Category: SFH Journal

SFH Journal: 2019-08-26 through 09-01

This past week was highlighted by a visit by our most sweet, charming, and imaginative Granddaughter #1. She brightened up Serendipity Farmhouse with delightful conversation and insights into a surprisingly positive and hopeful worldview. Even Mr. Monte moped about with a feeling of absence in our home when Granddaughter #1 had to leave.

As this journal week ends on the beginning of a new month, we can see that the Summer is now giving way to the first signs of Autumn. For several plants in the vegetable garden, the growing season has come to or soon will come to an end. This is natural and good. For those who Pray, Prepare, and Preserve, this is expected and it is welcomed.

 

Here are some brighter moments from the week – – –

0826191337_HDR (2)08-26 Monday: This was an all-day adventure delving into the the history of political thought, horticulture, and innovative thinking in our Commonwealth of Virginia. Granddaughter #1 captured the essence of the day in her post Monticello & Granddaughter #1.

08-27 Tuesday: A day of conversation, work in the garden, and catching up on chores provided necessary relief from driving, waiting in lines, and tourist frustration. There is joy to be found in waking up to a cup of coffee and some honest labor. As you can see below, this was a productive day for the gardens.

0827191604c (2)The never-to-be-world-famous apple trees here at SFH have suffered greatly from a year of extreme over watering followed by a summer of extended, extreme heat. That we have any apples at all this year must be considered a blessing. So, today, with the apple picker I purchased last year but was never able to use, I went out and picked a representative sample of what is growing on our trees. (Full disclosure: This picture was staged and all the spots and blemishes have been hidden from view. Even with that, these are not prize winning apples.)

A Great and Wonderful Birthday Gift: DSC_0719 (2)Oh, by the way, did I ever tell you that our family loves Japanese Gyoza. Of course I have, you just didn’t remember. (To refresh your memory see How to Make Japanese Gyoza.) Well, Daughter #1 outdid herself by treating my wondrous Wife to a Gyoza feast for her birthday. Loving daughter spent the best part of a day preparing approximately 100 of those delicious treats. The fortunate partakers in the feast included Daughter #1’s family, adorable Wife, and yours truly. Mr. Monte refrained from joining in due to certain private weight control issues.

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:

See SFH WX 2019-08-25 through 09-01

SFH Journal: 2019-08-12 through 25

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

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Mr. Monte

“The end is not in sight.”

“There is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

“- That’s because the tunnel has no end.”

Folks, I think Old Fuzz Face has finally lost it. He just walks around muttering to himself like a living page from Eeyore’s Little Book of Gloom. He’s talked himself into a state of total uselessness. He just doesn’t know how to leave the past behind and let the future take care of itself. All he can think about is how badly things might turn out.

Along with Blondie, he fretted and fretted about the Great High Tea. He’s worried about too much sun, too little rain and just about anything that might be too “too”. He took a wonderful two-day RV trip with Blondie and me (yes! there will be a post). We made great food and I was on my best behavior (sort of). All he can talk about is the problems caused by having to replace the RV battery.

Even on the fantastic day when Granddaughter #1 is visiting, all he can think about is buying and stacking the three cords of firewood for heating; getting the wood stove chimney cleaned; and getting the tree service out here to take down the dead sycamore tree that is threatening to fall on the RV and Blondie’s car.

– – Fuzz Face, give it up – – enjoy life – – get yourself together so I don’t have to write blog posts for you.

There’s lots to be happy about. Just take a look at what we preserved this week:

Sometimes I wish Maine Coon cats could wear big, heavy boots. I’m sure Old Fuzz Face would get a kick out of that. Just sayin’ …

Here are all the statistics for the last two weeks that I had to collect, collate, and record on my own.

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:

See SFH WX 2019-08-12 through 18

See SFH WX 2019-08-19 through 25

 

SFH Journal: 2019-08-04 through 11

Hi, Mr. Monte here! – – Old Fuzz Face is once again trying to convince all at Serendipity Farm House that he has been overworked, is bone-weary, and is generally incapable of performing any task, no matter how minor. – – He even pleads to be spared from bringing in a single, 40 pound bag of cat litter. – – So, I guess I will have to write this post while the old man feigns fatigue and a host of other maladies.

