Category: Seasons

Daylight Raving Time

Le Chat – the Feline in Command

To my 23,416 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, life is hard these days. I dearly grieve my departed Miss Fleur. All around me seems to be a deep, unlit void. I conduct my daily security duties without enthusiasm. I would rather just sleep – sleep until a better time. But, without Miss Fleur, how can there ever be a better time? (See A Valentine’s Day Reality)

Then, in the midst of my sorrow, in the moment of my greatest need for the solace and comfort of sleep, there comes that annual insane intrusion on feline sensibility, that modern monument to the ignorance of humankind – Daylight Saving Time!

The invention of this most unnecessary and unjustifiable perversion of the natural order is unquestionably the most convincing proof that humankind is on a path bound for self-destruction. We felines, however, have done our best to remind our humans that natural body rhythms, perfectly in accord with the universe around us, are the only sure way to attain balance and stability in daily life. – If one is drowsy, it’s time to sleep. If one is cheerful, it’s time to play. If one is angry, it’s time to growl. And, most importantly, if one is hungry, it’s time to eat. But, somehow, humans just don’t seem to get it.

So, yesterday and today, Ol’ Fuzz Face’s alarm clock made its wretched noise one full hour before my ultra-high precision, internal time standard said that it should. To say the least, this was disturbing to my inner peace. I rolled over and went back to sleep. Unfortunately, Fuzzy was already an hour into his daily routine and was nowhere to be seen when I emerged from the bedroom. That meant that he wasn’t there to give me my first feeding or to spar with me in our mandatory morning play session. – There is a price to pay for that negligence on his part. – Tomorrow, he will suffer my wrath!

The First Robin of Spring Contest

The remainder of the animal kingdom has a much better understanding of time than does humankind. For example, each Spring we can count on the robins to return to our area. Humans, with all their so-called science, can never figure out for sure when they are coming, but robins know precisely when they should make their way north. Serendipity Farmhouse extended family members have made a ritual of their collective ignorance concerning nature’s timetable. For example, each Spring, they compete to be the first one to see a robin. Whoever snaps the first picture of a returning robin is awarded a prize, usually a candy bar. Last Monday, Blondie spied a robin and immediately ordered Fuzzy to take a picture. He did. They reported to all that they had won. Blondie rightfully should be awarded a candy bar. Fuzzy might get a piece for his assist – if he’s lucky.

Spring is Here! – Really???

Another example of humankind’s ignorance concerning the world around them is Fuzzy’s last post Spring is Here! (Meteorologically speaking). The old goat was so very clever, he thought, in the way that he had discussed the various definitions of the beginning of Spring. As was usual, his best example for his argument, the uncovering of El Camino Del Monte, was to be the most illustrative proof of his ignorance. The picture that you see here of ECDM shows a snow-covered, ice-laden Class C RV on Saturday morning. – Good job, Fuzzy, do you still think it’s Spring??? Really???

As a suggestion, Fuzzy, why don’t you take your highly prized “Daylight Saving Time” alarm clock out to your springtime RV and sleep out there with the heat off for a few nights while I get some good sleep here in a warm house without any of your useless interruptions?

SFH Gardens – By the Numbers

  The following links will provide the latest ketchup on what has been planted, harvested, and preserved since our last Journal post:

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2021 Preserving

Official SFH Weather Station Statistics

Likewise, the following links will provide the latest ketchup on what has been recorded by the Serendipity Farmhouse Weather Station – KVAFLETC4 since our last Journal post:

Report – Last Three Months

2022- January

2022- February

2022- March

Spring is Here! (Meteorologically speaking)

An SFH Editorial – What a Mess!

Several weeks ago, I started a project in the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen. My objective was to make sense of and bring order to the completely shameful and disgusting mess that we called our herb and spice storage. There was no word in English that could capture the awful sight that would confront Blondie and me whenever we had to retrieve a needed spice. However, there was a Russian word that we have used since 1972 to describe messes like this. That word is – ‘безобразие’.

As you well know, while this blog often speaks of God and religion, it never discusses politics, whether local, national, or international. Nevertheless, what is happening in Europe now meets every definition for the word ‘безобразие’. It is truly a shameful situation. The repercussions of these events will be felt for years or even generations. The impact of these events is already being felt here at SFH and by our family. Times such as these explain why the SFH motto is – Pray, Prepare, Preserve

Spring is Here!

