Category: SFH Journal

SFH Journal: 2021-03-01 through 03-07 – Feline Productive

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia, diligence, attention to detail, and hard work – that’s what its all about. That is how you can distinguish yourselves and make your own mark on this world. My life achievements, based on those principles, stand as a shining example to all of you. You can do it too – but you must be willing to put in the effort.

Imagine the surprise and pride that were shared by Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face when they turned to page 1 of the March-April edition of Cooperative Living Magazine and saw me, the now-world-famous Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security, featured as “FELINE PRODUCTIVE”. Yes, there was a classic picture of me “hard at work”, proclaiming that yours truly was the“FELINE PRODUCTIVE”. The magazine is distributed to all customers of the 15 member electric cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. I’m sure that the editors have received many emails and phone calls requesting more details concerning the unique background and capabilities of the SFH Chief of Security. I’m expecting a call from them at any time now to set up an interview to be used in a feature-length article to satisfy the demands of their anxious readers.

Please Note: Today, the feature picture is the work of that highly-esteemed young artist – Grandson #2. He has done an excellent job of capturing the serious, reflective, and alert sides of my nature. His fine drawing has now been designated as my “official” Chief of Security portrait. Thank you Grandson#2!

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 2021-04-01 through 03-07

SFH Journal: 2021-02-22 through 02-28 – Mind Meandering

Hi! This is your Serendipity Farmhouse Girl Raised In The South (GRITS).

Drops of rain announce themselves on our metal roof as I collect my thoughts and linger in enjoyment of this quiet time. It is good to live so close to where the Shenandoah winds its way through the Blue Ridge. Like my early morning thoughts, it meanders in a gentle way from this to that and then on to something else. So, on this last day in February, allow me to share with you some of my mind meandering.

Hubby and I are moon watchers. Its various phases, times for rising and setting, and monthly names are matters for daily Serendipity Farmhouse dinner table discussion. So, it came as no surprise last night when Hubby announced that the clouds had briefly parted and there to the East, over our very own Turkey Mountain, the full Snow Moon was rising. Indeed February had been a snowy month and the Snow Moon was true to its name.

Now I admit it might not sound very romantic to speak of the full moon rising over a mountain named Turkey. Wouldn’t the name Swan Mountain or Eagle Mountain stir up more emotion and romance? Maybe, but we weren’t the first settlers here in this valley and it’s quite likely that the turkeys that abound in Rappahannock County provided needed food for our predecessors.

For them, survival was more important than romance. Naming a mountain in honor of an important source of food made abundant sense. However, our dear friend and guest visitor, Miss Tiffany Turkey, certainly appreciates the fact that more recently-arrived local inhabitants prefer romantic moon watching over turkey shoots.

Yes, February is coming to an end and already everything that fills this vast estate we call Serendipity Farmhouse is poised to move boldly into March and that season we call Spring. The snow on the Blue Ridge is melting and the North Fork of the Thornton River is running high and fast. The sound of the river serves as background music to accompany the first sun-seeking of the daffodils and resurrection lilies.

Now, I am not the only one here at SFH who has a Hubby. Our pair of resident bluebirds have been here with us for quite some time. Like us, they remain together through thick and thin. Like us, there is a pecking order. This week gave demonstration to how that pecking order works.

Mid-week, yours truly, saw that the bluebird pair was sitting on the fence next to the bluebird house. Neither the male nor the female would go inside. It was obvious that the female was not happy with the situation and was letting her hubby know. That is when I called in my dear Hubby and explained the matter to him. I reminded him that he hadn’t cleaned the birdhouse when the season ended last year. He said, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Then I said, “Well, what are you going to do about it?” – Hubby is not so dumb. He picked up on my tone and facial expression and immediately made his way to the porch to get his tools. Mere moments later he had removed the covering on the birdhouse and cleared out last year’s nest.