04 August, Sunday (Cat Cousins continued): If you remember my wonderful, enchanting, and ever so truly true post about the two cat cousins Gizmo and Cosmo (refresh you memory here), we were all concerned about how this relationship would develop. Well, as may observe in the picture below, there appears to be a growing affection between the two. You have to understand feline body language, however, to read between the lines and see that this, at best, can only be considered a temporary truce – tolerance is not affection – and it easily wears thin. I’ll keep you updated on how this tense situation finally resolves itself.

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05 August, Monday: First full day without Blondie. As you know, Blondie went to see her big sister for a few days. Fuzz Face reacted to the absence in the manner I had anticipated and expected. The lazy lout took almost no heed when I beckoned for his assistance. He had his face stuck in an expressionless trance, staring at that computer screen and calling his actions work. I responded to his lack of attention by splattering, flipping, and tossing cat litter in all directions. I only achieved true satisfaction, when I spread some between his sheets.

06 August, Tuesday: Second full day without Blondie. Once again, Fuzz Face told me that he had to work at his desk. He got away with that for about an hour – then, I bit his leg and said quite clearly, “It’s time to brush Moi!” – – He got the message

07 August, Wednesday: Third full day without Blondie. Fuzz Face said it was another work day and foolishly sat at his desk, thinking I would let him accomplish anything that wasn’t related to me. So, in the most subtle and discreet fashion, I jumped on his lap, climbed on his shoulders, and threatened to bit his ear lobe. I indicated, that when finished, he would have enough piercings to be able to wear more earrings than Blondie and both of his daughters put together. Once again, he got the message. – – I allowed him to brush me for almost half an hour.

Later in the day, I had to save his bacon. He had over seven pounds of tomatoes that he foolishly promised Blondie that he would turn into canned pasta sauce. – – Consider the prospect of that prize dolt attempting to can six jars of pasta sauce – without assistance. Needless, to say, in order to protect the soon to be world famous SFH Test Kitchen from total destruction and ruin I had to direct him in his every move. The idiot almost lost a finger in the blender while pureeing the tomatoes – you really don’t want to know the details.

08 August, Thursday: Blondie’s coming home! It is rumored among humans that, by virtue of her hair color, Blondie has some extra challenges. I don’t hold to that line of thought, but I will say that Blondie is perfectly paired with Fuzz Face. Nevertheless, it is better to have her here, taking care of me, than it is to have her elsewhere, leaving me alone with Fuzz Face. So, when he said to me that today she’s coming home, I immediately got into a better mood. Fuzz Face, on the other hand, went into deep depression. – – He had to clean the house that he had so thoroughly messed up. Not only did he have to clean it, he had to clean it to Blondie’s standards. – the old man was in a compete panic. Sensing that he needed my help, I made sure that the floor throughout the house had layers of cat litter sufficiently deep to trip a circus elephant. – – – Oh, what amazing bliss when Blondie walked in the door – – – She immediately spotted the cat litter and took Old Fuzz Face to task.

09 August, Friday: Perhaps the most important event of the year took place on this day. Blondie and Fuzz Face decided it was time to harvest the grapes from the massive SFH vineyards. You can see the full harvest in the featured picture. It’s most unfortunate that critters and varmints consumed three of the grapes leaving us with only 81% of the original crop. Although a final decision hasn’t been made, yours truly has offered to stomp the grapes. Nowhere else in the world could you get fine wine made from grapes masterfully processed by the four large paws of a handsome 20-pound Maine Coon cat. The wonderful vintage of 2019 should, of course, be called SFH Cat’s Paw Wine. (We were going to copyright the name, but found a winery in South Carolina already has it. Perhaps we’ll just call it Monte-ster Mash)

10 August, Saturday: Life was getting better with Blondie back at home. It was getting better until Friday night when Fuzz Face decided he was going to take me out to the RV with him. I was not enthused. – – But, then I thought about it. If I go out with Fuzz Face, he and I could play. He would be a captive audience – captive in more ways than one. So, we played all night long. I purred and rubbed up beside him and showed my teeth, and we played some more. – – – We came back in at 4:30AM and I slept all day. — Blondie added to my enjoyment of the experience by working Fuzz Face nearly to exhaustion.

