Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2014

Our feature photo this month is of two Black-tailed deer fawns which were born out back earlier this year, and have made themselves comfortable here on the farm.  I had to take the photo out the east window in order to catch them lounging.  Their mama Jane Doe (see our September 2014 posting) unfortunately taught them to eat the roses and unprotected plants up by the house.  I put up netting, to which the deer mounted a counterinsurgency against the rebel farmers, ripping the netting and attacking peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.  So much for keeping a few plants near the house within easy reach!  I was then reminded of why we switched from the easy-to-install 7ft high net fencing, to the much more expensive 8ft metal fencing that is not so easy to install, for the main garden/pinot vineyard.


News from the farm:
Old Jack Frost has not arrived, just yet, on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. We have had a little rain now, not enough to green field and hillside, but welcome all the same.  Wandering clouds that come through at this time of year have put on weight, like bears that have fattened up at stream and river on salmon for the winter.  The fluffy, white fair-weather cumulus and cirrus mares’ tails we saw all summer have been replaced by dark, blue-grey muscle-bound behemoths that sometimes drop rain in patches, or melt across the sky and drizzle for a day or two.  The steady, heavy rains will come later, and the hard-packed clay soil will soften enough to dig again.

I normally look forward to our yearly visit from golden-haired Summer, and her gracious bounty of fruits and vegetables.  She scorched us this past season, however, bringing record heat and drought, priming conditions for intense fires.  She seems to have softened her view lately, sending us mornings that have not dropped below 40, and daytime temperatures mostly in the 70s or low 80s.  The sun is at an angle from the south these days, and the warmth feels good, appreciated my plant and animal alike.  Old Jack is waiting though, and if I am not quick enough installing our low-tech season-extending technology in the garden (plastic sheeting over PVC pipe hoops), I will awake some morning to find the garden frozen in a silvery death-mask, which will wilt and darken in the heat of day. At roughly 800 feet in the Cascade foothills, we are also in a bowl, and we are subject to ponding of cold air. I beg Summer to stay with us, for just a little while longer.  Fortunately, grapes and apples are capable of withstanding a light frost, and I am grateful for as much hang-time on vine and tree as possible.  They are our last real crops of the season, and we are fortunate enough to have a steady customer for table grapes this year.

Our pinot vineyard, which was not under bird netting, did not fare as well as our table grapes, which were protected.  We lost much of the crop to birds and bees within what seemed like just a few days.  I threw netting up over a few remaining sections of intact grapes in Rick’s vineyard in addition to my own two “test” rows, and will press these soon. I had been hoping for a little more hang-time, and I am not sure I will get it.  This year will be a low-tech, low-budget experiment, a “getting the feet wet”, in winemaking.  I am not expecting miracles….

Pinot vines - grapes stripped mostly by birds

Pinot vines – grapes stripped mostly by birds

Pinot noir grapes.  Honeybees as well as yellow jackets love the sugary juice.  Like cattle, honeybees need forage and water.  Both in short supply this time of year.

Pinot noir grapes. Honeybees as well as yellow jackets love the sugary juice. Like cattle, honeybees need forage and water. Both in short supply this time of year.

On the feline front, our cats continue to grow older along with us.  Furry friends and teachers, little elvish creatures, they are all part of the legends and stories of this place we call home.  See the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page for the whole cast of characters.

The Three Sisters, left to right - Nod, Blynken and Wynken, investigating fresh catnip from the garden.

The Three Sisters, left to right – Nod, Blynken and Wynken, investigating fresh catnip from the garden.


Way back when Marcus was a kitten...

Way back when Marcus was a kitten…

And now...7 years later.  Marcus all grown up and washing his old friend Lucio.

And now…7 years later. Marcus all grown up and washing his old friend Lucio.

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

My taking a break from performing this fall turned out to be somewhat fortuitous.  The vitreous detachment I experienced in August progressed into a torn retina in September, and I underwent laser surgery a couple of weeks ago.  It’s hard not to lift, or carry much weight while this eye heals, living on a place like this, and I’ve had to learn to work smarter, not harder.  Some projects involving digging or pouring cement will have to postponed. Since Rick retired from music, I am a one-woman show these days, traveling with two 12-strings, a 6-string, and a full sound system, which is old, meaning heavy.  I hope to be back in the saddle with old Seabisquit by mid-winter.  In the meantime, I’m working on getting the recording studio moved over to Linux, working some new recordings, and I may just stick them up on the net for all to enjoy.  The sub-pages under music are always a work in progress.  The full listing of songs on the old CD, the stories behind why some were written, or chosen to cover, are now there.  Help yourself!

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

Don't wait for the sun to set to tell those you love how much you love them.  Consider every day with those you love a gift.

Don’t wait for the sun to set to tell those you love how much you love them. Consider every day with those you love a gift.


47 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2014

  1. Oh dear, deer. Our earlier morning tempts have just touched down to 32ºF, just enough to get most of the sunflowers and turn the morning glory vines yellow. You need to get a kitten, then you will really notice the ages of your cats. Grapes look good. Good luck with the wine making.


    • Kitten, did you say kitten? Willow and Abby don’t want to hear that… 🙂 The Three Sisters are about 14 months old now, and are slightly more sedate. Our herd is up to 9 cats at this writing. Give little Spunk kitty (and cat mom Laurie) a big hug from all of us here.


