Category: Mr. 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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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!


Feline Medical Security

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, I have an extremely important and serious topic to discuss, you need to pay close attention. As the Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security, it is my sworn duty to ensure that all SFH residents remain physically safe and secure. I do my utmost to fulfill that oath. Both day and night, I repeatedly check on Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face to ensure their safety and monitor their health. If there were something wrong with either of my big cats, I would sound the alarm. – – I would encourage each of you to be as caring with your humans.

But what about moi? Who looks after me to ensure that I’m in perfect health and medical shape? For once, I must admit that my big cats have done their very best to make sure I stay fit. Yet, if you remember in my post Indignity – Mr. Monte’s Day with the Vet things did not get off to a very good start. – – That’s because they took me to Dr. Dog-man – a veterinarian who is irredeemably lost to an irrational love of canines and an equally irrational fear of large, cuddly, and lovable felines like me.

No, our meetings were not pleasant.  One of the most excruciating indignities I endured was the day he body shamed me, suggesting that I was becoming obese. – – He’s lucky he still has any skin on his arms.

Things improved greatly, however when Blondie finally recognized that modern veterinary science could do better for felines than forcing them into cold, colorless examining rooms where they would be subjected to nerve rattling noises and terrible, noxious odors. She actually found a civilized veterinary clinic staffed by cat-loving technicians and an extremely learned and competent vet. You can read about my first encounter with the clinic here – Blondie Comes Through – Guilt Assuaged.

The reason I’m recounting this to you, my dear feline followers, is to let you know that during the long period that humans throughout the world have been dealing with a rather nasty disease, their vets (doctors) have not allowed them to come into close contact with one another. That raised the question of ‘What if my pet gets sick?’ – – Well, for a while, there was complete lock down and none of us could be seen. But, as soon as they could, my beloved vet at The Cat Cottage and her staff made it possible for cats like me to come inside for examinations. Unfortunately, Blondie and Fuzzy had to remain in their car and monitor the appointments on their phones. At least they could talk to me and let me know they were still close by.

This last week was the first time that we could all go in for a visit together. It was like a reunion. There was an excellent selection of classical music on the sound system and birds were clearly in view just outside the window. It was all very restful.

Since the body shaming incident with Dr. Dog-man, I have hated scales. My weight is my business. However, in the picture below you can see that I am rather content lounging on Dr. Myers’ scale. Don’t be jealous when I tell you this, my dear feline friends, but I weighed in at a mere 20.9 pounds. That makes me a rather slim, healthy, and most formidable Main Coon cat. – – Now, having said all that, it’s once again time to check on my two big cats. Their medical security is important to me.

All this attention and classical music too!

Mother’s Day Musing

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, Mother’s Day is different for cats than it is for humans. I was reminded of that just yesterday when Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 came for lunch to visit Blondie. These lovely young ladies made the trek to Serendipity Farmhouse with the sole intent of letting Blondie know how much they love her. It was such a heartwarming sight – it made me all purrful inside.

At the same time, it made me think back of that wonderful and magical short time I had with my dear Mother – Malala. I was one of the eight siblings who were in her first litter. It was unusual for a Maine Coon to have such a large first litter and Mom was very young. But she was so very good to us, giving each of us affection and care as only a mother cat can do. Many of us in the litter took after Dad. We were, indeed, a mischievous bunch. Mom was firm, but tender in her discipline.

She spent much time showing us the Maine Coon way of life. We would be hunters; we would be brave; we would be resourceful; and we would, as Maine Coons rightly must be, independent. All of those things were necessary because cats by nature must all too soon leave their feline families. And so it was with me. It has been many years since I’ve seen Mom, and, in my own Maine Coonly way, I miss her on this Mother’s day.

Malala of Makanacoon

You know how good I am at research on the computer. Recently, I did some searches to find out more about my Mom. Here are a couple of things I found. (By the way thank you to Makanacoon, whose picture of Mom I borrowed to show you.)

First, I found Mom’s biography. If you read it closely, you will find that “She is our lookout kitty who sits in a cat tree in front of a window that looks out into our front yard.” Does that sound familiar? Now I know why I came to be the world-renowned Chief of Security that I am.

From what I remember and from what others have told me, Mom never put on airs. She always put family first. She was a model of humility and motherhood. You would have never known, except by her obvious beauty and charm, that she was a true champion of the Maine coon breed. If you get a chance, you might take a look at Pedigree Of Champion MAKANACOON’S MALALA.

For various reasons, Mom had to retire early. I’m told that she has a new human family of her own. They are taking good care of her, and she is loved.

And that brings me to the point of my Mother’s Day Musing. – Just like my dear Mom, I have a human family of my own. Every day, Blondie makes time for me and my few needs. Her warm and tender hands have taken the place of my Mom’s paws and have made every day a day of happiness. I may not be human like Daughters #1 and #2, but I am a Maine Coon who knows how a Mother’s love can make me feel warm and purrful deep down inside. – – Happy Mother’s Day Malala and Happy Mother’s Day Blondie!

