outside decorations and Nativity scene are placed on display. our dearest piece of tacky yard art, Miss Florence Flamingo, dons her Christmas cap. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte sets up his own beloved little Christmas tree and investigates the mysteries of the snow globe and tasty Christmas elves.

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13 DEC – Gaudéte Sunday: Despite the rush of shopping, decorating, sending greeting cards, wrapping, and all the seasonal distractions, it is necessary to remember the true intent of Advent. This Third Sunday, we took time to rejoice – Gaudéte!! – – Why? – – Dóminus enim prope est – The Lord is nigh.

13-15 DEC – Family First: Blondie spends a couple of days with Daughter #2 – It’s a tradition. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte is left in charge and must ensure that Ol’ Fuzz Face stays out of trouble.

16 DEC – First Snow: There’s a story or two to tell about Winter Storm Gail, but we will save that for out next post. Suffice it to say, the wood stove kept us warm; the Advent wreath provided a shining light of hope, and Mr. Monte’s Christmas tree is where we gathered in prayer.

And that brings us back to where we began. Keep in mind this Advent that, just as Mr Monte’s little cardinal friend knows well,  the first snow is nothing to be feared and it is important to hold fast to your traditions.

There is nothing to fear.

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-11-30 through 12-06

SFH WX 2020-12-07 through 12-13

SFH WX 2020-12-14 through 12-16

SFH Journal: 2020-11-16 through 11-29 – Thanksgiving?

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

My 23, 417 feline followers will look at this selfie and immediately realize that I am not a happy 21-pound Maine Coon cat. Those initiated and wise in the ways of cats will know that the positioning of my ears is an unmistakable signal of extreme displeasure. – – Why might that be?

I won’t beat around the bush and make you wait in suspense. – – I just had a perfectly miserable Thanksgiving!!

While Ol’ Fuzz Face and Blondie blissfully wandered off to who-knows-where to celebrate this most important holiday of giving thanks, I was left alone at home for innumerable hours, abandoned and virtually orphaned. – So much for the bonds of familial love.

Nevertheless, I am a feline possessing great measures of love, devotion, and forgiveness. Rather than dwell on the indignity of my circumstances, I counted my blessings and gave thanks for them. For example, my dearest Miss Fleur sent a most wonderful Thanksgiving card and thoughtfully included a bag of tasty chicken & turkey treats.

As I wandered through the vast hallways and rooms of Serendipity Farmhouse, I pondered the meaning of loneliness and how my heart was saddened by the absence of my two big cats. It was then that I realized that my situation was no different than Blondie’s not-so-great birthday bash. There was no way that she could be with the whole family all at one time. No, her birthday had been divided and segmented, a little here and a little there. (See details here, here, and here.)

As my mind mulled on these thoughts, I realized Blondie and Fuzzy were needed by others elsewhere on this day of great thanks. They hadn’t left me to be alone, they had gone to another house to be with at least part of the family.

The sun had just set as I heard their car come into the driveway. My ears perked up; I stood up in full anticipation – Fuzzy and Blondie had finally returned. – The door opened and they came in with great smiles on their faces. – They picked me up and there were the most enjoyable ‘family’ smells about them. And there were cousin smells – Cousin Gizmo and Cousin Cosmo!!!

Suddenly, I was no longer sullen and forlorn. My family had returned and I gave great thanks. – – I just had a perfectly wonderful Thanksgiving!!

SFH Security Force Winter Realignment

When one is in charge of a most professional and capable security department as I am, one must be aware of the changing threat-space and particular strengths and weaknesses of security force members. Because I know and uniquely understand the SFH threat-space, I have had to make certain modifications to our defensive alignment. As of December 1st, duty assignments will be as follow:

  1. SFH Security Department Director, yours truly, will perform all necessary management and backup duties;
  2. Bronto the bear will conduct perimeter patrols as breaks in hibernation permit;
  3. Rusty the rat snake is excused from duty until Spring due to cold weather and cold blood; and
  4. Lightning the broad-winged hawk will continue all assigned duties.