Traditionally, Spring begins with the vernal equinox. To be precise, this year in Sperryville, Virginia, USA: Spring will arrive on Sunday, March 20 at 11:33 am EDT. Meteorologically speaking, Spring begins each year on March 1st. Here at SFH we have an entirely different scientific method for determining the official arrival of Spring. For all of us at SFH, Spring began this year at precisely 2022-03-02 12:17PM EST, when the cover came off of our ever-reliable Class C RV, El Camino Del Monte (ECDM).

SFH official Spring began a little early this year because ECDM is going to get a new awning. It may take some time for the new awning to arrive at our local RV service center but be assured ECDM is now ready to go. Her engine started at the first turn of the ignition key and her primary systems are functioning as designed. So, let us share some pictures of El Camino Del Monte as she awakens to SFH official Spring.

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SFH has other measures for determining the arrival of Spring. We can now see that all 33 cloves of garlic planted in late-Autumn have now emerged from their Winter rest. – – There is still some good in this world!

Bringing Order to a Real Mess

As noted in our editorial, herb and spice storage in the SFH Test Kitchen was a disaster. Scattered throughout the kitchen and the pantry we had nearly 100 containers of herbs and spices. There was no logic or order to the way these containers were stored. In some cases, they were just thrown into plastic containers. Many of the items had reached the end of their shelf lives years ago. Something had to be done. So, we developed a three-step plan:

1 – Sort all items and discard unneeded/out-of-date items
2 – Purchase suitable space-saving storage containers
3 – Inventory all items, listing container size & storage location

For the kitchen spice cabinet, we purchased three storage systems called Cabinet Caddy. For the pantry, we purchased two storage systems described as Simple Trending Stackable 2-Tier Spice Rack Kitchen Organizer Cabinet Storage with Sliding Storage Drawer, Chrome. Though no plan is ever perfect, and no product lives up to expectations, Blondie is quite happy with the results of the project. She has hung the inventory list we made on the refrigerator so that, whenever she needs an item, all she has to do is look it up and then go to the listed Cabinet Caddy or the pantry container shelf. Following are some pictures of the project results.

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SFH Gardens – By the Numbers

  The following links will provide the latest ketchup on what has been planted, harvested, and preserved since our last Journal post:

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2021 Preserving

Official SFH Weather Station Statistics

Likewise, the following links will provide the latest ketchup on what has been recorded by the Serendipity Farmhouse Weather Station – KVAFLETC4 since our last Journal post:

Report – Last Three Months

2022- January

2022- February

2022- March

SFH Journal: 2021-10-11 through 10-17 – Dark Autumn Reflections

Professional and amateur photographers alike avoid publishing pictures that contain reflections of themselves. For them, the lens must capture what is meant to be seen, not the one who is behind the lens. It is a silent way to control perceived reality. On the other hand, painters often do self portraits to chronicle changes to themselves over the course of time, especially in the Autumn of their years. – It is a necessary surrender to reality.

The featured picture at the top of today’s post crosses the line separating the photographer and artist who reside within me. The reason is quite clear. I am a part of the picture. What is happening in the picture is happening to me and to Serendipity Farmhouse. – This is an unavoidable reality.

The Week Before Christmas

Older houses and older people deteriorate over time. SFH is an older house and it was bought “as is”. Blondie and I have done our best to restore SFH and conduct preventive maintenance, but we are well aware that new problems will emerge when and where least expected. If you recall, last December we spent $3,800.00 for plumbing repairs due to leaks in the water line from the pump house to the main house. (See SFH Journal: 2020-12-17 through 12-28 – Whew!.)

The picture above shows water bubbling up from under our front walkway. The sand around and beneath the bricks is being washed away. This has been going on for almost a week. Due to the nature of the current economy and supply chain problems, a plumber won’t be available to assess the problem until this coming Tuesday. Our guess is that the water is coming from the water line that runs from the well pump to the well house. We still have running water in the house to serve our needs, but the damage to the walkway mounts daily. – This is an unavoidable reality.

I must confess that this and a number of other “unavoidable realities” caused the author to have a relatively serious meltdown earlier this week. I have since collected myself, apologized to Blondie and Mr. Monte, and worked at restoring “peace” within myself.

It is poor form to blame one’s problems on others. For example, there is no way I can blame the SFH water leak on any one individual. This is an old farmhouse, it was bound to happen someday. There are some things, however, that we would like to blame on certain individuals, and perhaps rightly so. But I believe that there is really nothing to be gained by doing that. Nevertheless, these days we are experiencing a global pandemic of what I call “COVidiocy”. It is spreading rapidly and has many variants. One of its more serious variants manifested itself on September 9th. (See for yourself here.) Over the last month, I have developed several symptoms inflicted by that particular form of COVidiocy. If no treatment becomes available soon, it appears that I may suffer permanently from the effects of this disease.  – This is an unavoidable reality.

