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.
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.
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.
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