Category: Faith, Family, & Country

Breaking News: Grandson #7!!

Mr. Monte

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, Saturday 10 April will forever stand as a great day of joy and celebration here at Serendipity Farmhouse. At roughly 8 PM last night, my highly esteemed cat cousins Gizmo and Cosmo texted me to share their excitement over the birth of Grandson #7. They told me that Daughter #2, after a very long day-and-half, although tired, was doing well. Later that night, they forwarded me a beautiful picture of mother and child.

The backstory on this wonderful event will never be fully revealed, but Gizmo and Cosmo provided some illuminating insights. While Daughter #2 and Son-in-law #2 were dealing with the labor and the whole hospital “thing,” the invariably incompetent and inept Ol’ Fuzz Face was called upon to sit with and entertain Granddaughter #4. If it weren’t for his bumbling, mumbling, and generally ridiculous accomplishments, he would have no accomplishments at all. From the very beginning of his time with Granddaughter #4, Giz and Cos had to help him stay pointed in the right direction. They even had to show him how to use the remote controls for the TV and Blue Ray player.

As the story from my cat cousins goes, while some granddaughters can wrap a doting grandfather around their little finger, Granddaughter #4 had Ol’ Fuzzy completely hogtied around hers. They played bounce ball. They “cooked” meals for each other. Fuzzy read books to her and she read books to him. When the poor old guy returned home last night, he even tried to talk Blondie into watching a Tinkerbell movie with him. Realizing that the old man had to be brought back to his senses, after his shower, I cornered him in the bathroom and bit him. – – Although a little stunned at first, he realized my good intent and thanked me with a snack.

As I said, the rest of the backstory will never be published. Just between us cats, human grandparents are strange creatures, not subject to the laws of reason and common sense. – – – Nevertheless, Serendipity Farmhouse and the entire extended family are truly joyful this day.

Welcome to the family, Grandson #7!

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia.

Easter at Serendipity Farmhouse will be quiet and reflective this year. There will be prayer, good food, and thoughts of family and friends. And, while Easter is not about cherry blossoms, daffodils, or forsythias, the fact that they have again returned to SFH provides us a vivid reminder of the Resurrection. – – That is how it is meant to be here at our beloved Serendipity.

 

Birthday Conspiracy

СОВЕРШЕННО СЕКРЕТНО – 最高机密

Hi! Mr. Monte & Blondie here.

Conspiracy, coverups, and secrets have reigned supreme here at Serendipity Farmhouse this past month. Bribes and strong-arm tactics have been employed. We even had to pay off the UPS driver so that he wouldn’t leave anything incriminating on the front porch. Of course I, Mr. Monte, with my sly and cunning character and unequaled stealth have felt quite at home in this conspiracy. Blondie has turned into a real master at deception and the trade-craft known only by master spies.

Why all the secrecy and conspiracy you might ask? Oh, that’s quite simple to answer.

Ol’ Fuzz Face, who fancies himself to be a veritable, real-life James Bond, the analyst’s analyst so-to-speak, has repeatedly tried to uncover what the family has prepared for his birthday. So far, he has been a complete failure. We have outfoxed the old fox. We have beat him at his game. This year, he will just have wait to see what his conspiratorial family has planned for him.

So, let us end by saying, “Don’t you dare reveal anything to the old guy. If you do, the price you pay will be quite dear.”

One last thing, the reason we’re doing this is because, on his good days, Ol’ Fuzzy is really a pretty nice guy. In fact, Blondie recommends that you check out this clip from Julie & Julia to see how she thinks of him. Also, when the day finally comes, tomorrow, feel free to wish him a happy birthday. – – Happy birthday, Sweetheart. I love you!! Blondie

СОВЕРШЕННО СЕКРЕТНО – 最高机密

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

Blondie’s Birthday – Part III and Final

This post will be somewhat less polished than I had originally planned. There are two reasons why. First, my time today is limited. Second, I’m having trouble accessing my regular editor and I’m not familiar with the one I’m using now. – Please have patience with my attempt to master this new format.

