Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2016

Our feature photo this month is of a busy, but obliging honeybee working the pear tree with her sisters on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.


Any trees in bloom were full of hard-working pollinators today.


The old Italian purple prune-type plum tree.


Apple tree at “first pink”, the first blush of blooms to come.

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.


Storm clouds to the south over the shed.


Some beautiful cirrus type with a faint cloud-bow towards the bottom.


East view of an afternoon rainbow over Salmon Brook Farms.

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.


Nutria scat and cropped grass. Nutria at work. I stepped in plenty of it over the winter when the youngsters were up around the house.

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.


This particular tree is for Michael, son of G.P Cox, Pacific Paratrooper. G.P.’s site contains a wealth of WWII history and stories.


Cherry tree garden in memory of Herman’s mother and brother, cats Glippie and Mrs. Jones. Readers encouraged to follow the adventures of Herman and world-famous cat Mr. Bowie, both of whom hail from Belgium, at


An early spring view of the memorial garden for Australian friends Janet and Baz. In memory of loved ones Archie and Marion. Readers are encouraged to follow the adventures Baz, Janet and TomO in the Australian Outback at

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.


First layer of cement – underlying pads are joined and it is now a square, more or less!


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.


A mix of muscat and gewurztraminer wine grape cuttings waiting in Lake Roger.


Blueberry cuttings. I had not intended to try to make these, but a rutting male deer made shrapnel out of many of our blueberry bushes last fall. A ready made experiment, I kept these in the garage all winter. One, at least, is showing green (far right). A few have viable looking buds.


More blueberry cuttings that have been sitting in long grass all winter. Found them when I went to trim grass in the blueberry patch. They are waiting for pots for good clay soil that holds water. I have had good luck rooting many things this way.

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.


Old Iridium IX spark plugs removed. Stayed in a bit longer than anticipated, but Old Seabisquit ran pretty well in spite of it. They had 157, 664 miles on them.


Current mileage on Old Seabisquit. Can’t keep a good car down….


The author’s cave. Functions as stall for old Seabisquit, workshop and plant start nursery, as well as warm place for over-flow house plants.


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.


Mr. Marcus, this month’s feline correspondent. One of the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms.

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).


Miss Hope, sister of Mr. Marcus. One of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms.


Old Willow, calico matriarch. A Force of Nature and one of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms.

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.


Mr. Lucio, cleaning Mr. Marcus. He really wants the window seat, and is preparing to get Mr. Marcus to move.

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


A natural tunnel into the back lot formed by an old feral apple tree that had fallen over but continued to grow. There will be blooms on it before too long now. The farm has many hidden places, and I am enjoying taking the time to rediscover them.


50 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2016

    • Hi Easy, thanks for stopping by! I’ll give old Seabisquit a hug from you. Old Seabisquit says Your Elephant Skate is just a youngster. Keep the oil changed and keep up with basic routine maintenance. Don’t let your Mom and Dad run the spark plugs as long as I did though!

      The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms all send their best to you and your family, and a big “Meow”. Tell Mom and Dad to give the Weimaraner a treat from all of us! We’ve been following your adventures over on


  1. Herman says:

    Hi Lavinia! Thank you so much for showing me the beautiful cherry tree garden in memory of my mother and brother, and our loved cats who passed away.
    Mr. Bowie says “Meow!” to Mr. Marcus and the rest of the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms Crew!
    Thank you for this great post, I really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Herman, thanks for stopping by! The gardens here are in spring attire now. The irises and coral bells should be in bloom later, and I will post another photo later in the season when those are in flower. I continually add things to gardens, so there may be some surprise flowers in there later as well.

      The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms all send their best to you, your family and Mr. Bowie. A big “Meow” from all of us!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How amazing pictures you expressed us dear Lavinia, I can almost feel myself there… I love your expressions… especially this part ” 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.”

    You know I am crazy with cats and with all beautiful things… nature, art, etc. and your cats are so lovely, made me smile how clever Mr. Lucio for get a place in the window 🙂 I love their music and voice dear Lavinia, “Dana and Susan Robinson”. I will be waiting patiently your own videos 🙂 Thank you for this beautiful post, have a nice day and weekend, and Blessing and Happiness in Spring days for you all, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nia, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments on the writing! Thank you for visiting Dana and Susan’s site!

