Category: Uncategorized

Farmhouse in a Food Oasis

It took her a long time to admit it, but now Blondie says, “We have a farmhouse in a food oasis.” No, she didn’t always hold that view. After all, from the kitchen window of the house of our dreams in Idaho, we literally could see the local Walmart from our kitchen window. In fact, we could also see Sam’s club, Albertsons, Winco Food, and Fred Meyer. We lived in a sea of nearby grocery stores. – Obtaining fresh food was no problem then.

What’s the Food Problem?

Here in Sperryville, life in the house of our realities is quite a different story. There are no nearby, conveniently located grocery stores. That’s the problem. Let’s talk about how we turned that problem upside down and came up with better ways to obtain, store, and use the food we enjoy here at Serendipity Farmhouse.

This map illustrates our problem. But it doesn’t reveal all the hidden details. For example, even though the Luray Walmart is only 19 miles away, we must negotiate Thornton Gap to get there. In the winter, it’s a treacherous drive.

And so it is with each of our four primary grocery store locations. There’s a long drive, and weather and traffic can make it a dangerous proposition. – Consequently, we can’t go food shopping like we used to in Idaho falls.

The extent of our problem became quite clear during our first winter in Serendipity Farmhouse. The winter of 2013-2014 brutally demonstrated that each of our four major grocery locations were not as accessible as we originally thought.

I tried to downplay the severity of the situation and explained to my dearest Blondie that things weren’t really as bad as she made them out to be. However, in January and February, I had to make multiple trips to Idaho and left her to fend for herself.

Serendipity Farmhouse Test Kitchen

Upon my return, I was confronted by an always beautiful but ever so angry Miss Blondie. She had two things to say to me.

First, “Tell me again with a straight face, Fuzzy! Tell me how convenient grocery shopping is here!”

Second, “Fix it!!!!!”

What’s the Food Solution?

As with so many problems we’ve encountered in this, the house of our realties, we had to learn how to adapt to farmhouse living. In the 1920’s, how did the first residents of this house do things? Back then, there were no Walmart stores or big grocery chains. In fact, those folks probably didn’t even own a motor vehicle.

And that was the revelation. Instead of looking to Front Royal, Culpeper, Luray, or Warrenton, the first residents looked right here to Sperryville. How could we have missed the fact that we live in the midst of a wonderful agricultural area. Food of every type is bountiful. All we had to do was learn how to process, store, and use the food that’s all around.

That’s why we’re learning how to make food from scratch and plan meals using basic ingredients. The Serendipity Farmhouse blog is how we share with you what we’ve learned.

Now We Have a Farmhouse in a Food Oasis!

Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to some of the local farms that provide a good portion of the food that makes it to our table. They provide fresh fruit and vegetables, beef, lamb, and dairy. Please join us and meet some of our neighbors.

The Most Important Food of All

Of course, we always keep in mind, “Man shall not live by bread alone …” And that is how we found that here in Rappahannock County we truly do live in a food oasis. That’s because here we also have the perfect place to be nourished by the Word of God.

food oasis

Never Challenge a Maine Coon

He threw down the gauntlet and challenged me. So, I taught him why one should never challenge a Maine Coon cat.

Hi, Mr. Monte here!

To my 23, 417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, it’s really getting hard to do my job here at Serendipity Farmhouse. My human, Ol’ Fuzz Face, is a constant distraction.

Maine Coon Multitasking

If you are new to the Serendipity Farmhouse Blog, you might not know how much work has been going on here to improve your reading experience. In a recent post, I explained how I am thoroughly reorganizing the SFH Website structure.

Although I’ve made a great deal of progress on this task, I still have to perform all my other duties. For example, as Chief of Security, I must make frequent security patrols, write reports, and supervise the security staff. Likewise, I have a myriad of duties relating to the soon-to-be-world-famous SFH Test Kitchen. And it goes on and on. – – Thus, I’m a stressed out, overworked, underappreciated, multi-tasked Maine Coon cat.

