Category: Critters

Breakfast with Tiffany

DSC_0383Friday evening, while washing dishes, we spotted her. She was a magnificent sight, all charm and grace, arrayed in her faintly iridescent plumage. She was very large and her stride was imposing yet cautious. She had made the journey to our neck of the woods and decided to join us here at Serendipity Farmhouse, at least for these last four days.

Mr. Monte has been very accepting of the new guest. Unlike the way he reacts to squirrels or other cats in the yard, he has remained calm and only slightly curious.

Our topnotch, Maine Coon security guard explained to me that the new arrival is no threat whatsoever. In fact, she should be welcomed. In addition to her natural diet of leaves, grasses, fruits, and berries, our new guest loves to eat deer ticks. Here in Virginia this eating habit would make most any such critter a welcomed guest.

Mr. Monte went on to advise me that, should I wish to speak to her, her proper name is Tiffany, Tiffany Turkey. With that knowledge in mind, I went out to the deck with my camera in hand; addressed her as advised; and requested that Miss Tiffany pose for a couple of pictures. She was so taken with my good manners and use of her proper name that she posed, as you can see in my photo, in a most fascinating way.

So, these last several mornings we have watched Miss Tiffany roaming about the yard eating from the delectable selection of foods that interest a turkey. It was very apparent and she affirmed to us that the mulberries falling from the tree near the woodshed were her favorite.

Despite the rain and concerns about our garden, we at SFH were blessed with the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with Tiffany.

SFH Journal: 2018-06-07

Highlight: We attended the Mass and burial of our friend today. It was a time for some sadness and for some fond remembrances. We will remember this day as we remember our friend, with a strong feeling of God’s peace.

Afterwards, preparations for the Third Annual Serendipity Farmhouse Tea Party revved into high gear. My beautiful wife made lavender tea bread while I was mowing and manicuring the yard. (Of course, yours truly and my faithful lawn tractor got stuck in the muck left behind by the rains.) Later, lovely spouse and I joined forces to make “Mom’s Pimento Cheese”. (See SFH Food 2018-01: My Mom & Pimento Cheese.)

While making a round of the yard on my faithful lawn tractor, I saw adorable wife gesticulating and making wild gestures to get my attention. I pulled the tractor to a screeching halt, jumped off, and ran to her aid. That is when she showed me these two huge winged insects with large and fearsome mandibles. The larger one (male) was nearly six inches long. (Please note: Beautiful spouse asserts that I may have ever so slightly embellished the truth in the reporting of this event.)


We took pictures (very, very carefully) at a safe distance and rushed inside to determine the nature of the alien beasts that had invaded our yard. Fortunately, we discovered that these enormous flying escapees from a Godzilla movie were called Dobsonflies. According to Wikipedia: “Dobsonflies are a subfamily of insects, Corydalinae, part of the Megalopteran family Corydalidae.” (Learn more about this worthwhile predator of bugs and flies along rivers like ours: click here.)

Weather:  It was a very pleasant day.  (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report.

Harvest: Nothing to report.

SFH Journal: 2018-05-31

Highlight: Bluebird fledglings were conducting flight practice in our side yard today. Mom and dad bluebird sat apart on our fence and urged the young ones to take wing and learn some basic maneuvers. We didn’t have our camera at hand and the angles were bad, but from the bedroom window it was a beautiful sight to behold.

On April 13th we posted Bluebirds – Our New Neighbors. At that time, the nesting pair was just checking out the birdhouse and setting up housekeeping. That was just shy of seven weeks ago. The North American Bluebird Society states that: “For bluebirds, incubation typically lasts approximately 12–14 days. After hatching, the chicks will remain in the nest for about 17–21 days.”

Serendipity Farmhouse has watched this event from the beginning. The young ones will soon depart. We will clean out the birdhouse and hope to see the cycle begin again.

I had lunch with three exquisite ladies today. Three generations of grace and loveliness – mother, daughter, and granddaughter. In such a setting there can be no happier man than I!

Weather: Some clearing and some rain. The yard is far too wet to mow. (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report.

Harvest: Nothing to report.

SFH Journal: 2018-05-27

Highlight: Two things are worthy of note today. First a good friend, who has experience in owning and operating a Class C RV, has offered to help us in our new quest for what we will call “El Camino del Monte”. We greatly appreciate his offer and will consult with him as we move through this labyrinthine process. (See SFH Journal: 2018-05-26 for details.)

