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.
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!
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.
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