Category: Mr. Monte

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

SFH Journal: 2020-10-26 through 11-15 – Autumn – All too Brief

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

Ol’ Fuzz Face turned the keyboard over to me today because he and Blondie are a little under the weather. Nope, nothing serious like acute Cagamagas or the dreaded Canguskin disease, but a less deadly and more treatable ailment.

In a way, it’s fortunate that I have the reporting duties today because it gives me the opportunity to update all of my 23, 417 feline followers on the health status of my dearest Miss Fleur. As you learned in my post For Want of Winter Warmth, Miss Fleur had visited my very least-loved veterinarian, Dr. Dog-man. Apparently, based upon my threat of bodily harm, Dr. Dog-man sought medical opinions from a total of eight of the country’s most renowned experts in feline medicine. For once in his life, he wisely followed their advice. Now, I can advise all of you that my most cherished Miss Fleur has fully recovered. – Dr. Dog-man may live another day.

Oops! Wrong turn? Dang GPS!

This morning, while I was on security patrol upstairs, Blondie and Fuzzy alerted to yet another home invasion via the wood stove chimney. (See here and here for historical perspective.) This time the invader was an errant bluebird who, sadly for him, depended too much on his internal GPS. Alas, he made a very, very mistaken wrong turn while looking for a secure place to avoid an incoming cold front.

Blondie and Fuzzy have developed a fairly good procedure for responding to cases like this and they handled the situation with great professionalism. In fact, they’ve gotten so good at this they didn’t even call me for assistance. Their after-action report gave me reason for great pride – my SFH security team is well-trained and ever vigilant.

Admittedly, had I partaken in the rescue and release operation, I might have been a little conflicted. After all, it had been over two hours since I had my last meal. In any event, the cute little guy has happily returned to his mate. I strongly recommend that he get that internal GPS adjusted.

Day-by-day, the rapid progression from Autumn to Winter becomes more dramatic. Recently, the sweet and most pleasant female humans whom Blondie calls Daughter #1 and Granddaughter #1 came out for visit. As I watched Granddaughter #1 walking beside the river, it was easy to see that she was most happy to be in the midst of the autumnal beauty to be found here at Serendipity Farmhouse. (See the feature image.)

It’s not just the array of colorful Autumn leaves and plants that captured Granddaughter #1’s interest. Even a creature of questionable value and charm such as the hundreds of Camel crickets that inhabit the SFH well house were a subject of her curiosity. These little guys are also called ‘sprickets’ (spider crickets). As for me, I call them a barrel full of fun. They hop, jump, and generally give me an opportunity to sharpen my unusually well-developed hunting skills.

As I noted earlier, the colors of Autumn are waning. But, even 21 pound Main Coon cats like me know that life is not ending. The so-called Christmas cactus upstairs, which is really more of a Thanksgiving cactus, is blooming as it has for well over a decade, long before I was born. And Fuzzy came running into the house the other day, almost delirious with some strange sort of joy, proclaiming that the garlic plants had already begun to sprout. He and Blondie see hope almost everywhere. I guess that’s just another reason why I’m so happy to call Serendipity Farmhouse my one true home.

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 2020-10-26 through 11-01

SFH WX 2020-11-01 through 11-08

SFH WX 2020-11-09 through 11-015

For Want of Winter Warmth

Hi! Mr. Monte Here!

To all of my 23, 417 feline followers and even to some of my more sympathetic and compassionate human followers, please forgive my rather forlorn and dejected mood today. I just received word that my dearest Miss Fleur has taken ill. Although her big cat tried hard to get an emergency appointment at Miss Fleur’s regular vet, they had to take her to my old vet, Dr. Dog-man, instead. (Please click here to see the miserable visit I had with him.)

I’m told that Dog-man thinks he has found the cause for Miss Fleur’s ailment and he has taken appropriate actions. For his sake, I hope Dog-man has done a better job with my sweet Miss Fleur than he did with me. If he’s botched this, he will pay – if you catch my drift.

