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Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2015

Our feature photo this month is the Return of the Jedi Deer. I spied them under the apple trees in late June, in the dim light of early dawn. One turned to look at me just before I pressed the shutter button, and the surprised doe’s eyes caught the camera’s flash, giving her a laser-eyed Jedi look. The pressure from these roving cervids, who are looking for water and anything green, has started early with this year’s drought. Click on any photo to enlarge.

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Visiting deer, early morning late June.

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Deer fencing up in the background, protecting the pinot noir. They would love to get inside the gate…

News from the farm

The long days of summer are passing all too quickly on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Blueberry season is upon us, and we are in a race with hungry birds for the dark blue treasure! Cherry season was early and short due to early hot weather, and Robins, cedar waxwings, bluejays and flickers are among the feathered ones who have now turned their attention to the berry patch. There is much wastage as the birds often stick their beaks in fruit without actually eating it. I pull off and toss those on the ground, hoping to deflect attention away from good berries still on the bush.

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Fresh mound. Gophers still hard at work. They never take time off…

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Blueberry patch.

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South view. The surrounding hills are looking a bit brown and dry.

August weather patterns and high temperatures arrived in June, and the landscape looks more like early August out there as opposed to early July. We had a small amount of rain last week coupled with some passing thunderstorms. For a short time, the mineral scent of wet earth and pungent vegetation permeated the air and revived the senses while the staccato sound of rain on the metal roof played in the background. Old Man Thunder and his herd rode though quickly that evening, leaving us with a rainbow to the east in the fading light, and the promise of a clear evening and open skies for cooling off the land to the west. Although still dry, we are down in the 70s and low 80s for the time being, and the evening’s breeze sends cool tendrils in the windows. I take a long look across this bowl we live in to the hills beyond, and drink up the elixir of the coming darkness. Deer and small creatures of the night emerge. This is their realm.

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Rainbow in the eastern sky at sundown.

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Clearing skies to the west.

The Egg Fairy has started coming around again, now that his chickens are recovering from the heat. He stealthily rides in on his BMW 1150 motorcycle, or red truck, depending on where else he is going and what he is delivering. I don’t know quite how he does that, as I often don’t hear him come down the driveway with his daughter, who actually maintains the flock. They magically leave fresh local eggs in a special location, and our empty egg cartons disappear. We still struggle with elder care, which consumes more and more of our time. It is wonderful to have good friends and fairies of various types who help us and makes deliveries!

For Mandy, at Rocky Springs Rambles in Australia ( https://rockysprings.wordpress.com/ ) , here are the promised photos of the old horse Brimstone, and pony Spring Frost. That is me back in my teenage days riding Brimstone bareback in that photo, heading out for a trail ride, photographed by my mother. He was a handsome Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross. Known as “The Pickle” to the horseshoer. He would lean on Jerry, slowly pushing him down as the farrier worked diligently on a front hoof. Jerry, who was slowly sinking down under the weight of a tilting horse, would eventually figure out what was happening, and wap him one. Slowly the horse tilted back up, removing the weight off of Jerry’s back, and shoeing continued once again. This show repeated itself several times during the process of shoeing. Tilt down.  Wap.  Tilt up.  Wait.  Tilt down.  Wap.  Tilt up. Wait.  Repeat…..  Brimstone was also branded “daemon” by my mother for sneaking up behind her one day and pushing her into the manure pile. Occasionally chased children who cut through his field, in spite of being warned about him. “DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE FIELD!!!! HE WILL GET YOU!!!!!” Standing alert by the barn with ears forward, he would spy a potential victim crossing the back pasture. Starting off at a happy trot towards the unsuspecting “intruder”, the ears would go back in a threatening position once he was sure he had been seen by the victim, and the happy trot became a determined lope. He would stay just behind the children who were running for their lives (in one case, an adult), stretch out his neck, snapping his teeth just behind their heads. He liked the “fear factor” in his shows. He never hurt anyone, but liked to have “fun” with people. People who were warned….  All I remember being told about him back then was that his father was a Quarter Horse named Little A&M, and his mother was a Thoroughbred named Agnes. I was also told he was 8 years old. The vet said more like 16….but he was beautiful, strong and was in great shape. And he could jump. He came to live down at the barn with Frosty the pony.

