AppleTreeSoutheast-12042014

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2014

Our feature photo this month was taken out towards the south-southeast corner of the farm.  Although technically still late autumn by the calendar, it is a typical western Oregon winter day here, in the low 40s, overcast with silver-grey mists in the surrounding hills, and periodic rain.  The jagged dark green line of firs to the south is softened and smoothed under Lady Fog’s palette knife as she quietly moves about, obliterating some landmarks and partially veiling others.

SBFEastView12042014

Morning eastern view of the farm.

News from the farm

The daylight hours are very short now as winter solstice draws near, and most outside activity now is a mixture of preparing some areas for winter sleep, and prepping others for spring.  Our little farm in the Cascade foothills did not escape the recent Polar Vortex, and we saw temperatures down in the high teens and low 20s in mid November.  Trees and plants were caught unaware of the coming change, and leaves withered and browned on tree and vine before the normal process of abscission and hardening off was completed.  There will be some damage.  Just how much, we won’t know until bud break in spring.

RedwoodSeedlings-2

Redwood seedlings getting a protected start on life.

California Redwood seedlings, graciously provided by tree farmer friends, are still coming along nicely in pots, and eventually will make a nice windbreak on the southwest end of the farm, as well as some much needed summer shade in that area.  I’m told once they are planted and take off, they will grow at least a foot a year, and do not blow down easily in windstorms.

Seabisquit Subaru-12042014

Old Seabisquit

Old Seabisquit the Subaru is still with us, and has passed the 422,000 mile mark.  Old cars are like old friends.  We’ve been through a lot together over the years, and we are comfortable with each other.  Still scrappy, but now feeling our age.  A few dents here and there.  Someday the old Seabisquit won’t be here anymore, and I will miss that car!

SeabisquitSubaruDash-12042014

Seabisquit the Subaru – 1993 Subaru Impreza LS Wagon – original engine and transmission!

Various animal friends have also come and gone over the years.  Life’s eternal cycle, punctuated by changes.  Yet it is the animals who wander through our lives, I find most intriguing.  Friends for a short time, remembered for a lifetime.  Wise old souls and teachers, comforters in hard times, playful little elvish creatures who help us see the lighter side of life.  They teach us how to be better people.  Their lives, and all the memories they leave behind after they depart, are all woven into the fabric of our own, becoming part of the legends and history of this place we call home.

Marcus-Hope-11142014

Marcus (front) and sister Hope (rear) Still with us. We’ve had them since kittenhood, now 7 years old. Marcus, Hope and companions Abby, Lucio, Nano, Willow, Wynken, Blynken and Nod reside here on the farm with us, ranging in age from 1 to 18.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

You will see me list, from time to time, an upcoming show or product release of some other musician.  I like to give space when I can to help other performers.  In the spirit of Kate Wolf, I do believe there is room for everybody, and the more people who cover songs and create music, the better off this world will be.  Tom Rush appealed to his fan base to help spread the word about his upcoming show at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts on 12/28, so if you’re within driving distance of Boston, please do go hear this national treasure!  If you can’t make it to the live performance (or even if you do), please check out his just released DVD Tom Rush: No Regrets – it’s great!  I bought the DVD as a gift for my husband Rick, who learned guitar in part from listening to Tom Rush albums in his youth.  One might say that in some ways, Tom Rush is part of Rick’s musical genome, and owes much to him.  I fully expected this documentary DVD covering 50 years of Tom Rush and his music to be great, but it exceeded all expectations, and I learned quite a bit about Tom Rush the human being.  I have a lot of respect and admiration for this person, even more so that I know more about him now.  Please do support Tom!  And those DVDs make great holiday gifts.  :-)   Please visit his website, check out the schedule for a venue near you, and visit the online store.

http://www.tomrush.com

http://www.katewolf.com

As for me, I’ll be kicking off my winter season at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market in January on the 17th, followed by my favorite coffee house Cornerstone Coffee up in McMinnville on January 31st.  Always glad to see you!