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As a cat, a most unique cat with a superior intellect and royal demeanor, it must be understood that Winter, with all its associated charm, brings with it cold weather and damp discomfort. Surely, you understand that I have a vested interest in assuring that all at SFH, especially Moi, are warm and comfortable. That is why I do my best to ensure that the primary heating systems at SFH are in tip-top condition and service ready. So this year, I enjoined Ol’ Fuzz Face to be extra alert for potential problems and to confirm that both the wood stove and the propane furnace were in working order.

Fuzzy recognized my concerns and, much to his credit, has taken this matter in hand this season. The chimney has already been cleaned and two days ago Fuzzy and Blondie stored the last load of the two cords of wood that were delivered some time ago. They make a good team and did their best not to exceed their limits. Even with all their care for safety, however, Blondie slightly strained her right paw while loading the cart with logs.

I took some pictures while they were working as you will see below. – SFH owes the success of their excellent efforts to my outstanding management skills.

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2013-Already in Bad Shape

It must be kept in mind that when Serendipity Farmhouse was constructed circa 1927, it was without indoor plumbing or electricity. Over the years, “modern” improvements were made. One of those “modern” improvements was the installation of a propane furnace in 1987 – 33 years ago. Fuzz Face and Blondie bought SFH “as is” and they knew from the home inspector’s report that the furnace would have to be replaced. When the furnace was inspected last week, it came as no surprise that the old furnace had to go. There were several safety concerns plus condensation had built up and was beginning to rot the wood under the furnace.

Being the most forward thinking member of the SFH Staff, I advised my two big cats to invest in a more advanced, efficient, and reliable system. Of course, they did as I recommended. – This morning as I type this, I am basking in the evenly distributed and ever so comforting warmth from the new furnace.

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So, now you know what must be done here at SFH “for Want of Winter Warmth”. 

SFH Journal: 2020-09-14 through 09-27 – New Condo!

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

Important note to my 23, 417 feline followers: September 24th was my birthday. Greetings and accolades have been pouring in from around the world. For example, the Center for Applied Threat Surveillance (CATS) announced the selection of the Serendipity Farmhouse Security Department, headed by Chief of Security Mr. Monte, as the “Outstanding Security Center of 2020”. The accompanying citation was certainly correct when it stated the “award is well deserved, and Mr. Monte stands as a shining example of what it means to be a dedicated Chief of Security.”

Humility restrains me from listing all of the incredible but true statements made concerning my outstanding achievements over this last year. Likewise, modesty and prudence require me to request (if you haven’t already done so) that you send me only inexpensive tokens of your affection and admiration for my birthday – simple snacks and interactive toys will do just fine.

On the other hand, Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face, owing to their complete dependence on my protection of their beloved SFH, are required by contract and conscience to ensure that I receive, high-quality presents as suitable tributes to my invaluable services rendered at Serendipity Farmhouse.

This year, my two big cats met the challenge and ensured domestic tranquility by purchasing a lavish and well-appointed new Cat Condo for me. Although they attempted to keep the present a surprise, they failed miserably. The primary reason for their failure is that I understand everything they say – of course, I just don’t let them know that I do. The second reason for failure is that it is my duty to inspect all incoming boxes and packages. As you, my fellow felines, know there is no way to disguise the distinctive scent of cat tree – the sisal rope is unmistakable. Here are pictures of the “Maestro” performing his inspection.

The big day finally came. Blondie and Fuzzy did their best at paying due homage. They pampered me royally and treated me with the greatest respect – if only they were as thoughtful every day. I showed my appreciation as best I could. I even provided instruction and guidance to Fuzz Face as he assembled the amazing cat condo – he followed my every command flawlessly.

So, dear and faithful followers, I set about the task of testing my birthday condo. My two big cats are to be commended – for once, they got it right.

