Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November 2015

Our feature photo this month is of recent nighttime visitor to the farm.  On Sunday the 15th,  I went out after dark to investigate the activities of a Black-tailed deer buck grazing on fallen fruit under an apple tree near the shed.   The buck, who was probably the same one who demolished 10 blueberry bushes in the process of scraping his antlers on them a week earlier,  trotted off as I neared the tree, but there came a pig-like grunting and snuffling from somewhere very close by.  Startled and feeling like an encounter with whatever it was could have a bad ending, I looked around, but could see nothing, and the grunting creature sounded very displeased by my presence.  A small greyish creature at ground level appeared out of nowhere, and charged at my leg. I quickly high-tailed it, and got the flashlight and camera, hoping to at least identify my would-be assailant.  Although not the best photo, it was good enough to check the mug shot online and confirm my suspicions. Our visitor appears to be a nutria, a young one, from what I can tell.  In the almost 12 years we have been here, we have only seen one other come through the farm, a large adult traveling through during daylight hours. Nutria are known to intimidate small dogs, and can pack quite a serious bite if cornered.  These beaver-like rodents are not native to the United States, but have become naturalized in many areas, and can be very destructive.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website has more information for those who are interested.

News from the farm

Water, water everywhere now, while the Pacific Northwest is getting pummeled with heavy rain and strong winds.  Jaws and fellow gophers have curtailed activities, and perhaps moved to higher ground as their burrows flood and sometimes spout water like mini artesian wells.  The weather can, and does, change frequently during the day, a kaleidoscope of cloud and sun, shadows and light. A fast running river of clouds passed overhead on Tuesday, a turbulent grey on grey I could see through the depths of to higher, brighter clouds and occasional blue.   I watched the tall, massive ash trees in the wooded corner bend and sway in the wind, marveling at the strength and flexibility of these rooted giants, and the force of the wind moving them in wild dance.  My thoughts drifted to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents, and I wondered if these thrashing venerable trees would somehow walk out of their section of woods.  Higher elevations have already seen some snow, and the forecast is for temperatures in the 20s here by the end of next week.  I will need to finish closing down the gardens for the season, and insulating exposed water lines.


Storm’s edge – an earlier set of storms blowing through the area.


A break in the storm towards sundown.

Night settles in.  At roughly 800 feet, the farm lies in a bowl of sorts in the Cascade foothills.  Cold air ponds in this depression, and thickening mists slowly obliterate the surrounding hills until all that is visible are the cold, dripping tendrils that writhe and curl under the lights.  Somewhere up above the clouds the moon is growing again.  It can be very difficult to observe the lunar cycles and night sky during the winter months here.  Old Man Winter is on the way now, and all in his path will bend to his will.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Willow, the old Calico matriarch, came through her recent dentistry with flying colors, and wants readers to know she is still a force to be reckoned with in the house, and is back to keeping Rick’s mother company.


Willow – also a Force of Nature.

The crew does not have much to report this month, and has decided napping is a much better plan than battling gophers and nutria.  Mr. Lucio is a master at looking like he is working hard at being comfortable.


Mr. Lucio, hard at work.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We are taking a brief hiatus until next year, working on personal projects and elder care, which consumes much time and energy.  Keep checking the schedule.  We will surface again in 2016!  Old Seabisquit the Subaru , my faithful gigging traveling companion, got a much needed oil change and air filter from me, and is patiently waiting for me to pop in a new gas filter, spark plugs and wires.  Not to mention a good cleaning….

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


The sun sets more to the southwest these days, and beamed a pleasant goodnight over the neighbor’s roof on that particular evening after a day of many passing storms.


46 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November 2015

  1. Timothy Price says:

    So that’s a nutria? I would of called it a muskrat. It looks a lot like what we call muskrats out here. Cats are looking good. Enjoy your winter break, and it’s good to hear Seabisquit got an oil change

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Herman says:

    Mr. Bowie was very interested in the photograph of the nutria. I checked out Timothy’s info and found out the creature looks a lot like our local species “muskusrat”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a muskrat run across the road in front of me one night when I was driving home. I thought I’d seen the biggest dang rat in the world until I realized what it actually was! As always, I enjoyed your update!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for visiting, Nia! The cats all send their love! Willow is doing well, but her potassium levels were low, and her hind legs were weaker. I have started supplementing her with some potassium in her B-12/MSM tonic, and she is getting around better and has more energy. We don’t really know how old she is, but we suspect close to 20 or so now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lyn says:

    Those dang nutria! My understanding is that they were brought here to breed for their fur, like mink. Of course some escaped, then naturalized, playing havoc with the native plants & critters.

    Your posts have the same effect on me as yoga…they slow me down, put me in the moment. Really lovely! I always enjoy them, and always learn something, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lyn, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Yes, that little fellow really surprised me. Sounded like a much bigger critter out there in the dark.

      The fig tree you gave me is still doing well in the garage, and I look forward to more fruit from it this winter. Really cold here today, low 40s all day.


  5. Oh, how I love your storytelling. Your description of the land, the weather, the elements – I am glued to them as I read your newsletter each month. What a gift you have, Lavinia! Sorry about the encounter with the rodent – I think I would have made a most undignified shriek.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Cynthia, thanks for stopping by, and for the kind comments! It was my 10th Grade teacher who instilled that love of creative writing. As hard as he was on his students, and I didn’t think he liked me, he did not attempt to shape anyone’s creativity. He allowed it to flow. I enjoy sitting back and watching the world around me. Nature provides the stories in flower, leaf, tree, sky and passing creatures. I am only a lowly observer.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lyle, thanks for stopping by! It was good fortune for me that you posted your muskrat photos. I guess they can be friendly, but this little guy was having none of it. I probably came close to stepping on him when I was investigating the deer, and he told me to back off. I read about them years ago, and always thought of them being more of a problem in the southeast, but we have them here in western Oregon and up in Washington.