Yesterday, as we were sitting on the deck, Hubby pointed out to me that the bluebirds had returned to the birdhouse. The female looked inside. Then she went to the fence and talked to her hubby. He hopped up and looked inside the birdhouse and then flew off. When he returned he entered the house and it appeared that he had nesting material in his mouth. – Yes, girls, there’s a lot to be said about the value of a proper pecking order.

February can be a cruel month. Its cold and damp and darkness seem to remind of us how very temporary are the things of this world. This February has been no different than many others before. For example, over ten years ago Hubby and I purchased a bread maker. It proved itself to be a very good one as you have seen in many of our posts. Though it had served us so well, it too was one of the temporary things of this world. The last weeks of its life it moaned and groaned. Mechanical scraping sounds were evident – metal pieces had fatigued and were bent out of shape. Hubby explained to me that it could not be fixed and had to be replaced. With proper solemnity he prepared it for its trip to the metal recycling bin at the county dump. I watched on as he took my old friend from the pickup truck to the bin – I could see he too was a little choked up. Then we made our trip home in silence.

But life and bread go on! We did our homework and ordered a replacement. It arrived on Thursday. On Friday I quickly set about making acquaintance with our new bread maker. Clearly, and most emphatically it is not the same as my dearly departed one. Buttons are in different places, settings are unlike what I had come to prefer, this was not my old machine. Nevertheless, the work of the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test kitchen must go on.

Hubby and I made a first test loaf from a mix. The quality and texture were not quite as I had hoped. But, it wasn’t clear if it was the fault of the machine or the age of the mix. – This week and next there will be a lot of bread making going on. And it will continue until I master this new machine. Until then, Hubby better be prepared to eat a great deal of toast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and anything else that might make a meal of experimental bread.

That brings my mind meandering to one last important place. I use a bread machine out of convenience and the need to save time. Nevertheless, I hold the highest regard for those dedicated people I’ve known who make their bread entirely by hand. I have one friend in Idaho who makes her own bread the traditional way. That is just one aspect of her many charms and accomplishments. Someday, I hope to develop the type of skills she has. And I hope to go one step further. There are many talented cooks among the granddaughters in our fine family. Wouldn’t baking bread with one or two of them in the old way be just the perfect thing for a rainy day like today, when the drops of rain are announcing themselves on our metal roof?

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 2021-02-22 through 02-28

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

SFH Journal: 2021-02-01 through 02-07 – Plumbing the Depths of History

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, Mr. Monte is anxiously preparing a card, presents, and many other signs of sincere affection for his dearest Miss Fleur. So, on this very snowy Sunday, I have been able to regain access to the official Serendipity Farmhouse blogging computer. There’s a warm fire in the wood stove, and I look forward to a delicious lunch because my most beautiful and capable Wife will be making pastrami sandwiches with a perfect loaf of her exquisite homemade bread. – Indeed, all is well here at SFH!

A simple dashed line – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

For some, including Mr. Monte’s claimed 23,417 feline followers, the following story may be too long and tedious. Too bad for them. This story isn’t meant for those folks. It is meant for lovers of history and those who will follow us as residents here at our cherished Serendipity Farmhouse.

Sometimes you do the right thing and you don’t even know it. Or, you don’t know it until many years later. For example, in late-2016, dearest Wife and I commissioned the Rappahannock Historical Society to compile a detailed history of what is now the vast 1.203 acre estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse.

We were both impressed and overwhelmed by the more than 200-page document we received in early-2017. It was filled with maps, charts, photocopies of deeds, contracts, and other official documents. Even the cover page gave us pause to think about the historical significance of the land upon which our little farmhouse is built – “Formerly part of 1731 Colonial Land Grant from King George II and a 1751 land grant from Thomas 6th Lord Fairfax.”

Wondrous Spouse and I are students of history. We enjoy finding the puzzle pieces of the past and making a picture out of them. That explains why we have paged through the huge binder many times, trying our best to sort out the different names, persons, and relationships, creating a small “who’s who” in the SFH historical timeline. – Our reading of the history provided entertainment.