      The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms all send their best to you and your family, and animal friends. We love your posts of your homeland in Turkey, and especially the Cats of Istanbul. You are a very creative, talented person with a good heart as well, Nia. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your memorial planting. You have been busy! Cement is herd work, especially if you’re mixing it yourself. Look forward to seeing the greenhouse up and your hint of videos to come is very exciting. Say hi to all the kitties – they are looking mighty fine. We have a new fellow about to join us – caught him and took him off to the vet this morning for the snip. Now to persuade the dogs that they really do need a fifth cat… Hope spring continues to be kind to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Annie, thanks for stopping by! A new kitty sounds exciting! The strays always seem to find us, don’t they? 🙂 Best of luck convincing the pups they need a fifth cat!

      I hope to get some grafting done this week – I’m new at that, so I should learn a lot. I have a wild cherry in a large container for practicing grafting the old bing cherry on to it. I think I will try a bud graft in the next few days. Also looking at an alternative to trellis wire in my small 2 row test plot of pinot. I’m looking at marine grade polypropylene rope instead of wire. Easier for me to manage and since the test block is only 16 vines, not to hard to go back to wire if this doesn’t work. The rope is lightweight and inexpensive.

      The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms all send their best to you, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Be interested to hear how the grafting goes – if only there was more time, would like to try it out too. The rope alternative is interesting too – as long as it doesn’t stretch you should be fine and the weight you’re asking doesn’t seem too much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rick and I checked the grafts yesterday, after they had been settling in a few days. They look good, so far, but time will tell. I used a suggestion of black electrical tape to securely bind the graft, once I had made sure the cambium of the graft was touching the cambium of the host wood. I used Trowbridge’s Grafting Wax to thoroughly coat the tape and surrounding host wood afterwards. Sticky stuff, but I was able to heat some in an old mustard jar in the microwave, and apply with an old tooth brush. I got mine at the local feed store, although has it too.

        Graft experiments are as follows:

        1. Bing cherry bud graft to wild cherry trunk – donor was old Bing grafted to wild cherry in pot up front. Cut fold in trunk of wild cherry, insert graft and bind.

        2. Apple to hawthorn – donor was last tree in line by house, hawthorn in main garden. Same method as 1.

        3. Apple to hawthorn – Donor was Scott & Deeana’s apple to hawthorn in main garden. Used a long piece of graft wood. May be too long.


  4. You’ve beautifully conveyed all the hope for new growth that Spring brings…blossoms and cuttings and planning. Do you think you’ve reached a new record for mileage on Seabisquit yet? You should write to Suburu and ask.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Timothy Price says:

    Everything is looking green, flowery and blooming. Building a green house is work. We’ve thought about it but never did more than think. That’s a lot of miles on those plugs. With my rotary engine that burns oil for lubrication, I have to change plus every 25K to 30K. I think Seabisquit is the eternal car. Kitties are looking good. Nice you are getting some guitar time in. That’s more than I’m doing. I’m looking at the thermometer on the fence outside and it’s showing 19º F this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tim, thanks for stopping by! The greenhouse frame was given to us by a friend some years back. I have had it up at various points in different locations around the farm, but had to contend with grass and weed control, as well as weighting it down. The wind took it a few times. I can do a better job of securing it this way.

      I am embarrassed to have let the plugs go so long, even with the iridium technology. The manufacturer, NGK, indicated a max of 90,000 miles, and I have seen some reports elsewhere of 120,000 miles. 157,000+ is a bit long, though. The gap on the old ones was huge compared to the new ones going in.

      37 degrees this morning with only a trace of a pink clouds near the waning half-moon. At least a bit warmer than the last 2 days!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jerry, thanks for stopping by! All those beautiful trees and flowers are right here on our own farm so I don’t have to go far! Poured cement today. I probably did not need the chicken wire it was suggested to me that I use, but it is in there now. Hard to get that stuff to lay flat, so I will need another 20 x 60 lb bag layer to even it out. But it will be solid! I’ll be catching up with everyone’s blogs by tomorrow, hopefully.


    • Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! The old trees like the prune plum were planted by the previous owner’s parents. Daffodils are not eaten by deer or gophers, so we have lots of them, and I try to naturalize as many as possible wherever I can. The cat crew of Salmon Brook Farms sends a big “Meow” to you and your family.