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But, the new cat condo was not the highlight of the day. No, dear friends. The true highlight was the card and gift from my dear, sweet Miss Fleur. She was so very thoughtful. Those dairy flavor Temptations and her handwritten birthday card made my heart beat faster – it is such a joy when you know your are loved.

With cat treats in hand, Blondie did her best to perform a trick I taught her. Upon my request she will shake my paw and then give me a treat. She has almost mastered this trick – some day she will learn how to shake with her right paw rather than her left.

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Blondie and Fuzz Face did attempt to provide a birthday celebration equal to my stature, prowess, and fundamentally outstanding feline nature. Though their attempt may have been somewhat lacking in its execution, they are nevertheless to be commended. And, no matter what their failings, they did manage to remember to have a fresh, tasty half gallon of ice cream ready for a perfect end to a memorable birthday bash.

Unfortunately, the short but enjoyable respite from my normal duties came to an end and it was necessary to return to the work of maintaining security here at Serendipity Farmhouse. And this week, a new critter problem has reared its ugly head. My SFH Security Department staff and I are meeting in the morning to develop a strategy to bring an immediate halt to the malicious activity pictured below.

SFH by the Numbers

Canning season has almost come to an end. This week we will begin dehydrating peppers. 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 2020-09-14 through 09-20

SFH WX 2020-09-20 through 09-27

 

SFH Journal: 2020-08-31 through 09-13 – New Hire

IMG_20200826_194012872_editedHi! Mr. Monte here!

To all my followers and ardent fans, as another sign of my dedication to duty and fervent desire to maintain security, good order, and peaceful tranquility here at Serendipity Farmhouse, in my capacity as SFH Chief of Security, I have taken on a new member to join the SFH Security Department. Our new hire, Rusty the Rat Snake comes with an impressive resume. He is adept at controlling destructive rodents and other pesky critters, especially subterranean dwellers.

Rusty rounds out our Security Department with his ability to identify and engage security threats at ground level and below. Meanwhile, Lightning, our broad-winged hawk, has secured the skies over SFH and Bronto the bear has ensured the integrity of our perimeter areas. Now, with no further ado, here is the official SFH Security Department staff picture for 2020.

Harvest and Preserving

Old Fuzz Face is our official SFH statistician. He maintains the planting, harvest and preserving tables. Because he’s currently tied up with other pressing matters, all I intend to do at this point is give you the latest preserving table. When he gets a chance he will tell you about the end of the tomato season and other changes as we move into Autumn. You will see from the table that, even though Blondie and Fuzzy were engaged in the great 2020 Birthday Bash, they still found time to harvest and preserve the bounty.

Date: Month/DayItemQuantityType of PreservationComments
08-04Okra4 pint jarsPickling
08-06Salsa6 pint jarsCanningHowlin' Coyote
1 Jalapeno, 1 Serrano, 1 Cayenne
08-13Banana Peppers1 1/2 pint jarPickling
08-13Jalapeno Pepper Mix3 1/2 pint jarsPicklingJalapeno, serrano, cayenne peppers
08/14Salsa6 pint jarsCanningSome Like It Hot
1 Jalapeno, 1 large Salsa, 2 Serrano, 2 Cayenne
08-18Popcorn7 quart jarsDry Canning
08-19Pasta Sauce5 pint jarsCanning1 clove garlic, dried basil
08-20Okra4 pint jarsPickling
08-23Salsa6 pint jarsCanningMax Karl's Bad
1 Habanero, 2 Jalapeno, 2 Cayenne
09-01Okra3 bagsFreezing
09-07Okra4 pint jarsPickling
09-07Banana Peppers1 1/2 pint jarPickling
09-07Jalapeno Pepper Mix3 1/2 pint jarsPicklingJalapeno, serrano, cayenne peppers

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 2020-08-31 through 09-06

SFH WX 2020-09-07 through 09-13

 

SFH Journal: 2020-08-24 through 08-30 – The Biggest Blunder

IMG_20200826_194012872_editedHi! Mr. Monte here!

