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Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2015

Our feature photo this month is of a blossoming forest of chives, beloved by human and bee alike.

News from the farm

Our unusually warm March weather turned cool again in April, although no surprise snowstorms troubled us here in our part of the Cascade foothills. Fruit trees and blueberry bushes bloomed and set fruit early, and it looks like we may have another season when blueberries, cherries, plums, pears and apples come in closely on the heels of one another.

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Developing blueberries in progress as well as blossoms.

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Developing cherries.

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Most of the blooms have finished, and tiny developing apples are in progress.

It is 80 degrees and sunny today on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, with a light breeze playing the windchimes. The stark white mares’ tails of cirrus clouds have started forming in a bright blue sky this afternoon, signaling an incoming front and the return of rain on Monday. We had some beautiful wandering cloud woolies a few days ago, contentedly grazing on pastures of moist air on their way up and over the Cascades, while the neighbors’ cows contentedly grazed on fresh spring grass below.

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Cows are laying down and enjoying fresh grass while woolly wanderers head out over the Cascades to the east.

The tables grapes were slightly less reticent during bud break than the pinot noir, but all are sending forth new canes now and we have not lost that many over the winter to cold and tunneling gophers. We keep extra vines on hand, started from our own cuttings, to replace any damaged plants in spring. The little devils have eaten all but two tulips (also known as “gopher candy”) planted about. Those were rescued and placed in a barrel planter. They seem to find daffodils, lilies and irises distasteful, so the garden beds are full of these types of flowers.

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Pinot noir – woke up a bit later than the table grapes, but sporting new shoots.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our cat crew of 9 is doing well, and aging well right along with the rest of us here. Although I have quietly asked the Universe please not to send me any more waifs needing my care and attention for at least 10 years, I don’t know what I would do without these furry fellow travelers and mischief makers. Our animals give us more than we can possibly give them back, and I am grateful for the opportunity to leave this corner of the world better than I found it.

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Little Hope cat, sister of Marcus cat. Becoming a real ham as she ages. The “twins” will be 8 this year.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I was pleasantly surprised earlier this year to be asked by artists Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios if I would be willing to tape a segment for McMinnville Community Media television on my music. With the exception of the occasional folk festival, I am normally background music in what is often a noisy setting of something else going on, so this was a real treat for me, and a chance to tell the stories behind some of the songs. On May 2nd, Old Seabisqut the Subaru and I made the trip to McMinnville with my three trusty road guitars. Mike, Liz and the staff at MCM taped the show, and it aired this past Tuesday May 5th. They did a fantastic job of creating this segment, and I am very grateful to them. Mike and Liz do many such art projects, and have a great sense of community spirit. Please visit their website at www.meadowlakestudios.blogspot.com and be sure to visit McMinnville Community Media at http://www.mcm11.org/

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studio and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

Music is an important part of my life here on the farm, and I have set up a YouTube channel for future “Tiny Farm Concerts” that will showcase original and traditional songs and stories. It is a new form of media for me, so please bear with me while I learn it.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAjYb_euiUZ5CFOjzWmiZWQ

Music is both a release and a spiritual lifter, having sustained me during hardship as well as easier times. It provided a focus for recovering from cancer 5 years ago, and sustains my spirit while I continue to care for a soon-to-be 94 year old, here in our home. Love is not always easy, and caring for one’s elders is a full time job. The years march on with a slow, steady tread, and the effects upon body and mind are not always kind. She has organic brain syndrome, and the road has been long, and hard on all. As her daughter-in-law and primary caregiver, I will journey with her to the Gate, making sure this one is safe, well-cared for, and as peaceful, happy and healthy as I can manage. When we arrive, Mom will look back one last time, and we will hug and say goodbye to each other. I will return to my own life, my own journey, and she will cross over, fading from sight, but never from mind. One of my favorite lines is from the movie “Broken Trail”. “From the sweet grass to the packing house, we are all just travelers between the two eternities.”

