Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2015

Our feature photo this month is the Return of the Jedi Deer. I spied them under the apple trees in late June, in the dim light of early dawn. One turned to look at me just before I pressed the shutter button, and the surprised doe’s eyes caught the camera’s flash, giving her a laser-eyed Jedi look. The pressure from these roving cervids, who are looking for water and anything green, has started early with this year’s drought. Click on any photo to enlarge.


Visiting deer, early morning late June.


Deer fencing up in the background, protecting the pinot noir. They would love to get inside the gate…

News from the farm

The long days of summer are passing all too quickly on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Blueberry season is upon us, and we are in a race with hungry birds for the dark blue treasure! Cherry season was early and short due to early hot weather, and Robins, cedar waxwings, bluejays and flickers are among the feathered ones who have now turned their attention to the berry patch. There is much wastage as the birds often stick their beaks in fruit without actually eating it. I pull off and toss those on the ground, hoping to deflect attention away from good berries still on the bush.


Fresh mound. Gophers still hard at work. They never take time off…


Blueberry patch.


South view. The surrounding hills are looking a bit brown and dry.

August weather patterns and high temperatures arrived in June, and the landscape looks more like early August out there as opposed to early July. We had a small amount of rain last week coupled with some passing thunderstorms. For a short time, the mineral scent of wet earth and pungent vegetation permeated the air and revived the senses while the staccato sound of rain on the metal roof played in the background. Old Man Thunder and his herd rode though quickly that evening, leaving us with a rainbow to the east in the fading light, and the promise of a clear evening and open skies for cooling off the land to the west. Although still dry, we are down in the 70s and low 80s for the time being, and the evening’s breeze sends cool tendrils in the windows. I take a long look across this bowl we live in to the hills beyond, and drink up the elixir of the coming darkness. Deer and small creatures of the night emerge. This is their realm.


Rainbow in the eastern sky at sundown.


Clearing skies to the west.

The Egg Fairy has started coming around again, now that his chickens are recovering from the heat. He stealthily rides in on his BMW 1150 motorcycle, or red truck, depending on where else he is going and what he is delivering. I don’t know quite how he does that, as I often don’t hear him come down the driveway with his daughter, who actually maintains the flock. They magically leave fresh local eggs in a special location, and our empty egg cartons disappear. We still struggle with elder care, which consumes more and more of our time. It is wonderful to have good friends and fairies of various types who help us and makes deliveries!

For Mandy, at Rocky Springs Rambles in Australia ( ) , here are the promised photos of the old horse Brimstone, and pony Spring Frost. That is me back in my teenage days riding Brimstone bareback in that photo, heading out for a trail ride, photographed by my mother. He was a handsome Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross. Known as “The Pickle” to the horseshoer. He would lean on Jerry, slowly pushing him down as the farrier worked diligently on a front hoof. Jerry, who was slowly sinking down under the weight of a tilting horse, would eventually figure out what was happening, and wap him one. Slowly the horse tilted back up, removing the weight off of Jerry’s back, and shoeing continued once again. This show repeated itself several times during the process of shoeing. Tilt down.  Wap.  Tilt up.  Wait.  Tilt down.  Wap.  Tilt up. Wait.  Repeat…..  Brimstone was also branded “daemon” by my mother for sneaking up behind her one day and pushing her into the manure pile. Occasionally chased children who cut through his field, in spite of being warned about him. “DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE FIELD!!!! HE WILL GET YOU!!!!!” Standing alert by the barn with ears forward, he would spy a potential victim crossing the back pasture. Starting off at a happy trot towards the unsuspecting “intruder”, the ears would go back in a threatening position once he was sure he had been seen by the victim, and the happy trot became a determined lope. He would stay just behind the children who were running for their lives (in one case, an adult), stretch out his neck, snapping his teeth just behind their heads. He liked the “fear factor” in his shows. He never hurt anyone, but liked to have “fun” with people. People who were warned….  All I remember being told about him back then was that his father was a Quarter Horse named Little A&M, and his mother was a Thoroughbred named Agnes. I was also told he was 8 years old. The vet said more like 16….but he was beautiful, strong and was in great shape. And he could jump. He came to live down at the barn with Frosty the pony.