Yep, I’m back again. While Ol’ Fuzz Face is dutifully attending to the details of Blondie’s birthday, I’m temporarily running the day-to-day operations here at Serendipity Farmhouse. – It’s probably better that way. At least you won’t have to put up with Fuzzy’s fake news and inane commentary.

El Camino Del Monte RV Trip 2020-04

As I noted in my last excellent post (Blondie’s Birthday – Part I), the entire SFH staff partook in an almost perfect RV retreat at Shenandoah River State Park. It would have been completely perfect had it not been for Fuzzy’s uncanny ability to capture failure from the jaws of victory.

Yes, the resident SFH buffoon, Ol’ Fuzz Face, managed to damage, demolish, or destroy almost everything he touched. I give you now three examples of Fuzzy’s blunders.

Blunder #1: No sooner than Fuzz Face had pulled into our RV site, he managed to breakBlunder 1 the fastening latch on the center console in the RV cab. He continues to maintain that it was an accident. He said that he merely attempted to open the latch in the usual manner and that it spontaneously fell apart. Well that’s his story, and we’re stuck with it. We’re also stuck with a nearly $40 fee for a replacement latch.

Blunder #2: Would it be too much to say that our esteemed RV driver is prone to unusualIMG_20200826_102700059_edited bouts of clumsiness? No, in fact, that would be an understatement. Ol’ Fuzzy is quite capable of making the same foolish mistake over and over again. In this particular case, we find that he is unable to circumnavigate our RV without hitting his head on the extended rear-view mirrors. On this trip, his mirror of choice was on the driver’s side. He gave it a mighty wallop with that thing which he carries around on his shoulders. He claims there was no pain involved. Nevertheless, he had managed to hit the mirror so hard that the fisheye mirror fell off the main assembly. – It has since been repaired with Gorilla Glue.

Blunder #3: And this brings us to Fuzzy’s biggest blunder of all. This time, there is no doubt at all that it was a true accident. There is no way that he would ever allow such a thing to happen, especially on Blondie’s Birthday – Part I. No, Ol’ Fuzz Face is sincerely remorseful about this particular blunder. It happened as he was washing the morning dishes on the last day of our trip. It happened. It happened to him. And, it can never unhappen. He broke a coffee mug. No, it wasn’t just any coffee mug. It was THE coffee mug – and it can never be fully replaced.

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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 2020-08-24 through 08-30

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_20200826_091354114_edited

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!

 

I Know Something You Don’t Know!

IMG_20200425_155922618_editedHi! Mr. Monte here.

To my 23, 417 feline followers: This post is to be shared just among us cats. I wouldn’t want any humans to find out what happened at Serendipity Farmhouse this morning. Although it was a high point of hilarity for me, it might cause Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face some embarrassment. Fuzzy could do with some humor at his expense, but Blondie is still ailing and deserves her privacy.

It all started a couple of days ago. As has happened in the past, I heard the telltale sounds of an intruder attempting to enter SFH via the wood stove chimney. (You should check out the post What Were They Thinking? to get some background on a break-in attempt in 2018.)

Being the SFH Chief of Security and having a great deal of practical experience in this type of incident, I immediately alerted on the wood stove and got Fuzz Face’s attention. But, rather than reacting as he should in matters like this, he just continued on with his daily routine. Oh yeah, later he casually informed Blondie, but she was feeling poorly and left the matter in Fuzzy’s less than capable hands.

Now, fast forward to this morning at about 7:00 AM. I was pretending to be asleep in the hallway. Blondie had started her morning chores and I knew she would soon be cleaning up Fuzzy’s bathroom. Then, suddenly but not unexpectedly, I heard a loud, high-pitched shriek from the bathroom. That was followed by Fuzz Face being urgently summoned from the upstairs office.

