Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2015

Our feature photo this month is of our goat neighbors Trinity, little Wheezie, and Mango who have come to keep burro Speedo, and ponies Joe and Jack company. The two little sheep who also live there are a bit more camera shy, and are not pictured.


Little Wheezie. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Little Wheezie got into trouble trying to nibble branches up on an apple tree on our neighbor’s side, getting stuck in a fork in the main trunk (see the tree in the far right of the photo). Sounds of emphatic bleating emerged from behind the shed on our side, and I saw the two bigger goats come running over to investigate. I joined the rescue team, hopping the fence and extricating Wheezie from the apple tree stockade that was holding her fast. Shaken but not injured, Wheezie recovered quickly and later posed for today’s feature along with the wee one’s guardians.


Close up of Trinity. She is quite the talker!


Speedo (left) and pony buddy Jack wanting in on the photo session.


Here’s Joe! He thought I might have an apple for him.

News from the farm

The long, dry and exceedingly hot summer is drawing to a close now as equinox approaches. The air has cleared of smoke from forest fires and most of the dust from larger farms tilling and pulverizing their soil post-harvest. We have had some much needed rain recently, but not enough to provide more than a top dressing of moisture on the parched earth. Drought-stressed leaves hang limply on tree, shrub and vine, slowly exchanging their summer dresses of dark green for more appropriate autumnal yellow and brown apparel. Those too, will be soon slipping away along with the daylight hours, and they will stand bare against the coming winter weather. The sound of rain on a metal roof is one of the most beautiful melodies I know, and I am looking forward to the return of the winter rainy season after the grape harvest is finished, and many quarts of applesauce and tomatoes have been canned.


Smoky sunrise on August 23rd. Forest fires and weather patterns created poor air quality throughout the valley.


Cascade table grapes netted with bird netting. Useless against bees.


Pinot noir grapes from my personal two rows of test grapes. I get to experiment with these two rows.


Pinot noir from the main vineyard, ready to harvest.


Apples festoon the trees like Christmas ornaments.

Honeybees and Yellow Jackets do as much damage as birds in the vineyard, and I would need to put up insect netting to keep them out.  At this time of year, there is little else for them to feed on, and they are attracted to the sugary juice of ripe grapes as much as any other creature.  They will do what they need to do to survive.  I leave them alone, and try to harvest what I can.  Tables grapes we eat as well as market, and  pinot noir is only for ourselves at this point.  We made vinegar last year in an experiment with fermenting our pinot on native yeast (see our November 2014 newsletter in the blog archives) .  This year, if I can, I will attempt a batch of wine using Epernay II commercial yeast as well as another batch of vinegar on native yeast and acetobacter.  Much of what I can get done on any front depends on juggling farm, personal life and elder care.  We now have home Hospice help now for Rick’s mother, which will help.


Honeybee feeding on pinot noir cluster.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is Willow, close companion of Rick’s mother, eldest of the cats here on Salmon Brook Farms, and Chaircat of the Board of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms. We think she is in the vicinity of 18 to 20 years old, but she’s not telling, preferring her age to be part of her mystique. We think her eyes give it away though. Willow would like to acquaint readers with her girls, Abby, Hope, Wynken, Blynken and Nod. A formidable older Calico, Willow has soundly thrashed the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms, mainly Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio, when necessary. Mr. Nano, always a reasonable fellow, feels discretion is the better part of valor, and prefers to show respect to this grand old Calico matriarch.


Willow – Calico matriarch!


Willow, enjoying some time in front of the window.


Miss Hope, consenting to a photo shoot.


Miss Hope cat.


Miss Abby in her bookcase shelf hideaway.


Closeup of Abby cat.


Lovely long-haired Wynken.


Blynken (left) and Wynken (right), loafing in their baskets.


Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual.


Blynken (left) and Nod (right), loafing int heir baskets. Nod has taken over the basket from Wynken.


Nod, spokescat of the Three Sisters, showing off her Paul Newman blue eye.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I like to help other performers, when I can, by introducing them to the readers of this newsletter.  Kiamichi, Tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, will share her gift by performing with authentic American Indian Flutes and telling stories of her culture. Her CDs will be available for $15. Seniors may purchase them for $10. There will be a raffle for one of Kiamichi’s CDs for $1.00 each ticket. Please attend if you are in the area.