Then, on top of everything else, along comes Ol’ Fuzz Face with another one of his hare-brained ideas. Let me tell you what he’s done this time.

Caring for a Maine Coon Cat

As far as humans go, Fuzzy is relatively well attuned to my feline needs and whims. He understands the nature of our relationship. I command; he serves. For example, this morning I entered the office, meowed once, and he immediately lifted me up onto the table and brushed me for fifteen minutes. – He performs this duty almost every day.

When he can muster the courage, every other week or so, he will trim my nails. He has learned that there are times when I’m not really in the mood, and he stays clear. He knows the consequences of misjudging my mood. – He keeps a ready supply of Band-Aids nearby.

Maine Coon Play – Sparring

My 23,417 feline followers and I share a common origin – the African Wildcat. We still feel the call of the wild. As predators, we are drawn to the type of play that mimics the hunt and the kill. The feature picture shows my favorite toy, a Kong Kickeroo.

Every morning, as Fuzzy eats his breakfast, I bump his leg with my head. He knows that if he doesn’t respond within 13 seconds it will be his unlucky day. So, he dutifully, leaves the table and joins me in mock combat. He’s my sparring partner.

No matter how he moves or dodges with the Kickeroo, my superior hunting skills allow me to anticipate Fuzzy’s moves and capture my prey. Should a portion of Fuzzy’s arm or hands block my attack on the Kickeroo, too bad for Fuzzy.

The Foolhardy Challenge

Recently, Fuzzy thought that he, the pupil, was smarter than his teacher. He had found a gardening glove with claws. He proposed that this glove would level the playing field if used in one of our sparring matches. So, puffed up with foolhardy pride, he threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to a dual.

Never challenge a Maine Coon
Mr. Monte, I throw down the gauntlet and challenge you to a dual!

Challenge Accepted – No Holds Barred

Being the fearless, invincible Maine Coon cat that I am, there was no way that I would refuse this foolish challenge. So, I accepted and added that no holds would be barred. Fuzzy foolishly accepted my terms.

We met that day on the field of combat. Fuzzy taunted me with derisive terms. He made ugly faces, snarled, and even hissed so as to mock me. I ignored him and bided my time.

Fuzzy was just a sparring partner. He had never known the full extent of my skills. Nor had he ever guessed the fierce nature of the African Wildcat inside me. But on that day, he made his big mistake. He would learn the lesson of how foolish he was to take on his 24-pound Maine Coon in no holds barred combat.

Yes, it was on that day he learned his lesson – NEVER CHALLENG A MAINE COON.

Back to Normal

These days, things have returned to normal. Ol’s Fuzz Face brushes me daily and trims my nails. He comes when I beckon, and he leaves when I tell him. Fuzzy now feeds me snacks and treats me as royalty should be treated. He lives his life as a humbled sparring partner. You can be sure he will never challenge me again.

Miss Blondie has asked that I not reveal any photos of my dual with her Hubby. Many of our readers are children and the pictures would be embarrassing to Fuzzy.

Lastly, acting on the advice of his wise and most beautiful spouse, Fuzzy is taking remedial lessons on caring for his adorable Maine Coon – Moi. As his first reading assignment he is reading the article Maine Coon by Janelle Leeson on the petMD site.

Maine Coon Medic

Hi! Mr. Monte here!

To my 23,417 feline followers, especially my many cat cousins residing in Virginia and Ohio, the following is FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.”

In an effort to broaden your horizons and expand your capabilities, I am documenting one week of virtuous service to my poor overstressed big cats, Ol’ Fuzz Face and Blondie. Please read this closely and consider how you might use some of the techniques I use to establish and increase your bonds with your big cats. – Remember, there are many treats and snacks in store for felines who master these techniques.

It all started nearly two weeks ago. Fuzzy was in obvious physical decline. He was fatigued and somewhat irritable. When asked, he told Blondie that he was okay and just a little tired. – Friends, I know Fuzzy’s voice all too well, and I know when he is being less than honest. That was when my Maine Coon Medic sense began to alarm!! – it was apparent that Fuzzy was going to attempt to “man-out” whatever was afflicting him. Knowing that things were not right with Fuzzy, I decided to open a clandestine effort to learn Fuzzy’s real health status.

