Category: Uncategorized

My Big Cats Got it Done!

Monte-wood_stove Old Fuzz Face left me in charge of the blog this week. That was certainly a mistake on his part. So, let yours truly, Mr. Monte, tell you this story the way it should be told.

In this picture you can plainly see that by my second year, I had developed a meaningful relationship with the Serendipity Farmhouse wood stove. Old Fuzz Face and Blondie quickly learned that, if they stoked the wood stove regularly and kept the temperature sufficiently warm, I would be a happy cat.

If, however, they got lazy and just ran the propane furnace, this old house would be drafty, cold, and generally unpleasant. Needless to say, but it’s worth saying anyway, if I’m feeling unpleasant, they will pay the price. Consider for a second the meaning of the phrase “tooth and nail” and apply it in the context of an unhappy, 20 pound Maine Coon cat.

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This year, at my behest, my big cats ordered two cords of firewood. When it was delivered, I noticed that Old Fuzz Face merely looked at the beautiful pile of potential warmth for the winter and then went on about his business. He didn’t even lift a finger to move that wood immediately to its proper place to dry and season. Blondie wasn’t much better. She kept on picking okra, baking bread, and vacuuming floors. Somewhat uncharacteristically, she didn’t even nag Fuzz Face to get on with this most important task.

Showing their laziness, Fuzz Face and Blondie tried to use the old Tom Sawyer ploy – get the family over here to move the wood. They went so low as to use guilt and extortion. See SFH Journal: 2018-09-29 through 2018-10-02 – I was ashamed to even be associated with Fuzz Face, much less admit that he was one of my big cats.

Oh, then one day, Fuzz Face nearly freaked out when he saw that Tropical Storm Michael was brewing and fixing to head our way. Panic was in his voice and he quickly sent out an urgent post to the whole extended family. “Help!”, he screamed. “All the firewood is going to wash away!”

1009181557h (2)See SFH Journal: 2018-10-03 through 07 to witness first hand how pitiful and undignified was his plea for help. He became a raving “Chicken Little”. He immediately, put on his work clothes and forced Blondie to do the same. Fuzz Face pulled out the lawn tractor and wood cart and forced his dear, sweet, and fragile wife to load wood. Nearly, four hours he spent working that poor woman nearly to death.

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Fortunately for me and Blondie, SFH has some real friends who came to the rescue the next day. Daughter #1, son-in-law #1, and granddaughter #1, in a calm and collected fashion traveled nearly 25 miles to SFH. They saved the day and they save my beloved big cat Blondie from overwork.

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They worked calmly and efficiently. Granddaughter #1 found fascinating fungus and mushroom growths on the wood. Avoiding spiders and centipedes, she found other critters in the midst of the wood pile that aroused great interest and awe. She and her parents demonstrated the true SFH family spirit.

So, yesterday, the wood that promises to bring me a warm and cozy winter, was all transported to the shed and stored until needed. Daughter #1’s family now holds a much higher place in my warm and fuzzy feline heart – I highly esteem them.

My big cats got it done!

Fuzz Face, however, will be served justice during the coming winter. You can be sure that when the wood stove starts to grow cold, I will force that lazy lout to go out to the shed and bring back wood sufficient to serve my needs.


SFH Journal: 2018-10-03 through 07

Highlight/Notice: Daughters, son, daughter-in-law, sons-in-law, grandchildren, please take notice of the featured picture. Yes, that is a new tropical storm tracking our way.

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And yes, that is a brand new stack of firewood – two full cords to be precise. It was delivered to Serendipity Farmhouse on September 29th and it is still waiting for you.

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And yes, that is what Florence did to the end of the yard where the firewood is now stacked. Another event like the flash flood that Florence brought, could mean that our neighbors downstream might end up with our two cords of firewood.

Ergo, I will start moving wood to the shed today. Your assistance with the firewood is cordially invited. (Pun entirely intended.)

Weather: Dry, warm weather continues to dominate. We are beginning to watch tropical storm Michael. The projected track now goes through a portion of Virginia. We are making the requisite advance preparations – just in case.

2018-10-03: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-04: High – 87º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-05: High – 75º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-06: High – 86º (Details – click here.)

2018-10-07: High – 89º (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

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Harvest: The harvest has slowed. As this post is being written, three trays of serrano and habanero peppers are being dehydrated.

2018-10-03: Nothing to report

2018-10-04: 1 okra pod, 11 jalapenos

2018-10-05: Nothing to report

2018-10-06: Nothing to report

2018-10-07: Nothing to report

SFH Journal: 2018-09-12 & 13

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

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

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

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

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-09-12: Nothing to report

2018-09-13: 6 okra pods

SFH Journal: 2018-09-09 through 11

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

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

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

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

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

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-09-09: Nothing to report

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

2018-09-11: Nothing to report

SFH Journal: 2018-09-06 through 08

Highlight: It’s all about food!