“Native American wooden flutes, played for calmness, balance and comfort. Creator gives me the breath that I breathe into the flute. He creates the music that comes to our heart and ears.”

2015 Native American Feast Poster v.2

As for my own schedule, one more show managed to sneak in before I take some time off from actively performing until January or February of 2016. I will be at the Albany Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, September 26th.  Check the performance schedule page for details, and please visit

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


A beautiful evening in late August after the smoke from fires had mostly cleared. A time to be thankful for good friends and neighbors, good food, and a good well. May each and every one of you out there have what you need. Help others in need. And whatever you do in life, do it with love.


37 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2015

  1. Timothy Price says:

    I love the “Three billy goats gruff” photo. The names are as good as the photo — Trinity, little Wheezie, and Mango fit the trio so well. Speedo, Joe and Jack are equally cute, but Goats have a way of being so cute, yet so ornery, that burros and ponies can’t match. I remember when we were so dray and burning, the smoke would get so thick it would almost block out the sun. We actually got a few episodes of smoke rolling through from the fires out your way a few weeks ago.

    I hadn’t thought about the honey bees going after grapes. Yellow jackets fight us for food on our plates, so I can imagine what they could do to grapes. The turkeys were eating the grapes off our vines, but they couldn’t reach the grapes on the vines that grew up in our apple trees, so we got those grapes.

    Your kitties are looking good. I hope you get some time to work on your Youtube channel this fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tim, thanks for stopping by! Those goats are precious. Their humans have also been wonderful neighbors and have helped us out here a lot. I am glad fire season is winding down. Not over yet, but winding down. This has been one year I couldn’t wait for summer to end.

      Typically it is the yellow jackets attacking the grapes first and the honeybees follow, but this year I am seeing far fewer yellow jackets, at least in our area. Honeybees as well yellow jackets will feed on plums, grapes and apples at this time of year when moisture and forage is in short supply. Turkeys I have not seen here, just quail and pheasants. Raccoons will reach through the netting with their little paws and pull of individual grapes, but bee damage is unmistakable.

      The cats here send their best to you all down in Corrales. Been enjoying the photos on your site And I do hope to get to work on my YouTube site as well as catch up on some sleep. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Timothy Price says:

        The raccoons are terribly destructive. They like to pull off ears of corn, peel them back, eat the end and throw the ears on the ground, where the ants and other insects start working on them. So they eat a little and ruin the rest of the ear..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Timothy Price says:

        While on bees, Laurie’s brother has been having to feed his bees sugar water. He says he’s going through something like 10 pounds of sugar a week to keep the bees fed — pollen production’s been low this year for some reason, and he’s just trying to get them fed enough so they can make it through the winter.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely to see the grapes (are they sweet? what do they taste like?), the festively adorned apple tree (!), and especially the pix of your beautiful cats. How do you find such interesting names for them? Do you just look at them and figure it out, or what? Such gorgeous cats, with personality to boot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cynthia, thanks for stopping by! Yes, the grapes are sweet when ripe, and the seeds crunch like nuts. And apples, apples everywhere this year! Plenty to make applesauce from!

      Naming of cats is an interesting process. I study them for a while, trying to figure out what goes with the cat. The Three Sisters, Wynken, Blynken and Nod, were named after a nursery rhyme that seemed perfect for them. See

      Abby came to us with that name. Her previous owner had rescued her form a cat show as a kitten. She had feline herpes in her right eye, and would not be of “show” quality, so the breeders were going to euthanize her. Her rescuer asked to take her, as long as they were going to kill her anyway, and we got Abby from her rescuer after old Mr. Beaucastel passed away so old Mr. Austin would have a companion.