Now I am the one-and-only Maine Coon Medic. I have learned how to detect various physical and behavioral symptoms in my humans. Quite often, they suffer from stress and often that stress either leads to sickness or accompanies sickness. In Fuzzy’s case, it was necessary for me to use every skill at my command. Rather than just relying on my senses alone, I realized that I needed to access accurate medical information to aid my diagnosis and development of a plan to rescue Fuzzy from his own manly pride and ignorance.

Dear Feline Followers, only you know my secret identity – “White-hat Hacker Cat” (白帽黑客猫). Recently, I have advanced my hacking techniques to a much higher level. And one of my newly acquired skills is the ability to read medical/health status data from Fuzzy’s new fitness watch. It was last Saturday when I made my way to the data. Immediately, I could see that Fuzzy was sick, fatigued, and overstressed. As soon as Fuzzy got up that morning, I stayed close to him and did my best to indicate by nudging him that it was time to head to the urgent care clinic. When Blondie awoke, Fuzzy explained that he should have someone see him. Unfortunately for all of us, the attending nurse practitioner at the clinic said that there was no sign of infection, but she would send off a sample for a culture. – That left Fuzzy with nothing to do except wait for 2-3 days for the culture. Meanwhile all his symptoms and his stress level continued to intensify.

Monday was really bad. Blondie and I urged Fuzzy to call the clinic. Fuzzy did so and proceeded to explain his problem. He was told a prescription for antibiotics would be sent to his pharmacy. Later, he and Blondie drove the 27+ miles to the pharmacy, only to be told there was no prescription. He then went to the clinic and, after over an hour of waiting, talked to the same nurse practitioner. That was not a happy encounter. Fuzzy and Blondie left the clinic without a prescription or anything to relieve Fuzzy’s symptoms. You can see below that Fuzzy’s Body Battery was low and his stress levels were high. In fact, his fitness watch stated: “Your Body Battery was nearly depleted. Get more rest after days like this and pace yourself to avoid fatigue.”

18 JUL: Low Body Battery, High Stress

Tuesday wasn’t much better than Monday and, in some ways, it was worse. Fuzzy, had to take Son-in-Law #1 to the UVA Medical Center for an operation, a trip of about 100 miles. Soon after they departed SIL#1’s home, I listened as Blondie called Fuzzy to tell him that his culture was positive for the suspected infection – where should the clinic send the prescription. Blondie relayed that Fuzzy would call them soon with the answer. – – And that’s where the situation made an abrupt turn towards idiocy.

After much pre-op time, Fuzzy watched as SIL#1 was wheeled toward the operating room. He had called the clinic earlier and told them which Charlottesville Walgreen should get the prescription. Now that he was free to leave the hospital for a short time, Fuzzy made his way to the pharmacy. With a smile on his face, he politely asked for his medication. – There was no prescription for him. Despite his request, the clinic sent the prescription directly to the pharmacy he had said should not receive it.

This is where I, the Maine Coon Medic, need to interpret the following chart. Just after 12 PM, Fuzzy’s stress levels shot up to 90%. Fortunately, the very nice pharmacist was able to come up with a work-around and by 12:36 PM, Fuzzy had his medication in hand. Unfortunately, Fuzzy’s body battery was depleted and Fuzzy’s stress level hit 100%. As you can see below, the remainder of the day was not a pleasant experience for Ol’ Fuzz Face. – There was nothing I could do from Serendipity Farmhouse, so I did my best to soothe Blondie’s poor nerves – she was at least as upset as Fuzzy was.

19 JUL: Low Body Battery, Max stress

After a long day in the hospital with poor Son-in-Law #1 who was having and equally bad day, Fuzzy did the right thing. He went to the hotel, took a shower, said his prayers, and crashed.