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5

http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Pink Mists 11102013

November 2013 sunrise over Salmon Brook Farm. Early morning lighting and pink mists, easily one of my favorite photos of the farm in her many moods and colors.

The world is a difficult place to understand. Sometimes I think it is not to be understood so much as its rivers and channels need to be navigated with grace around the natural hazards along the way. It is inevitable we will hit snags and rocks on the journey.  Yet there is so much beauty, in the water itself and on the banks, to behold until the time comes our boats enter the mouth of the river, and on into the sea to the Grey Havens beyond. – Lavinia Ross

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EastView-1-SBF-11062014

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November 2014

News from the farm

Our feature photo this month is an eastern view of the farm the reader can compare to the last two posts which show what the farm looked like under drought conditions.  The grass has revived to an vibrant emerald green with the rain, and will need mowing soon.  The mixture of brilliant reds, oranges and golds that our native New England is famous for in autumn are muted in this area, except for places one might see non-native Acer saccharum (sugar maple,) or other ornamental maple planted.  No leaf-peepers come here to view the foliage at this time of year! Our blueberry bushes turn a lovely scarlet and rows of grape vines turn to gold, but the trees slowly fade to shades of yellow and brown, and quietly slip away with the daylight hours, wind, and rain.

The harvest is over, and most its associated activities completed.  The rains have settled in, and the sky is once again filled with armadas of storm cloud galleons on their way over the Cascade Range. The moon is hard to find these nights unless there are breaks in the clouds, spilling light through cracks of dark sky-river like molten gold.  Another year is passing, and like the clouds driven by Wind, we are obliged to come along, another year older.  If you listen carefully, Wind will not only tell you where you’ve been, but where you are going.

TheBoysOfSBF

The Boys of Salmon Brook Farm in the middle of an important conference on the topic of “napping”. Left to right – Marcus, Lucio and Nano.

Our first “crush”

Pinot noir, what was left of it, was harvested in late afternoon on 10/11/14.  4 trays were obtained of mixed quality fruit, which was all the birds and bees left us out of the 120 vines in Rick’s vineyard and 16 in my test block! The best fruit was from my test block, which had no canopy management (and therefore slightly more cover from birds), compost feeding and a mycorrhizal fungi-fertilizer mix.  I had netted way too late and was left with very little, but I decided to not pass up a learning experience!  None of the conditions were ideal.  No equipment to speak of, no experience, and only Google for help.  What I had might make a few gallons, and I decided to see what the native yeasts might be capable of instead of inoculating with some strain of commercial wine yeast.

All that the birds and bees left us from 136 vines.

All that the birds and bees left us from 136 vines.

PinotGrapes-2-Oct-2014

Pinot noir grapes waiting for processing.

Much hand sorting of individual berries went into this process, due to bird and bee damage, some mold and insects. It took a good 4 hours to do all the pressing, literally by hand.  On the positive side, the fresh juice did measure about 22 brix, a respectable starting value for what I was after, a rose´ pinot noir I would name “Eye of the Gopher”.

BeginCrush2014

In the “crusher”!

pomace-2014

Pomace – left over grape skins, seeds and stems – will go back in the garden and vineyard. Grapes were processed a colander load at a time, crushed by hand.

Notes from 10/19:
“The native yeastie boys have something going after all…the hydrometer reads roughly 7% now, so 12 -7 = %5 alcohol.  It is tasting somewhere between muscat and brachetto.  Not bad!  I smell a touch of volatile acidity, but the flavor is good.  Nothing bad there.  So I will let it continue a while yet!  The stockpot is gently crackling, with a good foam cap, and there is activity.  Note: I had originally checked it after 2 days fermentation, and not much change in alcohol content, although we could see the cap forming.”

Measuring2014

Checking the grape must for sugar and potential alcohol with a beer & wine triple scale hydrometer.

Fermenter2014

Fermenter – a 16 qt stock pot! Coolest room in the house, and the tub in use for growing plants at the moment. Eventually the old garage will be redone as workshop & micro-winery.