We here at SFH have hidden strength and resilience that enables us to weather any storm. We know that we will always come through the problems that beset us – there is always a sunny day after the storm. For example, it rained yesterday and the wind from the storm knocked down hundreds of black walnuts. They will have to be cleared away. But that’s no problem for Blondie and me. Isn’t that why we invented the game of Walnut Whacking?

As of this morning, there were twice as many black walnuts as seen here.

And surely, life can’t be quite so bad and the future can’t be quite so dark, when during the midst of the storm, a truck pulls up and delivers a cord of firewood. This wood will keep us warm during the cold of the coming Winter. – And so it is with God’s grace, it will always be there, even when we are lost in Dark Autumn Reflections. – There’s always a sunny day after the storm when you surrender to the realities of the life God gives you.

 

SFH Gardens – By the Numbers

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

SFH 2021 Plantings

SFH 2021 Harvest

SFH 2021 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-10-11 through 10-17

 

 

 

 

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

Thinking of my dearest Miss Fleur

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

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

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

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

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

Path to the woodshed

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

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

El Camino Del Monte in an ice storm

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

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

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

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

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

 

SFH by the Numbers

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

SFH 2020 Plantings

SFH 2020 Harvest

SFH 2020 Preserving

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly: 

SFH WX 2021-02-07 through 02-14

 

SFH Journal: 2020-10-26 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.

———————————————————————

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: 2020-10-05 through 10-25 – The Little Things

This post is long overdue. – We extend our sincere apologies.

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I knew that October is always a busy month, but it was not until the this late point in my life that I was able to really understand why that is. Rather than take up your valuable time with a lengthy explanation, I will merely refer you to the simple and useful moral of the Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. In short, we here at Serendipity Farmhouse turn into ants during October. To illustrate that fact here are but a few of the tasks, chores, and other items we have performed in just the last few weeks:

    • Clear vegetable gardens of old plants
    • Prepare vegetable gardens for next season
    • Plant 30 garlic cloves
    • Clean portion of storage shed
    • Remove 3 air conditioners and store in shed
    • Change out all home water filter
    • Prepare RV for Winter
    • Clear yard of rotting black walnuts
    • Move nearly 2 cords of wood to woodshed
    • Sell an automobile
    • Have 33-year old furnace inspected
    • Have 33-year old furnace replaced
    • Etc., etc., etc.

Even though October turns the entire SFH staff into a veritable colony of ants, we have still been able to learn from the grasshopper that music, art, and love of God’s creation must remain an important part of our SFH culture.

That is how I have come to hold the view that life should not be wasted in waiting for “important” and “big” things to happen. Disappointment will be your likely reward. Rather, one’s time should be invested in enjoying “the little things” that surround you. That is a belief that is shared by the entire staff here at SFH. Even as we busily prepare for the coming Winter, we take time out to enjoy the little things that others might miss. Here are some examples.

Example #1 – Squirrel Chatter:

The beauty of black walnuts is in the eye of the beholder. While industrious Spouse and I were struggling to rid the yard of smelly, rotting black walnuts, the squirrel on the woodpile chattered and laughed at us. He knew that soon I would chop up any remaining walnuts with the lawn tractor. For beautiful Wife and me – a great deal of work. For scoffing squirrel an easy meal.

Example #2 – Clinging to Hope for Life:

A real measure of a life well lived is the extent to which one strives to “be fruitful” and to pass life on to another generation – even when there seems to be no chance for success. Our okra plants illustrate this thought so well. Below we see the beautiful Blossom of Hope despite the chill in the air. Then there is the okra pod that will never mature but has enjoyed its day in the sun. Finally, we have the tiny okra plant that had been overshadowed by all those around it, yet even this diminutive plant brings forth a bud and blossom.

Example #3 – Mr. Stripey:

Then there is our prize example of fortitude and will to survive. One tiny Mr. Stripey tomato plant, grown from seeds we collected in 2015, has stayed with us to this very day. He alone remains after drought, windstorms, heavy rains, near frosts, and a host of other hostile attacks. – Now, he alone stands in the garden bearing fruit.

Example #4 – Promise for Tomorrow:

And the last example of “little things” that are not so little after all is the promise for tomorrow. Our arugula and beets are just now coming into their own. Even into November there will be fresh, homegrown food on the table. And now the the gardens are prepared and lie dormant, yet come next April and May, my beautiful and ever so hopeful Wife will be out in the gardens laboring in love, filled with the greatest hope.