The next day was better for Fuzzy, I could see on my computer that his watch indicated that his body battery had recharged. The time he spent sitting with and praying for SIL#1 kept his stress levels low. Finally, at about 10:30 PM the hospital released SIL#1, and Fuzzy returned a very sore, very tired, very stressed SIL#1 to Daughter #1.

It must be said that SIL#1 has had several post-op complications and is not feeling well at all. I know we felines don’t have to pray, but we can certainly nudge our humans and urge them to pray for the poor guy and Daughter #1.

The following chart show’s Fuzzy’s Wednesday. At the end of the chart, you can see the stress induced from driving at night on dark country roads with deer hiding at every turn.

20 JUL: Slow Improvement

Now my Job as official Maine Coon Medic at SFH, is to ensure peace and tranquility for all who reside here. Seeing that Blondie and Fuzzy continued at high stress levels for the remainder of the week, I had to devise a plan to get their minds off their bad experiences. – This is how I did it. When my two big cats were discussing all their frustrations, their anger, and their concern, I walked over to Fuzzy and nudged him. He thought I wanted a snack, but I indicated that’s not what I wanted. And that’s when I pointed to the store-bought garlic on the counter. I nudged him again. – Suddenly, he loudly declared to Blondie that the new SFH garlic crop in the shed had dried enough and was ready to bring in.

Blondie nearly jumped from her chair. She said, “I want help this time, I’ve never been there when you prepared it before.” In a flash, the two were out the door and on their way to the woodshed where the garlic was. Later that day, I heard Blondie say, “I never thought that preparing garlic would be so much fun. It might be a small dirty job, but the result is a store of garlic for the rest of the season.

Blondie was happy. Fuzzy was happy. I, the world’s only Maine Coon Medic, was happy.

Garlic Harvest July 23, 2022

Please pray for Son-in-Law #1 and his entire family!

Blondie, we need to talk!

IMG_20200425_155922618_editedBlondie!! – – We need to talk!!

As you can see by the look on my face, I am not happy. Disturbed perhaps, deeply troubled of course, but most assuredly – NOT HAPPY!

You and I both know what happens at SFH stays at SFH. It is the policy here to keep our deeply private matters, especially those that would undermine the credibility and dignity of our corporate image, out of public view. We don’t advertise our insecurities or immature behaviors.* On May 8th, you violated that policy and have breached our common trust.

Imagine my shock and dismay when your picture popped up on my screen as I was catching up with my feline friends on Facebook. There you were. My dear, sweet Blondie in the midst of your mad and wild ravings about desiring to return to a hair color that caused my inner being to shudder. – – See for yourself!

Ol Red“About sixteen years ago, I had a blonde moment. I decided to have my naturally blonde hair dyed red. And I loved it. But… The upkeep is unreal. Hubby had no problem with the color, but the cost was beyond his patience level (his inner cheap). Now, the pandemic has forced Hubby into his blonde moment – he’s growing a ponytail. – – One blonde moment deserves another. There’s a real chance this blonde is going red again. – – Help me out, Anna!!!!”


Dearest Blondie, this is where I am obliged to save you from yourself. Sit down and listen to the voice of sanity and wisdom. Breathe slowly and deeply; compose yourself and listen to what I have to say.

True, you do have your blonde moments. There’s a reason for that. You are, in fact, a blonde – natural and true. Accept that fact; embrace it. It is what you are and it helps to define who you are. Don’t let this world, filled with all of its current insanity, drive you into trying to be something else.

IMG_20200213_132850189_editedLook at my picture. I am a mackerel Maine Coon cat. I was the enchanting mackerel Maine Coon kitten you brought home. How would you feel if suddenly you found that I had, through a foolish, emotional act, turned myself into an orange Maine Coon. How would you react? – Of course! I wouldn’t be your adorable Mr. Monte.

