Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2014

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

News from the farm:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marcus and Lucio, looking quite comfy.

Marcus and Lucio, looking quite comfy.



13 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2014

  1. Cute skunk and kitties. Sounds like you are gutting lots of stuff done. I hope you find some time to work on your CD. There always seems to be too many projects that get in the way of one another.


    • Hi Timothy,
      Thanks for stopping by, as always! There was a skunk named Rosie who lived at the nature center I volunteered at as a kid. Rosie had been descented by someone, who decided they no longer wanted her as a pet, so she was adopted by the nature center. She loved grapes, and would eat them by peeling them first.

      The cats sure know how to look comfortable! I named that east window “East Beach”. We have “East Beach”, “South Beach” and “Southwest Beach”, all with sunbathing or napping cats.

      On projects – it always seems to be what bubbles up to the top of the list on a particular day, whatever I can fit in. Finishing cleaning up the old garage before winter is another one. 😦


  2. Great capture of the skunk! Hope it doesn’t spray any grapes 😉 It is difficult to keep going in the summer heat. Know what you mean about the frustrations of having to put things off but the cooler weather will bring time for all those things you’re looking forward to. We’ve just got involved in setting up a jazz association promoting local artists. Second concert just coming up. It’s been a huge success and enormous fun. Live music is so important.


    • I was thinking the same thing myself…the skunks do spray when they have been in some kind of altercation with another creature out there. Many a night I have woken up, with it smelling like one has fired off under the window. So far, fruit has been unaffected… 🙂

      Thank you for supporting your local musicians! It is a lot of work, and investment on your part too, but helps keep the music available to everyone, and gives the musician a creative outlet to a live audience. Thank you! 🙂


    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m from the east coast and have spent most of my life there, so I was used to the loud, contant buzzing of insects in late summer. Here, in my area at least, that buzzing is absent, and the late summer sound seems to be mostly from bluejays. Noisy little devils! Looking for food everywhere. They raided the nest of the tree swallows in the shed, killing at least one of the youngsters. Just one of that clutch managed to survive and fledge. The youngster flew out of the shed one morning, right into my leg. Flummoxed and frightened, the little one went back in and tried to hide behind some pots. I pulled him out, and held the baby skyward. He took off, and flew circles with the parents, who came over and circled me!


    • Good to see you, Inese, and thank you for the kind comment on the grapes! Grapes should do well in your climate, and are easy to grow. The grapes in the photo there are a variety called Cascade and will turn a dark blue when ripe.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Inese, and the kind comments! I cannot drink much myself anymore. The combination of elder care when Rick’s mother was alive and living with us, and growing older myself took quite a toll on my health. I allow myself one day a month to enjoy wine with dinner, with my husband. It is particularly enjoyable making and drinking our own wine from the grapes that were grown here. No fining, filtering, sulfiting or “corrections” were made. Our philosophy with the vineyard is to take good care of the grapes, and the wine will make itself, with proper tending. I chose Epernay-2 yeast as it is a strain that does well with long, slow, cool fermentation, and imparts good flavor of its own. I still have much to learn.

      Readers, please visit Inese Poga at and take a look through her gallery of beautiful paintings and watercolors. Born in Latvia and currently residing in Canada, Inese is an amazing, talented individual who also speaks 4 different languages.


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