While Parts I & II of Blondie’s Birthday were open and lively events, Part III was far more private and personal. Perhaps that was the one advantage to not having a single, coordinated birthday bash. This year, Blondie could spend more one-on-one time with each person involved

Daughter #2: Visiting Daughter #2 and Granddaughter #4, not to mention two of Mr. Monte’s cat cousins, was a very enjoyable treat. It’s so difficult these days to be able to share with family members without a distracting phone or computer in between. Just sitting in the living room together with cats jumping about and a granddaughter playing peekaboo, talking about what really matters, that is the way life is supposed to be. I could tell Blondie was happy. – Daughter #2, as always, had the most beautiful bouquet of roses for her Mom.

Dear Friend: Dearest Friend Nancy drove many miles and made the trek to Serendipity Farmhouse to spend some time with Blondie. I did my best to let them have some time alone, drinking their tea and tasting selected sweets and treats. Dear friends are such a great blessing. – Nancy, of course, had a most beautiful addition for Blondie’s garden – a multi-colored, dwarf Crepe Myrtle.

Thoughtful Neighbors: As you might guess by now, there has been a minor theme to Part III of Blondie’s Birthday – Flowers, many, many beautiful flowers. Our most thoughtful next door neighbors added to the array of blossoming beauties with this gorgeous, colorful chrysanthemum.

The Cleanup: All good things, even birthday bashes, must come to an end. The presents, the sweets, the smiles, the hugs, and the many signs of sincere love and caring, must take their place in residence along with other fond memories. And for Blondie, the signal that this wonderful birthday week had come to an end was her statement to one and all that she was going to clean our RV El Camino Del Monte all by herself.

Before Blondie takes over the keyboard to write this part of the story, Mr. Monte invoked his privilege as SFH Chief Enforcer of Truth to add the following notice and warning.

At SFH, everything must be clean. Not just slightly clean, but entirely clean. Although my Hubby does a fair job cleaning El Camino Del Monte, he sometimes cuts corners or avoids hard things like cleaning up the roof on our RV.

This cleaning had to be different. If Hubby wasn’t up to doing the job properly, then I was going to do it – no matter how much work it took or how dangerous it might be.

So, here is the pictorial proof that I cleaned that RV, I cleaned it right. There I was on top cleaning the air conditioner and plastic covers. Every bit, every piece, every inch, with my trusty brushes and sponges I cleaned that rascal and I cleaned it right.

Today, it stands in the yard shining in the sun. A monument to cleanliness and good order, immaculate in a way that only this woman’s hands can make it.

 

And with this great feat accomplished, I can stand back and admire my work. That’s because, I’m happy. After all, I had a most memorable Serendipity Farmhouse birthday bash. The people who mean the most to me were there to help me celebrate a most important birthday.

At SFH, there are high standards – High standards of cleanliness and good order. And there are even higher standards of Faith and Family. No matter what is going on in this crazy world, we will be there for each other.

And if I got a little carried away with this cleaning job, it’s only because I had such a good birthday week. Even my RV wished me a Happy Birthday! – – Thank you Family and thank you Friends!

Blondie’s Birthday – Part II

Mr. Monte is taking the day off. He had an exceedingly distressing experience last evening and is only now beginning to recover. Even though the events of yesterday will become part of Serendipity Farmhouse legend and lore, the details of the experience are best left unrecorded in this blog.

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As you may remember in Mr. Monte’s post Blondie’s Birthday – Part I, he and I had decided that we could celebrate Blondie’s birthday in small, but meaningful parts – with a daughter and family here, with a son and family there, with a dear friend on another day, and our second daughter on a different day. This post will provide highlights from the second part of our grand plan for “a magnificent SFH 2020-style birthday bash.”

As with Part I,  because of Mr. Monte’s meticulous planning, it will come as no great shock that Part II of our master plan was faultlessly executed during our visit with Son #1 and his family.

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While there is no need to describe how severely many families have been affected by the innumerable problems of the year 2020, there is a compelling need to state that some families, especially those families based in Faith and Love, are able to continue to find joy and humor in life.