      Your New Zealand farm is a beautiful place, and you have a lovely blog site. Readers, please visit Julie’s farm blog at

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a fine post Lavinia! The photographs of the bees in the fruit blossom and the spring skies with clouds and bows in are lovely. I am pleased you are enjoying your time of few commitments. I did laugh at Mr Lucio cleaning Mr Marcus and your comment! When we had cats I remember them doing the same thing. This washing is just a ploy!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Lavinia. I enjoyed reading this newsletter so very much!
    I once mixed mortar by hand (could have enjoyed trying my hand at it, but that was during the bad old days…), so I know you worked hard.
    I’m happy you got some “you time” with the guitar. I actually played my piano the other day for the first time in at least a year. It felt good. Except that I live in a row house and don’t like knowing the neighbors can hear me… One day I’ll get my little dream house. 😀 I enjoyed everything about this post. Mega hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Teagan, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Glad you are back to playing piano. Music is like food and exercise, part of a healthy daily routine. I am hoping for you that you get your dream house sooner than later. Nothing like some space to play music!

      I am enjoying following your creative pursuits on your own site, All the best to you, and may your dreams come true.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Marcus sounds like a cool cat (except for tittle-talling on Hope, of course). And I hope Seabisquit is happier now that you’ve attended to his/her needs. And once again, your writing is so lovey. See what I mean? “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.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cynthia, thanks for stopping by and the kind words! Yes, little Marcus is a cool cat. His sister Hope gets one over on him now and then. I remember looking for Marcus when it was tooth brushing night for the cats (yes, I brush their teeth with special tooth brushes) I couldn’t find him (he knew), but little Hope gave away his location!

      Old Seabisquit is purring like a kitten! Nothing like new plugs and wires. Now the gas filter…I wait for a good day and do that outside because of the fumes. The days are getting pretty nice here, so my excuses are running out. 🙂

      I love watching the days come and go, and it is with a new intensity I have not felt since my youth, when I first started to really see the world around me in detail. College came and went, jobs came and went over the years. My focus changed, although the embers were still quietly glowing in a corner of my mind. Coming to this farm has been a coming home of sorts. It has been a long journey.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You have been wonderfully busy on the farm! It is gorgeous. Grapes and blueberries. And the names of your wonderful feline friends made me smile. I look forward to seeing your videos. I like the thought of you tinkering about with technology. My son is learning the guitar. Any tips for the young beginner? 🙂 Love to all big and small at the Farm. Sharon x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sharon, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments. The humble advice I would give to anyone learning guitar is the following:

      1) Learn and play music for the love of the instrument, whatever that is, and the sheer joy of hearing your own creativity.
      2) If your aspirations extend beyond the above, do not let nay-sayers get in the way. Believe in yourself.
      3) Help and support others along the way. Even a complete novice can get someone else started.

      All the best to you and your family. I enjoy your blog over at

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lovely imagery of the farm Lavinia and it sounds as though you have been busy; but taking time out to enjoy the sunrise (or in my case sunset because I am not a morning person) always makes the days better. The Fox Terribles would love to visit your cats!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mandy, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I love both ends of the day, but sunrise is a bit less hurried for me, and I am looking at the new day with a fresh mind. Every day is a unique gift that slips away with the sun over the hills to the west.

      I am hoping to set up this farm so Rick and I can “age in place”, get all the hard work done now. That greenhouse project is one I have had on hold for almost 4 years now. Felt good to get that done, as well as the plugs and wires. Many more projects to go…

      The Fox Terribles – one veterinarian thought Mr. Lucio, the Norwegian Forest Cat, really needed a dog to wrestle with, since he can be rough on his feline house mates, as understanding of him and his ways as they are. Yes, I bet they would all have a good time!


  11. Hello Lavinia! Lovely to see the little signs of spring on your beautiful farm. I am so jealous that you are getting a greenhouse! Of course, it would be a bit ridiculous if I had one in Florida but I can dream! Haha! I loved reading about the trees you had planted in memory of special people and pets, that is such a lovely touch and a beautiful thing to do. All the kitties are looking adorable and I loved reading about your amazing Subaru – what a great car! Long may it live! I am sure you will have some wonderful spring shots too, next time as it is such a beautiful part of the country.
    – Kate x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kate, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Greenhouses are a wonderful “season extending technology”. Next I need to clean the plastic sheets that comprise the cover, front door and rear, and get them on there. Work tends to go in spurts around here, with the tasks most needing attention right away bubbling to the top of the list. Yes, it is beautiful here with all the blooming trees. The air in spring is thick with the scent of plum, cherry, pear and apple blossoms.