Notes from 10/27:
“Stopped the fermentation experiment this evening.  About 6% of the sugar was digested, but mainly Acetobacter at work now instead of yeast, and we had some good red wine vinegar.  Racked off the bulk to a clean glass carboy and transferred to the refrigerator in the pump house.  Rick sent me a good link to a Wine Spectator article on prions initiated by bacteria and their effect on yeast, basically stalling fermentation. http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/50763″

GoodWineVinegar-10272014

The Best of the Yeastie Boys in 2014. Produced about 6% alcohol and was taken over by bacteria in the genus Acetobactor, which converted the alcohol to acetic acid – vinegar. It made a wonderful fruity wine vinegar! Settling out in the cool until I can rack it off into a clean carboy.

Prions in yeast?  One typically associates prions, disease inducing forms of normal proteins,  with diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and some forms of dementia. Yeast have prions?  Apparently some strains of bacteria appear to be able to chemically induce yeast to produce prions in their cell membranes, resulting in “glucose repression”, and a stuck fermentation.

It is hard to tell what all may have happened in this experiment, but I am quite pleased at diving in under less than ideal conditions and at least coming out with good vinegar!  I have received one suggestion that it may not be available yeast nutrients, which was another possibility, but that the native yeasts themselves weren’t up to the job.  Epernay-II was suggested, as it is known for imparting fruity aromatics, working well in long cool fermentation conditions and will reach a max of about 11-12%.  I may try a dual run next year with the native yeast again vs the Epernay-II strain.  At some point, with commercial yeast in the environment in the building, grape pomace going back into the vineyard/garden area, the “native” yeast will probably contain some percentage of the commercial strain, and no longer be reflective of what was originally here.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

Harvest, crush and my eye issues are out of the way now, and we have some extra help looking after Rick’s mother,  giving me a breather to focus more on music for a while.   Seabisquit the Subaru and I are back in McMinnville at the end of next January!  Cornerstone Coffee does a lot to support music. If you are in the area, please drop by and support them with your patronage.  I’ve just started booking for the coming year, so be sure to check the Performance Schedule page periodically.

And, if you don’t mind virtually traveling to North Dakota, do give a listen to Jessie Veeder’s music video “Boomtown” at veederranch.com.  I came across this musician rancher some months ago.  Great song, great performance and the video tells the story of her town in song and pictures.  Well done, Jessie!

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5

http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Sunrise over the farm in October.   Every new day is a gift, a clean slate on which to write one's story.  Lives are like books in progress, the ending still unfolding.

Sunrise over the farm in October.
Every new day is a gift, another page on which to write one’s story. Lives are like books in progress, the ending still unfolding.

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DeerFawns-2-09272014

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2014

Our feature photo this month is of two Black-tailed deer fawns which were born out back earlier this year, and have made themselves comfortable here on the farm.  I had to take the photo out the east window in order to catch them lounging.  Their mama Jane Doe (see our September 2014 posting) unfortunately taught them to eat the roses and unprotected plants up by the house.  I put up netting, to which the deer mounted a counterinsurgency against the rebel farmers, ripping the netting and attacking peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.  So much for keeping a few plants near the house within easy reach!  I was then reminded of why we switched from the easy-to-install 7ft high net fencing, to the much more expensive 8ft metal fencing that is not so easy to install, for the main garden/pinot vineyard.

DeerFawns-ShadowsLight-09272014

News from the farm:
Old Jack Frost has not arrived, just yet, on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. We have had a little rain now, not enough to green field and hillside, but welcome all the same.  Wandering clouds that come through at this time of year have put on weight, like bears that have fattened up at stream and river on salmon for the winter.  The fluffy, white fair-weather cumulus and cirrus mares’ tails we saw all summer have been replaced by dark, blue-grey muscle-bound behemoths that sometimes drop rain in patches, or melt across the sky and drizzle for a day or two.  The steady, heavy rains will come later, and the hard-packed clay soil will soften enough to dig again.