Brimstone and Lavinia, way back when. Heading out for a trail ride.

This photo is of me on Spring Frost, my pony, and school chum Tracy who borrowed Brimstone for one of the local fair horse shows. Frosty won a first-place blue ribbon and trophy, and Brimstone came in third with a yellow ribbon in whatever respective classes we were registered for that morning. Brimstone also had a habit of taking an occasional pot shot with a rear hoof at nearby horse in the ring, which the judge understandably would frown upon. Dear old Mom was not an exceptional photographer, but she was a good documenter of the occasion. She captured the most important part of this scene, our mounts sporting their hard-won ribbons. Somewhere I have a photo of Brimstone with his Reserve Champion ribbon he and I won one year. That is the missing photo I am looking for! And I still do have the ribbons and trophies.


Brimstone and school chum Tracy in the back. I’m on Spring Frost the pony. Horse show at a local fair.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is little Nod, a.k.a “Sister Bertrille, The Flying Nod”, for her ability to take a flying leap from 6 feet away and land on my shoulder. Fortunately for me, she is the smallest of the Sisters, and lightest weight. As well as being an accomplished acrobat, she is never short of comments, on any topic. Nod would like to reminisce this month and show photos from the old days when The Three Sisters first arrived at Salmon Brook Farms as little homeless waifs with brother Tio Pepe and Mama Silvie. Tio and Silvie went to live with a friend, and are doing quite well as one can see! The Three Sisters never found placement, as I did not want to break up this close-knit cat family any further. No one wanted, or could afford, three cats. Being a rural area, everyone around here seems to have six or more of their own, and not by choice. Comes with the territory. The girls are now almost 2 years old, and this is the only loving home they have ever known. So the Three Sisters will remain with us, and have become a part of the legends and stories of this place we call home.

The Four Kittens

The Gang of Four kittens. Little brother Tio Pepe looks comfy in the company of his sisters.


Nod in her kittenhood days. Plenty to say about everything! Her unusual eye color was becoming apparent.


Nod all grown up. Still a kitten at heart.


Mama Silvie when she first came to visit. We knew she was nursing kittens…somewhere….


Mam Silvie and son Tio Pepe in their new home, some time later. Tio has grown up but still loves his mother. Photo courtesy of J.B.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The farmers markets here are in full swing, with music of all kinds to heard and enjoyed. I am one among many out there performing at these local markets, as well as book music for a couple of them. Most of us will never have been heard of outside of our respective areas, and will only have been heard in passing.   I will be taking a break at the end of September for a short while, unless something comes up I can’t refuse, so I can get back to working in my studio again. Between farm, performing and caregiving, I had to put something aside for now. Everything in its place and season. Fall and winter will be here before too long, and I will have a bit more time to play in the studio and get the Tiny Farm Concerts channel up and running on You Tube.   Stay tuned.


Lily’s Memorial “Don’t Bully Me” Garden. For a teenage girl who committed suicide a few years ago after being bullied. Kindness, patience and respect for others is often the hardest thing to achieve in life, but one we must all strive for. May her spirit find peace.

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


42 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2015

  1. Aah, Brimstone, what a cracker of a horse. Thanks for pulling out these old photos Lavinia. Seems we both had similar fashion sense when we were younger. Maybe in another world we can take Bandit, Cobey, Spring Frost and Brimstone for a gallop 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mandy, a cracker of a horse he was indeed! We kids used to race our horses down a wide track that ran through an old Christmas tree farm. We’re all lucky we’re still alive. I was always afraid to let Brimstone go full throttle – he was like riding a catapult at speed – so I never knew exactly how fast he could go. Funny you should mention another world. He does come back to me in dreams, and I wonder who has been taking care of him all that time. Aye – what a crazy wardrobe I had then (and still do). 🙂


  2. Lovely post Lavinia! I always enjoy reading about what you are doing on the farm – sounds as though the weather has improved a little. I really enjoyed hearing about your horses and the cats. So pleased you have fairies and friends to help you out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clare, thanks for stopping by, and for the kind comments! I’ve enjoyed your tales of the Suffolk countryside as well. Always look forward to the posts! Yes, the weather is a bit nicer these days, but it is warming up again.

