Music and Farm

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


This vine is ready for spring and waiting for bud break.

Adjusting VineOn TrellisWire-01032015

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.


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.



Sure sign of a Gopher at Work. Mounds dot the back of the property like a small city.


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.

A few members of our cat crew….


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.


Hope (top) and brother Marcus (bottom). Usually found together or with third twin Nano.


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 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.


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


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”.


26 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2015

  1. You start on grapes early. Since we get hard frost as late as the end of May, we don’t prune fruit trees until the end of February, grapes until April, and we don’t prune our roses at all anymore. After the first bloom we do hard dead heading. We’ve lost too many bushes to pruning even in late May and then getting enough of a frost in early June to kill the bushes.

    Gophers are such pests. Kitties are looking good, and the guitar is beautiful. Love the maple sides, back and neck. They are really well matched and blended.


    • Hi Timothy, thanks as always for stoppy by! I generally won’t prune my own test block of pinot noir grapes and the fruit trees until late February, but Rick likes an early start on the grapes under his care. So far, he’s been lucky! Where we are already behind this year is getting manure.

      I love your gardens there, and all the beautiful photos you post. Wish my roses looked that good! Looking forward to more of Laurie’s photos too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. nkstav says:

    Your newsletter is a pure joy to read. I feel like I am there with you and can see all the vivid scenes. However. I would like to point out one grammar error on this edition. Granted, out of the entire newsletter, that is an excellent rate. But I feel the need to point out that you have two words together that cannot occur in the English language. They just do not make any sense. The error can be found about a quarter of the way down the page with the combination of the words “working” and “Rick”. It caught my attention as even with my limited experience at the SWE events, I never observed this situation. 🙂 Love ya, Nick



  3. What a beautiful guitar, Lavinia and Rick. It was a joy to watch my daughter teach herself to play (she’s still learning) and getting tips from her dad last spring and summer.

    You are both very busy!
    Reading about how Rick prunes the vines to get them to bloom, it occurred to me that it must be a similar thing required for wisteria — my large one rarely blooms. Maybe we’ll try it!

    best for 2015.


  4. Deer will eat about anything, I found out the hard way that one of their favorites snacks are rose buds, thorns and all. I can’t imagine trying to grow grapes with deer around.

    As far as the gophers, you need a “pet” hawk around to keep them under control. 😉

    Good luck with your crops this season, it sounds like you’re both putting in a lot of hours already!


    • Thanks for stopping by! You have an amazing site with very beautiful wildlife photos I enjoy very much. Hope your new job settles down and you have more time for walking and wildlife observation.

      Yes, deer are quite fond of roses, and this year they really chewed back all my rose bushes. I think we will be putting Deer-Off on them this coming year too. We have a lot of apple trees here which attracts deer too. I watched one year as a doe and fawn foraged under one of the apple trees near the house. The youngster found a tasty early drop apple on the ground and started to nibble it. The doe came over, klonked the fawn on the head with her hoof, making her baby drop the apple. Mama proceded to eat that apple herself. Deer will be deer…

      The gophers are tough hoods. I’ve watched cats try to hunt them. A cat will watch the hole for hours, unmoving. Gopher emerges, cat does a vertical lift-off, coming straight down on the gophers back. A miss can be disasterous for the cat, as the gopher will turn and leap at the cat’s face with teeth that can cut through a grapevine root like butter. Many a feline has beat a hasty retreat hunting them.

      Yes, both of us are maxed out already and it is not even spring!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Carol! Yes, it sure is a lot of work, but we do love it here. If you are ever out this way, stop in and visit. And say hello to that wandering Gnome if you see him again. I love to hear news of what goes on up your way too. You have a wonderful blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Note – some comments and their replies seem to be missing from this page now. My apologies to those who may have been “dropped”. WordPress keeps us all on our toes! Feel free to repost. No comments were deleted by me.


  6. Lovely to hear how the blog evolved – it’s always such a pleasure to read. Good luck with the vines this year – we’re about to start on our babies and have a lot of learning to do on the new variety.


    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m a little worried about the rainfall so far this winter. It’s far drier than anticipated. Lots of overcast days and misty rains, but very few good soakers so far. We need to get a lot of mulch on our vines to help conserve water in summer. My test block of pinot is now well-mulched with what I had on hand, but the main pinot vineyard needs a good load. We are also experimenting now with mycorrhizzal fungi to help the vines with their nutrition and water needs.

      Good luck with the new variety, and hope you have a good year! Keep us posted. And we love all those stories on Animalcouriers! They can bring sunshine to a cloudy day!


    • Thanks for stopping by, Mandy! Our weather patterns do seem to be changing here, and we are figuring out how to adapt along with the changes as they come.

      Gophers and deer – glad you do not have to contend with them at Rocky Springs, although the Fox Terribles would probably keep them in check. I have had people tell me their dogs have come back a bit bloodied from gophers though. They are a challenge!

      I hope to visit your absolutely beautiful country someday when I am able to travel again, and I encourage all my readers to visit You have quite the interesting background from geologist to cattle rancher, and I love your stories and photos of rural Australia. Keep writing!


  7. I would imagine Ricks’ ‘to do list’ is long and varied. We lived in the country for 25 years and only moved into the city 3.5 years ago, so I’m familiar with some of that list. For me, there never seemed to be enough time to do all the house and yard maintenance/repair along with work and leisure. Our summers are usually short (but sweet) and everything gets crammed into 3 months. It was a good move for me, I’m loving city life.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve never met another Abyssinian cat. Ms Abby looks like a kitty from the wild more than a domestic. Maybe part Cougar, part Lynx? Well she’s very pretty. Seems like Nano might have wanted in the cuddle pile, awwwww.


    • Hi Boomdee! Abby is a purebred Abyssinian. The woman who rescued her got her at a cat show. She was isolated in a cage by herself, suffering badly from feline herpes. The cattery owners were going to euthanize her, but her angel of a cat rescue person aked if she could have her, as long as the cat was going to be euthanized anyway. The rest is history. The local vet fixed her up. The eye did not rupture, thankfully, so she still has her right eye, but it is behind a layer of bluish scar tissue. The vet thinks she can see shadows and light. She “scans” people with her good left eye. We acquired her when her rescuer became ill, and starting looking for homes for her various animals. We heard about Abby from a friend, and took her. She was about 3 years old then. She’s coming up on 13 now.

      Liked by 1 person

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