It wasn’t until December 22nd, during the week before last Christmas, that we found how fortuitous was our decision made in 2016. It was on that day that we found a practical application of historical documentation that saved us many hundreds of dollars that week and perhaps thousands of dollars over the next several years.

In 2013, our home inspector’s report noted that SFH had very low water pressure. In February 2014, our water pump died and had to be replaced. We thought the new pump would improve the water pressure. It did not.

For several years we lived with the problem. Various plumbers suggested that we might need a new pressure tank, but they weren’t sure. In July of 2020, our well went almost completely dry. We thought that several weeks without rain caused the problem. (See SFH Journal: 2020-07-06 through 07-12 and SFH Journal: 2020-07-13 through 07-26.) When we did have water, the pressure was very low. By December, almost nothing was coming out of the tap. So, we called in the professionals.

After testing this and that, that and this, a plumber, wiser than his years might suggest, stated without hesitation it wasn’t our pump or our pressure tank. No, we were the proud owners of an underground water line with an ever-growing leak. “We can fix it for about $3,800.00 – if you’re lucky.”

Worn out fitting

Left with no alternatives, we accepted the bid and waited for digging day. After one weather-related postponement, the day finally came. The two workmen arrived, looked at the colored lines painted on the grass by Miss Utility, and immediately started digging directly in front of the pump house.  Their plan was to find the leak and simply repair the leak at its source. Within an hour they found the source of the leak. It was an old, worn out galvanized steel 90° angle fitting. – That was the good news.

The plumbers immediately replaced the fitting; turned on the system; breathlessly waited for signs of success; and soon found out there was probably another leak somewhere else along the line. – That was the bad news.

The workers casually mentioned to me that when they tried to trace the path of the existing line, it went away from the farmhouse rather than towards it. That didn’t make much sense to them. – But … But … It suddenly made all the sense in the world to me.

Quickly, I ran into the house pulled out the history binder and started looking for old survey documents. No, the survey made in 2013 wasn’t the right one. The survey made in February of 1978 was the one. Years ago, I had wondered why that survey showed a dashed line running from the original water pump down our lane. But there it was on the survey.

Below is a comparison of the 1978 and 2013 surveys. The answer was all in a simple dashed line – – – – – – – – –

Next I looked at a deed from the same year stating the following: “The right to use the water from the well located on Lot D for the benefit of Lots A, B and C, as set forth on the plat herein.” – Serendipity Farmhouse was Lot D, and the other three lots on our lane were Lots A, B and C. That was the answer – the water line did not go directly from the well to our house. No, instead it headed westward down the lane. The line to our house branched off of it further down the lane.

I informed the workmen of my finding and showed them the survey. It was at that point they decided there was no need wasting time looking for a second leak. Instead, they would run an entirely new line from the pump house directly to Serendipity Farmhouse. – Once the new line was in place, they turned on the water system and behold – there we no leaks and our water pressure was greatly increased.

The work was done for the originally estimated $3,800.00. It could have been more. The life of our water pump was increased because it was no longer continuously pumping water back into the ground. Finally, my neighbor across the way now had an answer to a question he had for years: “Why is it always so wet and soggy on the east side of my house?” – – Now the answer was clear, we at SFH had been giving him free water to keep his grass green through the longest droughts.

Lesson Learned 2021-01: Read your history – it will save you money and heartache.

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 2021-02-01 through 02-07

SFH Journal: 2021-01-18 through 01-31 – Visitors

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia, before we get into the boring “human interest” malarkey, here is this month’s lesson on how to wage a psychological influence campaign successfully. In this case, the objective of the campaign was to influence my two big cats to purchase a new comforter set suitable to my regal position at Serendipity Farmhouse.