      Keep us all posted on the new book. I really loved “A Good Home” and I am looking forward to the next one!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nia, thanks for stopping by! Yes, the cats will be a regular feature on the blog now, and we will have a different feline correspondent each month. The cat crew all send their best to you and are waiting for more news of cats in Turkey. Your camera, Mr. Can, has shown us a very beautiful part of the world, Nia. Thank you for the view into your life and country.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Herman and Mr. Bowie, thanks for stopping by! The cat crew sends their best to their Belgian friends. Mr. Nano, the Great White Hunter, has a few gopher problems he would like to consult Mr. Bowie, the Great Grey Hunter, about. Sometimes, one just needs to consult Mr. Bowie! 🙂

      I put in some more irises in your mother’s garden around the old cherry tree this summer, and more daffodils are going in this fall. I’ll take another photo come spring. Gardens are always in evolution, and continually expanding!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A lovely update, and good to meet your neighbours. 😉 Have you ever tried to make grape seed oil with those crunchy nutty grape seeds? Also, I am glad to hear you are receiving home hospice support for Rick’ s mother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Gallivanta! Thanks for stopping by! I have not tried to make grape seed oil yet, but that sounds like a good project for down the road. The pinot noir vinegar was quite good, and I hope to make another batch this year, as well as a small test batch of wine. I love this time of year. It is cooling down, and all kinds of good things are coming in from the garden.

      Yes, the extra help here with Rick’s mother will be appreciated. I feel like I am running faster and faster these days.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Doug, thanks for stopping by! Yes, quite the summer. It is overcast and 57 this morning, and we had the windows open last night. Much more bearable than continual 90s! Give a scritch behind the ears to my favorite Persians, Andy and Dougy, for me. I am enjoying your daily posts of the mischief those boys get into! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Consider the boys skritched! (Well, as soon as they are through with their morning naps, they will be…!) Glad you are enjoying their days.

    Andy was a very naughty kitty last evening, and it took me the better part of two hours to finally pin him down for his daily dose of medicine. Bad boy!

    All’s forgiven (him of me, and me of him) this morning, but we both were a bit growly around 8:30 last night when we finally got the medicine taken care of!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember when old Mr. Austin cat needed subcutaneous fluids towards the end and I learned to do that at home. After a while he resigned himself to it, but he wasn’t happy about it. And who could blame him? Tell cousin Andy he is lucky Doug doesn’t have to give him a needle poke! 🙂


    • Hi Jean, thanks for stopping by! This would have been a great summer for solar cooking outside, but I have been a bit overwhelmed. I have a friend here who does that too, and it is one of those things I will try down the road. The summers are getting hotter, and drier, here! Winter cooking on one is not something I would have had thought possible, but typically we are covered in cloud here during the winter months. We may get a little rain here today, but the little that does fall doesn’t do much except dampening things at bit.

      Hope you are getting to sing more these days. I enjoyed that duet you and Greg posted.


      • Thank you so much, Lavinia, for remembering our song! I’ve not been singing lately, which opened the way for Greg to attract a 7-piece band to fill out his original music, and has given me time to finish some wonderful art projects like the natural plaster sculpture in my living room! And I’ve re-established my art studio and sewing space, so life is not lacking! Just spent a lovely day yesterday harvesting the last of many herbs for the summer. Warm regards ~

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so pleased you are getting a little help in looking after Rick’s mother. I enjoyed this post very much – especially being introduced to your goat neighbours. I am pleased to hear that Willow keeps your mother-in-law company – two elderly ladies together. The heat and the smoke pollution from the fires as well as the problem with bees on your grapes are trials you could have well done without.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Clare! Yes, I have been looking forward to the extra help. Willow and Mom are quite a pair. They watch TV together, listen to classical music together. They are never far apart. Willow beams up into Mom’s face and purrs, and I can frequently hear, “That’s my pussycat!” coming from her room. I don’t know what I would have done without the help from that kitty. She makes Mom very happy.

      Yes, heat and smoke from fires was something we could have done without. As the droughts get worse every year, so does the damage to fruit from the poor bees, looking for any kind of food and moisture.

      Liked by 1 person

      • One of my long-term projects here is to get more drought-resistant pollen and nectar forage for the bees planted that would help them at this time of year. I will have to break down and buy insect netting for the grapes. A lot more expensive than bird netting based on what I have found so far, but I feel I have little choice.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Lavinia, I’m sure happy to hear the fires have abated and your sky’s are once again clear and blue. Let the autumn sun shine through. The more sun puddles for the kitties to find, the better. Petals and Blossum are currently sleeping head to head. I swear, I would not get a bit of work done with all the lovely creatures you have near-by to distract you. Those little goats are so dang adorable. Have you seen that video of baby goats in Pyjama’s running around a barn and bouncing off of hay bales? I think I watched it a dozen times. Wow, thank goodness you were around to rescue poor Wheezie. Glad she’s alright and I’m sure she made a good ruckus. Rightly so.