I normally look forward to our yearly visit from golden-haired Summer, and her gracious bounty of fruits and vegetables.  She scorched us this past season, however, bringing record heat and drought, priming conditions for intense fires.  She seems to have softened her view lately, sending us mornings that have not dropped below 40, and daytime temperatures mostly in the 70s or low 80s.  The sun is at an angle from the south these days, and the warmth feels good, appreciated my plant and animal alike.  Old Jack is waiting though, and if I am not quick enough installing our low-tech season-extending technology in the garden (plastic sheeting over PVC pipe hoops), I will awake some morning to find the garden frozen in a silvery death-mask, which will wilt and darken in the heat of day. At roughly 800 feet in the Cascade foothills, we are also in a bowl, and we are subject to ponding of cold air. I beg Summer to stay with us, for just a little while longer.  Fortunately, grapes and apples are capable of withstanding a light frost, and I am grateful for as much hang-time on vine and tree as possible.  They are our last real crops of the season, and we are fortunate enough to have a steady customer for table grapes this year.

Our pinot vineyard, which was not under bird netting, did not fare as well as our table grapes, which were protected.  We lost much of the crop to birds and bees within what seemed like just a few days.  I threw netting up over a few remaining sections of intact grapes in Rick’s vineyard in addition to my own two “test” rows, and will press these soon. I had been hoping for a little more hang-time, and I am not sure I will get it.  This year will be a low-tech, low-budget experiment, a “getting the feet wet”, in winemaking.  I am not expecting miracles….

Pinot vines - grapes stripped mostly by birds

Pinot vines – grapes stripped mostly by birds

Pinot noir grapes.  Honeybees as well as yellow jackets love the sugary juice.  Like cattle, honeybees need forage and water.  Both in short supply this time of year.

Pinot noir grapes. Honeybees as well as yellow jackets love the sugary juice. Like cattle, honeybees need forage and water. Both in short supply this time of year.

On the feline front, our cats continue to grow older along with us.  Furry friends and teachers, little elvish creatures, they are all part of the legends and stories of this place we call home.  See the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page for the whole cast of characters.

The Three Sisters, left to right - Nod, Blynken and Wynken, investigating fresh catnip from the garden.

The Three Sisters, left to right – Nod, Blynken and Wynken, investigating fresh catnip from the garden.

 

Way back when Marcus was a kitten...

Way back when Marcus was a kitten…

And now...7 years later.  Marcus all grown up and washing his old friend Lucio.

And now…7 years later. Marcus all grown up and washing his old friend Lucio.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

My taking a break from performing this fall turned out to be somewhat fortuitous.  The vitreous detachment I experienced in August progressed into a torn retina in September, and I underwent laser surgery a couple of weeks ago.  It’s hard not to lift, or carry much weight while this eye heals, living on a place like this, and I’ve had to learn to work smarter, not harder.  Some projects involving digging or pouring cement will have to postponed. Since Rick retired from music, I am a one-woman show these days, traveling with two 12-strings, a 6-string, and a full sound system, which is old, meaning heavy.  I hope to be back in the saddle with old Seabisquit by mid-winter.  In the meantime, I’m working on getting the recording studio moved over to Linux, working some new recordings, and I may just stick them up on the net for all to enjoy.  The sub-pages under music are always a work in progress.  The full listing of songs on the old CD, the stories behind why some were written, or chosen to cover, are now there.  Help yourself!

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5

http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Don't wait for the sun to set to tell those you love how much you love them.  Consider every day with those you love a gift.

Don’t wait for the sun to set to tell those you love how much you love them. Consider every day with those you love a gift.

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DryFields-09052014

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2014

Our feature photo this month is the view from the farm facing the hills to the south.  The land everywhere is quite dry and withered at this time of year after a summer of record heat.