Son #1 and his greatly loved wife are blessed to have such a family. Blondie and I are equally blessed in that their children, our grandchildren, are so loving, thoughtful, and unusually creative.

And that leads to an important part of the SFH 2020-style birthday bash. When children are given the chance, they can express their creativity in ways that you would never expect. For Blondie (also known as Granny), this was a highlight of the day. – Each child presented a handmade birthday greeting to Granny. Although there is not room in this post to show them all, please note that Granny has viewed each and every greeting several times. – There is no way my camera could ever capture the love and emotion that came to her face as she was presented these mini works of art.

Let’s take a look at a small sampling of what Granny found to be so very precious.Granny Birthday Card 2020

Example #1 – A tribute to Granny, the Master Chef of the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen: If examined carefully you will find several of the fine dishes created by Blondie and her able assistant Chef Monsieur Monte. (See if you can find him in the picture.)

 

Example #2 – What happens when a member of the SFH Security Staff, namely Bronto the Bear, requests the privilege of joining the family at dinner?

 

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Example #3: The family is intrigued by all the situations that can arise when our RV, El Camino Del Monte, heads out for another adventure. Based on the scenarios depicted below, I suspect that some in the family believe too much of what has been written by Mr. Monte.

And those were just three samples of what Blondie received from our dear grandchildren during Part II of the SFH 2020-style birthday bash. Mr. Monte and I think that the message in all those birthday greetings is quite clear –

There’s just nobody in the world like our Granny!

More to follow …..

 

 

 

 

Blondie’s Birthday – Part I

IMG_20200826_194012872_editedHi! Mr. Monte here!

Ol’ Fuzz Face and I continue our truce. Although we may glare at each other from time to time, we have to consider higher priorities – namely, Blondie’s Birthday.

Fuzzy was right when he said in his post An SFH Lament:

“Now, I can buy her presents. I can do special things for her. I plan on doing several things that might make her smile. But, the one thing I cannot do this year is provide a world-class SFH Birthday Bash; a party with all the family; a chance to see all the grandchildren together, frolicking on the vast Serendipity Farmhouse estate.”

So, Fuzzy and I had a long talk, and I offered some suggestions. Maybe, just maybe, if we could celebrate Blondie’s birthday in small, but meaningful parts – with a daughter and family here, with a son and family there, with a dear friend on another day – perhaps we could have a series of little world-class SFH birthday bashes that would add up to a magnificent SFH 2020-style birthday bash. – Fuzzy listened intently to me as I purred with anticipation on how it might go. I listened to Fuzz Face as he considered the logistics and timing. This all had to be coordinated and scheduled well in advance.

And so, we settled on a plan. We understood that this could not be and would not be a surprise birthday event. So, Fuzzy filled Blondie in on the details while I worked out the logistics and timing.

Needless to say, because of my meticulous planning, it will come as no great shock that Part I of our master plan was faultlessly executed during El Camino Del Monte RV Trip 2020-04 at the Shenandoah River State Park this last week.

Let’s take a look at how Fuzzy and I made it all work. First, there was camp setup and preparations for the arrival of Daughter #1 and her family.

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When the party guests arrived, there was more than an ample supply of tasty foods and cold beverages. Of course, we made provisions for site seeing and relaxation.

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Now, I have to say, RVing is not my favorite thing. My work as SFH Chief of Security is far more fulfilling than rumbling around in a huge, noisy white box with windows. I am a master predator and I need the constant challenge of the hunt. But, there is a soft spot in my heart for Blondie. If it means that I have to spend two nights away from my most beloved and important security duties, and there is a chance that I can see Blondie smile during her birthday week – so be it!

Fuzz Face and I are not above claiming credit for something that we didn’t do. Blondie probably knows that. But, that sweet and wonderful lady that we both love so dearly, was willing to say thank you when we told her that we had arranged this sunset to celebrate her birthday.

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There’s just nobody in the world like our Blondie!

 

SFH Journal: 2020-08-17 through 08-23 – An SFH Lament

It is harvest time and canning season continues here at SFH. We have planted and cultivated, watered and nourished, and now the fruits of our labors have been made manifest. As it has been with our gardens, so it has been with our family. Our young ones have come into their season and they are watching their young ones mature. – It brings parents and grandparents great joy and peace to the spirit.

