Category: Spring

SFH Journal: 2018-05-07

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What, no safety net?

Daily Highlight: Despite all of its charming features, Serendipity Farmhouse has some deficiencies. For example, storage is a problem – there are no closets, there is no basement, and the attic is not suitable. Add to that the fact that the only cooling during the hot and humid Virginia summers comes from two portable air conditioners and an array of fans.

So, where do we store the air conditioner parts and fans during the cooler months? Well, the previous owner solved that problem by building a large, two-level storage shed. Yet, for all of its useful features, retrieving items from the upper level of the shed was found to be hazardous to my beautiful wife – especially to her head. Several times items were accidentally dropped on her when I passed them down from the upper level. (For those grievous errors on my part, adorable wife proposed that I reside in the shed for a day or two.)

This is where our friend Bill and his ‘Bill skills’ came to the rescue. He and I designed a pulley system that made use of the upper level hatch to raise and lower items from outside the shed. Now lovely spouse no longer has need of a construction helmet to perform our twice a year ritual.

There remains one minor problem with the pulley system. As you can see in the picture, I am required to perform a death-defying act of strength and agility to make the hoist operational. I have a solution in mind and hope to have it in place prior to our Autumn storage rite.

Photo Credit: Thanks to my dear sister-in-law for her pictures of our Spring ritual.

Weather: This was a perfect day for yard work our storage ritual. (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report.

Harvest: Nothing to report.

Spring Snowfall at Serendipity

Happy Spring-01
A “Happy Spring” at SFH

Time stands still during a Spring snowfall. Chores are put on hold. Preparations for planting come to a halt. There are no trips to the store. A pleasant quiet underscores meals and conversation. A Spring snowfall is just what we needed.

Certainly for some, Winter Storm Toby is disrupting life, causing damage, and frustrating travelers.

Happy Spring-02
A void where hollies used to be

Four Nor’easters so close together cannot be counted as welcome events. Even as we look west from the front porch of Serendipity, the view has changed. Now there are two voids where our holly trees used to be. Winter Storm Riley uprooted them and now Toby shows us how empty and lacking in color is that side of Serendipity.

Happy Spring-04
A brief moment in just a single day

Despite the concern and frustrations of the day, Serendipity continues to be the answer to the prayer we should have prayed. A walk along our river reveals the better side of life. If it snows today, then let that be a reason to reflect on the beauty in a single snowflake, or in countless millions of snowflakes.

If chores have been put on hold because of a Spring snowfall, how can that be a bad thing? The garden covered with snow can be captivating in its serenity. Likewise, that pile of dirt remaining to be moved to the garden boxes brings humorous thoughts to mind. Yes, just as with me, even a pile of dirt can have a day of rest when there is a Spring snowfall at Serendipity Farmhouse.

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What Were They Thinking?

What possible confluence of events could possibly bring the coming of Spring and our dearly beloved wood stove together? – Here’s the story of  how that happened.

How lovely and refreshing it was on February 27th to see a daffodil blooming in Amissville. What pleasant thoughts were ready to fill my mind as I drove by that blossom.

But!!! My mind was not filled with pleasant thoughts. Rather it was filled with a dreadful anticipation. My beautiful spouse had just called me during my homeward bound commute. She exclaimed, “There is scratching and thrashing in the wood stove! The chimney is echoing and reverberating with the frantic sounds a trapped creature! I think there’s a bird caught inside, and Mr. Monte is going berserk trying get his claws on it!”

How can one serenely contemplate the wonders of a daffodil and the advent of Spring when one has those words ringing and resounding in their mind? Surely, there would be no peace in the Serendipity Farmhouse tonight until yours truly captured and safely released the poor, stranded creature. Nor would there be any peace until yours truly had calmed the wild beast that now possessed Mr. Monte.

I arrived home. I parked. I opened the door and got out. Beautiful wife was waiting on the porch. I entered the house. Scratching and thrashing were heard from the wood stove. Cat was bouncing off the walls. Wife urgently, urged me to do my duty as husband and protector. What about the daffodil? What about the coming of Spring. Neither wife nor cat cared to know. Scratching and thrashing continued in the wood stove.

Step No. 1: Mr. Monte, claws extended, teeth ready to disable prey, had to be physically removed to the bedroom. The door was securely locked, but it shuddered and rattled from the impact of the 18 lb. wild cat attempting to force his way out.

Step No. 3: (What happened to Step No. 2? You’ll find out soon enough.)0227181549a (2) Turn on all lights, get flashlights. look inside. Yup, there’s a bird inside.

0227181547 (2)Step No. 4: Suit up. One must protect oneself and the feathered intruder from harmful accidents. Long sleeved shirt, jeans, leather wood stove gloves – who knows what kind of bird this might be?

Step No. 5: Look inside again. Survey the scene. Be aware of 0227181550 (2)what might be lurking inside. Apparently, the creature had started plucking some of insulating fiber in the rear of the wood stove. – Keep looking! – Then we saw it. No! Then we saw them! – Not just one bird inside – there were clearly two.

Step No. 6: Get out the first one. Slowly open door. Reach inside. Successfully grab the first bird. Wrong!!!! It flies out and immediately heads for the light coming through the back door. (Now this is where Step No. 2 should have been. Dang it! I should have opened the back door prior to Step No. 3.) Bird number one careens off the back door. Bird reverses course and heads up the stairwell to the second floor.

Step No. 7: Scurry to second floor in hot pursuit. Mr. Monte is heard meowing from behind locked door. After short chase, I capture the bird. I take it to the front door and release. One scared starling flies due north and then it’s out of sight.

Step No. 2: Belatedly, open back door, Dummy!

Step No. 8: Here repeat Step No. 6 with a few variations. Bird number two also escapes inside. Bird number two flies through back doorway and into screened porch.

Step No. 9: Close back door. Open porch door. Herd bird number two out through porch door. One scared starling flies due south and then it’s out of sight.

Step No. 10: Kiss wife. Unlock bedroom door. Kiss cat and sooth wild beast inside that furry exterior.

DSC_0004 (2)Step No. 11: Try to determine if there is something wrong with the chimney. No, the chimney is in fine shape, but it was poorly designed. We have now scientifically determined that birds the size of starlings apparently have no trouble getting in if they have a mind to.

 

Moral No. 1: A bird in hand is better than two flying freely through the house.

Moral No. 2: There are more daffodils blooming today. There is every sign that eventually Winter will give way to Spring. We can see it and feel it all around us. The starlings that thought the chimney would be a fine place to nest also felt that Spring was coming. Once they made their way into the chimney, they, in their own bird-like way, probably said (with some intense emotion), “What were we thinking!?”

Serendipity Farmhouse is not like the chimney and the wood stove and we are not like the starlings. Although at first, we wondered, “What were we thinking?”, we can now say Serendipity has become our home – our own little nest.

Monte-07Supplemental Comment from Mr. Monte: Those two big cats just have no common sense. They did it all wrong. If they had listened to me, this story would have had an entirely different ending. That’s why I was meowing when old Fuzz Face went rumbling past the bedroom door and up the stairs.

Once again I say, this story could have had a much better ending if only they had listened to me. Oh sure, the big cat with the fur on top of her head might have  complained a bit because of some feathers floating around the house. But, she’d get over it in time.

Oh well, what can you expect from two big cats who try do a job for which God gave them no skills. Next time, let me handle the job. I have bird hunting skills and I was born to use them.