Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2015

Our feature photo this month is of one of our red roses entertaining a couple of bee guests. The rose garden is finally recovering somewhat from the heat earlier this summer, and has decided to chance another round of blooms.

News from the farm

It is the season of Dust Devils, those carefree vortices spawned by heat and rising air, and fed by exposed fine, bare soil. The large grass seed farms and wheat producers have harvested their crops, and in many cases tilled and pulverized the soil with impressively large machines. The dusty soil of Oregon farmland spins slowly across the fields, spiraling upward in the heat of August, and the pale blue, milky sky takes on an additional tan hue. Smoke from forest fires, near and far, ride the winds through the valley and mix with the airborne dust. The air has a distinct burnt scent to it from time to time, and sunsets are more colorful and deeper in hue. A few passing storms have only barely wetted the surface, releasing the pungent aroma of baked earth and thirsty vegetation. It is late summer in the Willamette Valley.


Last light of sunset on the farm.

I am looking forward to the end of summer and the return of the autumn rains on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. We have experienced all too many days over 90 degrees, on top of insufficient snow pack in the mountains and winter rain to see us through the normal dry season. Several wells in the area have already run dry. At roughly 800 feet, we are fortunate to be in a bowl of sorts, as opposed to up on the hills that encompass our farm, with a deep well and good water. We are still careful, and only spot water and drip irrigate enough to keep water-stressed trees, blueberries and gardens alive and producing. Grass is allowed to go dormant during the summer dry season, as we do not raise livestock requiring pasture here.

Veraison has begun in the table grapes and pinot noir, and Rick has begun netting. As you can see, the grass in the vineyard is dormant, and bleached to a light tan in the heat. Even yellow jackets, those pesky, stinging members of the genus Vespulaseem to be struggling a bit this year, and we have not seen the usual mobs of them on the plums, although I did spy a possum feeding in the plums one night after dark. Two bright silvery little eyes caught in the beams of the flashlight revealed a nighttime visitor to the farm, the one most likely leaving nibble marks on fruit that has dropped. Fallen fruit he will clean up for us, and is welcome to his share. Rick will climb the tree and harvest the rest, hopefully without to much interference from yellow jackets.


View down the rows of netted table grapes. Veraison has started already!


View of ripening table grapes.

Old Seabisquit the Subaru is closing in on 428,000 miles now. Still a dependable old workhorse and traveling companion, rarely grumbles about the next outing. Waves a fender and smiles on good days.


Old Seabisquit the Subaru, closing in on 428,000 miles.


News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is Mr. Lucio, official spokescat for the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms. They are outnumbered by the six girl cats, and the boys felt they had to spin off their own division of The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms in order to get work done. We are still not sure exactly what work they are doing, but Mr. Lucio would like to acquaint our readers with the boys. The girls will have their turn later.


Lucio T. Ross, official spokescat for the Boys of Salmon Brook Farm, wondering why I have disturbed his nap time for a photo.

The Boys Of Salmon Brook Farm

Early days of the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms, actively watching for gophers out the east window. The house is our old doublewide, dubbed the “Glorified Mouse Hotel”. Left to right: Lucio, Nano, Marcus

Boys of SBF

Current day Boys of Salmon Brook Farms, older and more settled in the new house. Engaged in the serious business of napping and loafing. Why bother watching for gophers when a good group nap is in progress?

Lucio was out “home shopping” back in 2006, and decided three square meals and a soft bed at our house fit his requirements, even if he did have to live with a couple of Abyssinians who didn’t understand his wild west view of life.  Along came Mr. Marcus and sibling Hope back in 2008, and he happily took on the role of Big Uncle Lucio. I happened to catch Mr. Lucio in mid lick. and little Marcus looks pleased to have an older mentor who will groom him and guide him through life.

Way back when Marcus was a kitten...

Way back when Marcus was a kitten…


Mr. Marcus, sidekick of Big Uncle Lucio , as an adult, now 8 years old. Wondering why I am disturbing an all-important nap.

Mr. Nano joined the group back in 2010 when he moved inside. We are not exactly sure where that scrawny, starving, snow-white waif came from (that is why he was called Nano), but from the start he was like a third twin to Marcus and Hope, and his good-naturedness allowed him to accommodate Mr. Lucio’s rough play.


Mr. Nano, hard at work. Note that the antennae are paying close attention to what I am doing behind him.

And finally, Mr. Lucio would like us to pause for a moment of silence to remember the Cats Emeritus: Old Klaatu, Mr. Austin, and Mr. Beaucastel, the black cat on the cover of my CD.  These beloved old souls may have passed on, but will live forever in our hearts and memories. The story of Old Klaatu initiated this blog back in June of 2013 as a tribute to this very special cat and his all too short time with us.

