Category: SFH Journal

SFH Journal: 2020-03-23 through 03-29 – Oh, Happy Routine!

I won’t dance around the subject. Life is not the same as it was this time last year. Right??

Don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion. Let’s look back a year and see what we were doing. Take a look at this post – SFH Journal: 2019-04-07 through 13 – Things You Never Expected! Take special notice of the entry “13 APR: Mother Nature Still Calls the Shots:“. Yep, gentle readers, we had set out to power wash and paint the railings on our deck. Did we ever finish that job? Nope.

Well, nope, until this last week. Despite bad weather, procrastination, and very studied and highly skilled forms of laziness, our collective conscience forced us to return to that task. I must say, my dearest Spouse was a very strong motivational force for me.

To be sure, the job took a very, very long time. But please note, we did complete it in less than one calendar year. So, in addition to the picture of my dearest and most sweet Motivator-in-Chief at the head of this post, I will give you a few glimpses of before and after of this now completely completed task.

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– And from all this we derive a great bit of Serendipity Farmhouse Wisdom – A task worth doing is even more worth doing when it is put off to when it can be put off no more.

Once again, I won’t dance around the subject. Life is not the same as it was this time last year. Right??

Don’t be so quick to jump to a conclusion. Let’s look back a year and see what we were doing. Take a look at this post – Reflections on Spring at Serendipity Farmhouse

Take special notice of the portion of that post that says:

“There are two major cycles to life at SFH. The first is our motto, the way we approach each day – Pray, Prepare, Preserve. The second is the underpinning of our relationships – Faith, Family & Country.”

This year as last, Spring has come. Here are some pictures to remind us that beauty and growth are part of the “Happy Routine” here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

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And the best sign that life goes on here at SFH is when the potting table has been returned to its normal place and industrious Wife is nurturing the young tomatoes, peppers, and herbs as she waits for just the perfect time for planting.

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God provides many, many blessings. It our job to seek and to understand them, even when they are shrouded in mystery.

By the way, today is our Anniversary.

Oh, Happy Routine!

 

SFH 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 2020-03-23 through 03-29

 

 

SFH Journal: 2020-03-16 through 03-22

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Hi! Mr. Monte here. – – As the Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security, I am required to ensure that, during these troubled times, all physical security and health/sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are implemented and enforced. For the sake of brevity, I will make my first Situation Status Report (SSR) very short:

SFH – All Secure!

Thank you, Mr. Monte, for your report. Now, I will move on to more routine matters and report on events of the last week here at SFH.

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As can been seen in the photo at the head of this post, March, the month of variable weather and temperature, is making its mark in a good way on SFH. Many flowers are in bloom and our cherry tree will reach peak sometime this week. Here you can see my ever so industrious Wife preparing some cut daffodils to brighten up the house.

IMG_20200321_151508524_editedAnd what better reason to adorn the house with flowers than on the occasion of Granddaughter #1’s birthday. On the other hand though, those daffodils, as pretty as they are, can not compare to the beauty brought to SFH by Granddaughter #1.

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There was some spring planting done this week. I will provide a summary in an upcoming post. Meanwhile, it brings great joy to my heart and great anticipation to my taste buds to see the garlic prospering.

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Just about the time you think you have set forward every single clock, watch and timepiece for daylight saving time; just about the time you think that job is complete, then you find one more timepiece that must be reset. Yes, even the sundial must be adjusted to account for this somewhat ridiculous, artificial manipulation of our daily lives. So, I adjusted the sundial and it is accurate to within a minute or two. But please, please, if it should slow down, please don’t ask me to wind it up. I don’t think even Atlas knows how to do that.

It was with great joy that my dear, wonderful Spouse announced to me that a flower that she had thought was with us no longer had reappeared. It is so very fitting that it has come to life and blossomed during this season, this Lenten season. After all this member of the genus Helleborus is, among other things, called the Lenten Rose.

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SFH 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 2020-03-16 through 03-22

 

SFH Journal: 2020-03-09 through 03-15 – Truckin’ On

Despite what you may have read in the news or seen on TV, there are places where life continues on pretty much as usual. Serendipity Farmhouse is one of those places. To be sure, we are aware of the outside world. But as you know, dear readers, since the first day of this blog, our motto has been “Pray, Prepare, Preserve.” At SFH, that is what we do.

That is why, on Tuesday, beautiful, industrious Spouse and I had the time to plant three rows of Early Wonder beets. As we worked in new soil with the old, we could see that all of our 30 garlic plants were prospering and promising to provide a bountiful crop in July.