11 August, Sunday: This was a day of rest. I did, however, take some pleasure in chasing Blondie up the stairs. She threatened to throw her pink flip flop at me, but I’m so cute she couldn’t follow through.

So, the weather continues hot and dry. Here are the stats.

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: See SFH WX 2019-08-05 through 11

SFH Journal: 2019-07-15 through 21 – Hot!

Why waste words? We at SFH all know what Summer in Virginia can be like. Here’s the simple summary for the past week. – – – Please note that today is not over yet and the temperature could go even higher than the 98º our weather station is reporting.

Yikes! As of 3:19 PM, we are showing a temperature of 100º with a “feels like” temperature of 119º.

Hot-04

Lest you think all we have to say is negative. Please take a look at our harvest statistics below. The gardens are doing very well.

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

 

 

 

 

SFH Journal: 2019-07-08 through 14 – Cat Cousins

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Hi! Mr. Monte here. Ol’ Fuzz Face was complaining (as usual) about the heat and other discomforts of Summer in Virginia. The last time I saw him, he was huddled up next to an air conditioner, sucking on an overly expensive bottle of Perrier mineral water. So, if he can’t handle the heat, then I guess I will have to write this post. – – Maybe that’s just as well, because the topic today is Cat Cousins, something he knows little or nothing about.

Highlight: Blondie and Fuzz Faces’s Daughter #2 has just blessed the extended family with a new Cat Cousin. “Cosmo” is just a little tyke, all black and grey, and full of that usual, juvenile feline cuteness. (By the way, mine never went away.)

Daughter #2 already had “Gizmo”, a decent enough fellow, who is one year my senior. I won’t dispute his seniority in this space, but I will staunchly assert my claim to full authority over all Cat Cousins in the family. They may be cute, but I rule.

In any event, we cats are somewhat territorial and consider ourselves masters of our established domains. Although the picture suggests that Gizmo is adapting to Cosmo’s presence, there will surely be some tensions in the household for a while to come. At this point, all I can say to Gizmo and Cosmo is: “Lots of luck, fellas, and don’t ever try setting a foot onto my territory here at Serendipity Farmhouse!”

By the way, my other Cat Cousins include “Blossom” & “Cinder”, now residing happily with Daughter #1. Fuzz Face tells me they are sweet and adorable. Meanwhile, Son #1 and family are proudly owned by my Cat Cousin “Erso”. Rumor has it that she is quite nice as well.

Oh, I guess right about now Ol’ Fuzz Face would say check out the links below. The garden is producing in great abundance and my two big cats seem to be pleased.

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

 

 

SFH Journal: 2019-07-02 through 07

Highlight: We’ve been busy – very busy. In the last week, the vegetables have really started coming in. It is with great joy, pride of accomplishment, and thanksgiving to God that we can say we’ve kept the tomatoes standing and have protected all our gardens from damage by insects, heavy rain, and strong winds.

And the reward for all of that work speaks for itself. This week we harvested our first big tomato – a Big Beef. It arrived almost simultaneously with our first yellow squash and first cucumber.

Mr. Monte is currently checking out the soon-to-be-famous SFH Test Kitchen to ensure that all is ready for canning, which should start in a week or two. To see how bountiful the harvest is check out SFH 2019 Harvest here.

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH Journal: 2019-07-01 – A Midsummer Day

I took a day of vacation. My chores did not. But, the temperatures stayed in the 80s and sunshine was abundant. Let’s just say it was a pleasant Midsummer day.