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It has been said by many that gardens link us from the physical to the spiritual. These new plantings are dedicated to the memory of Archie and Marion, beloved relatives of Australian bloggers Baz and Janet (www.thelandy.com) I love their motto – “…there are no ordinary moments; no ordinary people; no ordinary lives…”

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

https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2015

Our feature photo this month is a close-up of one of our crabapple trees, in bloom early!  We have had an unusually dry and warm end to winter this year, with many days in the mid 70s.  The weather has returned to a more seasonal mood in the last few days, with mornings in the 30s and daytime temperatures in the 50s and ominous-looking dark grey clouds against a light blue spring sky.  Honeybees are out in force today, as cherries, plums, pear, some of the apples are in bloom about 3 weeks early.  The heavy, heady scent of such a profusion of blooms coupled with the droning of large numbers of bees is an experience like no other.  Sight, sound and scent form an indelible memory of place and time.

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A defiant wand of crabapple blooms against a grey sky.

News from the farm

We have bud break in the vineyard and even the blueberries are beginning to flower.   A spring frost or April snowstorm at this point could set us back, and we are hoping for a cooler, but more even ride into the growing season.  With the end of winter comes a change in mood of the sky, land and soil.  Warm sun feels good in contrast to the mountain air’s cold bite, and we dress in layers that will come off and on with the drifting armada of clouds.  Dark-grey galleons obscure the sun and dapple the hillsides with shadows and light, and I have already smelled the presence of the first visiting skunk of the year.  It is spring in the Cascades.

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Bud break in the vineyard!

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Gopher break in the vineyard! The little devils are coming up everywhere!

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

The crew, like us, is getting older.  The Three Sisters, the newest members, have been with us almost 2 years now.  Abby Abyssinian turns 13 this month!  Although not a new picture, it is an Abby classic of her checking out what’s on the table.  She is way too curious about the camera resulting in too many close-ups of her nose.  Good photos of her are hard won!  Please visit the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page for more on the crew.

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Abby just in time for supper!

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Lucio (left) and Marcus (right). Marcus like to do everything his big Uncle Lucio is doing.

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Willow – companion to Rick’s mother, and very protective of her. Age unknown. We think she is “around” 18 years old. Beautiful Calico found here almost 3 years ago, almost dead. She is thriving now.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The Corvallis Indoor Winter Market has only two weeks left, and I have finished playing there for the season.  If you are in the area, please stop in on Saturdays between 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and continue to support our farmers and artisans who provide our community fresh meats, eggs, cheeses, mushrooms, winter vegetables, baked goods, honey, crafts, etc. every week!   Both the Corvallis Saturday Farmers’ Market and Albany Saturday Farmers’ Market open on April 18th, and I will be playing one day at both Saturday markets this season.  Check the performance schedule page for dates and times.  The Corvallis Wednesday Farmers’ Market (opens 4/22) will also have music, but I will be working at the Market booth there and have a front row seat to listen to some great music while I work! Please visit http://www.locallygrown.org

I will be at Ankeny Vineyard in Salem this month. Please check the performance schedule page for the date and time.  Any changes and updates are posted there!

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

https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

 

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For fellow blogger Herman in Belgium – a cherry tree garden to remember your mother, and feline friends Glippie and Mrs. Jones.

Our lives, like rocks in a stream bed, are etched and shaped by the waters of time, circumstance and experience. People and animals flow in and out of our lives, sometimes remaining for a while in an eddy, or mossy pool. Eventually, they too, will move on, leaving evidence of their former presence written upon the stones. – Lavinia Ross

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A particularly beautiful sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms in mid February 2015.

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Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2015

Our feature photo this month is of what a friend has tentatively identified for us as an Osoberry, also known as Wild Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformes), blooming on the north border of the farm.  It is among the first bloom and leaf out, and as one can see, is attractive to honeybees out foraging in our unusually warm winter weather.

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

The bee is perched on top of the blooms in the top center, showing her backside to the viewer.  There aren’t many out at this time, but they will fly on a sunny day above 47 degrees.  I have seen them on the dandelions, whose cheery golden faces have been blooming all winter, although keeping a low profile in the cold.  It won’t be long before the plums and cherries bloom, followed by the apples, and the trees will sound like one gigantic bee with the drone of all the sisters at work.  Spring is not far off now, although we could still be (and have been in the past) surprised by by a freak snowstorm in March or April.