DSC_0245The dear, dear friend of my most wonderful spouse has given us a thistle seed bag filled with seed for the local birds to enjoy. As requested, I have hung the bag from a limb of our magnolia tree. We now await the coming of some new flying critter friends

Weather: Hot and sticky. We worked for an hour in the gardens and by the time we finished, we had to clean ourselves up and change clothes. An extended afternoon thunderstorm cooled things off and ended in time to watch lightning bugs. (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Our featured photo for today shows the first tomatoes developing on our Husky Red Cherry tomato plant. In June, these little guys will be part of our fresh garden salads.

In the past, Mr. Stripey has been our best producer of tomatoes for salsa andDSC_0249 pasta sauce. He requires great care. Because he is an “indeterminate” variety he will continue to grow until the end of the season, perhaps to 8 – 10 feet tall. As the season progresses, you will see how we have to extend this initial group of stakes to support his size and weight.

DSC_0234Harvest: Previous owners had planted strawberries near the well house. Beautiful spouse found that some were already ripe. She washed them off immediately and gave them to me. They were consumed before a picture could be taken. So, you get to see a picture of the plant with two unripened strawberries. Yes, they tasted great.

SFH Journal: 2018-05-24

Highlight: So much time was spent on chores and yard work, there was no time to take pictures and record highlights for you. However, almost exactly one year ago, we did have an interesting event that’s worth revisiting.

The featured picture shows a female, turtle.

Question: How did I know it was a female?

Answer: This picture caught her in the midst of laying eggs and covering them up. That’s a relatively good indication the turtle was a she.

We were fairly confident she was a snapping turtle. Unfortunately, neither my adorable spouse nor Mr. Monte took my suggestion to offer the laboring lady turtle a morsel of food on their bare finger or paw. It’s really hard to verify a theory when the helping hands are so timid.

After our turtle friend departed, we watched the area very closely for about three months (incubation takes 55 – 95 days depending on geographic location), but we were never able to determine if the eggs hatched and the little snappers made it to safety in the river. Right now we are on the lookout for our turtle friend or one of her young ones to return. It’s not likely to happen, but Mr. Monte is standing sentinel duty in the kitchen window. His dedication to duty is inspiring.

Weather: Finally catching  up with mowing and trimming. I tried to get most of it done early in the day. (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report.

Harvest: We harvested one asparagus spear. The season is hanging on.

SFH Journal: 2018-05-21


Highlight: [The following is from Mr. Monte, the official SFH Security Guard.]

One can post as many PRIVATE PROPERTY – NO TRESPASSING signs as they like, some critters just don’t get the message. The young bear on the right side of this photo has already completed his unlawful entry and is now making his escape. See how closely and boldly he approaches our official warning sign.

It’s an outright case of arrogant disregard for the law and private property. If only Old Fuzz Face would let me out, I would make that bear pay for his transgression. I can find no mercy in my heart for blatant law breakers.

Weather:  Clear enough in the morning to mow the part of the lawn that isn’t still under water. There’s much work left to accomplish. (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: We didn’t plant the apple trees at SFH, but we certainly know how to enjoy them. As you can see in the picture, the blossoms we showed you in SFH Journal: 2018-04-27 have now turned to small apples.

Harvest: Two more asparagus spears emerged from the rain drenched soil.

SFH Journal: 2018-05-19

DSC_0210 (2)Highlight: This morning, upon determining that the river was not going to overflow its banks, I proceeded to survey the Serendipity Farmhouse grounds for problems or damages. I learned two things. First, one of our poplar trees is now in full bloom.

The second finding, I think, is a very important scientific discovery. Apparently due to the recent week of rains, a mini-burst in evolution has occurred. The yard has been so filled with standing water that our local squirrels have had to develop a capability for flight. Now you might think that we have lost contact with reality due to the rain and cabin fever it induced. However, I have a photograph of one of our squirrel friends in the midst of a low-level flight to a nearby sycamore tree. Here, see for yourself.


Weather: Rain continued into the morning and tapered off in the afternoon. We had a brief glimpse of a bright orb in the west in the late evening. We are searching through our library and the Internet to ascertain the nature and name of that orb. (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report.

Harvest: Nothing to report.