    We’ve been pretty lucky not to be bothered by Yellow Jackets too much this year. We’ve got one of those fake paper hives hanging under the deck. Apparently they’re very territorial, if the see a hive, they’ll not build there or near by. But the minute you bring out a sweet drink, they’re on the scene.

    Willow is in fine form for such a mature kitty! What a bunch of cuties! My brother has a pure white cat named Timber. She’s a little nippy. She wants to be petted the moment there’s a lap to climb into and them she’ll chew on you. They all look like they’re having a pretty pampered life, ha Just as it should be.

    I love how everyone has a buddy down your way, it must make their lives so much more complete. Speedo! You’re adorable and I think Jack’s rather smitten too. Your closing words here today warm my soul, thanks for all the TLC, much appreciate it. x Take good care x B

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Boomdee, thanks for stopping by! A clear sky and a beautiful full moon here last night. This morning the thermometer on the porch read 32.5, just above freezing. I didn’t have time to cover the tender crops in the big deer-fenced garden last night, so we will see how those plants fared later today.

      I had planned to harvest and crush my pinot noir today, but found yesterday that the birds and bees beat me to it over the last week and completely stripped the pinot vines clean. Every last one. We have some Cascade and Niagara table grapes that at least have bird netting, so I may attempt some vinegar from some of those. We’ve both been overwhelmed this year with caregiving, and it getting harder and harder to work the rest of the place, and I never got insect netting up. Next year… At least we have some Hospice help now, and some nighttime caregivers coming in at this point. All my music shows are done for the season, and I can focus energy on what remains to be done outside, as well as the studio.

      Those goats, ponies and burro are real cuties! Speedo may be getting stabled at a neighboring farm soon, as he decided to pick on one of the big goats recently. He just has a lot of energy and likes to play, but his goat companion was not impressed.

      All the cats here send their regards to their Canadian neighbors, and we are wishing you all a beautiful day as well. Boomdee on! Napping sunspots for all!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What great animal neighbours you have! Giggled at the description of rescuing Wheezie from the apple tree – if I had land I’d love to have a couple of goats. The grapes do look lush and I’m sending you my best wishes for successful wine making this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by! The grapes WERE lush. I went to check on them last weekend, as I was planning on harvesting this past Sunday. In just a couple of days since the previous check, the birds and bees had nailed every last pinot noir grape in my test rows and also in the main pinot vineyard. We have some table grapes that were still netted, and the bees are going after those now. No question about it, I will have to invest in insect netting if I want any fruit next year. Raccoons, often undeterred by netting, are also a problem and attack during the night. Late last week, I heard crashing, grunting and growling about midnight, so I looked out the window to see what the ruckus was about. The half-moonlight revealed three small greyish creatures slipping in under the netting and climbing the old table grape vines. I aimed the high-powered LED flashlight out there to see who all was filching grapes under the moonlight, and spied our masked visitors. They must have come down from the old walnut tree in the neighboring yard. The masked raiders shuffled off, growling and grunting about their interrupted feast.

      Yes, those goats are cute!


  8. Little goats are so cute – aren’t they? We have the odd feral goat come through our place and I have often been tempted to bring a young one home. I can only imagine what havoc that would create amongst the dog pack. Four roosters if enough havoc for the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mandy, thanks for stopping by! Those goaties are really cute, but get into a lot of trouble, and are known for girdling trees in a pasture. That big black & white goat Trinity can really belt out an opinionated bleat, but the little one is the loudest of the three.

      You will have to fill readers in on how the Gang of Four roosters Brian brought home are faring. I bet you have some great stories to tell since that post!


  9. Hi Lavinia! I went looking for one of your news letters that I might have missed, and was delighted to find this one. I think goats are so very cute. I loved your story about the little one getting stuck in the tree. That’s no longer the province of cats. When Monday is already stressful and it isn’t even 8 O’clock, Salmon Brook Farm is the place to go! 😀 Mega hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That was delightful, Lavinia! Thelonious and Gourdzilla.
    In one of my “manuscripts lost” (actually the oldest one) my heroine had a pygmy goat as a pet. Although I’ve never known one personally, they do charm me in photos. Huge hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

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