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

SFH Journal: 2018-09-03 through 05

Highlight: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Though often said in unrelated and figurative contexts, the reality of that statement here at Serendipity Farmhouse must be taken quite literally.

The Labor Day weekend was hot and sticky. There were several heat and health advisories issued for the area. Nevertheless, when it’s time for canning – it’s time for canning. So it is, and so it was meant to be.

Despite the heat and despite the advisories, beautiful, sweet Wife, Mr. Monte, and I spent hours in the soon to be world famous SFH test kitchen. The processing pot was filled, boiling, and steaming. The lid sterilizing pot was filled, boiling, and steaming. The salsa pot and the pickle brine pots were filled, boiling, and steaming. Outside, it was 91º. Inside, it was much hotter. But we are living as granny did, and doing many of same things in the same ways that granny did. The vegetables are ripe and the canning must be done. So, we did it.

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The rewards for our efforts for the 3rd and 4th of September include:

  • G&G’s Pasta Sauce – 5 pints
  • Peter’s Pickled Hot Peppers (jalapenos & serranos) – 3 pints
  • Mr. Monte’s Finest Dehydrated Habaneros – 1 pint (dry canned)
  • Mr. Monte’s Finest Dehydrated Serranos – 1 pint (dry canned)

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Weather: Perhaps it will be the last heat wave of the season. We don’t know. We do know that the canning results took our minds off the heat – at least for a little while.

2018-09-03: High – 91º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-04: High – 91º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-05: High – 89º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: The harvest has slowed somewhat.

2018-09-03: 4 cherry tomatoes

2018-09-04: Nothing to report

2018-09-05: 11 okra pods

SFH Journal: 2018-08-29 through 2018-09-02

Highlight: As September overtakes August, we can see changes in our vegetable garden. 0902181243b_HDR (2)Our first planting of okra plants is becoming “long in the tooth”. Although still producing, the leaves are ragged and tattered due to a savage attack by Japanese beetles.

Fortunately, our second planting of okra plants is thriving with green and full leaves. The picture shows small okra pods forming  and there is hope for an abundant crop for the second half of the season.

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Meanwhile, the harvest of jalapeno, serrano, and habanero peppers is rapidly increasing. We will soon have to start pickling and/or dehydrating them.

Weather: More heat and humidity – this week the prognosticators promise us another heat wave.

2018-08-29: High – 91º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-08-30: High – 87º, precipitation 0.05 (Details – click here.)

2018-08-31: High – 87º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-01: High – 82º, precipitation 0.66 (Details – click here.)

2018-09-02: High – 89º, precipitation 0.00 (Details – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report

Harvest: Okra and hot peppers everywhere – we have our work cut out for us pickling, dehydrating, and dry canning.

2018-08-29: 3 okra pods, 3 cherry tomatoes, 18 jalapenos, 21 serranos, 18 habaneros

2018-08-30: Nothing to report

2018-08-31: Nothing to report

2018-09-01: 14 okra pods, 4 cherry tomatoes, 12 jalapenos, 12 serranos, 9 habaneros

2018-09-02: 10 okra pods, 9 cherry tomatoes

The Great SFH Birthday Bash of 2018

Frolicking fun, intense sporting rivalries, plenty of good food, family sharing, and a host of wonderful experiences highlighted the great, stupendous, magnificent, unforgettable Serendipity Farmhouse Birthday Bash of 2018. The only downside of the day was that four grandchildren and one lovable daughter-in-law were unable to attend due to a minor sickness that had visited members of the family.

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s provide a little background and a few statistics. The purpose of the party was to bring the family together to celebrate the birthdays of respected son-in-law #2, honorable son, loving and adorable wife, and growing grandson #2. (Be it known that grandson #2 could have been born on his doting grandmother’s birthday, but, instead, chose to reveal himself to the world one day later. His ranking in the will, however, was not changed due to this nearly unforgivable error.)


Attendees: 13 (including cherished best friend)

Weather:   Temperature: 86º   Humidity: 62º   Precipitation: 0.0 inches

There was some sweat and some red faces, but no major sunburns, heat exhaustion, or other undesirable weather-related complications. And for once, the mosquitoes and gnats decided not to make a picnic of us.

Menu:  Hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, veggies, strawberries, blueberries, several types of salad, cherished friend’s fantastic baked beans, ice tea, assorted cold drinks, etc.

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Dessert:   The best gluten-free cake we have ever tasted, cupcakes, and a huge chocolate cookie cake

The best gluten-free birthday cake ever. Yes, those are real flowers.

Games: Corn hole, charades, bubble catching, bubble biting, footraces, and assorted kick ball games. (Of course you remember, all attendees studiously avoided playing volley ball or badminton despite the fact that I had done such a perfect job of erecting the net.)

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And what would a birthday bash be without presents for the birthday people. Here’s a sampling of how that went.

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So, as is only right we did what was fitting for our birthday people. We lined them up and then …..

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We took a picture of the Birthday Banditos before handing out the blindfolds … I mean giving them all hugs, kisses, and/or handshakes.




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

SFH Journal: 2018-08-20 through 23

Highlight: A drought, a veritable drought has beset Serendipity Farmhouse and the region hereabout. Areas of standing water have begun to recede. I could actually walk to the shed wearing just a pair of rubber boots instead of having to ford the yard in a kayak.

Equally astonishing, on Thursday the 23rd, I saw two strange and awesome sights in the sky. First, there appeared a great, bright orb, dazzling in its intensity. Oh my, what could it be? Then, soon after that orb disappeared in the west, another bright, white spherical object shown through the trees to the east. Certainly, these events are worthy of recording.

Perhaps the receding waters and the two orbs are omens of good things to come. Or perhaps they foretell of imminent doom. How should one interpret these events?

Unlike me, beautiful wife has no problem understanding what it all means. She immediately informed me, it’s time to prepare for the great, spectacular, and totally magnificent SFH Birthday Bash scheduled for this Sunday. Her intuition and ability to see the future clearly stimulated a series of gentle requests (read that as edicts) for me to trim the shrubs, mow the lawn, spray for mosquitoes, reinstall outside lighting, clean the pantry, clear the porch of unneeded and unsightly debris, and a myriad of other tasks.

“Oh yes, dear, let’s also pickle some okra before it spoils.”

And so it was, and so it was meant to be – the sun rose and set soon followed by the moon. And before the day was done the majority of those gentle request were fulfilled. And, as this day begins, I am content in the knowledge that that which has not yet been done will be done before Sunday morning and the great SFH Birthday Bash.

Weather: The rain has decreased in quantity and the temperatures and humidity have diminished. There is another heat wave coming, but for now we can enjoy some Summer days.

2018-08-20: High – 78º, precipitation 0.03 (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-08-21: High – 84º, precipitation 0.19 (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-08-22: High – 80º, precipitation 0.03 (Detailed Summary – click here.)

2018-08-23: High – 77º, precipitation 0.0 (Detailed Summary – click here.)

Plantings: Nothing to report


2018-08-20: 2 okra pods, 7 cherry tomatoes, 1 Jalapeno, 1 serrano pepper, 5 habaneros

2018-08-21: 13 cherry tomatoes

2018-08-22: 6 okra pods, 10 cherry tomatoes, 2 Jalapenos, 6 serrano peppers

2018-08-23: 3 okra pods, 12 cherry tomatoes