Yet, this year, there is something lacking – it is a feeling that can’t be put aside or hidden from thought. And with that feeling comes an SFH lament. – To understand the nature of this lament, reach back with me to read a post written two years ago – The Great SFH Birthday Bash of 2018.

Frolicking fun, intense sporting rivalries, plenty of good food, family sharing, and a host of wonderful experiences highlighted the great, stupendous, magnificent, unforgettable Serendipity Farmhouse Birthday Bash of 2018.

There will be no such post this year. There can be no Great Birthday Bash of 2020. Oh, there will be little gatherings. Presents and greetings will be exchanged, but it will not be the family assembled as a whole. The four “birthday banditos” have to celebrate separately.

The most lamentable aspect, the part that brings the greatest sense of sorrow is DSC_1018-2this. For my dear and most loving Wife, 2020 was to be the year for a very, very special birthday, a once-in-a-lifetime birthday. It was to be as grand and as memorable as the SFH Godzilla Birthday Bash that she had planned and superbly executed for me last year.

Now, I can buy her presents. I can do special things for her. I plan on doing several things that might make her smile. But, the one thing I cannot do this year is provide a world-class SFH Birthday Bash; a party with all the family; a chance to see all the grandchildren together, frolicking on the vast Serendipity Farmhouse estate. – Dear readers, that inability to provide something that is truly meaningful to the love of my life is what I most lament.

As a family we remain united in spirit and in love. These times will pass and our family will reunite physically and there will be magnificent SFH birthday bashes. In good times and in those that are not so good we will adhere most firmly to the SFH motto “Pray, Prepare, Preserve.” And it is important to celebrate birthdays. They are meant to be shared by families and preserved in family tradition.

So, for each of those whose birthday was to be celebrated at the SFH 2020 Birthday Bash, especially the most important person in my life –

Happy Birthday!!! May God continue to bless you greatly!

SFH by the Numbers

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

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-08-10 through 08-23

 

 

SFH Journal: 2020-06-30 through 07-05 – Happy 4th of July!!

Nothing but high 80’s and mid-90’s in sight. July is here. Our featured picture clearly portrays what life is like here at Serendipity Farmhouse when July arrives. In the foreground of the picture you will note the pleasant and eye appealing arrangement of  Tiger Lilies and ferns made by beautiful Spouse. In the background, however, something quite different is taking place on this hot July 4th afternoon.

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Friendly Fan & Feverous Feline

There is no end to the list of merits to be found in the wondrous vegetable* known as garlic. Here at SFH it is a highly prized commodity. Garlic and butter are featured prominently in many of our favorite dishes. This is the second year we have grown our own. We increased the size of our harvest by over a third to 30 heads. At minimum of six and up to 10 cloves per head, we are coming close to being self sufficient in this precious vegetable. – – Two weeks of drying in the woodshed and this year’s crop will be ready for use.

– – The soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen rejoices!! – –

*Botanically, garlic (Allium sativum) is considered a vegetable. It shows characteristics of a vegetable as it has a bulb, tall stem, and long leaves.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …

To celebrate this wonderful day in our history, the entire week was spent in the enjoyment of the Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness that was won for us on the field of battle and secured in our Constitution. We made use of our RV El Camino Del Monte (a post is forthcoming) and our new six-burner gas grill. Baby back ribs, corn on the cob, and Blondie’s spectacular transformation of our home grown green beans into a dish of culinary perfection – it was an Independence Day to remember.

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To add to the holiday festivities, my charming Sweetheart and I roasted marshmallows over an open fire. That was soon followed by the traditional SFH Annual Fireworks Display. Expense was no object in this magnificent show of patriotic emotion.

To one and all, Happy 4th of July and may God Bless these United States!!

SFH by the Numbers

The following links will catch you up with what’s gone into the gardens and what has come out since our last Journal post. They will also update you on the hazy, hot, and humid days of Summer:

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-06-30 through 07-05