    • Hi Baz, thanks for stopping by! Yes, much bigger vineyards can use aircraft to help move warm air around during freezing periods. We’re small enough Rick and I would have to hire the gophers to start fires in trash cans and wave fans all night. 🙂 Wish us luck with the winemaking experiment. It will be a good learning experience at any rate, and someday I might even make good wine! have to start somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Baz, looks like WordPress did a double entry on you. I’ve gone to moderating absolutely everything since summer, so it may take a bit for a comment to appear. I try to stay on top of it…. 🙂


  2. Lyn Larson says:

    Lavinia, sounds like it’s time to get you that carboy. If Rick gets to the shop we can leave it there for pick-up, or get it out to you this Sunday morning (have a Whiteside board meeting at 2:00 that day…) I hope, I hope, I hope the eye is healing well…Regards to Rick and Gladys, and scritches al around!


  3. Herman says:

    The grapes look delicious, sorry to hear you lost much of the crop to birds and bees. But wait a minute… birds?!? You said, birds…?? What about all the cats in this post…


    • Thanks for stopping by, Herman and Mr. Bowie! Once a cat comes into the house, they don’t go out again. Between the road out front, coyotes, cougars, owls, raccoons, possums and foxes, kitties, even mighty hunters, get into too much trouble. Nano was one of those cats that showed up out of nowhere one day, eating Klaatu’s food on the porch (see our very first post on June 2013 for who Klaatu was). They looked very much alike except for the eyes and Nano was skinnier (at the time), the only way to tell them apart. Nano caught, and ate, many a bird and gopher, and would bring gophers up to the sliding glass door for us to see. He proceeded to tenderize them by throwing the gopher against the door, then devour them head first, with just the tail and little feet sticking out the sides of his mouth on the last bite. But one or more creatures out there kept trying to eat Nano, and after the vet bills started piling up, he came in to stay. Just in time for me to go into the hospital again, and Nano became my caretaker when I came home, herding me back into bed when he thought I was up too late. It’s been 4 years now, and he still sets a curfew for me, and gets very agitated when I am up too late.

      Poor little Stinklesby the Skunk was killed in the road not long after the last post. I buried him in the daylily/butterfly bush garden.


      • Herman says:

        It’s a dangerous world out there in the part of the world were you live, Lavinia. ‘Coyotes, cougars, owls, raccoons, possums and foxes’…, we only got fast driving cars and big dogs. 😉
        It seems Nano is doing a good job, he’s got everything under control! I feel sorry for Stinklesby…


      • I miss little Stinklesby! Horrible way to go.

        Yes, Nano is a good doctor! He bites my leg to herd me, and really gets worried if I go outside after dark. I guess he’s seen first hand what’s out there. He watches out the window and meows until I’m back in.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jean! The April 2014 newsletter describes how the blog got started, and our first post in June 2013 was the story of Old Klaatu, as well as a memorial to that unusual cat.


    • Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the vineyard is just a part of what goes on here. The birds are trying very hard to get through the net now, and the netting we have is totally ineffective against the bees.

      Is that wandering Gnome still out there by the Bruce Trail? He looks like a happy soul! I really enjoy reading your posts! 🙂


  4. Nina Romanenko says:

    Hi Lavinia! I so enjoy your writings and photos and have decided to sign in to comment this time. I hope your eye heals quickly and Rick and the kitties stay well!


    • Thanks for stopping by, Nina! I don’t know when I will get a chance to visit you all back east again, and it is good to hear from you!

      One of the two Black-tail fawns in the photo was killed in the road last night, so I am glad I was able to catch a photo of these siblings while I could.


      • Wasn’t much left of the poor little one to remove from the road. I grabbed the ears and pulled her over to the ditch. She had taken a direct hit and was dragged some distance. Hopefully she died quickly. We see a lot of dead deer along the road this time of year, being rutting season. Coyotes and carrion eaters do well in autumn. Nature wastes nothing, transforming the once living back into the living.


      • My guess is that a large vehicle, like a truck, hit his particular one. Vehicle collisions with deer are frequent out here. Occasionally I hear about someone hitting an elk, a much larger animal. We are in a very rural area, so deer might cross the road anywhere, and do. We’ve had them actually run into the side of our cars as we are passing by, and bounce off. They sometimes do that, and can do a lot of damage. One has to be vigilant. I have come across elk crossing a side road off of Interstate 5 at night. That was a surprise!

        Best story I heard on a deer hitting a car was about one back east in a semi-urban area of Connecticut, where a deer allegedly crossed 4 lanes of traffic, running into a car dealership, smack into the side of a parked car that had just come in for its first oil change. Based on what I’ve seen here, I could believe it. Try explaining that one to your insurance company!


  5. Nina Romanenko says:

    Oh – that’s too bad – we have way too many animals who die that way here and I’m always saddened to see them during my travels…. It is good that you have the photo!


    • We’ve had some rain now, and a couple of good soakers. It doesn’t take the grass long to show some green again! I’ve heard from one person that our part of Oregon is supposed to have a milder than normal winter this year. Hopefully that does not mean less precipitation. I’ve started moving the more tender plants into the greenhouse for the winter.


      • Do you happen to know his unit number or area of combat? If you recall any stories he might have told you – Please feel free to share them in my comment section. So many of the readers do and it makes them all feel closer together.


  6. Hope the eye surgery has turned out well. Very hard not to do the things you always have done. Naughty dear 😦 The cats are growing old gracefully – there will surely be a kitten arriving soon…


    • Thanks for stopping by! So far the eye is holding up. I get checked again in a couple of weeks. It was a bad time of year to have that happen with so much to do here.

      The deer are still coming up at night and trimming the rose bushes, although they have plenty of fresh green grass now in November. Fresh shoots are like candy to them.

      Nature abhors a vacuum, and cats are no exception. Always someone waiting in the wings out there… 🙂


  7. Pingback: At Home at Salmon Brook Farms | Cynthia Reyes

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