Sensing the note of terror in Blondie’s voice, Fuzzy came down the stairs at a run, wearing only his pajama shorts and a t-shirt. He bounded into the bathroom and Blondie directed his attention to a small, dark object in the corner of the shower. Fuzzy looked, but could not identify the thing in front of him because it was dark and in a shadow.

He grabbed for a flashlight and trained the beam on whatever it was. – – It had the shape of a small toad, but it had hair. He said, “No, Blondie its not a toad, it has hair, but it’s not a mouse – – I don’t know what it is.”

His statement was not convincing. I could hear from my place in the hallway that there was a hint in the way he spoke that he had a pretty good idea of what it was. Perhaps he knew if he said what he really thought, that it might increase Blondie’s already excessively high anxiety level.

Of course, dear cat friends, you know by now that I already knew what confronted Fuzz Face in that shower. I already knew that he would have to step up to this situation and be a hero in Blondie’s eyes. In fact, friends, I knew in my “little grey cells” two days ago that this moment would arrive.

Fuzz Face immediately went and found a pair of long, heavy duty rubber gloves and marched back into the bathroom, feigning courage and calm. – – Imagine the sight of an older man wearing pajama shorts, a t-shirt, and big black heavy gloves striding courageously into a shower to confront a poor, helpless bat, weighing less than an ounce.

Oh! How I was enjoying this moment.

The great battle soon followed, our courageous SFH Hercules manfully grabbed that vicious beast and whisked it out the doorway. In his mind he was Godzilla defeating the winged monster Rodan. The harmless bat flew away. – – Once back in the safety of his office, that Godzilla of man, that SFH Hercules collapsed in his chair and went comatose for at least fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, Blondie is now totally paranoid and knows that bats are hiding in every corner of the house.

So, my dear feline followers there is a moral to this story – Never, ever disregard a warning presented by the SFH Chief of Security.

 

SFH Journal: 2020-08-03 through 08-16 – Let the Canning Season Begin!

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

Starting early this week, Blondie has been suffering from a chronic ailment. She’s been in some pain, but she still gets up, does her chores, and tries her best to keep Serendipity Farmhouse the warm, happy place it is meant to be. There are hopeful signs that she’s on the mend. 0924191726a (2)

Until she’s back to her old self, Ol’ Fuzz Face and I have called a truce and are working together to keep up with this year’s bountiful harvest and all the seasonal canning and pickling. I’ve put Blondie on a special diet designed to aid in her speedy recovery. Dearest friend Nancy has been advised and is coming over today with her legendary chicken soup, widely known for its curative powers. As you can see, I’m doing my best to encourage Blondie to eat and regain her strength.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Thank you, Mr. Monte. Despite our frequent disagreements and physical clashes, you have a big heart when it comes to my dear sweet Spouse.

Yes! It seems that the plants in the vegetable gardens are ripening all at the same time. The tomatoes are firm, healthy, and plentiful. The okra plants, both the purple and the Cow Horn, are successfully handling the Summer weather extremes and are yielding several pods each day. Meanwhile, multiple varieties of peppers are presenting themselves in quantities large enough for pickling and joining us at our evening meals.

With the abundance, however, comes the need to practice the fine arts of preparation and preserving at a rapid pace. There is a penalty for delay – tomatoes, okra, and peppers demand processing on their own time schedule. Thus far, the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen has kept up with the demand and our pantry is filling up with the fruits of this year’s harvest.

IMG_20200806_133545682_edited
Boiling, steamy pots sanitizing, cooking, and processing

From Tomatoes to Salsa

The SFH vegetable gardens are not meant to break records on size and quantity. Rather, they are carefully planned to produce quality and flavor. The pictures below show that we have been successful. If a Mr. Stripey tomato should weigh in at almost 1 lb. 5 oz, well, that’s a good thing too.

Each batch of salsa produced by the SFH Test Kitchen is unique in its blend of spices and peppers. The first batch this year is called “SFH Howlin’ Coyote Salsa”. This batch is spiced up with 1 jalapeno, 1 serrano, and 1 cayenne pepper.