News from the farm:

September quietly arrived on dry winds that play in the tired, drooping leaves of water-stressed trees, coaxing music from these stoic giants who cannot flee from drought.  Nimble fingers of breezes, spawned from the warming land after a cool, clear night, play the wind chimes on the porch as if it were a harp.  The Wind tells a story of where it has been, and where it’s going, and will sometimes sit and talk for a while, as an old friend back east likes to say.  Nature provides a concert like no other for those who will listen!  As summer comes to a close here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, I can feel the nip of the approaching autumn creeping in the windows at night, tapping me on the back as I write.  I know old Jack Frost and his icy paintbrush can’t be far away now.  Clear dawns often give birth to silver mists in the low areas such as ours, metamorphosing into low clouds as the sun rises, and clearing by noon.  Wandering cumulus clouds snuffle about the crystal blue dome of sky these days, and the growing moon may play hide and seek among them in the night.  Summer’s heat is not quite done with us yet though, and temperatures in the 90s are predicted for this weekend.  It is quite dry, ignition dry, out there, and fire danger is still high.  The clay soil has baked as hard as a brick, and I am waiting for the rains to come again to move plants, and plant trees and bulbs.   The table grapes and pinot noir are ripening quickly in this heat.  So far the harvest looks like it will be a good one.

Table grapes safely ripening behind bird netting.  Safe from birds, but not yellow jackets or the clever paws of raccoons!

Table grapes safely ripening behind bird netting. Safe from birds, but not yellow jackets or the clever paws of raccoons!

Pinot noir grapes ripening behind the deer fencing.  Safe from deer, but not from birds or creatures that can get through the mesh of the fence.

Pinot noir grapes ripening behind the deer fencing. Safe from deer, but not from birds or creatures that can get through the mesh of the fence.

 

Wildlife of various kinds are looking for food, and water.  Stinklesby, our resident skunk (see our August newsletter), has been about causing mischief. Although I have not seen the little fellow in a while, I have smelled his presence, often under our window at night.  The acrid perfume emanating from these cute little creatures can rouse one from a sound sleep, and wake every feline in the house as well.  He managed to fire one off under old Seabisquit the Subaru recently, making a stinky ride downtown for me one morning.  On the way to town I recall an old saying I often heard growing up, something to the effect of children are best seen and not heard, and I laugh and note to myself that skunks are best seen and not smelled.  Stinklesby’s friend and cohort, Jane Doe (a female deer) , has been grazing closer and closer to the house under cover of darkness, nipping buds from the roses along with the clover and grass in areas where I have watered various gardens. I know she is waiting out there with knife and fork for the evening one of us forgets to shut the gate on the main garden and pinot noir vineyard.  The growing moon reveals Jane and other critters coming and going at night, if one happens to be up, and looks out the window in the wee hours.

 

Abby cat having a good sunbath in the kitchen window.

Abby cat having a good sunbath in the kitchen window.

Little Hope cat lounging by the refrigerator, source of all good things to eat.

Little Hope cat lounging by the refrigerator, source of all good things to eat.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

I am off doing work around the homestead until mid-winter, when Seabisquit the Subaru and I will be performing again.  The old car’s odometer has now passed 420,000 miles, and needs some work too!  Thanks to all who came to see me at the various farmers’ markets and venues over the spring and summer.  It is good to see old friends, and make new ones, one of the things I love best about playing music out and about.

In the meantime, our readers and followers in the U.K. should catch Dana and Susan Robinson while they are touring the U.K. this September through October 5th.  These two are really great musicians, as well as really good, good people.  New songs of rural America and old time mountain music!

http://www.robinsongs.com

If you are in the vicinity of Mohegan Lake, New York, another great musician and songwriter to catch is Donna Martin.  She will be at the Winery at St. George on September 24th.

http://www.donnamartin.com

And finally, one of my all time favorite musicians and songwriters, Bernice Lewis.  Her About page says it best.  Based out of Massachusetts, she does travel quite a bit.  Check her schedule for a venue near you!  My favorite quote from her website: “She has a forty-year old daily yoga practice, loves good coffee, and her religion is the Grand Canyon.”

http://www.bernicelewis.com

*******

And me? I’ve continued to expand and rearrange the sub-pages under music.  The full listing of songs on the CD, the stories behind why some were written, or chosen to cover, are now there.  Help yourself, and be sure to check out the sub pages for more information!

http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com/music/

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Memorial garden for for a youngster who committed suicide after being bullied.  A reminder, each time I pass this barrel of reblooming daylilies, of the importance of being kind to others.  May her spirit find peace at last.