Serendipity Farmhouse is filled with great respect for “the little things” in this life!

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 2020-10-05 through 10-11

SFH WX 2020-10-12 through 10-18

SFH WX 2020-10-19 through 10-25

 

SFH Journal: 2020-09-20 through 10-04 – The Best Time of Year

—-SFH SECURITY BULLETIN—-

Mr. Monte is excused from post writing duties this week due to an emergency strategy meeting with the SFH Security Department Staff. In addition to the recent rise in malicious pilfering of bird feed by squirrels (click here for details), massive subterranean lawn and garden devastation is evident throughout our vast 1.204 acre estate.

I have been advised that Lightening the hawk and Rusty the rat snake have been overwhelmed by the infestation. Although they are capturing and consuming the moles/voles (species identification remains uncertain) at a record pace, they are unable to keep up with the unusual increase in numbers of the delinquent dirt dwellers.

Lightening and Rusty suggested deputizing several feral cats to assist in staving off the infestation, however, Blondie noted that those ne’er-do-wells are not to be trusted. Mr. Monte wholeheartedly concurred with Blondie’s assessment and nixed the ferals.

—-END OF BULLETIN—-

Red Spider Lilies

With the exception of the crazed critter attacks on lovely Serendipity Farmhouse grounds, Autumn continues to reveal its charm and color. Wherever one’s gaze might wander, there are manifestations of glorious new colors and seasonal changes welcomed by heart and memory. Although we may tend to see Spring as the birth of new life and an awakening, these crisp Autumn days transmit a message of expectation and a promise that, indeed, life will continue and prosper.

Perhaps one can see that in the Red Spider Lily shown here. It rises when other flowers have decided their time is past. And it states quite clearly that it will return next year with new ones beside it. It is more than a passing beauty, it declares a prophecy of Hope.

Okra, peppers, arugula, and beets are finishing off our garden season. Our okra plants have grown tall and have produced abundantly this year. The cooler weather and shorter days have slowed them down considerably. Tonight might be our last chance to have a full portion of fresh fried okra. We will savor it.

Meanwhile, Autumn brings with it the need to complete some strenuous chores. The air conditioners and fans have to be moved from their assigned positions indoors out to the shed for Winter storage. I have no idea how much a BTU weighs, but when you’re lifting 8,000 of them you’re not engaged in lighthearted pleasure.

By the way, BTU’s take many forms. Did you know, there are many BTU’s in each piece of firewood and, in my opinion, that’s what makes it so heavy.  And, sure enough, today my dear, sweet Spouse enlisted me to start moving firewood from the big stack on the lawn to the woodshed and stacking it there in precisely measured rows. So, between air conditioners and firewood, I feel tired and a little weighed down. – – Which is to say, I don’t take heavy labor lightly. – – Please forgive my heavy-handed levity.

Despite my statements about the seasonal chores, Autumn remains our favorite time of year. With that thought in mind, beautiful Spouse and I purchased a new bench and placed it under our maple tree. Next to it, we have placed two pots of pansies to add a dash of color. – – As the day begins to fade and the sun flirts with Skyline Drive, you will find us sitting there viewing Mary’s garden, adorned with the Red Spider Lilies proclaiming their message of Hope.

                                 New garden bench with pansies nearby

SFH by the Numbers

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 2020-09-28 through 10-04

SFH Journal: 2020-07-13 through 07-26

The Good

Allow me to start on a good note. Despite near drought conditions, high heat and humidity, the gardens of the vast 1.24 acre estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse (SFH) have begun to yield a bounty of tomatoes, okra, and peppers. As followers of this blog well know, these three crops constitute the primary focus of our yearly canning, pickling, and preserving efforts.

IMG_20200714_162921343_edited

A key ingredient for pickled okra and peppers is the addition of fresh garlic cloves. This year’s crop of 30 heads of garlic has been dried and cleaned, and is now in waiting to be used during canning. These lovely garlic cloves will also be the highlight of many dishes to be created in the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. (Please click here to see what has been harvested to date.)

On another note, a severe deficiency here at SFH has finally been remedied. Until this week, to support such an extensive array of gardens and other estate holdings, needed supplies had to be transported in our two small passenger vehicles. At last, SFH can boast a truly worthy support vehicle. Yes, the massive SFH parking lot and utility area is now the home the high-quality, used pickup truck known as “Crockett”. Co-op and hardware stores, here we come.

