Category: Winter

Yard Trash Day – 2019

I’m not just an interested bystander. No, not me. I’m the guy who gets to document this annual event. And as such, it’s quite important that I observe closely and take detailed mental notes. Why? Well, because there’s nothing, no, not one thing that’s even half as interesting or exciting as watching Annual Yard Trash Day in the Blue Ridge.

Now, let me share with you something that I’ve noticed this year. These two wonderful gals, my beautiful Wife and her best friend Nancy, are truly getting better at this every year. Not only that, they are having more fun. If you need proof, take a look at the pictures below.

On the top-right photo taken in 2017, they had done a good job with the yard trash arrangements but, when it was all done, they were beat, tired, and generally worn out. In the photo on the bottom-right taken in 2018, they were obviously tired, but they at least had their eyes open. That was a sign of improvement.

Finally, in the photo on the left taken yesterday, they’ve worked hard all day and they are still wild-eyed, oops, I mean wide-eyed and bushy tailed. As I said, these gals are getting better every year.

Consider also, how much work has to be done the day before, collecting yard trash, trimming it, and preparing it for the big day – Yard Trash Day. It’s hard work out in the cold wind. Yet, they do it with great expectation.

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And, of course, the hard work, the camaraderie, many cups of hot tea, and the intimate discussions about family and preparations for Christmas all lead to the pride of accomplishment in what they’ve created. So, as you will see below, 2019 was a very good year for Annual Yard Trash Day in the Blue Ridge.

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SFH Journal: 2019-03-03 through 09 – Winter Wood – Winter White

 

Highlight 1: As Winter’s end draws near, the provisions stored for the long season dwindle. Blessings to be counted: There was enough; the bottom wood dried and burned well; and Serendipity Farmhouse kept warm and cozy. God is good!

Highlight 2: Winter visited SFH for perhaps its last time this year. It was not overly cold, nor was it a visit with a bluster. It left a beautiful reminder, painted with a single brush of white. God is very good!

Take a walk with me and see what memories Winter left behind last night. Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-03-03 through 09 – Winter Wood – Winter White”

SFH Journal: 2019-01-26 through 31 – Gourmet Recipes for the Wood Stove

Highlight: The title for this post might be just a little misleading. Upon first reading, one might think that the staff of the soon to be world famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen have been laboring over the wood stove, concocting amazingly delicious culinary masterpieces, pioneer style, using the most simple cast iron utensils and an assortment of basic, home grown herbs and spices. Perhaps someday we should do that.

But, no, that’s not what we’ve been up too. Rather we have instead been laboring intensely trying to keep the wood stove working during a vicious polar vortex using a substandard load of “bottom wood”. Refer back to our post My Big Cats Got it Done! In that post, I noted, “Granddaughter #1 found fascinating fungus and mushroom growths on the wood. Avoiding spiders and centipedes, she found other critters in the midst of the wood pile that aroused great interest and awe.”

Well folks, that was the first clue that, due to the unusually wet year, the two cords of wood we received were overly damp and would take a long time to dry out and season properly. Although I didn’t mention it at the time, much of the wood was covered with mud, indicating that it had come from the bottom of the stack; ergo, it was “bottom wood”.

Fast forward to this last week when a large part of the nation, including our beloved Rappahannock County, was in the grips of a bitterly cold polar vortex. Yes, here at SFH, when temperatures were dipping to 1.2 °F, this would be the week we ran out of last year’s good wood and had to begin feeding the wood stove the new “bottom wood”.

Fires were hard to start and difficult to keep burning. There was an increased amount of smoke while burning and, every time I inserted a new log, that smoke would escape, filling the house with an acrid stench. On two occasions, the smoke was so voluminous that it activated the smoke detector in the kitchen.

The bottom line and last straw for yours truly, was that beautiful and almost always patient wife lost her patience. She lost her patience with me. She lost her patience with the wood stove. She almost lost her patience with our beloved Serendipity Farmhouse. – – – Needless to say in a situation like this, Mr. Monte took her side and blamed the loss of calm and tranquility in SFH entirely and completely on me.

I won’t bore you with tedious details of all my experiments to improve the situation. Suffice it to say, I worked with the wood stove. I talked to it. I read the manual. I put myself into the mindset of a wood stove that had suddenly had its diet changed from well seasoned wood to miserable, damp “bottom wood”.