On Wednesday, hard working Wife set to the task of planting a bagful of tulip bulbs given to us by a most gracious neighbor. Mary’s Garden benefited with the inclusion of several new bulbs and the gardens in the front yard received 27 new bulbs. – Now we can sit back and see how the bulbs will take to their new home at SFH.

Yesterday was the big day. Our Class-C RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM) was uncovered and now we have begun the process of readying Mr. Monte’s motor home for another season of travel and adventure. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), it was a delight when I turned the ignition key and ECDM started and, how shall I say it, “Purred like a kitten.” Mr. Monte nodded approvingly.

In my personal view, putting a cover on our RV is dangerous and requires great care. By comparison, removing the cover is much easier. Nevertheless, managing to get that huge cover into the very small storage bag is a task that requires ingenuity, patience, and some measure of luck. – There is reason to rejoice when the job is finally done.

Mr. Monte is a great believer in preparedness. He foresaw some of the recent events and recognized that there might be a run on some of his most needed supplies. In January, he made a special order for a most essential item. The following picture shows the day when his cat litter was delivered. With his stockpile well established he can keep “Truckin’ on.”

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SFH 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 2020-03-09 through 03-15

SFH Journal: 2020-03-02 through 03-08

The word “busy” is quite inadequate to describe the events here at Serendipity Farmhouse this week. Consequently, all of our daily chores and work on this post have had to take a back seat to doing the important things. Here are just a few of the events that, most happily, occupied our time.

Driving Lessons: A certain grandson visited us from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning. This was not your usual run-of-the-mill, fantastically exciting visit to SFH. No! This was a visit with a purpose. What purpose you might ask?

This young man and yours truly set about the serious task of driver training. I could fill pages with narrative about the event, but let me just say the following. Early on Monday morning I sat beside a grandson who had never started an auto engine. At 10:30 AM on Wednesday, that same grandson drove his granny and granddad to Mass on a four-lane divided highway at 55 mph. – – Granny was favorably impressed.

There will be more to this saga in coming weeks.

Liver & Onions for a New Generation: In honor of my dear brother Tim, whose birthday was March 3rd, Blondie and I made one of his favorite dishes, liver & onions, as a memorial dinner. We gave our visiting grandson the option of eating something else or trying Tim’s favorite. To make a long story very short, dear grandson ate the meal with great enthusiasm and was ready for more. – – Tim, a new generation has taken the torch in hand, the tradition will live on. – – P.S. We miss you!

Annual SFH “First Robin of Spring Contest: In the past, this event has been both a cause for great rejoicing and, at times, a cause for some passionate discussion. This year, the three judges, Blondie, Mr. Monte and I, seriously considered the photographic entries for the contest in all manners, aspects, and ways. – The decision was unanimous. Both entries from the Eastern branch of the family were selected as winners.

There was one judge, however, who indicated that next year he would like to have more substantial evidence than mere photos. He suggested that the subject robins be brought to SFH for his close personal examination. – – Meeooww!

Level-headed Wife: My dearest spouse, level in hand, requested my presence at the site IMG_20200223_120155200_HDR_editedof the new arbor. Under her expert direction, the new arbor is almost level. The new anchor pins held up well under the force of recent high winds. It was still too early to obtain any praise or even simple acknowledgement from my beautiful Wife. – – Perhaps someday I’ll meet her expectations.

SFH 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 2020-03-02 through 03-08

SFH Journal: 2020-02-24 through 03-01 – Drat!!!

These last few weeks, you, most unfortunately, have had to endure my ceaseless prattle about damage to and repair of the extensive infrastructure which supports operations here at the vast Serendipity Farmhouse vineyard. With all due apologies, this week you will be subjected to yet another story of vineyard woes.

(Please refer to previous accounts of this most frustrating saga here and here.)

As is illustrated by the featured image, wind gusts exceeding 20 mph toppled our newly erected arbor early on the morning of February 26. My dear, sweet Wife and I woke that morning to that most aggravating sight. Mounting posts, supposedly designed to keep the structure firmly anchored, easily gave way under the force of the winds.

Recognizing that the new arbor’s mounting posts were, (a) not well designed and (b) impossible to sink to a suitable depth in the ground due to the rocks beneath, I knew that it was time to head to the hardware store to procure devices to anchor the arbor to the ground. Below you will see the temporary fix. During heavy gusts yesterday, the anchors did their job, but dearest Spouse quickly pointed out that the structure is not level.