For example, Mr. Monte demanded his favorite grain-free food for dinner tonight. We also ate well, as you will see later in this post. But, some of our neighbors weren’t quite so happy. The cardinal family sat on the bird feeder and glared menacingly at my beautiful spouse because the feeder was empty. She told those cardinals that they can complain as much as they wanted; however, she had no intention whatsoever of filling that bird feeder until the rain stopped.

Yep, it’s all about food. And so it came as no surprise when our friend Bartholomew Bear made his appearance in the yard almost precisely at 6:15 PM this evening. As we were eating the last of the fried okra, Bartholomew (Bart for short) made his rounds from apple tree to apple tree. He muttered a few comments about how the apples weren’t as good as last year, but he informed us that it was worth the trip to SFH, even if the apples were sub-par.

He finally made his departure at a sauntering pace, heading for the North Fork of the Thornton River. He mentioned that he might check out all the country gentry partaking in the local The Taste of Rappahannock charity fest. Since we heard no screams from that direction, we assumed that he changed his mind and went elsewhere.

No matter what he decided, for Mr. Monte, Old Fuzz Face, Blondie, the cardinal family, and Bart the Bear, it’s all about food.

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Weather: The heat wave is gone.

2018-09-06: High – 91º, precipitation 0.02 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-07: High – 86º, precipitation 0.35 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-08: High – 71º, precipitation 0.02 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: The okra plants are producing full force now.  The picture below shows sixteen okra pods sliced and ready for flash freezing. They will be a great side to some meal in deep winter.

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Fried fresh okra and baked chicken, topped with last year’s salsa, were the featured ingredients for dinner tonight. This is how a vegetable garden pays for itself in flavor and cost savings.

2018-09-06: 1 cherry tomato, 2 jalapenos, 16 okra

2018-09-07: Nothing to report

2018-09-08: 10 okra pods

SHF Journal: 2018-08-28

Highlight: Today, our weather history readings are coming from Culpeper, VA with a current “feels like” temperature of 100º. Normally, they come from Luray, VA. The current temperature in Luray is 98º with a feels like of 104º. The temperature and humidity readings are all over the place. The only source we can trust is Mr. Monte. Take a look at today’s feature picture. Notice the placement of the fan and the the cat.

0825181228_HDR_resized.jpgAlso in the midst of all the preparation for the great SFH Birthday Bash, I forgot to tell you that we pickled our first okra of the year. There were too many for three pint jars and not enough for four pint jars. Also, their sizes varied dramatically. The result is not aesthetically pleasing. Hopefully, the taste will be more satisfying.

Weather: Humidity and heat, need I say more?

2018-08-28: (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: The okra is finally coming in high quantity. We have several juvenile okra plants that are just about to flower. Meanwhile, our lone cherry tomato bush is beginning to wain.

2018-08-27: 12 okra pods, 4 cherry tomatoes

SFH Journal: 2018-08-24 through 27

Highlight: The great Serendipity Farmhouse Birthday Bash of 2018 is now in the record books. Tolerable weather, good food and lots of fun and games were enjoyed by all. Stay tuned for our special post on this memorable event.

Speaking of games, it took me nearly an hour to set up the badminton/volley ball net. It took me nearly as long to take it down and get everything back into the box. Now, would you care to guess how much total time was spent by my children and grandchildren playing badminton and/or volleyball?

I have a proposal for a game for next year’s Birthday Bash. Next year, I will challenge the combined group of party attendees to set up the net in less than half an hour. If they manage to accomplish that task, I will allow them to eat. If they don’t make the deadline, they can watch Monte and me eat all the food. – – – Just sayin’.

You can be sure Granny will never let me get away with that one.

Weather: We had our dry spell and the weather was tolerable for the great SFH Birthday Bash on the 26th. For all that we are thankful. Now the heat and humidity have returned. As I write this on the 28th, the “feels like” temperature is 109º.

2018-08-24: High – 82º, precipitation 0.07 (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-08-25: High – 82º, precipitation 0.0 (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-08-26: High – 88º, precipitation 0.00 (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-08-27: High – 92º, precipitation 0.?? (Detailed Summary – click here.) (Yes it rained, but I don’t have the recorded amount.”

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-08-24: 12 cherry tomatoes

2018-08-25: 6 cherry tomatoes

2018-08-26: Nothing to report

2018-08-27: 10 okra pods, 9 cherry tomatoes