Memorial garden for for a youngster who committed suicide after being bullied. A reminder, each time I pass this barrel of reblooming daylilies, of the importance of being kind to others. May her spirit find peace at last.

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YOUR grapes?  I thought these were MY grapes!!!!

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2014

Our feature photo this month is of our resident skunk.  As the summer heat has transformed the surrounding hills to golden brown and dried up watering holes and forage, the local wildlife, including a grey fox, has come in closer in search of food and water, sometimes watching us spot-water the main garden from the other side of the deer fence.   I noted one evening, after watering the plants on the porch, that this skunk was licking water from the leaves of flowers.  I put out a dish of water, well away from the porch, hoping it keeps this thirsty little one away from the house where he/she may be surprised by accident.   I took this photo, hiding in the first row of blueberries, as our striped visitor took a leisurely stroll down the row of table grapes.

News from the farm:

The days are growing perceptibly shorter now on our little farm in the Cascade foothills as we head towards autumn, which is really not that far off now.  It is the season of dry heat and parched land, where they clay soil bakes as hard as a brick in the August sun.  Even the  gophers prefer to dig their tunnels where watering has occurred, leading to some unfortunate uprooting of plants in the vicinity.  Seed crops are being harvested around the Willamette Valley, and the soil is being turned under and pulverized to fine dirt by impressively large machines that look like giant caterpillars crawling across the larger farms.  It is the season of dust devils, and tan to orange skies.  Smoke from distant forest fires, as well as dust and fine soil sent skyward from the agricultural sector, creates an alien world effect, and the sun bathes the farm in an strange orange glow at midday, and the growing moon in the evening.  Time, wind, and the rains, which will come later on, will clean the air.  It is a yearly cycle, and I have seen 10 of them now on this farm.  Like our vines, I have rooted here, and feel a deep connection with this place,  its seasons, and moods.

Afternoon alien orange glow, the result of smoke and dust on this particular day.

Afternoon alien orange glow, the result of smoke and dust on this particular day.

Unlike the grass, I cannot pass the time by going dormant in the heat.  We harvested 62 quarts of blueberries from our patch before birds and heat took over, with plums, grapes and apples yet to come in.    Rick noted that veraison, the first signs of ripening, have already occurred in some of the Cascade table grapes, but he has not seen it in our pinot noir wine grapes, not just yet.   Grape harvest will be most likely be earlier than usual this year, although one never knows what Mother Nature may throw one’s way!

YOUR grapes????  I thought these were MY grapes!!!!

YOUR grapes???? I thought these were MY grapes!!!!

Pollinators of all sorts have been active on the flowers and herbs we have planted all around.  Spearmint seems to be the most attractive, by far, to a wide variety of bees, moths, butterflies and flies.  On a hot day, brushing against these plants releases a cloud of minty perfume, as well as a cloud of assorted insects.

Spearmint in bloom.  Note the honeybee in the bottom right, and a larger moth-like insect on the center bloom.

Spearmint in bloom. Note the honeybee in the bottom right, and a larger moth-like insect on the center bloom.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

I am all done for the season, and will be taking a break from performing for the harvest season, as well as work on the new CD which has been in progress for some time, with no time to work on it.  Old Seabisquit the Subaru also needs some attention from me in the way of new plugs and wires, air and gas filters.  We’ll be back in the saddle later on this winter.  Check back now and then to see where we will be!