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Brimstone and Lavinia, way back when. Heading out for a trail ride.

This photo is of me on Spring Frost, my pony, and school chum Tracy who borrowed Brimstone for one of the local fair horse shows. Frosty won a first-place blue ribbon and trophy, and Brimstone came in third with a yellow ribbon in whatever respective classes we were registered for that morning. Brimstone also had a habit of taking an occasional pot shot with a rear hoof at nearby horse in the ring, which the judge understandably would frown upon. Dear old Mom was not an exceptional photographer, but she was a good documenter of the occasion. She captured the most important part of this scene, our mounts sporting their hard-won ribbons. Somewhere I have a photo of Brimstone with his Reserve Champion ribbon he and I won one year. That is the missing photo I am looking for! And I still do have the ribbons and trophies.

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Brimstone and school chum Tracy in the back. I’m on Spring Frost the pony. Horse show at a local fair.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is little Nod, a.k.a “Sister Bertrille, The Flying Nod”, for her ability to take a flying leap from 6 feet away and land on my shoulder. Fortunately for me, she is the smallest of the Sisters, and lightest weight. As well as being an accomplished acrobat, she is never short of comments, on any topic. Nod would like to reminisce this month and show photos from the old days when The Three Sisters first arrived at Salmon Brook Farms as little homeless waifs with brother Tio Pepe and Mama Silvie. Tio and Silvie went to live with a friend, and are doing quite well as one can see! The Three Sisters never found placement, as I did not want to break up this close-knit cat family any further. No one wanted, or could afford, three cats. Being a rural area, everyone around here seems to have six or more of their own, and not by choice. Comes with the territory. The girls are now almost 2 years old, and this is the only loving home they have ever known. So the Three Sisters will remain with us, and have become a part of the legends and stories of this place we call home.

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The Gang of Four kittens. Little brother Tio Pepe looks comfy in the company of his sisters.

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Nod in her kittenhood days. Plenty to say about everything! Her unusual eye color was becoming apparent.

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Nod all grown up. Still a kitten at heart.

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Mama Silvie when she first came to visit. We knew she was nursing kittens…somewhere….

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Mam Silvie and son Tio Pepe in their new home, some time later. Tio has grown up but still loves his mother. Photo courtesy of J.B.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The farmers markets here are in full swing, with music of all kinds to heard and enjoyed. I am one among many out there performing at these local markets, as well as book music for a couple of them. Most of us will never have been heard of outside of our respective areas, and will only have been heard in passing.   I will be taking a break at the end of September for a short while, unless something comes up I can’t refuse, so I can get back to working in my studio again. Between farm, performing and caregiving, I had to put something aside for now. Everything in its place and season. Fall and winter will be here before too long, and I will have a bit more time to play in the studio and get the Tiny Farm Concerts channel up and running on You Tube.   Stay tuned.

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

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Lily’s Memorial “Don’t Bully Me” Garden. For a teenage girl who committed suicide a few years ago after being bullied. Kindness, patience and respect for others is often the hardest thing to achieve in life, but one we must all strive for. May her spirit find peace.

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 June 2015

Meet the neighbors! Our feature photo this month is of our burro neighbor Speedo, a little fellow with a big personality. His pony mates Joe (sorrel) and Jack (bay) were a little camera shy, but at last came closer for a photo. The three can be seen racing around, or perhaps just hanging out under their apple tree on a warm day.

Neighbors Joe and Jack, grazing at dusk.

Neighbors Joe and Jack, grazing at dusk.

News from the farm

Summer is officially just around the corner on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, but already feels like late July with the unseasonably hot, and dry, weather. The gardens, trees and vines have all taken off in a race against the oncoming heat and drought, and Rick has been occupied tying up shoots that seem to grow a foot a day.

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Rick tending the new shoots in the pinot noir vineyard. The table grapes outside the deer fencing are already attempting to climb the trees!

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Growing apple. Healthy and coming right along.

