Our feature photo this month is of a busy, but obliging honeybee working the pear tree with her sisters on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.
The kaleidoscope spring skies of dark clouds, passing storms, warm golden sun and ephemeral rainbows have been providing spectacular daily shows this month on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. The day presented us with a nippy 31 degrees this morning, as reported by the thermometer on the porch, and reached the mid 70s this afternoon. Pollinators of all sorts were enjoying the warmth and sun, and the trees currently in bloom were alive with the pleasant drone of many beating wings. My favorite time of day is early morning under clear skies, when the molten gold of the rising sun comes streaming over the eastern ridge down onto the emerald green grass of the farm below, setting the heavy dew afire in a sudden explosion of prismatic jeweled brilliance. It is a time to be mentally, as well as physically present to absorb the promise of a new day. Mind’s Eye records the scene in detail to be replayed in memory, and the joy of witnessing the transition from darkness to light is written upon the pages of the soul. No two sunrises are the same.
News from the farm
It has been a month of moving many small projects forward as well as taking time to slow down and wander about the farm. The nutria are still about, although they cannot get into the shed since the barricade went up. The youngsters, Gidney, Cloyd and Yosemite Sam, have been sighted at different times and places about the farm, and have left tell-tale signs of their presence.
A line of five California Redwood trees was planted up front along the south border. These little fellows have been nurtured in pots for several years from roughly 4 inch high seedlings, and it was time to turn them loose. They will grow tall and strong, and according to the tree farmer friends who gave us the seedlings several years ago, not uproot easily in storms. They will provide a windbreak, shade for the front, and shelter for birds. All were planted in the memory of someone we either knew or had heard about that passed on recently. Sometimes a garden or planting is the one kind thing I am able to do for someone.
Although I cannot claim pouring cement was restful, it was good to see that project finally get underway. Four years ago, two old cement pads of differing heights and jagged edges from the old house were moved down by the main garden and placed together as a foundation of sorts to place a greenhouse upon. Mixed by hand, 60 to 120 lbs at a time in the old wheel barrow, the roughly 12 x 12 foot pad finally took form recently. Chicken wire will be laid down now for reinforcement, and another 20 bags still to be poured. Tomorrow’s task, now that better weather is here. I am no master cement worker, though this should work well enough to set the greenhouse frame up later.
New grape cuttings, as well as rescue blueberry cuttings have either been potted up already, or are waiting for me to collect more gopher diggings so I can pot them up. Some are stored in Lake Roger, the drainage ditch, staying hydrated and wet, waiting for the greenhouse above to finally go up. I have not devoted any time to grafting experiments with the old Bing cherry tree or plums yet. I am probably running out of time for that this year.
Seabisquit the Subaru finally got new plugs and wires! I waited a bit longer than originally anticipated to get this done, and upon checking my records, found that the NGK Iridium IXs had 157,664 miles on them, quite a bit longer than recommended by the manufacturer. One can see in the photo below that the gap is quite large and the plugs well-worn. Surprisingly the car ran quite well. Old Seabisquit was quite pleased that I finally got around to changing them. It is still fairly easy on this car, with only one plug requiring removal of the windshield washer tank so I could get at it. Old Seabisquit has now passed 431,326 miles, and I have promised my trusty steed that I will give him a good cleaning once we have hauled the last 20 bags of cement tomorrow.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
Our feline correspondent this month is Mr. Marcus, enjoying his favorite perch on back of the couch. He would like readers to know that the cat crew very much appreciates the change in the weather, and the opportunity to sit in front of an open window, as brief as it is at this time of year.
Marcus says his sister Hope is particularly fond on chewing on the Venetian blind cords, although she has not yet learned how to work them to get viewing access. Marcus also reports that Miss Willow, the old calico matriarch, is doing much better now on the kidney tonic recommended to her by our Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent Otis (see our February 2016 post).
All the crew is doing well at this time, although Mr. Lucio will be going in for his dentistry towards the end of April. He confided to Mr. Marcus that would prefer to send the Doc a postcard from Tahiti, but realizes he does not know where Tahiti is, let alone how to get there.
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
I am still on hiatus from performing, but continuing to play and enjoy down time with my guitars. I learned how to make videos in late winter and do some rudimentary editing. Technology continues to make leaps and bounds, allowing the small-time geek, tinkerer, and putterer like myself another means of expressing and sharing creativity. Expect a surprise in months to come! I won’t promise when, though. I am savoring this time of few obligations to anyone except myself, the farm, and it inhabitants.
East coast, internationally touring folk musicians Dana and Susan Robinson will have a new CD, “The Angel’s Share”, coming out before too long. To hear either one of them alone is a real treat, but together, their voices and instruments intertwine and soar. I have heard them at Marks Ridge Winery on a summer evening, the music drifting over the mountains. For our readers in the U.K., check their schedule periodically. Not to be missed for those who love this style of music. Their road essays are also enjoyable reading.
In the meantime, 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