We both know that Ol’ Fuzz Face is wont to go off the deep end at times. He can’t help himself. Stability and common sense aren’t his strong suits. For example, consider his actions in my post SFH Journal: 2019-12-23-29 – No! Christmas is Not Over Yet!. It was pretty clear that he was in need of professional help.

But you, dearest Blondie, not you. You can find the strength within yourself to avoid making this terrible mistake. If you don’t restrain yourself now, you might follow the  same sorrowful path as Fuzzy. In which case, you might even resort to using some of my wonderfully soft hair to supplement your own. – – Please, please stop now while you still can!! Please stop so I don’t have to call you Ol’ Red!!


*Please note: My revelations about the foolhardiness of my big cat Ol’ Fuzz Face is an exception to the rule. Spotlighting his total buffoonery is most humorous to my 23, 417 feline followers.

SFH Journal: 2020-02-17 through 02-23 – Calamity Averted

As you may recall, due to a great windstorm that blew through the immense Serendipity Farmhouse estate on Friday, February 7th the entire infrastructure of our most fruitful vineyard was totally devastated. (See SFH Journal: 2019-02-03 through 02-09 – Calamity! for the full story.)

We hearty and proud residents of SFH gathered together in council to determine what could be, what should be, and what would be done to restore our dear vineyard to its once great glory. It was decided by my dear, sweet and most level-headed Spouse (see featured picture) that we would rebuild. Not only would we rebuild, we would make our vineyard even more grand than it was before the wind storm.

Lovely Wife would provide the planning and oversee the execution of the plan. Mr. Monte would scour the Internet for the best possible materials. As usual, I would provide the labor and respond, without hesitation, to all commands dictated by my True Love.

Within days the new arbor had been shipped to our door step. Mr. Monte had chosen wisely. I immediately set to the task of dismantling the old arbor; salvaging all usable hardware; and disposing of the debris. Dearest Wife decided that we would celebrate the demolition with a small bonfire and chocolate chip cookies. – – I saw this as a great incentive and motivator to get the work done quickly.

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Using my highly developed multitasking skills, I, almost without error or difficulty, also managed to assemble the new arbor. Now the key to understanding my last statement is to consider that almost no home assembly project is completed smoothly and without mishap. Here are some examples of what novelties this assembly task presented:

1 – Instructions: Unlike many other products, these instructions were written by Americans. For those of us who have adapted to Zhonglish (Chinese-English mistranslations), our ability to comprehend literal and coherent English has diminished. Consequently, it took some time to reacquaint myself with my own native language.

2. Adhesive: You will note that the supplied parts included “Fix-All Adhesive”. The instructions also referred to this devilish mixture as “Super Glue”. The reader will note that on several occasions I have worked with this substance. My experiences have not been good ones. Even as I type these words for you, I am trying to remove a large amount of this substance from index fingers and thumbs. – At least this time I didn’t get it on my nose.

3. The “Last” Part: There is always great joy in affixing the last part to your assembly project, stepping back, and viewing your project with great pride. I did so earlier this afternoon. I even called out my wonderful Spouse to see my work. There were no left over parts. – – I celebrated too soon! – – Please note the red circle in the picture below. – It took Dearest Wife and I nearly 25 minutes to find that part and install it properly.


So, here’s a quick review of assembly of the arbor.

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The objective of this project, completed so adeptly by the residents of SFH, was to restore and improve the infrastructure of the vast SFH vineyard. The following pictures show that we accomplished that task in fine fashion.

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In addition to acknowledging beautiful Wife’s unparalleled planning and oversight of this project, I would like to thank Mr. Monte for his fantastic and uncanny ability to search the Internet for project materials. He’s really one smart cat!


SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-02-17 through 02-23

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

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Maine Coons Rule!

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another useless garlic picture

SFH by the Numbers – Facts & Statistics

SFH Plantings: See SFH 2019 Plantings

SFH Harvest: See SFH 2019 Harvest

SFH Preserving: See SFH 2019 – Preserving – Food for Tomorrow

SFH WX Station Report – Monthly: See SFH Weather Summaries & Statistics

SFH WX Station Report – Weekly:  SFH WX 2020-01-27 through 02-02




SFH Journal: 2019-12-23-29 – No! Christmas is Not Over Yet!