First, it is necessary to understand that in waging such a campaign, the subjects must be worn down, tired, and mentally confused – sleep deficit tactics are most useful. For nearly a week, I would wake both of them, alternately purring, nuzzling, and sitting on their heads. Once they were suitably disoriented, I then pretended that something was in the comforter, perhaps bugs or gnats. I would paw at the comforter, sniff at the comforter, and then pounce on the comforter as if something were actually there. They finally couldn’t stand the notion that something might be crawling around, so they got up and turned on the lights to see what it was – they saw nothing.

I continued attacking the imaginary critters to the point that Fuzzy and Blondie brought in flashlights and minutely inspected every thread of the comforter. They couldn’t see a thing. – I resumed alternately stalking and attacking the imaginary critters.

Fast forward to the next morning. Blondie hit the Internet before the sun was up and looked for a comforter set worthy of yours truly – price was of no concern. – – My dear feline followers please observe the picture above. There you will see the spoils of psychological warfare – my new comforter set. Blondie and Fuzz Face never had a chance!

SFH Security Force Staff Award

Lightning After Disposing of an Intruder

On different note, it always gives me great pleasure to recognize our faithful and exceptionally talented SFH Security Force Staff members. While Bronto the bear and Rusty the Ratsnake take a little time out for their Winter naps, Lightning the broad-winged hawk continues to make his patrols in an effort to rid the SFH estate of unwanted rodents. No matter what the season or what the weather you can hear Lightning overhead, monitoring every corner of this vast estate, ever vigilant to seek out and deter unwanted intruders. – – Today stands as the most recent example of Lightning’s unusual dedication to service. Even now as Winter Storm Orlena is dumping many inches of snow on SFH and the surrounding regions, Lightning’s call can be heard echoing throughout our valley. – – As one proud predator to another: “I commend you, Lightning!”

Visitors

Okay, the important information has been dutifully conveyed, I guess I can spend some time on that “human interest” stuff that so boars me. We’ll start off with the feature picture of a Great Blue Heron. We on the SFH Security Force call this guy “Benny the Blue.” He is a sporadic, but welcomed visitor. He’s colorful, has lots of good stories, and can show folks a few things about fishing in the North Fork of the Thornton River. He’s also quite welcome because of his eating habits. According to the Audubon Field Guide, his diet is “highly variable and adaptable.” In addition to all the aquatic and amphibian creatures you might expect, he’s quite capable of joining in with Lightning eating snakes and rodents.

I would be greatly remiss even I didn’t spend some time talking about our most recent and greatly cherished guest, Granddaughter #1. She’s no stranger to SFH. In fact she has been featured in several posts including Monticello & Granddaughter #1. Just like Benny the Blue, Granddaughter #1 has many endearing attributes. For example, she is a cat fancier. She knows how to talk to big guys like me without using one of those overly sweet voices. More importantly, however, she is a great cook. She has a natural talent for understanding taste, aroma, and the magical aspects of preparing a fine dish. So, it was with great pleasure that Blondie and I could sit back Friday evening and watch Granddaughter #1 and Ol’ Fuzz Face put together the most aromatic and enticing pizza I’ve ever seen. Our visitor needed no recipe or instructions. She selected the finest ingredients; mixed and matched a wonderful balance of spices and herbs; and ensured that Fuzzy didn’t mess up the crust.

Of course the result was a perfect example of the finest dishes ever produced at the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. But it didn’t end there. No, if you refer back to our post Hot Peppers Above & Beyond you will note that mere, ordinary crushed red peppers are not what one should put on a truly great pizza. The perfect topping is, of course, our very own SFH Spicy Hot Peppers.

Finally, although I might be one of the world’s finest felines, a truly exquisite blend of knowledge, cunning, and loving affection, Blondie and Fuzzy have something that I would envy. I would envy the fact that they have such wonderful grandchildren. But I don’t have to live in envy. That’s because my two big cats share their grandchildren with me. I guess that’s one of the reasons I like it so much here at SFH. Well, that and the fact that I now have a comfy new comforter set.