Highlight 1 – The Garlic Harvest: Having never done something does not mean that one should not try. So, my endearing spouse and I watched all kinds of contradictory videos claiming to show the proper technique for harvesting garlic.  –  Whether we did it right or not doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the SFH woodshed is now the curing place for 18 heads of garlic. The crop is in and the smells are delicious. This week there will be a pasta dish with very fresh garlic included.

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Highlight 2 – Summer Blossoms: Spring flowers have made way for the arrival of the blossoms of Summer. Hostas, roses, blue mist, lilies, and many more now adorn our gardens. The humming birds are very happy to see their arrival.

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Highlight 3 – At Home Glamping: While many RVs will be on the road this week to remote and distant locations, El Camino Del Monte will be happily parked near a beautiful flowing river, amidst tall shade trees, in a most pleasant and tranquil surrounding. Yes, adorable spouse has declared this Glamping Week at SFH. We shall celebrate our country’s birthday at one of the most beautiful locations in all of these United States – here at Serendipity Farmhouse. One couldn’t ask for more.

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SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH Journal: 2019-06-15 through 30

Highlight 1: The longest days of the year are now passing into Serendipity Farmhouse history. Though not the “White Nights” that one would experience in St. Petersburg, Russia, for us here at SFH, the long days always mean more time in the gardens, doing yard work, and RV adventures.

All that hard work in the garden is paying great dividends. Below you will see my beautiful and industrious spouse with her tomato garden. The three large plants, now standing taller than our gifted gardener, represent a collection of three store bought plants – two heirlooms and one hybrid. All three are blooming and bearing young tomatoes. The four smaller plants were grown from seed we gathered from our first Mr. Stripey plant several seasons ago.

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Of course, all the outdoor work means there is less time to write posts and do the indoor chores. Having fallen hopelessly behind on recording all that has happened over the last half month, all I can do is recall for you some of the events in somewhat abbreviated posts. So, here are just a few of the topics I plan to cover in the future as time permits:

El Camino Del Monte: On the Road Again – Our first RV trip of the year

A Stay in a Yurt – The story of a traveling couple enjoying their twilight years (No, this will not about us.)

El Camino Del Monte: Scouting Out New Destinations (The featured image of my beautiful spouse will be part of this upcoming post)

SFH 2019 Harvest – A Promising Year

Georgie Goes Rogue – Blondie Goes to War

Highlight 2: Dear and gentle reader, the SFH Blog is for you. We hope that, in some little way, we can entertain, amuse, or inform you with tales from Serendipity Farmhouse. The blog is also for the ones who will someday occupy SFH and assume stewardship of this humble abode situated on the bank of the North Fork of the Thornton River.

We include details about plantings, harvests, and weather so that, when the new occupants move in, they will not be baffled, confused, or puzzled by how things work or be concerned about what maintenance needs to be done or when to do it.

To some, these details may be tedious, repetitive, or even boring. So starting with this post, those details will be recorded on their own separate pages. In each SFH Journal post I will include links to the records and statistics pages. For those of you who are so inclined, all you will have to do is click on the given link. For those of you who are not so inclined – – – – – – Mr. Monte will find you! I can only speculate on your life expectancy when he does.

So here is what the new format will look like.

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH WX Station Report: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

 

SFH Journal: 2019-05-26 through 06-14

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

You certainly would be justified to ask why there have been so few posts over the last three weeks. Don’t look at me. I am a highly organized and methodical Maine Coon cat. I live according to a rigid schedule and leave nothing to chance.

No, as usual, Old Fuzz Face is the problem. He blames it on work. He blames it on all the yard maintenance here at SFH. He blames it on family and social commitments. He blames it on just about everything. – – The truth is he has some sort weird attachment to my namesake, our Class C RV El Camino Del Monte (ECDM). Yup, he spends every waking moment working on problems with ECDM when he should be paying attention to me and this blog. He’s also been noted using some vocabulary words with which I am not quite familiar – nor do I desire to be.

Oh well, he is as he is and someone has to write this post. So, sit back and relax while I make up for his laziness, incompetence, and negligence.

