Category: SFH Plantings

SFH Journal: 2020-05-04 through 05-17

The last two weeks have been filled with commotion, disruptions, minor catastrophes, tumult, anxieties – in short, all the usual, run-of-the-mill events that are common for life at Serendipity Farmhouse. There was, however, an oasis of quiet, warmth, and happiness. That day, that oasis of family joy, was, of course, Mother’s Day. All of the children and grandchildren joined together virtually and shared the sentiment of the day. My beautiful Spouse, daughters, daughter-in-law, all of them mothers, were honored.

The featured picture of an iris makes an interesting point. At a distance, a flower is beautiful and can be admired. When you come in closer, that is when you see that there are interesting details and remarkable individual patterns. Each of the “Moms” in my life are like that. They certainly deserve a day of their own, an oasis of warmth and love.

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With those thoughts in our minds, Mr. Monte and I were on our best behavior throughout the day. In fact, we went a little further and made some buttery English scones for dear, sweet Wife. She was pleased and bestowed hugs and kisses upon the two chefs. It was a wonderful day – one that we all shall remember.

On the other side of that oasis, the harsh realities of life continued to prevail. Nightly, we would hear the prognosticators, the purveyors of weather lies, announce that frosts and hard freezes were on the way. Why is it that these highly paid, deceitful charlatans are only correct when they predict doom and disaster?

Cautiously, we took them at their word and did our best to prepare for the late freezes and extended cold spell.

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Then came the polar vortex – chilly days and freezing nights. Each night grew colder. By the early morning of May 10th, we saw three hours steady of 28 degrees.

IMG_20200510_114150442_HDR_editedAlthough we had prepared, we had not done enough. Our extensive vineyard took it the hardest, though there are still some signs of life on the vine. We lost a cherry tomato plant. Three pepper plants are on the verge of passing into history. Three basil plants are barely holding their own. – – It was sad and mournful at SFH during the days that followed the “big freeze”. – – No happiness, no joy.

If ever there were a woman with the pioneering IMG_20200516_135112543_HDR_editedspirit, a strong-hearted woman with “true grit”, that woman would by my Wife. Mourning and worries set aside, that industrious Lady of mine has dedicated the past week to restoring life in the gardens. New plants were purchased; cow manure was obtained from a local farm; and all of SFH was mobilized in the effort. So, in addition to restoring the lost plants, Vegetable Garden #2 was filled with new tomato plants.

We will accept the setback, we will cut our losses, but you can be sure of this, we will never give up. Excellent Wife has decreed that it shall be so, and it shall be so here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

Here is what has been done at SFH thus far during 2020: SFH 2020 Plantings and SFH 2020 Harvest.

The following links will catch you up with our up-and-down, troubling weather during the last two weeks:

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-20 through 04-25

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-05-11 through 05-17

SFH Journal: 2020-04-06 through 04-12 – Upson’s Life Revisited

My Friend Upson: Sometime during my junior year in high school I met a quite engaging individual. He lived in a somewhat peculiar manner. I thought at the time that his approach to life was odd and I would never, nor would I ever, want to live as he did. For, you see, he was quite prone to having mistakes, errors, and other minor hardships befall him with little or no advance notice. Yet, no matter what happened to him, Upson would always come out of it with a shrug of the shoulders and a simple smile. His life was no puzzle or oddity to him; he came to expect these things and he was quite content.

Now, Upson was not a one-of-a-kind individual. Since high school, I have met many a man like him. For example, I had an acquaintance whose name, when translated from its original language, was Mr. Unlucky. He too, took the misadventures of his life completely in stride.

Many years have passed since I met Upson and worked with Mr. Unlucky. More and more I realize I have become much like them. The day will bring what it brings. It is the best I can hope to get. And, in the end, the best is good enough for me.

By they way did I tell you Upson’s last name? Could it have been anything else? Yes, it was Downsof. So, when I wrote a short biography of my friend, I couldn’t help but call it The Upson Downsof Life.

And all of that written above, dear reader, leads me to a couple of topics for this week’s journal. Yes, for my dear Wife and me, this week has been a chapter from that never published biography The Upson Downsof Life.