Oh, and one last thing. When I get on Fuzzy’s computer to write my exceedingly witty and insightful posts, I often take time to look at pictures of the grandchildren. Just today, I ran across this picture of Granddaughter #1 on a ‘great explore’ at Craters of the Moon National Park. I think Fuzzy captured a bit of her personality in this photo. She is someone who seeks and explores. – As a 21-pound Maine Coon cat, I can appreciate that kind of spirit.

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 2021-01-18 through 01-24

SFH WX 2021-01-25 through 01-31

SFH Journal 2021-01-03 through 01-17 – Just Hanging In There

Hi. Mr. Monte here.

This time of year is very difficult for a fully mature, unusually fit, remarkably agile, and unquestionably intelligent, 21-pound Maine Coon Cat. The days are short. The weather is dreary. And, most unpleasantly, outside time on the porch is greatly curtailed.

Oh, you may may experienced the Winter blahs, but you have never known the uniquely intense sense of frustration and misery that besets me during this time of year. – – – There, now that I have set the proper mood for this post, let’s see what Blondie and Ol’ Fuzz Face have been doing to keep our spirits high during these Winter doldrums so that we can just hang in there until Spring arrives.

There’s more on the door.

We at the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen take great enjoyment in cooking gourmet and traditional American meals. Blondie and Fuzzy do a fair-to-middling job of following my instructions and they occasionally surprise me with some excellent cuisine. We like to experiment with all kinds of meats, but inevitably my two big cats come back to their favorite Julia Child recipes featuring beef (boeuf).

This year, one of the fine friends of Serendipity Farmhouse offered to go in with us for a side of Reality Farm beef. – – What great jubilation there was when Blondie and Fuzzy received their share of the beef. A highlight of the last week was when they prepared beef short ribs for the first time in their years together. It was delicious! – – – As a cat I was happy to see that my two big cats were happy. As for me, beef might be fine for them, but if I didn’t kill it, I’m in no real rush to eat it.

Finally Clean! – An oven doesn’t have to be exceptionally dirty to be exceptionally hard to clean. I’m told that when Fuzzy and Blondie moved into SFH the oven did not meet the high standards of cleanliness that are exacted by Blondie. When I arrived on the scene a year later, even though Fuzzy had spent some time in working on some very resistant, burnt-on stains, several offending stains remained. Over the years since then, Blondie and I have reminded Fuzzy that, until that oven is entirely clean, the soon-to-be-world famous SFH Test Kitchen would not be at its finest.

To his credit, Fuzzy pursued his duty to rid the oven of the offensive signs of filth. Finally, on January 14th, 2021 (mark that date for posterity), Ol’ Fuzz Face achieved success. He has submitted this photo as evidence to those who may have doubts.

Fuzzy, don’t be so foolish as to think that you can now rest on your laurels. – – The oven job was only one item off of Blondie’s “honey do” list. You may get away with resting on the Lord’s Day, but all the other days still belong to Blondie and me. – – Now get back to work!

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 2021-01-04 through 01-10

SFH WX 2021-01-10 through 01-17

SFH Journal: 2020-12-29 through 2020-01-03 – Making Amends to His GRITS

Hi! This is your Serendipity Farmhouse Girl Raised In The South (GRITS).

This is a story about my Hubby. Although, he may have some rough edges and is not quite as cute and cuddly as my sweet Del Monte, in his own way, he is a big part of what makes SFH the pleasant home and quiet retreat from the world that it has become. As I reported to you a year ago, my adventurous and daring Hubby learned two very important lessons concerning common sense and an over abundance of self reliance. The unfortunate affair revolved around Hubby’s desire to master the use of our brand new Instant Pot and to make the best New Year’s Day Southern-style ham and black eye peas ever.