      The Egg Fairy and his daughter came by again just this afternoon, and delivered a dozen fresh eggs from their flock. More cheese and mushroom omelets!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A really fabulous newsletter and thank you for taking the time from your very busy life to share with us. I love the stories of the horses, particularly Brimstone’s antics. Nice to see you and the horses in the older photos, too.
    There is so much on your plate. I’m wishing you great strength and stamina.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t heard before, this egg fairy 🙂 I wished to be there dear Lavinia, beautiful expressions, your writing almost picturing everything, I can see them. But you can guess, how much I loved this lovely Cat family, they are so adorable and so beautiful. Thank you for this. A special Thanks 🙂 Horses are amazing creatures too, I love them. And should be so nice to ride a horse… Dear Lavinia, the link of youtube says there is nothing, is there anything to listen, let me now, I am so excited to hear your music. Thank you dear Lavinia, have a nice summer days, love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning, Nia! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments. The You Tube channel is set up, but nothing uploaded yet as I have not had a free moment to really work in the studio. It is coming though. The cat family sends their warmest regards for a wonderful day ahead for you! Yes, our Egg Fairy and his daughter are wonderful people.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I put a net cage around my grapes. Without the netting, robins managed to take most of the fruit or just spoil it pecking holes in it like you describe.

    An apple tree presented its own challenges to net. The neighbor’s cat, Woody, saw the dried leaves trapped here and there in the net, and when I tried to guide it over the tree, Woody pounced the netting!

    Darn cat! I bet it took me 10 times as long to net the tree than it would have had he stayed on the patio and been a good boy!

    In the end, I realized sharing the fruit with the birds and squirrels wasn’t tragic: we always got more than we could use or share in a reasonable time, so they helped keep things at a manageable level.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Doug, Thanks for stopping by! We’ve tried netting on the blueberries before, but it makes it very difficult to pick fruit. What I might do in some future year (in my spare time – ha!) is to build a walk-in enclosure that can be netted after fruit set, instead of netting individual bushes.

      Sounds like Woody cat was very helpful! I’m sure Dougy and Andy cats would have been helping Woody with the evil dried leaf capture if they could! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You have such lovely turn of phrase and I so enjoy reading your posts…”old man thunder and his herd”…”drink up the elixir of the coming darkness’…a delight! You have such patience with those deer and the robber birds and just accept that they need to do what keeps them alive – that is very generous. What can I say except I loved the photos and stories of the horses especially your quarter horse Brimstone…bet he would have gotten along well with my boy Romy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments on the writing! I do think old Brimstone and Romy would have been good buddies. He might have taught Romy some bad habits though…. 🙂 I miss Brimstone and Frosty, and hope I will see them again someday on the other side of the veil. Brimstone has returned in dreams, many a time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jerry, thanks for stopping by! Yes, that old horse had a sense of humor I have not seen since! He also learned how to open stall doors that had U-bolts by hooking his halter into the latch and pulling up. Sprung himself and a few buddies that way…

      I really enjoy your site with all the amazing photos of the wildlife refuge. Look forward to the posts.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Annie, thanks for stopping by and checking in on the farm and cats! 97 degrees here this afternoon, over 100 forecast for tomorrow and Friday. Veraison reported already in the Willamette Valley! Rick has started netting our vines already. I am looking into a trial run of insect netting for my test rows of pinot noir as the yellow jackets have been a problem in past years, as well as hungry birds.


  7. Hi Lavinia. I always enjoy your news. You have such a nice way of writing about everyday life. How beautifully rural your life looks. With deer and egg delivery, lot’s of sweet kitties and blueberries for the picking. I’m a bit envious, although I know I’m past the point of all the work that must be involved in maintiaing your property.

    I like the colour in those old photo’s and spied a car inbetween barns that looks like my favourite colours. Brimstone was indeed a beauty. I’ve never had much of an opportunity to ride but a friend worked a farm one summer and kept his horse there. He invited me to come ride her because he was too busy. Well, ‘Little-Miss-Attitude’ took me straight to a freshly tilled garden and rolled over (apparently to cool off). I bailed off in time but it was a looooog ways down and I didn’t enjoy having dirt in my teeth, LOL. I made her take me out for a ride anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Boomdee! Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Don’t you love what those horses can do to their riders? 🙂 Yes, Brimstone was a real beauty and a character!