Then I came upon the solution. While in deep conversation with the wood stove, I introduced the notion that I wasn’t depriving it of it’s favorite food. Oh no, not at all. What I was doing was merely treating the wood stove to a series of wonderful “gourmet delights”. Where else would a wood stove be able to get the exotic mushrooms and flavorful fungus that I was offering? The wood stove began to “warm” to the notion.

Then, in keeping with current dietary trends, I explained to the wood stove. That all of the “bottom wood” was gluten free. And, although I couldn’t claim that it was also  “low carb”, I could assert emphatically, that all the wood had been seasoned in a new process that was similar to cheese being aged in caves.

And, by golly, it worked! Soon, the wood stove and I had found just the right way to set vent and flue settings so that the new dietary delights were not just palatable, but were eagerly accepted. I had discovered how to make gourmet treats for my wood stove!

The polar vortex came and brought its stinging chill, but Serendipity Farmhouse was warm inside thanks to another astounding success by the SFH Test Kitchen.

SFH WX Station Report: Because I’ve already described the arrival of the polar vortex, let me just give you the weekly and monthly weather summaries. For more details and graphics click here and play with the settings where it says “Weather History for Fletcher Mill, VA [KVAFLETC4]”.

Weekly Summary
January 24, 2019 – January 31, 2019

High Low Average
Temperature 57.2 °F 1.2 °F 28.9 °F
Dew Point 56.1 °F -14.1 °F 17.4 °F
Humidity 99% 23% 66.5%
Precipitation 0.59 in
High Low Average
Wind Speed 11.6 mph 0.7 mph
Wind Gust 18.3 mph
Wind Direction SSW
Pressure 30.36 in 29.35 in

Monthly Summary
January 1, 2019 – January 31, 2019

High Low Average
Temperature 62.2 °F 1.2 °F 32.4 °F
Dew Point 56.1 °F -14.1 °F 22.5 °F
Humidity 99% 23% 71.7%
Precipitation 2.64 in
High Low Average
Wind Speed 16.6 mph 1 mph
Wind Gust 25.1 mph
Wind Direction SW
Pressure 30.61 in 29.24 in

 

 

SFH Journal: 2019-01-15 through 19

Highlight: They (Mr. Monte and Blondie) have called me a Weather Geek from Outer Space. They have tried to smear my good reputation. There are three things, however, that provide solace and perhaps even a touch of vindication:

  1. Several members of our vast and ever growing SFH audience provided positive comments defending my dedication to understanding that which surrounds us always – the weather.
  2. My beautiful wife asks me frequently what to expect with this erratic January weather. “Should we build a fire?” “Can we plan a shopping trip on such-and-such a day?” Yes, she comes to the Weather Geek for advice.
  3. Mr. Monte begs to go out on the porch, and then he comes running back in with a look of disgust – “Why didn’t you warn me that it was windy, rainy, and cold out there?” – I merely reply with a smile, slightly accentuated with a bit of sarcasm – “Foolish Cat!”

Thank you dear readers for your support.

SFH WX Station Report: Snow, wintry mix, rain, wind, etc. January is here and the pattern of unusually high precipitation events continues into the new year. The 19th saw over an inch of rain falling on SFH. The yard continues to be filled with standing water. The only good thing that will come of this will be that SFH will have a skating rink when the flash freeze arrives on the 20th.

2019-01-15 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 43.2 °F 16 °F 29.5 °F
Dew Point 25.5 °F 14.7 °F 21.6 °F
Humidity 97% 46% 79%
Precipitation 0.03 in

2019-01-16 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 49.5 °F 14 °F 31.8 °F
Dew Point 29.5 °F 11.8 °F 21.6 °F
Humidity 95% 44% 79%
Precipitation 0.01 in

2019-01-17 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 37.6 °F 24.8 °F 31.2 °F
Dew Point 30.2 °F 23.7 °F 27.3 °F
Humidity 97% 60% 86%
Precipitation 0 in

2019-01-18 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 45.5 °F 26.2 °F 35.8 °F
Dew Point 37 °F 25.7 °F 32.1 °F
Humidity 99% 72% 91%
Precipitation 0.15 in

2019-01-19 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 36.3 °F 32.7 °F 34.5 °F
Dew Point 35.2 °F 32.2 °F 33.5 °F
Humidity 99% 90% 97%
Precipitation 1.04 in

SFH Journal: 2019-01-13 & 14 – Winter Storm Gia – Farewell

Highlight: Winter Storm Gia has moved out of the area and the melting snow is the last reminder of its visit. The only problem now is the long trek to the woodshed to fetch a cartload of firewood to keep the wood stove fueled.