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There was some damage to the arbor when it crashed to the ground. A corner brace was pulled out from its recessed mount. Because of poor design on the placement of the reinforcing screw, the brace was not firmly fastened to the vertical post. I have added another screw at an appropriate place.

There will be one more episode in this ongoing saga. ThatIMG_20200223_120155200_HDR_edited will be the day when beautiful, levelheaded Spouse escorts me to the arbor construction site and provides detailed instructions on how to bring the new arbor to be completely level.

 

In reparation for boring you to tears with my ramblings about fallen arbors, sometime soon I will have a post recounting how dear Daughter #2 and Son-in-law #2 gave me a most appreciated early birthday present – a trip to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

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SFH 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 2020-02-23 through 03-01

SFH Journal: 2020-02-10 through 02-16 – Two Years of SFH

IMG_20200213_132850189_editedWhat with all of Mr. Monte’s fretting and overwhelming anxieties because of St. Valentine’s Day and his decision to declare his affection for Miss Fleur, we residents of Serendipity Farmhouse almost lost sight of an event that is surely more important than the apprehensions of our dear “smitten kitten”. Two years ago this last week, the Serendipity Farmhouse blog made its debut. (Please read Dedication to Our Patrons – St. Scholastica & St. Benedict.)

Many of you have been with us from the beginning. Some of you have joined us more recently. Whatever your reasons might be, you have chosen to share in our experiences and sample a bit of the simple life, the Benedictine life of good works and hospitality and, most of all, Prayer and Work (Ora et Labora).

Sometimes we look back. More often, we savor the here and now. Life is good! Sometimes, we look forward, especially when we celebrate the first plantings in our garden. In all things we find meaning and often we find humor. It’s far easier to smile than to frown – after all, this is Serendipity, the house of our realities.

Today, I walked about our vast estate and saw many signs of the coming Spring. The reality of Life will not and can not be denied, it will not and can not be put off. So, if you please, join us as we start another year here at Serendipity Farmhouse. There will be more planting and harvesting, more RVing and traveling, and there surely will be more good food. And, it goes without saying, there will be more Mr. Monte. – – God bless!

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SFH 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 2020-02-10 through 02-16

 

 

SFH Journal: 2019-02-03 through 02-09 – Calamity!

Dear Reader, please forgive me if this post is relatively short and devoid of humor and hope. As you will see in the weather graphic below, in the wake of a sizable rainfall, a great windstorm blew through the immense Serendipity Farmhouse estate on Friday, February 7th. Although the highest recorded gust was only 26.2 mph, you must understand that the SFH Weather Station is mounted on a pole only seven feet high and is blocked by trees. That means that wind gusts were actually much greater.

Whatever the wind speed was, it was sufficient to totally wipe out the infrastructure of our most fruitful vineyard. Only time will tell if we will be able to restore the vineyard to its once great glory.

Big Wind

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Here we see the true devastation wrought by this calamity.

After we celebrated our joyous harvest of grapes last August, we were looking forward with great expectations as a larger local winery offered to process our grapes and turn them into a great vintage wine. We found that our grapes would be mixed with grapes from other vineyards. The vintner said that he had come up with a rare and distinctive blend. To match the quality of the product, the winery created an equally rare and distinctive label.

The next time you visit Serendipity Farmhouse, we will be glad to invite you in for a quality tasting.

SFH Box Wine

SFH 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 2020-02-02 through 02-09

SFH Journal: 2020-01-27 through 02-02

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Maine Coons Rule!

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

After that thoroughly shameless display of childish goat gabbing and gibberish yesterday, Ol’ Fuzz Face decided to take a break and let me have the keyboard. Finally, dear readers, you will have the opportunity to partake in the fullness of rational, adult commentary on life and all things of importance. I offer it at no charge, knowing that you will be greatly edified.

As a stealthy and cunning predator, I have disciplined myself to be a careful observer of all things in nature. That’s because so many of those things are edible or at least fun to play with before introducing them to the afterlife.

For example, I watched Fuzz Face closely as he was attempting to get a bag of cat litter to bring into the house. I calculated all of his possible moves and determined that he couldn’t get to the bag without coming into striking range of my deadly claws. – He attempted to get by; he weaved to-and-fro, and then fro-and-to, but he could not pass. I had the best of him and was ready to advance towards the kill. That’s when he spoiled the game and simultaneously revealed his great cowardice. – That’s when he called for Blondie to come and help. That’s when the words “spineless” and “wimp” entered my mind. – Oh well, there will be a next time and I shall prevail.