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Sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms on March 7, 2015. A frosty 32 degrees at sunrise with a high of 70 by afternoon.

 

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A frosty dawn, with mists settling in the low areas. The tops of fir trees to the south appear as a dark jagged line above the soft cloak of fog.

 

News from the farm

The eastern half of the country appears to have received the majority of our winter precipitation in the form of snow and freezing rain while we have been enjoying a warmer, and drier, than normal winter here in Oregon.   Mornings have been chilly, ranging anywhere from 25 to 32 degrees, but warming rapidly under clear skies into the mid 50s and 60s.  The last few days have been close to 70 degrees by afternoon, and the windows are open, letting fresh, cool air in.  Working outside, the sun feels wonderful on skin and hair, and the combination of sun’s warmth and the cold mountain air is quite restorative.  Icy-grey Old Man Winter continues his retreat back up into the refuge of the Cascades, giving way to the Golden Time of Spring.  In her footsteps follow all manner of green shoots, blooms and the chorusing of frogs, who have been singing nightly even when the thermometer has read in the 30s.  Everything has a season – a period to exist and be known – eventually disappearing into the sands of time.  In the peace of vineyard, orchard, field and garden, it is easy to travel the back roads of memory, stopping to visit places I have been.  I am sometimes surprised upon returning to a place how it influenced the path to here and now.  That too, will become past, to be revisited later on in life.  Time grants perspective to those who will look back.  I believe musician Kate Wolf said it best – there are no roads that do not bend.  Kate left this life all too early, but her music is still very much alive.  Please visit her site at:

http://www.katewolf.com

We are heading into spring with below normal precipitation and snow pack in the mountains, which does not bode well for this summer’s fire season.  High Country News recently published a very informative article titled “The Dust Detectives”,  how dust rising from the Taklamakan Desert in China interacts with atmospheric pollution and affects our weather out here in the west.  Highly recommended reading for all who are interested in the subject of climate change and extreme weather.

http://www.hcn.org/issues/46.22/the-dust-detectives

Our cat crew gets older right along with us.  Teachers, companions, mischievous elvish creatures they are, adding an irreplaceable dimension to our lives here.  They are family.  A few of our crew members are pictured here every month now.  The entire crew and their stories can be found on the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page.

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Lucio doing what he likes best – snoozing in comfort.

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Three Sisters member little Nod spying on outside activities. Her Paul Newman blue eye is quite striking. “You won’t believe what I just saw!”, she says.

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Three Sisters member Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual and sometimes gossip, giving little Nod an earful!

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Three Sisters member the lovely long-haired Wynken. The largest of the three girls. A thoughtful expression on her face.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We are back at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market again this month.  If you are in the area, please stop in on Saturdays between 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and support our farmers and artisans who provide our community fresh meats, eggs, cheeses, mushrooms, winter vegetables, baked goods, honey, crafts, etc. every week!  Please visit the market’s WordPress site at:

https://corvalliswintermarket.wordpress.com/

Setting up the home studio again is proceeding slowly among all the other activities going on, and a friend has donated some older equipment for experiments.   I enjoy playing with old technology and making it work.  Often works just as well as-state-of-the-art and is much less expensive.

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

https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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

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Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for February 2015

Our feature photo this month is of the daffodils that started blooming along the south garage wall in January!  A few leaves are sporting a little white paint from my working on the building.  This is the first year they have not been bent over with snow.  We usually get something in early January, but may be surprised yet by an March or April storm!  There is something peaceful about watching snow fall and collect, especially in the quiet of a woodland area.  When I was young and had my horse, I would go down to the stable while it was still dark in the morning, just to watch the snow fall in the wooded area in the back pasture as dawn unfolded.  Eventually the noise and bustle of the daytime world would take over, and I would return home.  But for a while, the magic of snowfall on a winter morning, quiet and solitude….

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Salmon Brook Farms in winter, when we have snow. So far none this season!