My first day at SFH

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
05-19Arugula1Bunch, end of season
05-29Garlic scapes8Scapes
05-31Garlic Scapes22Scapes
07-02Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow 2Tomatoes; 1st of season
07-03Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow5Tomatoes
07-03Jalapeno1Pepper; 1st of season
07-03Green beans, Italian 28Bean pods; 1st of season
07-04Green beans, Italian 9Bean pods
07-06Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow3Tomatoes
07-06Green beans, Italian 24bean pods
07-07Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-07Green beans, Italian21Bean pods
07-09Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-10Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes, 1st of season
07-10Green beans, Italian14Bean pods
07-11Green beans, Italian4Bean pods
07-14Tomato, Big Beef2Tomatoes
07-14Jalapeno, Mammoth4Jalapenos
07-14Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-15Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow4Tomatoes
07-15Green beans, Italian26Bean pods
07-15Tomato, Big Beef1Tomato
07-17Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
07-17Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-17Green beans, Italian2Bean pods
07-18Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow11Tomatoes
07-19Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow2Tomatoes
07-19Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-19Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-20Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-20Tomato, Big Boy2Tomatoes
07-20Tomato, Better Boy1Tomato
07-20Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow8Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Roma1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Bush Goliath1Tomato
07-22Tomato, Early Girl3Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Better Boy2Tomatoes
07-22Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow9Tomatoes
07-23Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-23Tomato, Better Boy2Tomatoes
07-23Tomato, Big Boy1Tomato
07-24Tomato, Early Girl1Tomato
07-24Tomato, Roma3Tomatoes
07-24Tomato, Sun Sugar Yellow12Tomatoes

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: 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


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!

SFH Journal: 2021-03-15 through 03-28 – Obsessions

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face have been exceedingly busy over the last two weeks. And I, the officially proclaimed “FELINE PRODUCTIVE,” have had to take on more and more editing duties for the Serendipity Farmhouse Blog. It is both a duty and an honor. Besides that, I’m far more capable, honest, and objective than Fuzzy is.

Lately, my two big cats have been preoccupied by two competing obsessions – food and Spring gardening. Frankly, I have to admit that I share the food obsession and the gardening thing affords me added time out on the back porch.

St. Patrick & St. Joseph: If you view the featured photo at the top of the page very closely, you will see that culinary delights created in the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen were a centerpiece at a dinner party honoring the great St. Patrick and St. Joseph. First there was a simple fruit salad. Then, Blondie outdid herself by baking not one, but two delicious loaves of bread. One was Scandinavian Light Rye Bread and the other was Irish Potato Brown Bread. The breads were SFH variations of recipes by Beth Hensberger as found in The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook.

Fuzzy’s Follies: Fuzzy added a finishing touch to the bread concept with homemade butter. In so doing, he set a new SFH and personal record – from start of process to end of cleanup, less than 20 minutes. Unfortunately, he was unable to even come close to that record time later in the week.

Normally, the old guy uses store-bought heavy cream to make butter. Ten ounces of cream will give you a quarter pound of butter and six ounces of buttermilk. When that type of cream is at room temperature, it only takes Fuzzy about 5-7 minutes to churn up a quarter pound of my favorite licking butter. His record time is three minutes and forty seconds. But, on this recent occasion, he desired to show that he was a true purist and decided to use cream skimmed off the top of a half gallon of raw milk directly from the dairy farm.

Well, Fuzzy was able to skim off the requisite 10 ounces, leaving about a quarter inch of cream still in the jar. He poured the cream into his churn and began to turn and turn … churn and churn … turn and turn … churn and churn … I think you get the picture. Some fifty minutes later, a tired, panting, moaning and groaning old guy finally threw his hands up in the air and confessed he could turn and churn no more. He ended up with about two-thirds of what he usually produces. – – For the record, though: It was probably some of best butter this feline connoisseur has ever tasted.

Lesson Learned: If it’s butter you’re making, consider the time it will be taking. Because if it’s raw milk you’re using, a great deal of time you’ll be losing, not to mention, though it was not your intention, you’re going to turn and churn until your arms begin to  ache and burn. – – So sayeth Mencius (孟子) Maine Coon

Foodies’ Preview: Both my big cats are foodies. These last two weeks they have been deep into the creativity thing. For years they have been making pizzas, but they’ve always made the crust from store-bought mixes. A few days ago, they finally said that the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen could not be entirely authentic and true to its founding principles so long as store-bought mixes were to be used. That is when they created this beauty of a three-cheese pizza. But, sad to say, my dear friends, you’ll never be able to reproduce it yourselves because you don’t have the secret SFH cheese ingredient.