My special thanks to Lightning. He persuaded his parents to join in the effort to reduce the exploding subterranean mammal population. The feature picture at the beginning of this post shows that they have already taken on their assignment. These are truly the ‘friendly skies’ of SFH – providing you’re not a small surface or subterranean mammal.

El Camino Del Monte Winter Stand-Down

It was a better than average RVing season. El Camino Del Monte (ECDM) served faithfully, providing SFH staff members five relaxing camping trips. Additionally, ECDM provided comfortable lodging during two delightful stays at Serendipity River RV Park. Thank you to family friends Don and Louise for the very special invites.

So, with a successful RV season sadly at an end, Ol’ Fuzz Face set to the task of washing ECDM one final time. Once the RV had dried, it was time to put on the protective cover to shield ECDM from the harsh Winter winds, snow, and ice.

Fuzzy did a relatively good job. Of course, that was only because of my exceedingly watchful supervision and direction.

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Plans are already being made for RV Season 2021. As you can see, Blondie has made it one of the themes for her Advent decorations.

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s come out of our gardens and what has gone into mason jars and the freezer since our last Journal post.:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2020-11-16 through 11-22

SFH WX 2020-11-23 through 11-29

RV Season 2020 Comes to a Close

For a number of reasons, we, the intrepid crew of the good RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM), decided to bring the 2020 RV season to an early close. We had reservations for a sixth excursion to Shenandoah River State Park during the last week of October. Their was great anticipation of being surrounded by the magnificent Autumn color in the midst of the Shenandoah Valley. It was a sad moment for all of us as I pressed the computer key that finalized cancellation of that reservation.

Fortunately, however, our dear friends Don and Louise at Serendipity River Park (SRP) invited us over for an overnight. How could we say ‘no’; there was to be no charge for the stay and they provided free firewood and full use of the brick barbecue/fire pit. (See Serendipity River Park – Re-Creation for details concerning our first trip to SRP.)

So, without a moment’s hesitation and with no planning for a menu and provisions, ECDM was positioned at the best camp site in the park. Dinner was a make-do affair. Once the dishes were cleared, we gathered the firewood and lit the campfire. For two hours we enjoyed the warmth and glow of the blaze. My beautiful Wife and I held hands and talked of grand and cherished memories. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte set up a perimeter guard and warned us of potential threats hidden in the darkness.

We then settled in for the night. Mr. Monte was keen on taking the best spot on our queen-size bed. It was only with some serious discussion and an offer of a bite-size bribe, that he allowed us to occupy our rightful places in the bed.

Even though there was a threat that the remnants of Hurricane Delta would bring us a soaking rain early Sunday morning, we took the chance and made plans for a breakfast outside. – – As it turned out, our instincts were correct. The rain didn’t arrive until noon and our early morning camping experience was all that we had hoped. – – Below are pictures of Serendipity River Park’s main water feature and first colors of Autumn.

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My wondrous Spouse is a certified, card-carrying ‘Glamper”. Gourmet RV meals are her specialty. Because there was no time to plan such a sumptuous meal for this trip, she still managed to turn the most ordinary meal imaginable into a culinary delight.

Cooking simple bacon and scrambled eggs on a camp stove became something of a higher order. The bacon was perfect – crisp, colorful, and best-of-all, tasty. The scrambled eggs, highlighted by the flavor of cheddar cheese, and the aromatic scent of bacon flavor captured while cooking, made the dish a tasteful treasure.

You might be wondering, “What about the coffee?” And, of course, that is an important question. The answer is quite simple, yours truly had masterfully prepared two cups of coffee and we were drinking that coffee as we prepared the meal. It would not have been proper to show you my dear Wife’s wonderful meal sitting beside two empty coffee mugs, would it?

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So, there it is, the last camping excursion of 2020. Now, it’s time for year-end maintenance, minor repairs, vehicle inspection, winterizing, etc. But, those are not useless and tedious chores. As each item is accomplished, we will be planning for upgrades to ECDM and mapping out an even better RV season for 2021.

God is good and that is why He gave us the out of doors to enjoy!