      This farm is a LOT of work, but we are surrounded by so much beauty, a long growing season and good people. Stop in if you are ever out this way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • !! That’s so nice of you Lavinia, thanks for your invite. I surely would love to if I’m ever down your way. Honestly, I’d probably never tear myself away from the cats and want to carry them around all day. I do miss living in the country at times, mostly for my friends and neighbours. I picture a visit to the farm as donning a gingham apron to bake up a blueberry pie while the cats watched, then gobbling it down with good black coffee, ‘el fresco’ of course! mmmmm, I can almost smell it 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good coffee I can make. I never tried a pie, but I make a good blueberry-oatmeal-walnut-coconut-banana whole wheat bread cake, no sugar needed, sufficiently sweet on its own. The cats do watch me eat it, and can’t figure out why I like that stuff! I make cat food for them, and they are used to the aroma of cooking chicken, livers, salmon and oats. I had one cat with food allergies and a queasy tummy long ago, and got into making food. I supplement with commercial on occasion if I get caught short on time.

        The area here is beautiful. We found our own bit of heaven. And good neighbors are worth their weight in gold. We’ve been blessed there too.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I remember taking them to the vet for their first health check. He picked up little Tio Pepe and said, “How did YOU get in there?” A friend has Tio and his mom Silvie, and the Three Sisters are still with us. The herd now numbers 9 cats…I am asking the Universe please not to send any waifs for at least 10 years. In the meantime, we “stay calm and Boomdee on!” That was such a great expression you came up with! I say it a lot… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Awww, you have a great big heart to take in so many. They give back so much when they come as strays I find. They seem really thankful. So I Googled ‘Tio Pepe’ and see how his name came about 😀 Is it really good Sherry? I’ve only had Sherry once and I think they actually blew the dust off the bottle before serving..Yikes, that was a Sherry with a beer chaser that day, LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lily, thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments. Little Tio looks adorable nestled among his sisters, doesn’t he?

      I took a look at your Lazy Penguins site. Quite an interesting collection of topics.


    • Hi Diana, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I am enjoying your site as well. Makes me want to learn the Welsh language! I do hope I get to see that country someday. It is beautiful! My free time these days is becoming more and more constricted with eldercare duties, and it is harder and harder to get around to the various blogs and leave a comment these days. Keep those beautiful photos and engaging tales of your farm and countryside coming. I look forward to them! Readers, please visit

      Those little kitties are adorable, even grown up now. 🙂


    • Mr. and Mrs. Tootlepedal! Thank you for stopping by! We did try the standard bird netting here, but found it too cumbersome with the blueberry bushes to harvest fruit. We have had an exceptionally dry year here, and the birds hungrier than normal. The wild cherries on the borders of the farm keep them at busy for a while, but they finally discover the blue treasure in the bushes and descend in mobs. They watch me intently, and scold me when I go out to pick fruit. Their fruit. Theirs, they say! Many years back I lived near a small backyard farm with one of these netted enclosures around an area about the same size as our patch. The netting got rolled up to the top of the poles every season when harvest was over. Seemed to work well for them, but there would be some investment in the putting up and maintaining the structure.

      A skunk paid us a visit in the early hours of the morning, wandering up the rows of table grapes. Rick says one section of table grapes he did not get the net up on have been raided already. The creatures of the night are out there. About 11:00 PM one night I went out to make sure I had turned off a hose, and spied a possum eating plums that had dropped. All are hungry, and in search of moisture from any source.


      • Our “normal” weather here in this part of western Oregon is that is rains most every day from October through June, and July, August and most of September little to no rain falls. Summers are what one lives for here, or used to at any rate. The temperature can swing from the mid to low 40s in the early morning to over 80 or 90 by late afternoon. It is cool and dry at night in summer, which is quite refreshing. Campers love it. The most extreme I have seen it was 38 degrees one early morning in July, and 112 in late afternoon another year, also in July. We didn’t get sufficient rainfall and snow pack in the mountains over the winter this past year, which makes the drought even worse than the record number of days over 90 degrees this season.


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