Our Mountain Doth Protecteth Us

Like most of the mid-Atlantic and New England, it is quite windy here today. In general, the winds are from the WNW at 30 mph with gusts to 55. Well, that appears to be the case up on the mountain, but not down here in the Capon Valley. You see, our house is nestled up against the east side of a mountain, so the winds are reduced and misdirected down here today.

Here is some data from my Personal Weather Station out back (click on KWVHOOKS2 over on the right in the Riversdell Weather section for more data):

On the left-hand chart you can see the difference between the predicted (and apparently actual up on the mountain) wind speed, to the right of the line, and the actual, as-measured, down-here-in-the-valley speed this morning to the left of the line. The graph on the right-hand side shows the measured wind speed as running mostly 10-20 mph with gusts up to 25. It is also interesting (well to me at least!) that the wind direction down here is mostly from the east — the WNW winds bounce over the mountain and then swirl around down here in our valley.

It is still plenty windy, though. Gigi cat went outside this morning, got hit in the face with flying leaves, and did an immediate U-turn. Glad the power is still on, but we have plenty of water bottles filled, just in case — out here, no power = no well pump.

More Home Canning, With a Story

So, after last Thursday’s peach canning, we followed up on Saturday with another 7 quarts from the second half-bushel.

Saturday afternoon gave us several good storms/showers, the best rain we’ve had here in weeks, and we were spending a quiet evening at home. Around 9 pm we heard voices out front, which is pretty rare. It was two young men who said they had been fishing and the driver had lost his keys in the river and would we be kind enough to let them use our phone to call for a ride (he lives only 15 minutes away). Well, we are nothing if not kind enough, so we lent him our phone. They were soaking wet from the rain, so we lit up the outside lights while they waited on addition ramp out of the rain for their ride. (Which drove our dogs, especially Roy, nuts!). We chatted a bit and gave them each a peach (we still had over a dozen left over after canning). They asked me where we bought the peaches, and we told them “these are John Boy‘s from Smith’s Orchard up on Cooper Mountain”. After about 45 minutes their ride came, and off they went.

Well, Monday afternoon one of them stopped by with a bag of gorgeous (and delicious!) tomatoes, various varieties of regular, and cherry/grape/pears:

It turns out he grows vegetables to sell at the more urban farmer’s markets to the east of here, and he had a bushel of tomatoes that had been left out in the rain and were no longer good enough to sell. But they were certainly still good enough to can and rather than just compost them as he would usually do could he give them to us? We said “Sure!”, though not really knowing if he would follow through. Well, he did, Tuesday at 8 am:

A half-bushel of regular-sized and 28 quarts of cherry/grape/pear tomatoes

It turned out that Tuesday was an unseasonably mild late July day, so we went to work canning the larger ones and simply freezing the smaller ones; apparently freezing does change the texture somewhat but they should still be good for cooking into a sauce.

We ended up with 7 gallon-sized freezer bags of littluns …

… and 10 quarts of bigguns plus 3 quarts juice:

In the lower right corner you can see our cat GiGi on the bench outside, waiting for all the hubbub to subside.

So all these tomatoes canned and frozen before August, and our own crop has not yet started to come in. Ain’t life grand?!

Added: And last night she made a peach galette (free-form pie) with some of the peaches left over from canning. Here it is before folding the “petals” over the peach filling:

And here is a close-up of it fresh out of the oven:

Yum, yum, yum!
Pie! (Oh My!)


We have a couple of bird feeders out front that attract a menagerie. Our cat Gigi likes to sit at the window and watch them. There is one wren in particular that likes to taunt her. She can easily spend a hour or more a day watching this tailor-made program. And, like any good entertainment service, there is a second channel.





Chilly Spring

On cloud nine? Well, almost. This is our cat Sunny zonked out on our sheepskin bedcover. And, yes, even though it is mid-April, the weather is still pretty chilly, and it has been unusually windy all winter. Spring is slow in coming this year, but

[Continued next picture …]

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful…

… but the fire is so delightful! When the weather turns cold, the cats scope out their spots in front of the living room woodstove. That’s Sunny in the foreground and Rupert up closest to the stove.

Hot Cat and a Tin Roof

We had a very hot summer this year. Our cat Sunny spent most of it looking just like this. In the background you can see the tin roof of our springhouse.

Asleep At The Wheel

Our cat Sunny will sleep anywhere and everywhere.

Christmas Just Past

This is a loblolloy pine the kids brought home from school as a seedling when we first moved here in 1998. Things were so overgrown at that time we just stuck it in the ground next to the driveway until we could figure out where it should go permanently. It steadily grew and by this year it was too large to transplant. It made a beautiful christmas tree, though, and is one of our favorites — the openness and feathery long needles show off the ornaments well. That is our cat Rupert in the foreground enjoying the heat from the woodstove.


What better place to enjoy a catnap on a snowy evening than in front of a blazing woodstove?

Ice Castles [Continued]

Our cat Sunny likes to go on walks with us, but this time he is eager to get back for his first nap of the day.

Happiness is Full Woodshed [Continued]

Our cat Sunny likes it, too.

Everyone gets along just fine

Athough, to be honest, we do sometimes have to remind the cats that chicks and peeps are off-limits.

Spinach and arugula year-round!

In the lower left of this picture you can see Emma, one of our three cats.