Category: SFH Journal

SFH Journal: 2018-09-20 through 23

Highlight: Look at that poor, little cherry tomato bush. It tried so hard. Over watering from heavy rains, leaf curl, hot humid days, and lack of sunshine were some of the many hardships it had to endure. It gave of itself, yielding fruit when other bushes surrendered to the elements. It was the only tomato plant that made it through this year of tomato misery. We will let you rest now. You will be held in memory and Serendipity Farmhouse lore. You have earned our everlasting respect.

Weather: There were a few relatively dry days and now the rain is back. The yard is soggy, puddled, and ready to suck in unsuspecting victims daring to walk across it.

2018-09-20: High – 84º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-21: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-22: High – 75º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-23: High – 62º (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: We have and overabundance of serrano peppers and have run out of ideas for their use – next year there will be no seranno bush. Meanwhile the cherry tomato bush keeps trying, but it has to go. Brave, courageous little bush, thank you for your efforts during one of the worst tomato years ever.

2018-09-20: Nothing to report

2018-09-21: 9 okra pods, 5 cherry tomatoes

2018-09-22: Nothing to report

2018-09-23: 6 okra pods, 14 jalapenos

SFH Journal: 2018-09-17 through 19

Highlight: Let’s keep the lady who mistakenly pulled into our driveway this afternoon in our prayers. She was lost and seemed somewhat distressed. The reason was apparent when you looked at her license plate – it said “North Carolina”. She was trying to get back home and find her loved ones. I pray that she was able to follow my directions and that she will soon be reunited with her family.

Weather: Until SFH has its own weather sensors and rain gauges, any of the weather data reported below is likely to be skewed or entirely incorrect. For example, on Monday, we had to evacuate SFH due to a flash flood. Some local folks are saying that over eight inches fell in our area. In Luray, just a few miles away, they reported a total of 0.47 inches of rain and most of that was in the morning.

2018-09-17: High – 80º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-18: High – 82º (Details – click here.)

2018-09-19: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: Unlike the weather reports, the harvest count is entirely accurate and credible. Each time beautiful wife brings the harvest bucket into the house, Mr. Monte carefully sorts the various items into stacks – okra in one pile, tomatoes in another pile, etc. Then he writes down his count of the individual items. How does he do that you might ask? If you had a cat as smart as Mr. Monte the answer would be immediately obvious to you – he uses a scratch pad.

2018-09-17: Nothing to report

2018-09-18: Nothing to report

2018-09-19: 7 okra pods, 9 cherry tomatoes, no fingers

SFH Journal: 2018-09-14 through 16

Highlight: Once upon a time, there was a hurricane, a pair of scissors, and an okra plant. Who would ever suspect how the accidental coexistence of those three things could lead to a Serendipity Farmhouse emergency and a very unexpected Lesson Learned?

Florence is coming! Florence is coming to Virginia! Batten down the hatches! Stow away everything that isn’t tied down!

And so it was a week ago. Tables, chairs, and garden tools were stowed away. My beautiful, forward thinking wife made sure everything was safe from tropical storm wind and rain – even her garden gloves.

While on our RV trip in Mr. Monte’s bug out buggy, Florence changed course and moved further south and west. The immediate danger was gone. We returned home and set about our normal routine – even in the garden – even though all that had been stowed away had not been returned to its rightful place. And, of course, that included dear wife’s garden gloves.

On the 16th, okra needed to be picked. The beautiful woman, whom I love so dearly, went cheerfully with scissors and bucket in hand. She had everything she needed to pick okra. Everything except her garden gloves.

A snip here, a snip there and soon seven okra pods were in her bucket. Number eight was waiting high atop an okra bush nearly seven feet up. She gently bent the push to where she could reach that eighth pod. Perhaps it was the awkward position; perhaps it was the unusual angle; no matter what it was, as the scissors snapped sharply shut, a small piece of her middle finger slid into the path of the blades. The blood followed soon afterwards

In her stoic way she called to me while heading towards the house. I saw the problem; I saw the blood; I saw this was no simple cut.

First one, then another, first aid kits, hydrogen peroxide, and other emergency items made their way to the kitchen where we attempted to stop the bleeding. There was no combination of bandages, gauze, or tape that would stem the flow. Within minutes, we were in the car heading 25 miles to the urgent care facility.

0916181213c (2)There was a wait, but not too long. There were experienced medical professionals that had just the right makings for a custom fit dressing. Finally, the bleeding was under control and the wound was properly cleaned.

Today, dear spouse is nursing her wound and she asked me to tell you about here Lesson Learned: Never take a shortcut, always use your garden gloves, and always, always look closely at what your are doing.

There is no doubt that the next batch of okra cooked at SFH will be accompanied by a remembrance of once upon a time, when there was a hurricane, a pair of scissors, and an okra plant.

Weather: The remnants of FLORENCE are heading our way and will dump heavy rains on the region on Monday. The level in the river is low enough to take 2-3 inches. Any more than that, however, may mean moving the cars to high ground and spending a night or two in El Camino Del Monte in the church parking lot.