Just a reminder, the local Farmers’ Markets are still in full swing, and most feature a variety of music and dance along with  fresh produce, meats, cheeses and home-made goods.  Support your local growers and artisans.  Many wineries also feature music during the summer season.  Check your area listing for details!

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5

http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual.  Wonders what I'm up to with that camera!

Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual. Wonders what I’m up to with that camera!

Marcus and Lucio, looking quite comfy.

Marcus and Lucio, looking quite comfy.

 

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Ripening blueberries, waiting to be picked.  The birds are also waiting for these tasty blue gems to ripen.  The race is on!

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2014

I’ve added a new page for Farm to Table Events to the blog for those who are interested in what is happening in our area, or perhaps are for looking for ideas for how to promote their own farm.

News from the farm:

The full heat of high summer has arrived on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The surrounding hills are taking on the golden brown color of toast, and the earth is beginning to cry for water as the hard clay soil shrinks and cracks.  June’s luscious cherries have just about played out, and our blueberries are now ripening at a mad dash.  We are managing to stay one step ahead of the birds this year, so there are plenty of these sweet blue gems to sell and barter, as well as for home consumption.  Blueberries are available just about everywhere here now, and you may catch a glimpse of the famous Ima Blueberry at your local Market or agricultural festival.  Intrepid women (I have not come across any Blueberry Bobs yet) brave the summer’s high temperatures and don hot, huge and rotund blueberry costumes, promoting Oregon blueberries across the state.  Visit the Oregon Blueberry Commission web site for all things blueberry, and where Ima will appear next!  There are a lot of good photos of Ima out there!

http://www.oregonblueberry.com/ima.html

View down the rows of blueberry bushes.  The hills are beginning to turn golden brown now that were are out of the rainy season.

View down the rows of blueberry bushes. The hills are beginning to turn golden brown now that were are out of the rainy season.

The long, hot but generally dry days are balanced by short, but deliciously cool nights at this time of year.  The temperature can swing from a low of 40 or 50 at daybreak, to a high in the 90s or low 100s during the day.  Gardens take off in the heat.  Tomato, eggplant and pepper starts that were idling in June suddenly put on height and girth, squash and other assorted curcubits throw out long vines that grow so fast they look as if they could snag the ankle of a farmer tarrying too long in one place.  Everything grows and ripens in its season, and the living is good, if not a bit overly busy!  Rick has been occupied keeping shoot growth in check in the vineyard, as the little bunches of green unripe grape berries put on weight.  Mother Nature has fired the starting gun, and it is a race now with time, weather, wildlife and human energy until the last crop comes in this fall.

View down the table grapes.

View down the table grapes.

The Pinot Vineyard.  Young vines have been planted in some spots to replace winter kill and gopher damaged vines.

The Pinot Vineyard. Young vines have been planted in some spots to replace winter kill and gopher damaged vines.

New!  Please visit the new page for Farm to Table Events on this blog site.  Producers and growers team up with chefs, restaurants and wineries to educate the public as to how and where their food is raised, as well as promote locally grown and locally prepared food.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

I will be performing again at Cornerstone Coffee in McMinnville, Oregon on Friday July 25th.  Cornerstone does much to support local music, and I encourage visitors to stop in and enjoy the food and drink, even when there isn’t music playing.  Help support venues who give their support to the Performing Arts!

The weekend of July 25th is also International Pinot Noir Celebration weekend in McMinnville.  This 3 day event attracts people from around the globe who come to enjoy Pinot noir and northwest cuisine.  There will be good food, wine and music all around McMinnville that weekend!

http://www.ipnc.org/

For the Science and Sci Fi buff readers of this blog, I must mention McMinnville is also home to an annual UFO festival in May.  In May of 1950, a UFO was photographed there over the Trent Farm.  The story appeared in the June 26, 1950 issue of Life magazine.  Read the article below, look at the photos, and judge for yourself!  ‘Nuff said!

http://www.ufoevidence.org/photographs/section/topphotos/photo301.htm

Just a reminder, the local Farmers’ Markets are in full swing now, and most feature a variety of music and dance along with  fresh produce, meats, cheeses and home-made goods.  Support your local growers and artisans.  Many wineries also feature music during the summer season.  Check your area listing for details!