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There’s been a lot going on here at SFH, but I guess the biggest news is our vast, extensive, enormous, and generally huge vineyard has scored its first major success in its nearly five year history. Let me tell you, though, that success had nothing to do with our first vintner, Hector. In the picture above, you will notice that Hector started off on the wrong foot and things only got worse as time went on.

His first big mistake was trying to get the grapevine to attach itself to and grow on a black metal arbor. Wrong!!! When the sun came out that arbor would heat up and fry the little tendrils and cause the entire plant to scream in agony.

Hector wasn’t much of a planner and had no sense for return on investment. At the pace he was moving, we expected to be bottling a fine vintage wine by 2053 or so.

Just like Fuzz Face, Hector made excuses for his mistakes. He told us us that working conditions would be a little more pleasant if that cat weren’t watching so closely. When Fuzz Face told us about Hector’s complaint, I merely said, “Mmmmmmm yummy, what a tasty morsel he’d be.”

Hector’s poor performance was too much even for Fuzz Face and Blondie. He was given his walking papers and a poor recommendation. I’ll never know how he would have tasted – too bad.

Well, there’s big news here this year. Upon Hector’s departure, Blondie took over all vintner duties. She got rid of the murderous metal arbor and had Fuzz Face erect a wooden one in its place. During the intervening years, she has watered the vineyard, trimmed the vines, and battled the Japanese beetles. This year, her hard work finally paid off. Just look at the amazing bumper crop of grapes that is now growing on our vines. There are at least 16 of those beautiful darlings just waiting to be stomped by a joyous group of bare-footed stompers.

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Considering that it takes roughly 2.6 pounds of grapes to make a bottle of wine, I figure that we will need to get at least seven, 59-gallon oak casks for this years vintage. Of course, math is not my strong suit.

Someday, yes someday, the Serendipity Farmhouse label will become the hallmark of fine wines.

Enough for now. Once Old Fuzz Face can break away from fixing the problems he caused in El Camino Del Monte, I will have him post all the weather statistics since May 26. Until then, save your money so that you can be the first to buy a (very little) bottle of Serendipity Farmhouse Chardonnay.  – – Cheers!

 

 

 

SFH Journal: 2019-05-13 through 25

Highlight #1: Spring is rapidly moving into Summer here at Serendipity Farmhouse. Daffodils and irises are giving way to roses and magnolias. The wild chives are on the wane, but strawberry plants around the yard are bearing their sweet red fruits. The colors and smells are changing in accord to the dictates of the length of days and rising temperatures. So be it and let it be so.

Highlight #2: The promise of a harvest, perhaps a very bountiful harvest, is being announced in all our gardens and on our trees. If one were to walk through our vast, nearly 1.25 acre estate as I did yesterday, you would have seen some of these signs of promise.

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DSC_1151 (2)Highlight #3: This is our first year growing garlic and we are learning as we go. We planted 17 garlic cloves in Autumn last year. The first garlic sprouts bravely emerged in mid-January this year. One sign that the plants are beginning to mature is the appearance of “scapes” (the flower bud of the garlic plant). We let them grow, but not flower. If they flower, it will retard the growth of the garlic cloves. Scapes are edible and tasty. They can be prepared in several different ways and make a welcome addition to salads.

Harvest: Here’s a brief recap of what came from the garden to our table over the last two weeks:

05-17: 1 large bunch of curly kale & 2 asparagus spears
05-18: 6 strawberries
05-20: 5 asparagus
05-21: 1 bunch of curly kale
05-24: Parsley, basil, 2 garlic scapes (all went into a pasta salad)
05-25: Last harvest of curly kale

SFH WX Station Report: For right now, we have settled into what appears to be a normal Spring weather pattern. The gardens are responding quite well. So far, the rain has come at regular intervals and has been adequate in quantity. Hopefully, this pattern will stay with us over the growing season. For the sake of brevity and clarity, I am only showing the running, monthly summaries.

WX-A

WX-B