      Readers, once again, check out Lyle’s post. All beautiful wildlife posts on this site as well as the magnificent muskrat!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, nutria, a scourge of many waterways. We have them and they’re doing terrible things to the canal at the end of our land. On first encountering them our cats thought ‘what fun’ but realised very quickly that they were considerably too mean to deal with. Glad Willow remains a force of nature!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by! So you have them too??? I guess they were imported to many parts of the world for the fur trade, and were released or escaped. We are roughly 10 minutes by car from two rivers, the Santiam and the Calapooia, but it seems to be close enough that they wander through on occasion. I know of many farmers here in the Willamette Valley that have serious problems with them destroying crops.

      Old Willow spends most of her days tending Rick’s mother now. Two venerable older ladies enjoying each other’s company.

      Readers please visit Animal Couriers at They provide pet transport and animal shipping services throughout the UK, Europe & overseas. Plenty of photos and stories of their passengers and happy reunions!

      Liked by 1 person

    • There is supposed to be some sort of widget that users can click on to follow and enter an email address. I am unable to edit the list to add or delete, but I have some people following by email, so something must be accessible at least to some browsers. As you know, WordPress can be very problematic depending on the browser, WP theme and and malware blockers or other security software that is in place. Not to mention they do updates which upsets the apple cart even further. Occasionally a widget even reboots my machine! I use the Ryu theme. I’ll investigate this outside my WP admin session and see if I can figure out where the follow widget is for email. Stay tuned!


  7. Hey Lavinia, popped over to see your home in the “sphere” and love it. Must be the season (even though we’re on opposite sides of the world) for small night visitors. Last night while doing the dishes we looked up and a baby ring-tailed possum was looking in at us. It was perched on top of the temporary hot house enjoying the young spinach and beetroot plantings. Thank you for the follow, following you right back. Take care over the festive season and look forward to catching up with the happenings in 2016. Willow and her companion do look well matched 🙂 Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Linda, Thanks for stopping by! I got your post about “Catch Us Camping” had moved to a new site. I’ve been enjoying your posts on traveling around Australia and didn’t want to miss out! Yes, seems to be the season for nocturnal visitation. We have had deer possums, skunks, nutria, raccoons, foxes, coyotes come through at night, and I know there have been cougar sightings in the area. The nutria was a bit grumpy, but I probably came close to stepping on him in the dark!

      Have a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to your posts!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There are some lovely storm cloud shots that you’ve taken – especially like the last one. That nutria does look like a large rat and following your link has made me one creature wiser😉… Never heard of them before. Your Willow keeping Rick’s mother company is special – bringing comfort to each other. Good luck as we head into winter – keeping the water from freezing in the horses troughs is a big preoccupation at our co-op barn as we head into winter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by! Apparently, nutria were exported from their native South America to many parts of the world for the fur trade, and either escaped or were released. They are quite prolific and destructive of marshland and crops as they are cute and grumpy. I have seen more nutria scat about, so our visitors are still here, but keeping to nocturnal outings. They may leave when the last fallen apple is consumed.

      Good luck to you too, keeping the water lines from freezing. I remember as a kid seeing heating wire around the water spigot at the stable. I’ve insulated everything as best I can now and have a heater in the well house.

      Give that old Romy horse a big hug and scratch behind the ears for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Big Hello to you all at Salmon Brook. Sounds like a bit of rural drama is keeping walks after dark pensive. Good grief, I’ve never heard of Nutria and I’d be running on your coat tails. I’d worry for a kitty encounter, they’re sometimes more curious than they know what’s good for themselves.

    While you get a lot of moisture, we have been having one mild day after another. I’m just watching the morning news, today +4 C or about 40 F. Very weird for December. By now we’re usually swimming in snow piles, but there’s barely a skiff on the ground. Next summer is sure to be dry if it doesn’t change in the new year. Typically, Jan – Mar can be very snowy and cold. We’ll see.

    I’ve been really busy at work. We’re in full swing of the Christmas shopping season. So I’m missing my haunts here on WP. But with a week off in Maui in January, I’m sure to catch up (and sleep, ha)

    Glad to hear Willow’s visit to the dentist went well. She’s a brave girl, I’ve been putting off a visit myself. Willow’s got a very adorable look in that photo. I love all that spotty colour she wears, cuteness to the max.

    When you described your tree in the garden, I was reminded of the words to a song I’ve not heard in a long time. “Like a tree, out in the garden, who’s branches are never broken by the wind. Our love, will last forever, as long as we are strong enough to bend” Isn’t that clever prose? Wishing you and your true loves a wonderful holiday season. Cheers, K

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Boomdee, always so good to hear from you! A quick note here, as I saw your kind comment in my mailbox. I got another good nutria photo, a threesome. The little fellow brought friends! 🙂

      That is a beautiful tree song. And a trip to Maui! I’ve never been there. What a lovely January trip! Willow sends her regards and wants to know if she can go to Maui too. She likes a good nap in the sun.

      I will be catching up on WP with everyone soon. And again, thanks so much for stopping by!

      All the best,

      Liked by 1 person

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