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5

http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Marcus (left) and Nano the Great White Hunter enjoying a leisurely morning of lounging and viewing the table grapes.

Marcus (left) and Nano the Great White Hunter enjoying a leisurely morning of lounging and viewing the table grapes.

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Rick-and-grapes

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for June 2014

I’ve added a couple of new pages to the blog for those who are interested – The Cats of Salmon Brook Farm, and  Seabisqut the Subaru, my old Impreza hatchback with over 418,000 miles and still has the original engine and transmission.  The old Seabisquit and  I have traveled many a mile together.

News from the farm:
Summer will soon officially be here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, but is already in full swing for us.  Roses and daylilies are in full bloom, adding splashes of bright color to the emerald green everywhere.  The honeybees have moved on from the fruit trees and blueberry bushes, and are now working the clover and blackberry.  On warm days, the carpet of white clover blooms is a wall of sound, and can appear to be moving.

A bee's clover field of dreams.

A bee’s clover field of dreams.

Like a bee, Rick has frantically been buzzing about and working the vineyard, keeping exuberant grape vines under control and focused on their purpose.  The fruit looks like small clusters of green berries at this time.  Veraison, or the first blush of ripening, is yet to come.  The farm originally came with two long rows of table grapes, mainly Cascade, with some Concord, Delaware and Niagra.  These provide good eating for us, as well as grapes for the local market.  Unfortunately, birds, raccoons, yellow jackets and honeybees also love the succulent fruit of the vine.  Yellow jackets are able to get through the bird netting, and puncture holes in the grapes to imbibe the sweet juice.  Honeybees will also feed at these puncture sites, especially when conditions are very dry and the only flowering plants in any quantity are the Coast Dandelion (Hypochaeris radicata) and the Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).   Although yellow jackets will prey on honeybees, the two species will feed side by side on fruit in an apparent truce at the watering hole.

Developing table grapes

Developing table grapes

Rick and I planted our 120 vine pinot noir vineyard together, comprised of mainly Pommard, 777 and Wadenswill on a mix of Riparia Gloire, 44-53 and 3309 rootstock.  As our subterranean friends the Gophers have chomped through and taken out individual vines, we have replaced them with cheaper own-rooted cuttings we grew ourselves.  Hopefully we will not experience an infestation of the aphid-like Phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae) which almost destroyed the great vineyards of France (and most of the Vitus vinifera vineyards of the world) before the introduction of resistant rootstock.  Being in relative isolation here, we have been lucky, so far.

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r302300811.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_French_Wine_Blight

Rick working the pinot noir vineyard within the deer fencing.

Rick working the pinot noir vineyard within the deer fencing.

Our geographic location also plays a hand in how the year’s fruit production fares.  At roughly 800 feet, our farm is nestled in a bowl, and experiences a “ponding” of cold air which affects not only the vineyard, but also our fruit trees.   During the seasonal transitions, Old Jack Frost can smite both flower in spring, and ripening fruit in early fall with his icy paintbrush.

At some point, we hope this vineyard will  produce good fruit that we will turn into our own wine.  For the interim, we grow and learn how to work with our environment and its cast of characters.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

I’m continuing to expand and rearrange the sub-pages under music.  The full listing of songs on the CD, the stories behind why some were written, or chosen to cover, are now there.  Help yourself!

The local Farmers’ Markets are in full swing now, and most feature a variety of music and dance along with  fresh produce, meats, cheeses and home-made goods.  Support your local growers and artisans.  Many wineries also feature music during the summer season.  Check your area listing for details!

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5

http://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Both beautiful and functional, daylilies planted around the base of our fruit trees help protect trunks from mower and weedwacker damage.

Both beautiful and functional, daylilies planted around the base of our fruit trees help protect trunks from mower and weedwacker damage.

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