As you can see from the feature picture, I’m just about as easy going as anyone can be. For example, look at what Mr. Monte did to me in his last post. (See it here.) That new hairdo shown in the featured picture of this post was just supposed to be a joke. And it would have been if that mischievous Maine Coon cat had not put Gorilla Glue on the double-sided tape when I wasn’t looking. The tape with Monte’s hair attached is likely to be with me for quite some time.  Nevertheless, I can see the humor in that – maybe.

There is one thing that can make me very grumpy. Although I can handle Maine Coon cats making fun of me. It’s a little bit more difficult to watch what the world outside Serendipity Farmhouse has done to Christmas. Saying that Christmas is “over” on December 26th is just about the saddest thing that one can hear. Yet, I’ve heard that statement so many times this week. For the folks that think like that, Christmas for them was sometime between the so called “Black Friday” and about 12 Noon on December 25th. Everything after that was an anticlimax. How sad, how very sad!

Click on this picture to see an expanded version of this calendar

If you click on the picture above, you will find out that Christmas, or what we call the “Christmas Season” is still just beginning. Christmas is a “season” not just a day. And here at Serendipity Farmhouse, it’s always going to be that way.

And the same goes for all 11 grandchildren. The reports from Daughters #1 and #2, as well as Son #1 all attest to that fact. None of them, no not even one of them is going to let this Christmas Season slip away without making the most out of every minute. Every day from December 25th through January 12th has been, is, and will be filled with true Christmas cheer and joy.

No, dear friends, Christmas is Not Over Yet!

So, on this the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, from all of the residents of Serendipity Farmhouse, and all the children, children-in-law, and grandchildren –

Merry Christmas!!!


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 2019-12-23 through 12-29



SFH Journal: 2019-12-03 through 12-09: Found!!!

Long ago we said that Serendipity Farmhouse is not the house of our dreams, but the house of our realities. This week a friend died and we attended his funeral on Friday. He will be sorely missed. We pray for him and his family.

Long ago we said that Serendipity Farmhouse is not the house of our dreams, but the house of our realities. This week our car suffered the ill effects of 143K miles of Washington, D.C. commuting. After nearly $6K worth of repairs, it is now back in service.

Long ago we said that Serendipity Farmhouse is not the house of our dreams, but the house of our realities. That is how it is, and that is how it is meant to be.

Flash Precedence News Bulletin: The elf has been found!!!!!!! Sweet, beautiful Spouse found his Summer hiding place and now he has returned to plague us with his foolishness.

Dear, sweet, and gentle Wife has taken to the adventure with great glee.

I am somewhat more restrained.

Mr. Monte would gladly put him out of his misery.

So, as all the seasonal decorations are being set in there appointed places, that little red fellow keeps slipping out of sight, defying us to find him. I just might take Mr. Monte up on his offer.

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People (or elves) that live in glass houses …

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Evidence that the little red dude is not so smart


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His last known hiding place


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 2019-12-02 through 12-08



Walnut Whacking

WW-01Watch out! – Here it comes!




Breathless silence …



That, Dear Friends, was the sound of my most beautiful, imaginative, and exceedingly innovative Wife as she introduced the new sport of Walnut Whacking to Serendipity Farmhouse – and, dare I say it, to the World.

Origin & History: Although various forms of walnut whacking can be traced to Hungary and other parts of Europe, there is no doubt that the primitive American form was an independent invention of enterprising and inventive American youths.

There are few records of the discovery or development of this sport. Yet, the traditions of schoolyards and family farms throughout the building of this country are filled with similar cases. Consider, for example, “tag”, “keep away”, and “dodge-ball”. In that great kingdom of imagination which is childhood, these games are part of the natural order.

We who are fortunate enough to be grandparents are blessed in many ways. Often we think that grandparents are meant to pass on family traditions. Verily, that is one important role, but grandparents must also stand ready to learn great truths and mysteries from their grandchildren –  and, the primitive form of “walnut whacking” is one of those mysterious truths.

