Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2014

News from the farm:

Spring, although not officially here, has come to our little farm the Cascade foothills.  The surrounding hills and towns are fast becoming a pastel pink and white tapestry of blooming trees, punctuated by eruptions of brightly colored daffodils in the the deep-green, rapidly growing grass below.  Our unusual winter drought ended, and the ground is saturated with water, squelching underfoot, soaking my shoes on the way to the mailbox.  Rain has settled into large beads on leaf and stem, and lichen covered trees appear to be in full leaf from a distance.  Life has been slowly awakening with the longer days since late December, accelerating as the vernal equinox approaches.  The Daffodils began their ascent to the world above in late December, in spite of the harsh weather.  Bud break in the vineyard will come in April, when we will see the full extent of any winter freeze damage.  Our pear, plum and cherry trees will open their sweetly scented blooms here within the next month, followed by the apple trees in early May.  Standing under the trees in good bee-flying weather, one can hear the sisters work the blooms, their hypnotic buzzing is a sign all is right, at least in one small corner of the world.  Pocket Gophers, those little root-eating rascals of the Chisel Tooth Tribe, dig their tunnels through the heavy clay soil more easily now, piling up dirt at their burrow entrance which I will take.  Gopher dirt is nicely granulated and pulverized, and great for filling low spots or for porch planters.  They work hard at avoiding being eaten by the various predators out there, and can be formidable prey.  The neighborhood felines have discovered the safest way to catch one is to watch a hole for hours until a gopher emerges.  The cat then springs several feet in the air and comes straight down on top of the gopher.  If the cat misses, or tries to catch one on the run, a fight may ensue, with the gopher leaping at the cat’s face with incisors that can cut a grape vine root like pruning shears.  The more agile, experienced cat usually wins, although I have witnessed feline retreats, discretion being the better part of valor.  The cycle of life continues.  Another year unfolds, and we are another year older.

GopherMoundsPinot Noir

Old age, barring illness or accident, is the last and most difficult challenge we will ever face in our lives.  How well we ascend that mountain depends on many factors – our genetics, our personalities, relationships forged with family, friends and our community throughout our lives.  We are all like books in progress, some chapters already written, the ending still unfolding.  Perhaps it will be a complete surprise.  The focus on what is important shifts like desert sand with age and circumstance, marking our season in time.  The clock now runs forwards, and backwards.  Days seem to pass with increasing rapidity, while we note from year to year the things that are harder and require more effort to do.  Eventually, should we journey long enough, comes the inevitable return to the cradle and inability to care for ourselves.  There is no descent from this mountain, only the door to Eternity at the peak.  What will we want our legacy to be?  Will we leave the World a better place than we found it?

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

The spring season is coming.   I’ll be saddling up, and loading up, old Seabisquit the Subaru and heading off to play music at the local Farmers’ Markets again.  The old Impreza is closing in on 417,000 miles!  Come on out for fresh vegetables, nuts, eggs, meats, artisan cheeses, baked good and hand-made goods from local sheep, llamas and alpacas!  See the Farmers’ Markets and Sustainability page on this blog site for links to the local markets.

I’ll also be at Fireworks in Corvallis the first Saturday of every month.  This venue has done a lot to support local musicians.  Good food and friendly atmosphere!  Eat here often, even when there isn’t any music playing.  Help support a good supporter of local music.

Please visit the performance schedule page at

NEW: Never know what will show up on the web on a search!  An archive of the old IUMA musicians’ site seems to have some of my music up, at least for now.  You can have a free listen there.

Also found a couple of YouTube’s for our own Rick Ross, the Bluesman, Wine Educator and Farmer at:

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep 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


7 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2014

    • Gophers have their good and bad points, and serve the function of helping aerate the hard packed clay soil with their tunnels. The problem is they aerate where they please and eat treasured plants in the process! They love tulip bulbs, not so much the daffodil bulbs. Garden vegetables always yummy! We do not try to trap or harm them, but don’t mind if other creatures hunt them. I do try to discourage them by using wire mesh under some garden beds, mixing small rocks in with a particular planting, or using high raised beds. They don’t seem to like the metal legs of tomato cages, the type with long metal rods that push down into the ground. The grapes are vulnerable to gopher attack though, as they are planted directly in the ground and send deep roots. Using gopher soil falls under that old category of making lemonade from lemons.


  1. We don’t have Gophers here – would love to see a cat hunting one. Great idea to use the soil they’ve ground up – gives me the idea to use the mole hills here for the same purpose. We have a vineyard which we’re about to dig up and replant – rather relieved we don’t have Gophers after all! Enjoy your musical markets.


    • The gophers were not something we had to contend with on the east coast. We had little moles, little grey slugs. They grow bigger critters in Western Oregon! The gophers can erect a city of mounds overnight. I remember camping out at a music festival in California. The next morning I was surrounded by gopher mounds. In the food court area, a bunch of us were standing in a circle, watching a gopher tunneling up in the middle of everything! The little tyke would push a bunch of dirt up out of the hole, then go back down for more, seemingly oblivious to all of us standing above and admiring his work. This went on for a while until one of the women from the coffee booth came running through with a canister of hot water. Without knowing it, she ran right over the gopher mound, compacting the dirt back down the hole. He waited a bit. Then we could see him trying to push off the plug in his hole from down below. He must have decided he was in a bad neighborhood, and went back down and stayed there. Show over, the human audience dispersed.


  2. I’ve never come across gophers or moles. I guess the closest we have in Australia is rabbits but I suppose you have them as well. Great to hear you are having a wet spring and the seasons have changed.


  3. A note on the “Chisel Tooth Tribe” – My mother sometimes used this term to refer to squirrels or other animals with long, gnawing incisors. I have found that it is the title of a book by Wilfrid Swancourt Bronson, which is where I am sure that my mother, an avid reader, got it from. Bronson wrote, and illustrated, many books about nature and animals. This one will be added to my own collection!

    For more information, see


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