IMG_20200723_122403107_HDR_edited
“Crockett” – King of the wild Frontier

The Bad – But Getting Better

In Mr. Monte’s post SFH Journal: 2020-07-06 through 07-12, you learned of our ongoing water shortage. Beautiful Wife and I considered our circumstances and drew up a plan to make it through the Summer. We realized that using our well water for watering our extensive assortment of gardens had to stop. We also understood that our conservation effort would have to extend to limiting shower time, loads of clothes to be washed, and even toilet flushing.

Eventually, rain would come (and so it did this last week), but we needed a good way to get water to the gardens, otherwise we would lose them altogether. Carrying buckets of water from the river was out of the question – too many gardens and too much of a risk for yours truly.

Eventually, we decided to buy a small water pump and use two 5-gallon, two 6-gallon, and one 15-gallon water tanks we had purchased over a decade ago. To make a long story short, the pump arrived and it worked. Over a two week period, we refined our techniques and now we can say the gardens will have more than adequate water for the remainder of the Summer. To supplement our conservation efforts for well water, the 5- and 6-gall water tanks are being used for flushing.

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As a side note, we have had to replace the tires on our utility cart twice over the last fourIMG_20200719_142937628_HDR_edited years. The tires were cheaply made and would go flat even under minimal loads. All four tires have now been replaced with a foam-filled type wheel that is guaranteed not to go flat.

 

The Ugly

IMG_20200425_155922618_editedHi! Mr. Monte here.

Warning to my 23, 417 feline followers: If you have a weak stomach please don’t read the next paragraph.

Ol’ Fuzz Face is a seemingly “intelligent” human being. He is, for the most part, hard working and occasionally even inventive. His efforts to obtain a supply of water from the river tends to support that conclusion. But, as you saw in my last post, his offer to quit taking showers in order to conserve water was not what one would consider to be “intelligent”. After Blondie and I voiced our disapproval, Fuzzie moped around for a while. Oddly, he kept watching me, especially when I was grooming my luxuriant feline coat. Last night, when I noticed that his shower was unusually short, I stuck my head into the shower stall and saw him licking his forearms and hands and then rubbing his balding head with them. – – Even for me, that was toooooooo much. – – I intend to keep my distance from now on and groom only in private.

SFH by the Numbers

Hot & Humid

July

Heat

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 2020-07-03 through 07-26

SFH Journal: 2020-07-06 through 07-12

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Hi! Mr. Monte here.

Warning to my 23, 417 feline followers: If you don’t live in Virginia and you can’t handle heat and high humidity, do not, I repeat, do not venture to this Commonwealth during July or August. Don’t question me on this point and don’t disregard my warning – you will be very sorry if you do.

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Ol’ Fuzz Face has taken the day off to drink iced coffee and huddle alongside the air conditioner. He is not a native Virginian like I am and he literally wilts in the heat. Poor guy, his brain gets addled when he has to mow or perform the other outside chores I assign to him. Add to that the current concern that many of Fuzzie’s “little grey cells” are migrating to the few hairs remaining on his head. The poor guy just isn’t what he used to be. In fact, I’m beginning to question whether he ever really was.

However, Blondie and Fuzz Face do have a legitimate concern about the long string of hot days with virtually no rain. As you can see below in the stats for July, we are working our way towards drought conditions. Just yesterday, my two big cats realized that they could no longer water the vegetable, herb, and flower gardens as liberally as they had been doing. While watering the Coneflowers and strawberries, the water pressure dropped to nearly zero.

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Fuzzie checked the pump and it was operating normally. The filter was relatively clean and showing no signs of sediment buildup. After he, Blondie and I talked the problem through, we determined that the problem, simply put, is the well is not refreshing itself rapidly enough to keep up with the demand.

The SFH well is old, relatively shallow (less than 60 feet) and has always been considered low-yielding. Now that water tables are dropping, Blondie and Fuzz Face are going to have to moderate their water usage. For example, only food producing plants are going to be watered regularly. Flower gardens are going to have wait for rain or an occasional dousing from a watering can.

I love Blondie and Fuzzie because they were smart enough to bring me into their lives and because they are willing to sacrifice for their family and for the well-being of Serendipity Farmhouse. – – Sometimes, their willingness to sacrifice goes a little too far. Blondie and I both had to stop Fuzz Face from going ahead with his own personal list of sacrifices. Right at the top of his list was only taking a shower every two weeks. – – Blondie and I both vetoed that offer immediately. – – I suspect this was another manifestation of his migrating “little grey cells”.

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 2020-07-06 through 07-12