Now, back to the post. As I said earlier, I am careful observer of all things in nature. If it weren’t for me, Fuzz Face would have never known that a pileated woodpecker was in clear view just outside his window. Even with my early notification, Fuzzy was only able to take a substandard, mediocre photo of that beautiful feathered creature. Despite it’s imperfection, I have made it the featured picture for this post.

Yesterday, before Fuzz Face went out for that silly rendezvous with his funny looking, floppy-eared friends, I advised him that daffodils and resurrection lilies are now making apparent their longing for Spring. In his own, dull sort of manner, he made his way to the river’s edge and snapped a few poorly staged pictures. Nevertheless, I guess they make the point. Some day, Fuzzy will learn to take my artistic advice, but I’m not very confident that will take place during any of my nine lives.

Finally, he came back to the house, camera in hand, with a stupid smile on his face. Once more he had taken substandard photos about which he could not refrain from bragging. “Look, Look!” he said, “Garlic! The garlic is growing and there’s more of it now!”

What a sad and demented creature is Ol’ Fuzz Face, if goats and garlic are the high points in his life. If it weren’t for the fact that he knows my grooming preferences and plays a fairly good game of “Hunt and Kill”, I would have asked Blondie to pack up his things and take him to Reality Farm, where he could play with goats and eat garlic to his heart’s content.

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Another useless garlic picture

SFH 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 2020-01-27 through 02-02

 

 

 

SFH Journal: 2020-01-20 through 01-26 – Gotta Have a Plan

When you have a large-scale agricultural undertaking like we have here at Serendipity Farmhouse and Spring is lurking around the corner, you gotta have a plan. Dear, sweet Spouse and I are now locked into intense, collaborative brainstorming sessions on just how to manage the multiple vegetable gardens on our vast 1.24 acre estate. It’s not a simple task.

If that were not enough to fill every spare moment in our mid-Winter days, we also have the gigantic burden of planning a full season of RV-ing in our Class-C RV El Camino Del Monte. Maintenance, meal planning, provisioning, route selection, making reservations, and general logistics all come into play requiring intricate and detailed scheduling of time and resources. To make this the best RV-ing year ever, we have to invest time and work together as a well-disciplined team.

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Ahem! Mr. Monte here.

I’m interrupting Ol’ Fuzz Face during his over extended, crazed bloviating and useless prattle to let you in on what a cat with a real life is doing. Yes, right now, your beloved feline friend, moi, is planning out my strategy to capture the heart of my dearest love, Miss Fleur. Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and sweet Miss Fleur is certainly the most lovely young thing in this part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I already have a card and some tasty snacks for her. Tonight, I will compose a love letter that will surely win her heart.


This is how it is at SFH on a mid-Winter day – especially when “You Gotta Have a Plan”.

 

SFH 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 2020-01-20 through 01-26

SFH Journal: 2020-01-13 through 01-19 – What’s our favorite comfort food?

Hi, Blondie here!

As you might have noticed, Hubby and I are foodies. Different seasons bring different foods and the soon-to-be-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen is always experimenting with one recipe or another. But, when it’s 3:00 PM on a mid-January day and the temperature is in the mid-30’s, what kind of food do you start thinking about?

Many of us tend to forget about gourmet recipes, filled with sautes and reductions. Nope, that’s not what we think of. Instead, we think about something that Mom used to make or some dish that we developed a liking for over the years. It’s our “go to” food, it’s our favorite comfort food.

Now, Hubby, spent a long time in the Far East and his favorite food on a cold rainy or snowy day is S&B Golden Curry with beef on Japanese-style sticky rice.  And I have to admit I like it, but, no, it’s not my “favorite” comfort food. (Check out the featured picture and see our post here.)

For me, the dish that most means “comfort” is cheese and tuna casserole. It’s easy to make, easy on the budget, and the leftovers are as good as the first serving. What more could a girl like me want on a mid-January day?

This week’s menu is already made and, unfortunately, tuna casserole is not on it. But, just you wait and see what’s on the menu for next week. Dear Hubby, guess what you’re gonna be having for dinner.

So, if you have a chance, please let us know what your favorite comfort food is. Maybe, some day we will experiment with your favorite here in the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen.

P.S. – – Mr. Monte says his favorite comfort food in the Winter time is a teaspoon of heavy whipping cream. – – Meowwww, purrrrrr!

SFH 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 13-19