Old Klaatu on his barrel dining station

Old Klaatu on his barrel dining station

Mr. Austin

Mr. Austin


Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I had an enjoyable evening playing outside at PanezaNellie Breadstick Shoppe up in Sublimity, Oregon this past Friday evening.  If you are in the area, please stop in and help support this venue which is a very, very good supporter of the performing arts.  The food is great and these are some of the nicest people you will ever meet!

I will be taking a break from performing for a few months after my last show of the season, which will be at the Corvallis Saturday Farmers’ Market on September 5th. I will hopefully wrap up, or at least make some progress, on projects that have been moving at a snail’s pace, including the YouTube site. I look forward to resuming performances in January of 2016. Stay tuned!

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

My early days of non-conformity, age 5, captured by my mother. Wearing big brother’s boyscout uniform and knapsack, and quite proud of it! I started a new branch of scouting, calling myself a “Bird Scout”. We did not live near other children during my earliest years, so unfettered by peer-pressure, the limits of my imagination at that age knew no bounds. The stars were mine!


Lavinia as a “Bird Scout”, age 5, wearing big brother’s boyscout uniform and knapsack. Quite proud to have started a new line of scouting! Snapshot in time captured by my mother. Those were the days….



43 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2015

  1. Timothy Price says:

    428,000 miles! That’s pretty incredible. The grapes and kitties are looking good. No turkeys eating the grapes? I love the idea of a “Bird Scout”. I was a boy scout for a month once and then dropped out, much too the dismay of my dad who had been a scout master for years, while my bother was a scout. He had been out of boy scouts for several years and talked me in to joining a troupe. It was the early 1970’s, and I had very bad experiences with the troupe, quit going and have disliked the boy scouts ever since.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tim, thanks for stopping by! No turkeys in our grapes. They are in the area, but I have only seen pheasant and quail on our farm. Some friends who used to live in Lebanon would have problems from time to time with turkeys in their grapes.

      At that age, I wanted to do everything my older brothers were doing. I remember the uniform and wanting to do “scouting”, whatever that was. Looked like fun, and one could fill the knapsack with all kinds of stuff and go…somewhere…and do something? I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be something too. I’ve spent years learning how to be that 5 year old again. Still working at it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Timothy Price says:

        BTW I love the bees in the rose photo. I forgot to mention that. It’s good to work at being a 5 year old again and love the wonders all around you. I got roped into helping a boy scout outing a few years ago, and I was surprised to see a lot of girls in the boy scouts, plus a lot of women scout masters. I learned that since the girl scouts didn’t have most of the activities the boy scouts had, girls who wanted to pursue those activities and merit badges were allowed to do so in the boy scouts. Since there are so many single moms these days, some have become scout masters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Things have changed a lot since those days. I remember one year my class being asked what they wanted to be when they “grew up”. I think it was Lays Potato Chips that had the astronaut medallions in the bags around that time. So I thought that looked like an interesting thing to do, and said “Astronaut” when it was my turn. The entire class turned and looked at me and said “You can’t be that, you’re a girl!!!” I didn’t see the difference myself, but learned to keep quiet. Well, mostly quiet. 🙂

        The rose photo was a chance good shot. Right place, right time and the lighting was with me. Once in a while I get one. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nia, thanks for stopping by! The cats thank you, and send all their love to their special admirer in Turkey, and to all the cats there you post about. Have a great week! I am still catching up with everyone. Mom care is consuming more of our time now.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Herman, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments. I enjoy reading your stories about Mr. Bowie, too! Mr. Nano the Great White Hunter says Mr. Bowie the Great Grey Hunter has a special membership in the Boys of Salmon Brook Farm Club, the Belgian Division. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Herman says:

        There will be a special post in a few days about the Great Grey Hunter… Mr. Bowie says “Meow!” and wants to thanks Mr. Nano the Great White Hunter for the special membership!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s been such a tough dry summer in so many places and those dust devil’s must be wicked – glad your well runs deep! Thanks for the intro to the boys club – they seem to have a great life. The phoyo of your 5 year old self is priceless and love those red shoes and socks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments! Yes, those boys have a great life here. Mr. Nano is my personal guardian, herding me off to bed if he thinks I have been up too late. Bites ankles, meows and swats until I get going in the right direction. Once he thinks I am asleep, he gets down and goes on patrol, returning later to make sure I stay put. Must have been a sheep or cattle dog in a former life. 🙂

      I remember those red shoes. I outgrew them pretty quickly, as I was growing like a small weed back then. I was so proud of wearing my brother’s uniform!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aw, yes! Peer pressures! When I was a kindergartener, I could fly if I extended my “wings” and ran into the wind. Of course, a peer had to remind me little boys can’t fly, after which I couldn’t. Too bad! As I recall, flying was very liberating!