Frost Warning: As I wrote last week, clever and industrious Spouse, has filled several garden boxes with early season plantings. A couple of the young plants were not quite as strong as the others. Then our usually unreliable weather prognosticators made their first correct call of the season – “There will be frost.” Of course, that call had to be correct because they were announcing impending doom to the plantings at SFH.  So, when the two weak, young plants were exposed to a chilly low temperature of 32.2° F, they sank low in their beds never to recover. – Upson would have seen this coming.

DSC_1472_editedBirdie and the Battery: As you can see in the feature picture at the top of the post, our bluebirds have returned to take up temporary shelter in the safe surroundings of Serendipity Farmhouse. Now, yours truly, has been waiting for quite a while to take a picture of our temporary lodgers that is something more than just a snapshot. To be sure, I couldn’t complain about the feature picture with Mr. Bluebird all puffed up trying to stay warm. Even this picture of Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird on the fence next to their home is in the category of “okay.” But I wanted something better. There I was perched on the deck, camera in hand, when the perfect shot arrived. I pressed the button and awaited the reassuring “click”. – – No, no, no! – No “Click”! – – The battery was dead. – Mr. Unlucky would have seen this coming.

As you can imagine, I thought of Upson and Mr. Unlucky. Such is life for such as we. I shrugged it all off and charged up my camera battery. – – Easter Sunday arrived and all things have been made new. (See our Easter post here.) Even my camera battery. And the following picture will explain why it is easy for me to say: “The day will bring what it brings. It is the best I can hope to get. And, in the end, the best is good enough for me.”

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Mr. Bluebird building a nest

Mr. Monte is taking the day off, but he reports that all here at Serendipity Farmhouse is safe and secure. Beautiful Wife and I will spend this Easter Sunday enjoying the life God has given us. – – Indeed, the best is good enough for me.

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SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-04-06 through 04-12

SFH Journal: 2020-03-30 through 04-05 – Spring Planting Underway

0924191434b (2)Hi! Mr. Monte here. – – As the Serendipity Farmhouse Chief of Security, I am required to ensure that, during these troubled times, my big cats (they prefer to be called humans), Blondie and Fuzz Face, remain free of undue anxiety and worry. It’s a difficult job herding big cats, but that’s what I do.

Often, they tend to stray and veer away from what is logical and practical. Additionally, as distasteful as it might seem, I am considered by them to be a kind of emotional support animal. Should it be any wonder that, when Ol’ Fuzz Face tries too much of that male bonding schmaltz, I give him a wake up call and bite his arm. I think he’s beginning to understand that affection is a good thing, but don’t overdo it, Buddy.

The big cats are pretty much sticking to routine and life goes on here at SFH. All physical security and health/sanitation Standard Operating Procedures are now being implemented and enforced. Once again, for my Situation Status Report I can say:

SFH – All Secure!

Thank you, Mr. Monte. I doubt that I could be convicted of any “schmaltz” with you, but I guess you see the world differently than I do, Buddy.

Here in our mountain retreat, Spring continues to settle in. Beautiful Wife and I now have the time and the freedom to stroll about our vast 1.24 acre estate and enjoy all the new life that is emerging around us. When we keep our minds focused on the gifts we receive daily, our spirits remain calm and our strength grows. And to make this sense of abundant life even more real, we are in the midst of an SFH birthday season. Grandson #1, Grandson #5, and Grandson #3 all celebrate birthdays in April. Indeed, God is good!

As this post’s title would suggest, we have also come into planting season. Industrious Spouse, with great foresight and good fortune, has gathered seedlings, seeds, and plants for planting. Each is being started and planted according to its own individual time and need. The pictures below show some of what’s already in the ground and the table that follows the pictures gives details on planting dates and locations. – – It won’t be long until there are fresh SFH greens for use in salads and for garnishing.