In retrospect, he might have achieved that goal had he read the Instant Pot directions and listened to the most observant and wise creature in all of feline creation – Mr. Monte. No, instead, my Hubby chose a different path, and because of that ill-advised decision, he was publicly humiliated and learned the following two important lessons: IMG_20200104_112051376 (2)_edited

Lesson Learned 2020-01: An Instant Pot is not like a crock pot or a toaster. The electric cord is detachable. That cord is subject to Murphy’s Law and it will detach itself when you least expect it.

Lesson Learned 2020-02: When your 20-pound Maine Coon Cat jumps on the counter and tries to tell you that the Instant Pot electric cord is detached – – Listen to him!!!

(For the full story of how Hubby learned those lessons, see SFH Test Kitchen – Hubby Under Pressure.)

Well, all of that happened a year ago. Since then, dearest Hubby has frequently pondered upon those two lessons learned. Over the course of the last year, many a time Hubby could be seen walking about the vast SFH estate, muttering aloud, over and over again: “Instant Pot – – detachable cord; Mr. Monte – – Listen to him!!!”

So, when it came to this New Year’s Day, I considered his request to redeem his honor. He came to me hat in hand, promising to make amends to his beloved GRITS, promising to to make the best New Year’s Day Southern-style ham and black eye peas ever. – – How could I resist his plea? Although he may have some rough edges and is not quite as cute and cuddly as my sweet Del Monte, in his own way, he is my loving Hubby. – – I could not refuse him. I said, yes.

On New Year’s Day we started the year 2021 all together in the kitchen. I worked the magic that only a GRITS can do, making the best collard greens and cornbread ever. Mr. Monte, the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen Master Chef, observed, advised, and guided our kitchen staff. And, to one side, dear Hubby, ensuring that the Instant Pot cord was firmly fastened and listening to Chef Monte’s every word, prepared the Southern-style ham and black eye peas.

We sat at our places, prayed our grace, and tasted the flavors of the New Year’s Day meal we had prepared. All was as it should be, all was so very good and tasty. Indeed, Hubby had learned his lessons and we feasted on the best Southern-style ham and black eye peas ever. – – Hubby had made his amends to his beloved GRITS.

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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 2020-12-28 through 2021-01-03

 

SFH Journal: 2020-12-17 through 12-28 – Whew!

Yesterday, Mr. Monte spent his time stretched out in front of the wood stove. Dear, sweet Wife quietly relaxed and looked forward to the year ahead. She also began compiling her 12-volume set of “Honey Do’s” for yours truly. I brought in some wood from the woodshed and then settled down to a small cup of hot espresso.

Now, I’m quickly dashing off some notes in planning for all the posts I will need to write to catch you up with the many amazing and sometimes frustrating events that led to Christmas – a Christmas which we didn’t really have a chance to celebrate fully until December 26th. – So, here is my list of events about which I hope to post over the next few weeks:

12-XX Annual Yard Trash Day: This year, beautiful and creative Wife was deeply saddened because, for reasons far beyond her control, she and her dearest friend Nancy were unable to hold their annual Yard Trash Day.

12-21 Birthday Celebration: Classically beautiful and amazingly charming Daughter #1 celebrated her birthday. Many in the family were able to join her and share in the celebration at Daughter #1’s favorite Japanese steak house.

12-22 Major Repairs: $3,800.00 for plumbing repairs is not a paltry sum, especially when the repairs had to be accomplished during the week before Christmas.

12-22 Christmas Cookies: Despite the unnerving presence of a Kubota compact excavator digging a trench just outside the kitchen window, dedicated Spouse prepared some of the best Christmas cookies ever.

12-24 Christmas Eve Ritual: As shown in the featured photo, a mysterious and exceedingly beautiful woman wearing a cat mask, puzzles over how to drink a cup of coffee while watching Christmas Eve shoppers at 6:15 AM. Somehow, her annual ritual will never be quite the same.