2018-09-14: High – 77º, precipitation 0.06 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-15: High – 73º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-16: High – 71º, precipitation 0.02 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-09-14: Nothing to report

2018-09-15: Nothing to report

2018-09-16: 8 okra pods, 1 finger

SFH Journal: 2018-09-12 & 13

Highlight: We’ve just returned from our second shakedown cruise in El Camino Del Monte. This was a far, far better trip than our first adventure in Mr. Monte’s bug out buggy (BOB). Hopefully, tomorrow we will begin to relate a short series of stories concerning the trip. I will let you know now that living in close quarters with a playful, 18 pound, semi-nocturnal feline, with 24 sharp claws and a mouthful of savagely sharp teeth can be perilous to health, well being, and nighttime rest.

Weather: It now appears that hurricane FLORENCE has decided to take a different track. Although this reduces the level of immediate risk to us, it still threatens several who are very dear to us.

2018-09-12: High – 77º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-13: High – 78º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-09-12: Nothing to report

2018-09-13: 6 okra pods

SFH Journal: 2018-09-09 through 11

Highlight: As you will see in the Weather topic, there is every reason to believe that we will have a high water event at Serendipity Farmhouse. Our motto is “Pray, Prepare, Preserve”. So, it should come as no surprise that Mr. Monte, my beautiful spouse, and yours truly, old Fuzz Face, are making preparations for heavy rain and high winds. Be assured, the generator is working, the lightweight objects in the yard have been stored away, and Mr. Monte’s bug out buggy (our RV, El Camino Del Monte) has been readied to deploy at a moment’s notice.

Weather: The story can be told with two names – GORDON & FLORENCE. The remnants of tropical storm GORDON dumped water in our area and has kept the river unusually high. Now there is the prospect of hurricane FLORENCE bringing enough rain to cause the river to overflow its banks.

2018-09-09: High – 60º, precipitation 0.75 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-10: High – 68º, precipitation 0.12 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-11: High – 69º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-09-09: Nothing to report

2018-09-10: 10 okra pods, 6 jalapenos

2018-09-11: Nothing to report

SFH Journal: 2018-09-03 through 05

Highlight: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Though often said in unrelated and figurative contexts, the reality of that statement here at Serendipity Farmhouse must be taken quite literally.

The Labor Day weekend was hot and sticky. There were several heat and health advisories issued for the area. Nevertheless, when it’s time for canning – it’s time for canning. So it is, and so it was meant to be.

Despite the heat and despite the advisories, beautiful, sweet Wife, Mr. Monte, and I spent hours in the soon to be world famous SFH test kitchen. The processing pot was filled, boiling, and steaming. The lid sterilizing pot was filled, boiling, and steaming. The salsa pot and the pickle brine pots were filled, boiling, and steaming. Outside, it was 91º. Inside, it was much hotter. But we are living as granny did, and doing many of same things in the same ways that granny did. The vegetables are ripe and the canning must be done. So, we did it.

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The rewards for our efforts for the 3rd and 4th of September include:

  • G&G’s Pasta Sauce – 5 pints
  • Peter’s Pickled Hot Peppers (jalapenos & serranos) – 3 pints
  • Mr. Monte’s Finest Dehydrated Habaneros – 1 pint (dry canned)
  • Mr. Monte’s Finest Dehydrated Serranos – 1 pint (dry canned)

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Weather: Perhaps it will be the last heat wave of the season. We don’t know. We do know that the canning results took our minds off the heat – at least for a little while.

2018-09-03: High – 91º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-04: High – 91º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-05: High – 89º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: The harvest has slowed somewhat.

2018-09-03: 4 cherry tomatoes

2018-09-04: Nothing to report

2018-09-05: 11 okra pods

SFH Journal: 2018-08-29 through 2018-09-02

Highlight: As September overtakes August, we can see changes in our vegetable garden. 0902181243b_HDR (2)Our first planting of okra plants is becoming “long in the tooth”. Although still producing, the leaves are ragged and tattered due to a savage attack by Japanese beetles.

Fortunately, our second planting of okra plants is thriving with green and full leaves. The picture shows small okra pods forming  and there is hope for an abundant crop for the second half of the season.

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Meanwhile, the harvest of jalapeno, serrano, and habanero peppers is rapidly increasing. We will soon have to start pickling and/or dehydrating them.

Weather: More heat and humidity – this week the prognosticators promise us another heat wave.

2018-08-29: High – 91º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-08-30: High – 87º, precipitation 0.05 (Details – click here.)

2018-08-31: High – 87º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-01: High – 82º, precipitation 0.66 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-02: High – 89º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: Okra and hot peppers everywhere – we have our work cut out for us pickling, dehydrating, and dry canning.

2018-08-29: 3 okra pods, 3 cherry tomatoes, 18 jalapenos, 21 serranos, 18 habaneros

2018-08-30: Nothing to report

2018-08-31: Nothing to report

2018-09-01: 14 okra pods, 4 cherry tomatoes, 12 jalapenos, 12 serranos, 9 habaneros

2018-09-02: 10 okra pods, 9 cherry tomatoes