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Kale, mustard, onions and potatoes. A crowded bed and growing fast, they will help shield each other from soil dessication and cut back on our water usage.

The early mornings are in the low to mid 50s, cool and soft now. The welcome staccato of rain on the metal roof is becoming much more infrequent as summer solstice draws near, and we are already spot-watering in places where we would not have had to until July. It is a lazy, hot and increasingly cloudy day today, and a rainstorm is making its way up through the southwest pass, according to the forecast. I have been watching the sky over southwest pass all morning, as that is where most of our local weather comes in from. The light cirrus clouds of early morning have grown darker and heavier, and the Wind has picked up. I can see the footsteps of this unseen entity in the silvery waves of grass, bending in Wind’s path, running away across the back lot. The mood is uncertain today. Warm and humid enough to spawn a thunderstorm, but still playful and pleasant at this time. A fairy, flitting in and out of open windows. Orange trumpets of daylilies open skyward in the heat and filtered light, imploring the wanderers of the heavens to leave some moisture before they move on up over the Cascades. We wait.

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Planted around the fruit trees, perennials such as daylilies add beauty and protection from mowing and weed-wacking.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

The crew has been active in the early morning and evening, retiring to napping during the heat of the day, as any sensible cat would. Please visit their page The Cats of Salmon Brook Farm for more information

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Nano, the Great White Hunter, hard at work. A good day for napping!

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Hope, enjoying her morning snooze.

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Lucio T. Ross, not getting into mischief at the moment. But not for long…

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Unsuspecting little Marcus, peacefully snoozing. Unaware Lucio is about to claim his sun spot…

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Lucio, cleaning off a spot to bite. Marcus will tire of this before long and move over, which is exactly what Lucio wants….

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Abby is awake and alert, and wanting someone to play toy. Birdwatching will have to do for now.

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Old Willow cat, blissfully asleep in her basket with a big smile on her face.

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The Three Sisters – Wynken (left) , Nod (center) and Blynken (right). Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual, is watching the camera strap, wondering how to get a hold of it. She studies a problem until she figures it out. Wynken is the largest and gentlest of the three, and a real long-haired beauty. Camera shy, prefers chin scratches.

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Little Nod – also known as Sister Bertrille,” The Flying Nod”. Playing with her brush. Loves to take flying leaps, land on my back, and ride on my shoulders. Smallest of the Three Sisters, the most vocal and opinionated of the three, quite striking with her Paul Newman blue eye!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The outdoor music season is underway for me, starting with the Albany Farmers’ Market on back on 5/16. I worked as the market manager for Albany until it became too difficult to care for Rick’s mother and get up early and put in the hours required to work this market. I have known most of these vendors for many years now, having shared working outside in the cold, wind and rain of the beginning and end of the season as well as the relentless sun and heat of mid summer. The Corvallis-Albany market season is a long one, stretching from mid-April through just before Thanksgiving. They are like family, these farmers, all of them. I have watched their children grow up, shared the highs and lows of their individual triumphs and losses, fielded their complaints and problems as well as compliments. To be greeted and hugged by so many of my old market family each time I return to play music there is a wonderful experience like no other.

Our local Sweet Home Farmers’ Market opened this past Saturday June 6th. Stop in on Saturdays if you are in the area! The Market runs from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. I kicked off the music season there this past Saturday, and like Albany, it was wonderful to see so many old friends there as vendors, and as customers. A farmers’ market is probably the only place I might have a performance interrupted to have someone tell me about their bees, or how their goats, cows or chickens are doing. Or perhaps to offer me some fresh produce, eggs or baked goods to take home after the show, a “thank you for being here today”. And that is OK – I am background music there, not in a concert venue. And I am just one of the gang.

We are still working on the Tiny Farm Concerts page on YouTube.  Stay tuned.  Everything in it season…

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Roses from the north borderline.

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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Live well, love well. Be kind to yourself and to others. Tred lightly upon the soil and its inhabitants. We are all neighbors of a sort on this Earth, and all need each other’s expertise, hard work and good will.

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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

GuildJumbo

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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