News from the farm

The last few days have been more typical of western Oregon winter weather, meaning rain, fog, and uniformly grey skies.  The sun attempts to burn through the ground fog and low cloud cover from time to time, revealing a kaleidoscope show of greys, silver, to blinding white and pale gold punctuated by patches of light blue sky.  If the sun succeeds, the rising mists will coalesce into opalescent rivers that wind around the foothills, sometimes appearing smooth as a frozen lake if one is up high enough.  The landscape has received sufficient water now to have greened up the grass nicely, and wild onion chives are poking up everywhere out back, shooting up above the grass in a race for the growing light of the approaching spring.  They are quite strong and flavorful in a meaty sort of way, and I will collect what I can.  The grass will eventually win, as it does every year.  Grass will grow, overtake, and dominate the earth until the intense, dry heat of summer subdues it into dormancy, entombed by hard-packed clay that will bake brick-hard, and fissure under a relentless sun.  Even gophers will choose to tunnel more frequently in areas where we spot water, and therefore the ground is softer, wreaking havoc around plantings.  We are also in a race of our own, finishing up building repairs, pruning and garden beds before spring.  There is no shortage of work here, no matter what the season.

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Hope (left) and Marcus (right). Siblings, usually found in each other’s arms. Not in the least concerned with building maintenance, races or time, except for food o’clock.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

It may be winter, but the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market is in full swing now, and I will be there again in February and March (check the Performance Schedule page of this blog).  If you are in the area, please stop in on Saturdays between 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and support our farmers and artisans who provide our community fresh meats, eggs, cheeses, mushrooms, winter vegetables, baked goods, honey, crafts, etc. every week!

We had a great time playing at Cornerstone Coffee in McMinnvile last Saturday.  Many old friends and some new ones came out for the evening.  I’ll be back there again on July 25th, IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration) weekend.  In the meantime, I’ve been invited to tape a show for McMinnville Public Access TV this spring.  Stay tuned!

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

https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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Sunset over Salmon Brook Farms

If we all do some small part to making the world a better place, it surely will be.  We all owe this world something for the good things we experience in life.  As the character Paul Edgecombe said in the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Green Mile, “In the end, we all owe a death.  No exceptions.”  Our actions up until that time are the legacy we leave, and how we will be remembered by those whose lives we touch.  Kindness, humility and grace are no small feats in life, and are a constant striving towards a perfection we may never achieve.

Mr.Pluff

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Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2015

Our feature photo this month is Rick hard at work in the table grapes.  The annual pruning of the vines is already underway here, beginning in the long rows of tables grapes on the north side, and will end in the pinot noir vineyard behind the deer fencing to the south.  Vines are trimmed back to the two healthiest looking canes, which will be trained horizontally along the trellis wire.  These two chosen horizontal canes contain buds which will produce this years shoots and fruiting canes.  Some cuttings will be taken in the pinot noir vineyard to start new replacement vines for those killed by gophers, drought or cold snap. Grapes vines will root readily on their own when stuck directly into the ground, or into pots of native soil.

After bud break, when the shoots (deer candy) start to grow, vines outside the deer fencing will be ripe for attack by roving cervids (mammals in the deer family) after dark.  In the early stages of growth, deer will eat new shoots right back to the trunk.  When the shoots start to grow, Rick will treat the them with Deer-Off, a commercial repellent mix, until the canes are old enough the deer lose interest in snacking on them.  See http://www.havahart.com/about-deer-off

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This vine is ready for spring and waiting for bud break.

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Rick working his way down the row, pruning and attaching canes along the trellis wire.

News from the farm

Winter Solstice has come and gone, and the sun is finally making the long journey back north.  We’ve experienced more than one cold snap so far, and January has only just begun on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  It is the season of thick, white mists that have writhe and curl under the porch lights at night, the cold, heavy breath of the mountains.  Yet the daffodils have already started their annual climb from the cold, wet clay soil towards the growing light.  Intrepid gold-maned dandelions have been braving the elements all winter long, keeping their blooms low, close to the protection of their leafy rosettes.

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Dandelion in Winter – keeping a bright but low profile amid the budding daffodils.