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DateItemQTYGarden
03-10Beets, Early Wonder3 rowsVegetable #1
03-10Tulip bulbs6Mary's Garden
03-11Tulip bulbs27Pine Tree Stump
03-20Lettuce, Romaine6Vegetable #1
03-29Basil2Herb garden
03-30Arugula4 rowsVegetable #1
03-29Parsley1Herb
04-02Kale, curly6Herb
04-02Kale, purple6Herb
04-02Lettuce, Romaine4Vegetable #1
04-02Lettuce, butter leaf4Vegetable #1
04-02Kale, curly2Vegetable #1
04-02Lettuce, red leaf6Herb
04-19Beans, garden green3 rowsVegetable #1
04-19Beets, Early Tall Top2 rowsVegetable #1
04-24Kale, purple2Herb garden
04-24Parsley2Herb garden
04-24Lettuce, red leaf1Herb garden
04-25Cherry tomatoes, black1Herb garden
05-01Basil3Herb garden
05-01Pepper, jalapeno2Vegetable #1
05-01Pepper, salsa1Vegetable #1
05-01Pepper, banana1Vegetable #1
05-01Pepper, cayenne1Vegetable #1
05-13Beans, garden green2 rowsVegetable #1
05-13Tomato, Mr. Stripey1Vegetable #2
05-13Tomato, Beef Master1Vegetable #2
05-13Tomato, Park's Whopper2Vegetable #2
05-16Basil3Herb garden
05-16Tomato, black cherry2Herb garden
05-16Pepper, serrano2Vegetable #1
05-16Pepper, Jalapeno2Vegetable #1

 

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-03-30 through 04-05

 

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: 2019-11-04 through 11-10

The blossoming of our Christmas Cactus is another sign of the seasons here at Serendipity Farmhouse – a very welcome sign, indeed.

We woke up on the morning of November 5th to a hard freeze of 29.7°F. Though we have

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A frozen cherry tomato plant

had several frosts earlier, this was the one that finally signaled “end of season” for our ever-faithful cherry tomato plant. Up until the day it was taken by the cold, this little plant produced abundantly. It may be gone now, but it leaves behind the memory of 654 tasty red orbs.  Truly, a great achievement!

Yet, here at Serendipity Farmhouse there is always confidence and hope. That fact is witnessed to by my energetic and resourceful Wife. On the very day of the loss of our cherry tomato plant, she made her way to SFH Vegetable Garden #1 and planted five rows of garlic with six cloves in each row. Buoyed by her success with last year’s planting and this Summer’s harvest of fresh garlic, she decided to increase the numbers. There is no doubt in the author’s mind that we will see a bountiful SFH garlic harvest in 2020. (See: SFH Journal: 2019-07-01 – A Midsummer Day)

The arrival of colder weather dictates that El Camino Del Monte must be winterized. Now, with a year of experience under our belt, we managed the whole affair with a minimum of problems or concerns. It was not so last year. (See: SFH Journal: 2018-11-15 – First Snow & First Fire)

In case you’re wondering what Mr. Monte has been up to, in addition to leaf  and critter watching from the back porch, he has taken up photography. He submitted this photo as a sample of what the quick eye of a Maine Coon cat and the quick shutter of a digital single lens reflex camera can catch. Good job, Mr. Monte!

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Now if you remember, one of our very first posts (see: WWWT? #1 – What a Lovely Wood Stove!) detailed all the problems we encountered when we first attempted to use our wood stove. Now that we’ve been here for a while and had time to learn from our past mistakes, starting the first fire of the year was without incident and blessed by warmth throughout Serendipity Farmhouse on the afternoon of Thursday, November 7th.

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All-in-all, a very good week at SFH!

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 2019-11-04 through 11-10

SFH Journal: 2019-05-01 through 12

Highlight 1: This year’s major garden project was the addition of two, two-section raised garden boxes, dedicated to growing tomatoes. In addition to the boxes, other materials for the project included:

  • 76 feet of wire fence,
  • 6 six-foot fence poles,
  • 7 five-foot fence poles,
  • 2 one-foot bungee cords,
  • 28 cubic feet of garden soil, and
  • 1 five-gallon bucket of seasoned cow manure.