    Old Seabiscuit is making me think I should look into getting a Subaru! That’s an impressive record of reliability!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post, Lavinia! I thought the photo of you aged five so adorable! I always thought my brother had more fun in the Cubs and Scouts than I did in the Brownies. Loved the cat stories and the photos of the rose with bees and the ones of the vines and sunset. We have a lot of dust devils here in the summer too. In Suffolk they are known as ‘willies’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Claire, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! “Willies” – that is a new one to me! It is fascinating how the same atmospheric phenomenon can go by different names around the world, or even different areas of the same country.

      Yes, I think back then Brownies and Girl Scouts were not as interesting as what our brothers were learning to do in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I hear things are different now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, so lovely to read your latest update. The Boys’ Club seems more like a Gentlemen’s Club; refined living, leisure, plenty of napping, good food and excellent staff. 😉 Wishing you a good harvest, and rain at the right time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mandy, thanks for stopping by! It is interesting how similar natural phenomena are known by different names in different countries, or even different areas of the same country. I passed a number of the Willie Willies/Cock-eyed Bobs on the way home from the Corvallis Wednesday Farmers’ Market today. The larger farms are still busy tilling and pulverizing the soil post-harvest. A lot goes skyward, and the air has a gritty taste to it, so I keep the windows up and put the AC on recirculate on my way through that area. 97 degrees here today and humid over in Corvallis on the riverfront where the Market is located.

      Old photos – my brothers have the vast repository of them. I was into wearing onion sacks on my head about the same time as the bird scout photo. There is one with me wearing an onion sack on my head, holding onto Taffy, my Aunt’s dog. The dog was clearly embarrassed by being in a photo with such a strange little human being, but I looked quite pleased with myself. Onion sacks never caught on as a fashion back then, so eventually I had to give them up. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, what a beautiful, soulful, newsy newsletter, Lavinia! I do so love your writing, my blogger friend! I’m glad you have a deep well in these times of drought and wells running dry. Been there, done that, and I remember it well. I love the photos of the cats and the one of the 5-year old you in your brother’s scout uniform. I’m glad your family kept it and now you can smile at it and share it with your readers.

    Now then: what the heck is “veraison” — for those of us who don’t have a vine yard? (I only just realized that vineyard means vine yard..)
    Your favourite Canadian nincompoop wants to know…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jerry, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Yes, I do wish we get some rain here, and soon! The Willamette Valley is filled with smoke from various fires all around. Sunrise was a bloody orange against a blue-grey backdrop of smoky sky. Air quality is pretty bad here right now, but should start to get better tomorrow with a shift in the winds.

      Those old Subarus are good cars! Regular maintenance and oil changes will take them a long way.

      Readers, please visit Jerry’s site Quiet Solo Pursuits for some beautiful wildlife photography.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello Lavinia and all the characters at Salmon Brook ( I guess that includes you Rick, LOL). Came by a few nights ago and bookmarked your post. Each night before bed, I’d have a wee visit and get a bit further. So now I know it by heart, ha! As always, a very enjoyable visit. I love how you wrote about Seabiscuit waving.

    I laughed every time I visited, at the photo of The Boys of Salmon Brook looking out the window of the Glorified Mouse Hotel. Mostly at the stance that Marcus seems to be taking. Seems like he’s saying “Why I otta…….” and spying a gopher. Isn’t it wonderful how these little souls wander into the right home to find someone who’ll love and care for them? We’ve found a few of our cats this way :D, the others have been from shelters and neighbours. So many needing love.

    I’m happy to hear your water well is strong and giving. I’m just so worried for the dry climate that seems to be causing havoc up and down the western part of our continent. My gosh, Washington, California, British Columbia and even Alberta and Saskatchewan. We had firefighters from New Zealand helping in July. We always get a ton of rain in June, but not this year. It showed up in late July and August and even then, seemed lighter than usual. A number of counties in Alberta have claimed Agriculture Disaster so that they may qualify for Federal Relief Funds. Thank goodness for cats and music to take our minds away from that, if only for a while, to a gentler place. Enjoy your break from performing! Boom ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Boomdee, thanks for stopping by, and glad you love the post! Yes, it is so wonderful to have those little furry souls to help us get through the day! Mr. Nano, my guardian cat, is meowing at me right now and insisting I head off to bed. If I do not heed the call, I will get a nip on the ankle soon. 🙂

      The changing climate is a real concern. We have been here almost 12 years now, and we have seen it change quite a bit that time, just in our own neck of the woods. Air quality was very bad here a couple of days ago when winds blew smoke from surrounding fires into western Oregon. Tonight the air is clearer and more breathable. I can’t wait for summer to end this year and the rains to start again. I will keep our Canadian friends and neighbors to the north in my thoughts and prayers for this fire season to end as soon as possible. Stay safe, and well. Boomdee on! Yes, thank goodness for cats and music! And looking forward to the next post on Boomdeeadda! Readers, please visit

      Liked by 1 person

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