Our feature photo this month is from early morning on November 18th. A frosty 30 degrees greeted us at daybreak under mostly clear skies that day, dawn’s colors captured on the underside of the few clouds out and about at that hour.
A lonely row of cotton candy pink altocumulus clouds was sighted in the west, perfectly aligned as if they were there solely to witness the arrival of the new day.
Nature puts on a brief but intense show; the price of admission is free to those able and willing to attend.
News from the farm
The harvest is in; garden, orchard and vineyard finished for the season. A few late season apples still cling to trees, and are still quite good, enhanced by a little frost.
It has been a good year; I have been slowly able to do more. Two test fermentations of pinot noir rosé wine as well as two test runs of whole berry, stainless steel fermented pinot noir wine were made from grapes from our own vineyard, a tribute to the value of insect netting which not only keeps out birds, but also yellow jacket wasps. The quality of life here is measured in what we can eat and drink from what we produce, the natural beauty that surrounds us, and most importantly, the love of home, each other, and our animal companions. Life is not always easy, but it is good, and sustains us.
I look forward to the long dark of winter, though. Like the orchard and vineyard, I feel the need to slow down, to withdraw to my roots, and recover from the physiological debt of the year’s fast pace. It is a time for peace, a quieting of the mind so that creativity may flow again. A friend once described peace as “a place of one’s own to listen to the wind”. We know we are there when we arrive, but often lose the track to that elusive but vast internal space, the Outback of the Mind, where the wind tarries a while to speak of where it has been, and where it is going.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has contacted the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk for a report on the olive harvest at the House of 40 Paws. Without further do, Mr. Nano will turn this section of the newsletter over to Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky of the House of 40 Paws.
The weather here in Sicily has been exceptional, with temperatures in the low 60s, perfect for olive harvesting. Rain occurring a few days before the scheduled harvest date threatened to take us off schedule, but the reappearance of sun dried trees and olives sufficiently enough to make the harvest possible.
I attempted to recruit our other correspondents to help with the harvest. We are seven in total, and many paws can make quick work. This proved to be an exercise in herding cats.
Correspondent Simona was missing from the initial meeting, leaving Dexter to try to convince her that harvesting olives would be in her best interest.
Only Dexter and YouTube showed up to listen to the requirements of olive harvesting. NewDude remained on the terrace, keeping a safe distance from any work.
Another correspondent, Lulu, decided staying home and enjoying pizza was much more to his liking.
Ranger finally convinced YouTube that laying in the sun on the terrace would be more far more exciting than working,
and were soon joined by correspondents NewDude and Dexter.
Although I am blind, I was the only correspondent still willing and available to climb trees and assist.
It took four people 40 work hours to harvest all forty of the trees. As the trees were raked, the olives cascaded on to the waiting nets below.
The olives are then gathered up and placed into totes, loaded onto the tractor and hauled to a waiting vehicle. The Almond Brothers, correspondents NewDude and YouTube, were found basking on the car, waiting to help load olives.
Olives were safely delivered to the the olive milling plant, or Oleficio, for processing. They are transferred into large totes, weighed and then emptied onto a grate to eliminate some of the leaves. From there, they travel up the conveyor belt for the first step, which is to clean the olives by removing stems, leaves, debris and dirt.
Olives are ground and then go into a horizontal trough with spiral mixing blades where they remain for about 45 minutes.
The paste then passes through a traditional centrifuge, which is a three phase process. Olive paste is spun in a horizontal drum; the heavier flesh and pits go to the outside, while water and oil are tapped off separately from the center.
We started with 7.8 quintale of olives, or 780 kilos, (1,716 lbs) and came home with 140 liters of fresh oil, a good harvest in spite of not having all our feline workers available. They are strongly encouraged to participate next year. Their help will be most welcome.
Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, reporting from The House of 40 Paws.
Thank you, Correspondent Lucky!
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
Saddle up a trusty vehicle, head up over the Cascades and on to the gorge where the olive-brown velvety hills of Washington come down to drink from the mighty Columbia River on sculpted lion’s paws. Head across the river, through eastern Washington and on to Spokane. This was my first year back at the Spokane Fall Folk Festival since 2011, having taken on elder care, and then recovery from elder care during the intervening years. I completely burned out in 2015 during the last year Rick’s mother was alive and with us, trying to work part-time, play music and provide round the clock care, resulting in my taking 2016 off entirely to recover my health. This has been a year of slowly regaining my sea legs as a performer.
I took no pictures from the festival itself, as I forgot to bring the camera along to the community college where it was held.
For those readers who are new or catching up, the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March. I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle. It has been an interesting ride, with more to come! Do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, now that the harvest season has passed.
For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.