12-24 Christmas Eve Flooding: An unusually heavy rain storm dropped at least 3.25 inches of rain on Serendipity Farmhouse and the nearby area on Christmas Eve. The waters of the Thornton River North Fork rose to most dangerous levels.

12-24 Christmas Eve Power Outage: The massive amounts of rain and accompanying winds caused damage to a main power line from the nearby Sperryville substation.  Consequently, most of Rappahannock County, including Serendipity Farmhouse, lost power and St. Peter Catholic Church held its 7:00 PM Christmas Vigil Mass by candle light. By the way, the sudden drop in the rain measurement in the above graphic was not because the rain had stopped, it was because the power went out and the SFH weather station couldn’t transmit its readings.

12-25 Christmas Day: Mr. Monte maintained security at SFH while Blondie and Fuzz Face spent an enjoyable Christmas Day with most wondrous Daughter #2 and her family.

12-26 Christmas Presents – Finally: There was no time on Christmas day for SFH staff and residents to open presents or empty their Christmas stockings. So, poor Mr. Monte, Blondie, and Ol’ Fuzz Face had to wait until the 26th. That’s not a real problem though. After all, Christmas is an Octave and there are eight beautiful days to celebrate Christmas, and I can still say Merry Christmas to one and all during the Octave and throughout the remaining Christmas Season.

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 2020-12-17 through 12-20

SFH WX 2020-12-21 through 12-27

SFH Journal: 2020-11-30 through 12-16 – 1st Snow!

The featured picture above shows one of Mr. Monte’s cardinal friends patiently reminding us that his feeder needs replenishment. He has been with us for many seasons and he is confident that, even if the weather is severe, someone at Serendipity Farmhouse will tend to his need. – For him, the first snow is nothing to be feared.

We at Serendipity Farmhouse live within our beliefs and our traditions, even if the tradition is as simple as providing food for our resident cardinals. However, holding to tradition is not always easy. For example we are now deep within the season of Advent, a period or preparation. Our thoughts should be centered on the coming feast of Christmas – this should be a season of peace and prayer. Yet, all to often, the ways of the world, with all their artificial fuss and clamor, stand as obstacles in our path. – Nevertheless, we hold fast.

So, the last few weeks have been very busy, but SFH keeps the coming of Christmas clearly in sight. Here is a short sampling of the many preparations underway.

04 DEC – First Fire: As we approach the Winter Solstice and Christmas, the days grow colder. In order to keep SFH cozy and warm, and to reduce stress on our brand new propane furnace, we use our wood stove as our primary means of heating. The first fire always starts off with a little smoke, but then, as the stove and chimney warm, we end up with a clean burning fire and a very warm and comfortable SFH.

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08 DEC – Official Theme: As noted in our last post, the official theme for this year is recreational vehicles (RVs). That is because our Class C RV, El Camino Del Monte, served faithfully as our “getaway vehicle” and provided us safe haven during this disquieting year. The obnoxious, little red elf will lead off in showing you some of our RV collection.

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12 DEC – Outside Decoration: The outside decorations and Nativity scene are placed on display. our dearest piece of tacky yard art, Miss Florence Flamingo, dons her Christmas cap. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte sets up his own beloved little Christmas tree and investigates the mysteries of the snow globe and tasty Christmas elves.

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13 DEC – Gaudéte Sunday: Despite the rush of shopping, decorating, sending greeting cards, wrapping, and all the seasonal distractions, it is necessary to remember the true intent of Advent. This Third Sunday, we took time to rejoice – Gaudéte!! – – Why? – – Dóminus enim prope est – The Lord is nigh.

13-15 DEC – Family First: Blondie spends a couple of days with Daughter #2 – It’s a tradition. Meanwhile, Mr. Monte is left in charge and must ensure that Ol’ Fuzz Face stays out of trouble.

