Category: Winter

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


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: 2020-01-06 through 01-12

As we told you in our post First Snow – 2020-01-07, Tuesday the 7th we were blessed with a quiet Winter interlude. The days passed by and the snow slowly disappeared. Saturday the 11th and today the 12th were warm and balmy. The contrast between the 7th and the 12th reveal an amazing range of beauty and color. Serendipity Farmhouse is always ready to fascinate one with its charm and nearly infinite variations in personality.

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The unexpectedly warm days provided a perfect opportunity to move some seasonal items to the shed for storage. Happily, there was also some spare time to mount a brand new cast iron rooster bell at the entrance to the back porch. This was a present from dear Daughter #1 and family, intended to provide a means to announce the arrival of welcomed guests. Well done, dear Daughter #1, and thank you.

Stop the presses!! News Bulletin!! – Beautiful Wife just came into the house and made the joyous announcement that several garlic sprouts have made their way to the surface in search of the sun. Yes, Friends, there are great prospects for fresh, homegrown garlic this year.

UntitledSFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-01-06 through 01-12





First Snow – 2020-01-07

Describing the first real snowfall of the season here at Serendipity Farmhouse doesn’t require many words – just a few pictures, a fresh cup of coffee, and a fire in the wood stove. Here are the pictures, meanwhile, I’ll sit back in a cozy chair to enjoy my coffee and the warmth of the fire.

And, if you prefer an action shot, this is about the best I can do on short notice.

And, if you are a weather geek like me, the stats for the day are here.

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.

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