My garden bed preparations have taken a back seat to unplanned repairs to outbuildings and water drainage projects.  While the pocket gophers have been busy tunneling away in various locations, I have been busy tunneling out by the old garage.  I thought I might be able to go under the sidewalk, but was soundly defeated by the hard-packed and heavy, wet clay soil.  A kindly neighbor brought over a saw and chopped through a section of sidewalk to make way for the drain pipe.  I have new respect for those heavily muscled little rodents.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife describes the local Camas Pocket Gopher as being one of the most vicious animals known for its size.

See http://www.dfw.state.or.us/species/mammals/gopher.asp

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Sure sign of a Gopher at Work. Mounds dot the back of the property like a small city.

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Sure sign of a Human at Work. Does not have the built in functionality of the resident rodent population and must use saw, pickaxe and shovel.

Along with giving thanks to good friends and neighbors who have helped us out here on Salmon Brook Farms over the years, I would like to express our appreciation to all who have stopped by this website and given their positive comments, likes, follows and even just passing page views.   You will see their comments (click on comments on the left hand side of any page) as well as their avatars at the bottom of various pages on this blog site.  Some of the most beautiful photographs, poetry and prose I have ever seen and read are posted by WordPress bloggers.  Please do have a look at their sites!

A very special thank you goes to Tom  at Cats at the Bar and Doug at Weggie Boy’s Blog for putting together a joint list of the top 23 blogs they follow, and giving us a mention along with those other awesome folks!  It was totally unexpected, and a pleasant surprise.

http://catsatthebar.org/2015/01/01/the-weggie-list/

http://phainopepla95.com/2015/01/01/the-weggie-list/

A few members of our cat crew….

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Abby “Abba Dabba Doo” Abyssinian. Her 13th birthday coming up this year! She is blind in her right eye, but does not let this stop her from enjoying life.

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Hope (top) and brother Marcus (bottom). Usually found together or with third twin Nano.

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And the “third twin” Nano…

 History of this site – this section was posted in our April 2014 newsletter

If you have ever seen any episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater, you may recall the intro where Bradbury is seated at his typewriter in his office, surrounded by all kinds of interesting objects collected during his life.  He scans the room, looking for something to catch his eye, and his imagination, and then begins to type.   Here on Salmon Brook Farm, between the all too numerous gopher mounds, assorted critters wandering through, family, friends and travels, I can find plenty of material to get a newsletter started.  The newsletter itself has changed radically over the years.  Its roots started in Connecticut, beginning with just a brief list of gigs, and later grew into to sporadic reports on the list of upcoming gigs, and what was in season on our farm here in Oregon.  I took over writing them in 2007 when Rick tired of the task.  The content and scope continued to change as I worked at finding a way to verbally paint in email what we saw, and what life out here was like to people back east.  It finally became a blog in 2013 when Rick retired from playing music, and I tired of keeping an email list.  With some encouraging feedback on content from readers of the email newsletters, I dove into the murky, unknown realm of blogging, figuring this might be a good place to archive the writings, and readers beyond the realm of the old mailing list could help themselves.  A few photos would augment the archives, filling in the cracks.  Old Klaatu had passed away in May of 2013, and I wanted to tell the story of this unusual feline that wandered into our lives, a memorial of sorts to that wild, elusive spirit of his.  Thus was born salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com in June of 2013.  It is still evolving, a work in progress.  Learning as I go!  Writing, or even playing music, for me is like working with a unruly or skittish horse – sometimes rears, bucks or outright throws me, sometimes stops dead in front of a gate and I go sailing head over heels, reins still in hand, crashing on the other side – but it is always an interesting ride of discovery.  When the two finally do manage to work together, the ride is smooth and synchronous.  Horse and rider both feel the rhythmic connectivity, understand each other, and move as one over the terrain.  I feel nothing but joy.

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Note – to read about an unusual goat encountered on our travels, please visit the April 2014 newsletter.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

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

https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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Rick and I share this guitar, shown from three views. It was built at the old Guild factory in Westerly, Rhode Island. Fender bought Guild and eventually moved operations to the west coast. Rick calls this guitar “The Hammer”. “Rings like silver and shines like gold”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

https://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

https://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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