For in that primitive form, clever Wife saw the answer to a serious, perennial SFH problem – mounds of rotting black walnuts. The hideous little beasties fall randomly about our vast estate, often bouncing of roofs, automobiles, and occasionally, even unsuspecting heads. They are dangerous and create a perfectly terrible mess. Besides that, as they rot, they stink!!

IMG_20191027_114813140-2.jpgAnd so it was when my clever wife encountered the new-found pastime of her beloved grandsons. She was inspired by them. So inspired, in fact, that she immediately set out to develop the once primitive form of “walnut whacking” into a great family sport that someday might even surpass the ever-popular “cornhole.” And, at the same time, the magnificent grounds of SFH would be cleansed of the offensive rotting walnuts.

Rules & Order of Play: There are two variations to SFH Walnut Whacking “River Rules” & “Pasture Rules”.

  • River Rules apply to SFH and similar grand estates that have natural rivers or creeks. (Please don’t use River Rules with swimming pools.)
    • Whacksman – the person in possession of the whacking racket and performing the walnut whacking
    • Whacking Mound – a 3-5 inch elevated mound where a Whacksman does his/her walnut whacking; usually over 60 feet from the edge of the river or creek
    • Whacksman rotation – the same as cornhole
    • Grumpire – the large Maine Coon cat that interprets the rules and maintains discipline and decorum on the Walnut Whacking playing field
    • Ker-plunk (KP) – the whacked walnut can be heard clearly to land in the water without ever having bounced along the ground – Score: 3 points
    • Woo-hooo!!!!! – The term that must be exclaimed after making a KP, if not said, you lose your points
    • Bounce-plunk (BP) – the whacked walnut bounced on the ground prior to landing in the water – Score: 2 points
    • No-plunk (NP) – the ball goes over the edge of the river, but there is no “plunk – Score: 1 point
    • Short Game: The game is played for less than one hour
    • Long Game: The game is played until the supply of black walnuts is exhausted
  • Pasture Rules apply to grand estates that have no natural water features. All that is needed is a fence and a pasture. Scoring is modified as follows.
    • Ker-plop (KP) – the whacked walnut can be heard clearly to land in a 20-foot diameter circle in a pasture without ever having bounced along the ground – Score: 3 points
    • Bounce-plop (BP) – the whacked walnut bounced on the ground prior to stopping within the 20-foot diameter circle – Score: 2 points
    • No-plop (NP) – the ball goes over the pasture fence, but does not make it to the circle – Score: 1 point
  • Walnut Whacking World Series:
    • Two games are played, one with River Rules and one with Pasture rules. The team with the highest combined point total is the Walnut Whacking World Champion.

Guide to Perfect Form: Beautiful Wife has prepared this series of pictures to show you how you can attain the whacking form that will help you to become a world champion whacksman.

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Equipment: The most important piece of equipment for a great whacksman is a quality racket. Dear, sweet Wife was a bit of a tennis champion while we lived in Japan. She prefers to use her 1978 vintage Shin Nippon Racket. Very few have ever won a match when she had that racket in her hand. (In a follow-on article, we will explore other equipment such as gloves and shoes.)

Potential Problems: Some black walnuts appear to be green and ready for whacking but they have already started to rot inside. The black ooze that emerges when being whacked makes a positively horrific mess of a quality racket. Whacksmen, beware of rotting walnuts!


Challenge: There is a rumor that lovely Wife desires to challenge various children and grandchildren to a Walnut Whacking match. Mind you, that’s only a rumor and you never heard it from me.




¡Basta! – A Justifiable Cat Rant

Hi! Mr. Monte here.

¡Basta! That’s enough – no more!

Even as I begin to take paw to keyboard, I can see that Serendipity Farmhouse is on the verge of falling apart. Am I the only one who can see it? Is everyone else here blind?