16 DEC – First Snow: There’s a story or two to tell about Winter Storm Gail, but we will save that for out next post. Suffice it to say, the wood stove kept us warm; the Advent wreath provided a shining light of hope, and Mr. Monte’s Christmas tree is where we gathered in prayer.

And that brings us back to where we began. Keep in mind this Advent that, just as Mr Monte’s little cardinal friend knows well,  the first snow is nothing to be feared and it is important to hold fast to your traditions.

There is nothing to fear.

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 2020-11-30 through 12-06

SFH WX 2020-12-07 through 12-13

SFH WX 2020-12-14 through 12-16

SFH Journal: 2020-10-05 through 10-25 – The Little Things

This post is long overdue. – We extend our sincere apologies.

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I knew that October is always a busy month, but it was not until the this late point in my life that I was able to really understand why that is. Rather than take up your valuable time with a lengthy explanation, I will merely refer you to the simple and useful moral of the Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. In short, we here at Serendipity Farmhouse turn into ants during October. To illustrate that fact here are but a few of the tasks, chores, and other items we have performed in just the last few weeks:

    • Clear vegetable gardens of old plants
    • Prepare vegetable gardens for next season
    • Plant 30 garlic cloves
    • Clean portion of storage shed
    • Remove 3 air conditioners and store in shed
    • Change out all home water filter
    • Prepare RV for Winter
    • Clear yard of rotting black walnuts
    • Move nearly 2 cords of wood to woodshed
    • Sell an automobile
    • Have 33-year old furnace inspected
    • Have 33-year old furnace replaced
    • Etc., etc., etc.

Even though October turns the entire SFH staff into a veritable colony of ants, we have still been able to learn from the grasshopper that music, art, and love of God’s creation must remain an important part of our SFH culture.

That is how I have come to hold the view that life should not be wasted in waiting for “important” and “big” things to happen. Disappointment will be your likely reward. Rather, one’s time should be invested in enjoying “the little things” that surround you. That is a belief that is shared by the entire staff here at SFH. Even as we busily prepare for the coming Winter, we take time out to enjoy the little things that others might miss. Here are some examples.

Example #1 – Squirrel Chatter:

The beauty of black walnuts is in the eye of the beholder. While industrious Spouse and I were struggling to rid the yard of smelly, rotting black walnuts, the squirrel on the woodpile chattered and laughed at us. He knew that soon I would chop up any remaining walnuts with the lawn tractor. For beautiful Wife and me – a great deal of work. For scoffing squirrel an easy meal.

Example #2 – Clinging to Hope for Life:

A real measure of a life well lived is the extent to which one strives to “be fruitful” and to pass life on to another generation – even when there seems to be no chance for success. Our okra plants illustrate this thought so well. Below we see the beautiful Blossom of Hope despite the chill in the air. Then there is the okra pod that will never mature but has enjoyed its day in the sun. Finally, we have the tiny okra plant that had been overshadowed by all those around it, yet even this diminutive plant brings forth a bud and blossom.

Example #3 – Mr. Stripey:

Then there is our prize example of fortitude and will to survive. One tiny Mr. Stripey tomato plant, grown from seeds we collected in 2015, has stayed with us to this very day. He alone remains after drought, windstorms, heavy rains, near frosts, and a host of other hostile attacks. – Now, he alone stands in the garden bearing fruit.

Example #4 – Promise for Tomorrow:

And the last example of “little things” that are not so little after all is the promise for tomorrow. Our arugula and beets are just now coming into their own. Even into November there will be fresh, homegrown food on the table. And now the the gardens are prepared and lie dormant, yet come next April and May, my beautiful and ever so hopeful Wife will be out in the gardens laboring in love, filled with the greatest hope.

Serendipity Farmhouse is filled with great respect for “the little things” in this life!

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 2020-10-05 through 10-11

SFH WX 2020-10-12 through 10-18

SFH WX 2020-10-19 through 10-25