Good things: The project is complete and several tomato plants are already in the garden. Beautiful wife is now happy because Mr. Stripey, who has resided on the porch for two weeks, now has a permanent home. “When Momma’s happy …..”

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Not so good things: As you can see from the picture, several of the fence posts are crooked, especially the one on the far right. That, dear friends, is because one of the primary and most abundant crops in this part of the Piedmont is rocks – big rocks – boulders – bedrock – nay, actually an entire tectonic plate. Yours truly and a three-pound sledge hammer are no match for the rocks that reside on the vast estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse. Despite my desire for perfectly vertical, firmly planted fence posts, I will have to learn to live with the soon-to-be-world famous “leaning fence posts of the Piedmont”.

Highlight 2: With an expression of great gratitude to the previous owners and to my industrious wife, SFH is adorned with the gentle and inspiring beauty of flowers everywhere. Here is some of what I am seeing out the window as I write this post.

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SFH Garden & Harvest Report: Not only are the vegetables growing, we are already bringing the bounty of the harvest to the table. Here’s what we’ve brought in during this period:

  • 04 May – Five asparagus;
  • 06 May – Curly Kale and 2 asparagus;
  • 10 May – Basil for a Mother’s Day lunch.

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SFH WX Station Report: The last couple of days have been cool, but earlier in the month were were looking at temperatures in the high 80’s. Rain has been abundant, perhaps overly so. The gardens, however, seem to be pleased with current conditions. Here are summaries of recent weather statistics.

May 01-11 Summary

May 06-11 Summary

May 06-11 Summary-B

SFH Journal: 2019-04-21 through 30 – First Harvest!!

Highlights: The longer days, the weather, and available free time continue to dictate our daily schedule and routine. We are now at a high point of activity outside, caring for the vast estate known as Serendipity Farmhouse. There is much demand for physical labor and very little time for writing posts. In addition to our first harvest from Vegetable Garden #1, here’s a sample of what we’ve been doing. Continue reading “SFH Journal: 2019-04-21 through 30 – First Harvest!!”

SFH Journal: 2019-03-17 through 31

You can see from the title that this post is long overdue. Preparations for the SFH Godzilla Birthday Bash, readying the gardens for planting, yard cleanup, the first mowing, and making repairs and updates to our trusty El Camino Del Monte for another RV excursion season have taken up our time.

Along with all that, our blog host and provider has changed editing formats and forced yours truly to study and master the new procedures. Once again, I am reminded that, like Winnie the Pooh, “… I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.”

Highlight: The new planting season has arrived. Several of our garden boxes have been made ready. New soil and fertilizer were mixed in with the  soil remaining from last year, the clumps were broken up, and everything was hoed, raked, and leveled.

On March 26th, dear, sweet, industrious wife planted three rows of Tall Top Early Wonder Beets. They are happy to be in cooler weather and early planting is recommended.

Meanwhile, the garlic that was planted in November last year is coming along very nicely. We have been reading up on proper care and ways of determining  the best time for harvesting.

Plantings: This year, we will have a table of all plantings that will include date, item planted, quantity (either number of plants or rows planted), and garden area. You can see the table at SFH 2019 Plantings.

SFH WX Station Report: Due to some technical difficulties with Weather Underground, I’m only able to provide the weekly weather summary for 18-24 March. This little bit of trouble, of course, occurred simultaneously with the arrival of the new editing features. As soon as the problem is resolved, the summary for the following week will be posted.


SFH Journal: 2018-03-10 through 17 – A Sunbeam for Mr. Monte

Highlight 1: Warmer weather has arrived, bringing an extended period of dry air and clear skies. Mr. Monte has found his long-awaited sunbeam. The flowers have begun to blossom, the trees are coming to life, and beautiful wife’s herb garden is coming alive with sprouting garlic.

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Highlight 2: With the change in seasons, warmer temperatures, and a shift to Daylight Saving Time, I have moved some items out to the wood shed and reset the sundial. You will note the sundial reads precisely 1:13 PM EDT.

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SFH WX Station Report: The tables and charts tell the story – the seasons are definitely changing.

WX Summary 20190310 to 20190317A

WX Summary 20190310 to 20190317B