Consider: There hasn’t been a post from this blog for nearly two weeks.

Consider: Not one good recipe from Julia has been tested in the SFH Test Kitchen in ages.

Consider: The lawn is shaggy, overgrown, and in great need of trimming.

Consider: The pantry is growing low on food essentials.

What’s going on with my big cats?? Have they lost any sense of priorities??

It all began two weeks ago when Ol’ Fuzz Face pulled out his big green suitcase and started packing. He was constantly checking his reservations and fretting over what clothes to take to windy, cold, and snowy Idaho. During all of this, he took short cuts with my grooming, shortened our play times, and failed to show me the attention that is my due.

Meanwhile, Blondie puttered around aimlessly. Occasionally, she would ask Fuzzy if he needed a shirt ironed or needed some more fattening snacks to pack in his brief case. She was (I am understating), she was less observant of and responsive to my needs than she is required to be. On a scale of 1-10, her interest in my interests had dropped to an all-time low of “2”.

When the old man finally got into his car and headed to the airport, Blondie wandered about SFH aimlessly. She grabbed a book and read for 5-10 minutes. Then she was up bouncing about, looking for something to do. – – – She found it alright, there she was on-line purchasing this-and-that, that-and-this, this-and-this, and that-and-that from Amazon. Fuzzy’s pungent foot odor had barely vacated the room and Blondie had already charged several hundred buckaroos to the SFH credit card. ///Blondie takes issue with my statements – I report, you decide!///

Oh, she wasn’t totally forgetful of her duties. After all, I’ve trained her well in the preparation and serving of my meals. But, it was a lack luster presentation, just barely meeting the lowest level of reasonable expectations. – – The dear, sweet lady wasn’t really with it.

On Tuesday, good friend Nancy visited. She’s a fairly consistent and convivial guest. She’s knows how to show me proper respect and courtesy upon arrival. In that regard, she could teach Blondie a few things.

One morning was the worst in my recent recollection. Blondie made the nearly disastrous decision to perform my required daily grooming. She has little or no training in that most important of rituals. It almost cost her her life, or at least a large quantity of hemoglobin. – – To her credit, Blondie is a gentle and loving human. That was what almost cost her dearly.

She approached me with the stainless steel grooming comb. She uttered sweet, loving, and tender words. She smiled timidly and muttered that this would be an excellent experience. – – What’s the matter with her? Doesn’t she realize I am a full-grown, mature, male, Maine Coon cat with six long, sharp claws on each of my four paws. I also have big teeth. I don’t necessarily respond well to sweet, loving, and tender words.

She approached. I held my ground. She continued to approach. I responded with hissing and a low, unmistakably ominous growl. She still continued to approach and extend the comb. My paw quickly flew in her direction, flashing gleaming white claws. You could hear the swish as the claws slashed through the air. – – Blondie got the message.

For all reading this, Ol’ Fuzz Face, for all his weaknesses and lunacies, is the only human whom I allow to groom me. It may be that he’s not real smart, but he does not fear my grooming time temper tantrums. Whatever the case might be, the pictures you’ve seen of me with my shiny mackerel pattern coat are a reflection of his stupid, ill-informed fearlessness.

And so it was while Fuzz Face was gone. I loved Blondie with purrs and leg rubs while she was feeding me and gave me treats. But, she never ever approached me again with that stainless steel grooming comb.

Oh, by the way, Fuzz Face is good for one other thing – hunting. He is the prey – I am the fierce predator. It’s our game and he suffers greatly if he ever underestimates my abilities. This last week, I found out that Blondie is rather fearful of being the hunted one. – – She knows I don’t appreciate being sprayed with the water bottle. Maybe that’s why she resorted to sleeping with the water bottle all week.

Well, that’s my story. Fuzzy is now home again and he and Blondie (at my urging) are doing their best to get SFH back in running order. It may take a while.

If Fuzzy really loves his dear, sweet, lovable spouse, I counsel him strongly not to take any more business trips. It takes the three of us to run SFH. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s meant to be.