      Looking forward to more of your own posts from Florida at

      Liked by 1 person

  12. hello hello Salmon Brook, I’m a bit late to your news but enjoyed my visit regardless. Who knows what projects you’ve managed since penning your message here. You’ve got a ton done already. I’m excited to see your potting shed up and filled with your clever cuttings et all. The blueberry cuttings ‘found’ in the tall grass seem quite willing. Amazing! I’m curious to see if a clip of a climbing rose will take in my garden this spring. I over-wintered in a pot in our garage that’s kept at 37C.
    While visiting Alys last fall, we took a train ride through the redwoods. My gosh, they’re majestic. I hope yours will take off and bring you shelter and refuge for the birds.
    You’re so kind to plant a memorial garden for Herman and Mr Bowie. I sure do adore those guys. I got a bit worried when Herman posted a coloured photo of the sun setting, I would be super sad if they weren’t here.
    Happy to know all the kitties are happy and healthy. Petals and Blossum are always happy when the doors and windows can be open for them too. We have the pleasure of listening to spring robins now, which I enjoy just as much as them. I’m so happy for spring, we just got some much needed rain and now the whispers of a bit of snow. It’s only April I guess, in the north here, anything can happen and usually does, ha. Hugs all around xB

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Boomdee, thanks for stopping by! With roses I have had mixed results, and of the blueberry “cuttings” made by the rampaging deer, only one survived. I did learn what age and stage of growth is most likely to survive though! I started a second round of buckets of the cuttings found this spring, and used ones closest in age and diameter to the one that survived.

      So glad you go to see the redwood forest with Alys! They are impressive trees, for sure. I was able to visit Muir Woods some years back, and remember it well.

      Planting memorials is often the one kind thing I can do for someone, and I was glad to do that for Herman and Mr. Bowie departed loved ones, too.

      All the best to you and your family, and please give Petals and Blossom a hug from me. They will have to send me a weather report from Canada, if they don’t mind being Canadian feline correspondents!

      Liked by 1 person

      • yes! Muir Woods, we were happy to visit when we were last in San Francisco. I thought it was amazing and 20 degrees cooler on a hot day. I met a friendly squirrel there too. Sorry to hear about the blueberries. I saw an interesting way to cultivate roses on Pinterest. You take the cutting and stick it in a potato, then burry it. The Potato keeps it standing straight and firm in place. Petals and Blossum will endeavour to report no the weather just as soon as they finish their nap 😀 x

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Lavinia – The word from Marianne in Amsterdam is that Elbert Rijnberg liked all flowers and that purple and lilac was his favorite colors. She suggests that you make a choice of flower to plant there as a memorial to him. She also notes that she, the family, and his friends are very touched by your gesture (as am I).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Doug, shades of purple and lilac it is then! I can easily do those colors with irises, and those plants do well in our wet winters and bone-dry summers. I’ll get to setting up a new garden bed over the next couple of weeks and get the transplants in there. Photos will come. Give our best to Marianne and the family.


    • Hello Mr. Tootlepedal, thanks for stopping by! I’ve tried to do my best. I’ve used Amsoil synthetic motor oil, transmission fluid and gear lube since Day One, which helps a lot. Yes, I do spell it as Seabisquit to distinguish the vehicle from Seabiscuit, the famous Thoroughbred.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I only post once a month, which I think can lead to my posts getting lost in the Reader among all the other blogs one might subscribe to. I have also found that WordPress sometimes will unknowingly “drop” a subscription. If I haven’t heard from someone in a while, I check my list to see if this might have happened.

        I only have a couple of days left to post for this month, so if you check by Sunday, I should be there with the April post. I took photos of the apple tree tunnel in bloom. Best blooms were from the east side of it facing west.


Comments are welcome, but all are moderated. I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Looking forward to hearing from you! In order to avoid problems with the default SPAM blocker Askimet, please do not post two comments in a row. Let me approve and respond to them one at a time.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.