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Meanwhile, that self-centered, 20-pound fuzzball Mr. Monte alternates between demanding a warm fire so he can be his lazy winter self and begging to go out onto the porch so that he can imagine that he is some sort of ice age Smilodon Fatalis.

640px-smilodon_fatalis
How Mr. Monte sees himself as S. fatalis restored with spotted coat

Lately, my dear wife has been grumbling about my fixation on the new SFH WX station. Heck if I know why. Maybe she’s getting cabin fever. It couldn’t be anything I’ve done.

SFH WX Station Report: Winter Storm Gia continued to drop snow on SFH throughout the 13th. Using our highly advanced technical equipment we measured just over six inches of snow on the first day and just a little less than two inches on the second day of the storm.

2019-01-13 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 31.5 °F 27.5 °F 29.4 °F
Dew Point 28.4 °F 24.8 °F 26.7 °F
Humidity 96% 83% 92%
Precipitation 0 in

2019-01-14 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 37 °F 16.3 °F 26.6 °F
Dew Point 28 °F 14.7 °F 23.6 °F
Humidity 95% 54% 81%
Precipitation 0.12 in

SFH Journal: 2019-01-09 through 12 – Winter Storm Gia – Prelude

Highlight: The big news for this part of Virginia is the arrival of Winter Storm Gia. It’s not a blizzard, but it’s impact on Rappahannock County and on the vast (almost 1.25 acres) Serendipity Farmhouse estate is noticeable. As I am writing this on Sunday, January 13th, we are now into the second day of the storm and expect more snowfall this afternoon. When the storm subsides, I intend to post pictures and facts about the event.

Last year we talked about Winter Storm Riley (here) and now we are under the influence of Winter Storm Gia. Naming winter storms is a relatively new practice. You can find a history of the practice and a listing of the names for winter storms for the 2018-2019 winter season at – Winter Storm Names For 2018-19 Revealed

The Weather History Graph for the SFH WX Station (see below) for January 12th shows temperature, dew point, and wind indications as the front edge of the storm passed over SFH. Note that the snow began to fall between four and five PM, just as the temperature and dew point merged.

ws gia arrives

SFH WX Station Report: The reporting period begins with relatively balmy temperatures for January. The warmer weather moved out and was replaced by cold air from the north. On the 12th, Winter Storm Gia moved in from the west and southwest and met with the cold air. Temperatures dropped, dew points rose and Voila! SFH is now covered in white.

2019-01-09 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 51.6 °F 29.7 °F 40.7 °F
Dew Point 32.5 °F 10.9 °F 21.3 °F
Humidity 64% 36% 47%
Precipitation 0 in

2019-01-10 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 34 °F 26.6 °F 30.3 °F
Dew Point 13.8 °F 8.1 °F 11.4 °F
Humidity 54% 38% 47%
Precipitation 0 in

2019-01-11 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 39.7 °F 23 °F 31.3 °F
Dew Point 20.1 °F 11.1 °F 14.6 °F
Humidity 87% 32% 56%
Precipitation 0 in

2019-01-12 Full details here.

Summary High Low Average
Temperature 32.7 °F 23.7 °F 28.1 °F
Dew Point 27 °F 14.9 °F 22.9 °F
Humidity 94% 50% 81%
Precipitation 0 in

 

Dear Little House

Hi all you cat lovers out there, Mr. Monte here. Old Fuzz Face let me at the keyboard tonight without a fight, a fuss, or any deep, painful scratches. It seems he and I have declared a truce for Advent. I guess it’s because of that “naughty or nice” thing imposed by St. Nicholas. More likely, it’s because that pointy-headed twerp, Clyde the Elf, is a lowdown snitch and blabbermouth. (See SFH Journal: 2018-12-04 through 07.)

Speaking of Clyde, I keep hearing sighs, moans, whines, and complaining noises because Blondie can’t find him. Fuzz Face is up here with me laughing quietly to himself. Poor guy, his turn is next and Blondie is better at this silly game than he is.

So, the two of them, after four years of cowardice, finally got the nerve and gumption to bring a Christmas tree into Serendipity Farmhouse. Since I entered their lives, bringing untold sunshine and happiness, they have assumed that I, the most intelligent and well-behaved of Maine Coon cats, could not be trusted. Just because I love to play with things that are round, things that hang down, things that sparkle, and things that shine, they thought that I would cause some type of damage.