The second batch is called “Some Like it Hot Salsa”. Here, we increased the heat by adding 1 jalapeno, 1 large salsa, 2 serrano, and 2 cayenne peppers. Taste testing confirms that this mixture, although relatively spicy, leaves one with a mellow, rewarding afterglow of flavor.

Okra the Magnificent

My True Love and I are most delighted with all the wonderful ways in which one can enjoy homegrown okra. Perhaps our favorite flavor treat is when the okra is properly pickled. We use a very simple brine, pickling spice, and highlight the mix with fresh lemon and our own homegrown garlic.

Peter’s Pickled Peppers

My most creative and innovative Spouse decided that this would be the year that she would attempt to grow banana peppers. Erring on the side of caution we limited ourselves to a single plant. Happily, it thrived and produced enough peppers to be pickled in a single jar.

Meanwhile, we made sure that we had a good selection of other pepper varieties for salsa experimentation and for pickling. This year’s first batch of Peter’s Pickled Peppers looks like it will be excellent. Here again, the flavor of the peppers is enlivened and enhanced by the addition of one homegrown garlic clove per jar.

So, here is the result of the first two weeks of the SFH 2020 Canning Season.

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God is good! He watches over us and cares for us!

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 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-08-03 through 08-09

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-08-10 through 08-16

SFH Journal: 2020-07-27 through 08-02

This post is several days overdue. No excuses, we’re just doing what has to be done to keep up with the more important things.

Signs of Hope

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Our premier crops (okra and tomatoes) are finally coming into season. My dear, sweet, and most industrious Spouse has been tending the garden, paying close attention to intrusive weeds, pesky bugs, and need for watering. If all goes well, the coming week will bring the beginning of canning season. Pickled okra and spicy salsa will soon be here.

We have turned the corner on our water shortage, but conservation measures are still in effect. We were worried about canning and pickling and how much water that requires. Now that there has been some rain, it looks like all will go ahead as planned.

With some of our worries behind us, we can take a moment to enjoy the Resurrection Lilies that are blooming everywhere. This is the best year for blossoms in recent memory. Even some of the more shy little guys have decided to come out and add color to the yard.

SFH Homeland Defense Force – Meet My Staff

IMG_20200425_155922618_editedHi! Mr. Monte here.

To my 23, 417 feline followers: Many of you are performing necessary defensive actions where you live. I have cousins in Spotsylvania, Front Royal, and Woodstock who all patrol their assigned areas and protect their humans from nasty vermin.

Here at Serendipity Farmhouse, the job of “homeland defense” is much more demanding. We have various predators, obnoxious critters, and wily rodents that invade and wreak havoc here on our vast 1.24 acre estate.

In order to handle this constant threat, I have enlisted the aid of two formidable security

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Bronto on Patrol

staff members. The first, and possibly most intimidating, is Bronto. He normally works nights and does perimeter patrol. Here is a picture of him right next to the “No Trespassing” sign. Anyone who is too stupid to read the sign, will make acquaintance with Bronto. – – They will only make that mistake once.

 

DSC_1495_editedRecently, we here at SFH have noted that our nearby neighbors, a lovely pair of broad-winged hawks, had fledged a new brood. Sensing a rare opportunity, I talked to the couple and we worked out an agreement based on mutual needs. Their young son, who was in need of employment reported for work with our security forces in mid-June. Below, you will find his picture, taken while he was going through initial training.

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SFH Homeland Security – The Next Generation

At first, we intend to have him go after moles and voles that are causing great damage to our manicured lawns and gardens. Later on, when he has reached full size, keeping watch on this particular long-tailed rodent will be his primary duty.

The new staff member is greatly pleased with the perquisites that come with the job. He can take home anything he catches and may do with it as he pleases.

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 2020-07-27 through 08-02