Meanwhile, Ol’ Fuzz Face, while a partial failure at raw-milk butter, scored a great success with homemade sausage. He and a friend, who has the needed tools, spent a Saturday, each making eight pounds of pork and beef sausage.

In the coming weeks, there will be special posts describing the intricacies and ins and outs of how the SFH Three-Cheese Pizza and the SFH Special Sausage were conceived and how they became truly masterful culinary delights. – – Yes, I got to taste them.

Gardening: Blondie is the SFH Master Gardener. She has already started Spring planting. The raw intensity of garden is in the air. If you are around Blondie, never ever make the mistake of joking about her gardens. She takes them very seriously and she does not abide by humor about such an important undertaking. SFH is nothing if it is not about its bountiful gardens and the food that comes from them. – – It is what brings the family together – children, grandchildren, and good food to share – all bound together with a prayer. – – Yes, of course, this Maine Coon does join in family prayer.

More of Fuzzy’s Follies: Ol’ Fuzzface has a well-developed and abiding appreciation for maintaining the “perfectly manicured lawn.” Often, he can be heard happily chatting to himself about how beautiful and verdant are the many lawns spread about the vast 1.204 acres of the Serendipity Farmhouse estate. This week, he has been almost ecstatic because of the great success he has had in cultivating one of his favorite winter annual ground covers – Corn Speedwell (Veronica arvensis).

After doing some research, Blondie and I are less enthused. After all, Corn Speedwell is a weed!

This is not a lawn! These are weeds!

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 2021-03-15 through 03-21

SFH WX 2021-03-21 through 03-28


Birthday Conspiracy


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


SFH Security Blues

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia, Friday 12 March was not a good day for yours truly or any members of the world-renowned Serendipity Farmhouse Security Staff. Some cases are not part of our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). In fact, this particular case was so unusual that all we could do was just “wing it”. – So, for the official record here is the case of the SFH Security Blues.

It all started about 09:30 hours EST. There was a commotion outside. Local critters, squirrels, cardinals, etc., were making a racket. At about the same time, our aerial observer, Lightning the broad-tailed hawk, sent a text saying that there was some sort of disturbance on the western side of the vast SFH estate. Soon afterwards, Rusty the rat snake called and noted that the disturbance was near the avian residential area where Serendipity Farmhouse leases properties (bird houses etc.) to many trusted and reliable feathered tenants.

Simultaneously, with the Security Staff alert calls, I noted that Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face were watching something from the large western picture window (Blondie’s bathroom window). Knowing that they would need a rapid response from me and my staff, I met with them in the bathroom and conveyed what I had learned from my able staff.

During our conference we were able to compile the following facts:

  1. The bluebird house on the western fence was ground zero for the disturbance;
  2. After cleaning the birdhouse recently, several prospective tenants had come to inspect the property;
  3. Unfortunately today, at least one female bluebird and two young males all arrived for a viewing at the same time;
  4. Bluebird real estate prospects are in high demand this time of year and each of the male bluebirds was insisting that he had first rights to the single available residence, and
  5. The female had retired to a nearby tree to await the outcome of the dispute.

That’s when the fight began. Both opponents were resolved and determined to take possession of the birdhouse. From the window, Blondie, Fuzzy, and I could see that this was not going to end well.

I quickly referred to the SFH Security SOP. Just as I thought – there was no procedure for this type of affair. Yet, it was up to me to prevent disharmony and perhaps even bloodshed here at SFH. I quickly called the available staff to a safe distance from the ongoing melee. I figured that if the staff could get the combatants’ attention, perhaps we could resolve the issue and come up with some equitable solution.

Just before I was to call the meeting, however, I made a quick check of what might be the appropriate protocols to be used in such a meeting. That is when all my good intentions proved to be worthless. As I searched for proper sounds and gestures that could be used to communicate with these brawling birds, I noticed in the fine print the host of animals that are common predators of bluebirds. The list prominently noted three predators that could make this whole meeting idea a bit problematic – they were: rat snakes, hawks, and most prominently CATS.

Oops! I recognized at that point that we had to scrub the meeting. I didn’t think that Blondie and Fuzzy would have been very forgiving if the SFH Security Staff were to bring mortal harm to their highly-prized flying friends. – – So, I had the staff stand down and return to their normal duties. I decided that the best thing to do was to ask Fuzzy to take some pictures for the record. I also asked that he make a note in the Official SFH Security Log that the Chief of Security was relieved of any responsibility if the two combatants were to come to any harm.

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So, the pictures were taken and we all went back about our business. This morning, a single nesting pair has taken residence in the bluebird house and all is peaceful once again here at Serendipity Farmhouse. – No, I didn’t suffer a failure but I had no great success and that is why today I have a case of the SFH Security Blues.