They also have this fear that I will eat things I shouldn’t. They think that I would chew on branches, or climb into the tree, or some other, perhaps unspeakable, cat-like thing to a real tree. Oh, they have so little faith. But, I digress.

Today, Fuzz Face assembled (with Blondie’s guidance) the most hideous replica of fir tree any right-minded person or cat could imagine. They reasoned (if humans are truly capable of conscious thought) that I would be less likely to approach or harm an artificial tree.

1208181539b (2)Then they stared at the tree. They fluffed up the stupid looking bottle brush branches. Then they stared again. They tried to say nice things about that mutant, green creation and bring themselves to imagine that it wasn’t really that ghastly. Sometimes, I wish I could protect them from their follies.

Pictures were taken. Blondie, dressed in a very strange looking hat, made great sport of hanging a single decoration high up, where it was thought that I would not be able to get to it. I love Blondie a lot. She looked happy. That helped my heart to soften a bit. Perhaps that tree has some merits. Even Fuzz Face appeared to be taken by the thought of having a tree in the house once again.

Now it was time to allow me to make my required examination of the strangely lit faux fir.1208181546a (2) Intriguing as the thing was to my catly curiosity, it seemed oddly out of place and its odor was so synthetic and unnatural. Blondie was smart enough to see my displeasure and she brought out her old remedy – feline pheromone spray. —- That did it! True it was artificial and unnatural, but my sides began to buzz with purring and, before I knew what was happening, I was rolling on the floor and rubbing against the tree – we were friends. Yeah, I might have made a couple of attacks on one of the branches and taken a few bites at it but, in the end, the tree and I are on good terms now.

Serendipity Farmhouse History: It has been our family tradition to set up the Christmas tree every year on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This year, even though it is faux, the tree is again inside in it’s rightful place.

Directly behind the tree is small sewing sampler that says a lot about our family and Serendipity:

1208181538 (2)DEAR HOUSE

You’re really very small

Just big enough for

LOVE

That’s All

 

SFH Journal: 2018-11-08 through 14

Highlight 1: The change of seasons could be no more evident than what we have seen this last week. Autumn colors reached peak; passed peak; and now the leaves are gone. Daily highs have dropped to the mid-forties. The National Weather Service now promises us snow and a wintry mix tonight. The splendor of Autumn was far too short.

Highlight 2: Our featured picture, however, summons hope for the coming season. Our Christmas cactus has been with us since Idaho. Its brave parent plant was a gift to my Mother many years ago in Ohio. It made the trip to Virginia when she passed away. And then, in true pioneering spirit, it crossed plains and deserts to live with us in Idaho. The blossoms of today bring memories of my Mom and remind us that Christmas will soon be here.

Highlight 3: Yesterday, in what will surely become a yearly ritual, old Fuzz Face crawled up the ladder of our RV El Camino Del Monte. With wobbly legs and great fear of impending disaster, he unfurled the new RV cover. One tiny, cleverly hidden tag, was the only way to identify the front end of this monstrous and unwieldy mass of fabric. While foolhardily traversing the roof of the RV in a totally confused and befuddled state, the wind began to build and threatened to turn the RV cover into a parasail and to drag Fuzz Face to some far-flung corner of the county. As one might expect, Mr. Monte watched from the kitchen window with “glee” and “hopeful expectations” written on his face. Unfortunately, for Mr. Monte, old Fuzz Face was uncharacteristically successful and completed the job unharmed.

1114181519a_HDR (2)
El Camino Del Monte bundled up for Winter

Weather:  And finally it arrives. These are the words of the National Weather Service for tonight (14-15 November): “Snow, freezing rain, and sleet, mainly after 4am. Low around 28. Northeast wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New ice accumulation of less than a 0.1 of an inch possible. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.” (For details of Sperryville, VA weather in November 2018 – click here.)

2018-11-08: High/Low -55º/39º

2018-11-09: High/Low – 45º/41º

2018-11-10: High/Low – 45º/28º

2018-11-11: High/Low – 46º/25º

2018-11-12: High/Low – 46º/28º

2018-11-13: High/Low – 45º/37º

2018-11-14: High/Low – 41º/32º

Plantings: Reporting suspended until the first planting of 2019.

Harvest: Reporting suspended until the first harvest of 2019.