Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2016

Our feature photo this month is a view of one of our crab apple trees exhibiting a profusion of white blooms against a marbled spring sky.  Planted as small rooted sticks obtained from the Arbor Day Foundation back in 2004, this tree and its companion have grown tall over the years.  Different varieties with different growth habits, one is pink and one is white, and bloom at different times.

News from the Farm

We continue to see signs of the nutria youngsters (see our January 2016 post) out back, but not near the house now.  They appear to have moved on as more spring forage has become available and the temperature has risen, but we continue to keep the shed barricaded just in case one of them misses the good old days of occupying the outbuilding.  Although I do miss observing the little fellows and was thankful for that time, I am quite pleased to have the shed back again, and to not be continually stepping in nutria scat.


Nutria youngsters. Feature photo from our January 2016 post.

Various creatures have passed through this farm, or have stayed a while before moving on.  Some, like gophers, never leave.  There will always be gophers.  Many a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has been filched by gophers, happily counting the coins down in their burrows along with my potatoes.


Rainbow over the farm from earlier this year. Beautiful intense colors. I’ve never found a pot of gold, not once. I can hear the gophers laughing down in their burrows.

The days are steadily growing longer on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Spring arrived a bit early this year, sending forth shoot and bloom during the time Old Man Winter was still lurking in the shadows with his companion Jack Frost.  Old Jack waits for a clear night sky to paint the canvas of green landscape in silver. Ice crystals brushed across the land under the cover of darkness and low temperatures will deliquesce in the morning’s golden warmth.  I stand in awe of the brief moment of jeweled fire ignited by the sun.  Jack’s work is both beautiful and deadly.  The destruction of tender new life makes itself quite apparent by noon.  We will be set back somewhat, but barring another such visit, the plants will recover.


My test pinot vineyard. Most everything behind the deer fence was frost damaged to a degree, including all the pinot noir. For Annie at Animal Couriers – the marine-grade polypropylene rope in place of trellis wire. Test in progress!


Another view of the pinot vines and test trellis rope. Note leaf curl from frost.


Jack Frost nipped the potatoes as well.


The onions did not seem to mind!


The table grapes near the first line of orchard, outside the fence, had some protection from the trees and did not exhibit damage.

With the help of our friend Lyn, a total of 51 x 60 lbs bags of cement was mixed and poured by hand for the new greenhouse which will house grape cuttings and larger starts.


Cement work done and frame is up! Tied down to cinder blocks to keep the wind from taking it away for now.


Another view of the cement work and footings.


Temporary greenhouse on the porch for tomato and tender plant starts. I cover it with a second tarp at night for now.

Everywhere around the farm there are signs of spring.   A natural tunnel formed by an apple tree, fallen over but still living, provides a path from one area of the farm to another.  One of two old giant feral apples between the front and back lots.  Click on any photo to enlarge.


Apple tunnel, looking east into the back lot.


Same apple tunnel looking west out towards the vineyard. Best blossoms were on this side.


Old apple trees leaning towards each other like old friends conversing over the fence. Planted by the original owner, long passed away now. What stories they could tell!


The other fallen apple giant. Still living and producing fruit, as well as shelter for birds and wildlife.


Redbud tree, another small tree purchased from the Arbor Day Foundation in 2004. It has grown tall!


These irises fill the air with sweet musky perfume. See our previous post for more on this garden, and others.


Dutch iris and purple columbines. The columbine seeds came in one year with a load of rabbit manure.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is little Miss Nod, also known as Sister Bertrille, or The Flying Nod, as she likes to take a flying leap and land on my shoulder, which she says is a much better vantage point for viewing.  Needless to say, I wear heavy vest when she wants to go for a ride.  Miss Nod is the smallest of our Three Sisters cats, and one of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms.


Miss Nod, preparing her report.


Miss Nod, wondering if she can jump over the camera and land on my shoulder.

Her sisters Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken declined to be photographed this month, but indicated they will be taking turns sending in the feline news report later this year.  Photos of the trio can be seen on the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page, and throughout the archives starting with our February 2014 post, although Nod has requested an early family portrait including her mother Silvie and brother Tio Pepe for this post.  I have also included a few others, with Miss Nod’s approval.


Last full family portrait in 2014 with Mrs. Silvie and all four of her children. There are several suspects in the neighborhood for Mr. Silvie… Mrs. Silvie and her kittens arrived on our farm in 2013. We suspect there is a hidden sign out there directing homeless felines, as well as nutria, to our doors.


Miss Blynken would like brother Mr. Tio Pepe to hold still for the photo.


Mrs. Silvie and her son Mr. Tio Pepe have gone to live with a friend.

The Four Kittens

The early days. These youngsters will be three years old in August.

Miss Nod would like our readers to know that Mr. Lucio was unsuccessful at booking a flight to Tahiti, and has come through his dentistry with flying colors, although he is now missing one premolar.  Mr. Lucio declined to comment for this post, and grudgingly provided a couple of photos for today.


Mr. Lucio, still a bit sleepy this morning…


Mr. Lucio, starting his day with a good cleaning. He has some pretty furry feet, which he is displaying in this photo.

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 while I continue to work through some health issues and rest up.   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.

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

Thank you to all who have stopped by this site, offered their “likes”, comments and words of encouragement.  I will leave you with an old Irish blessing.  I do not know the origin of these words, but they are beautiful.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


One of the many rainbows over Salmon Brook Farms.


48 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2016

  1. Timothy Price says:

    A blooming beautiful bunch of photos. You got some great kitty photos in there. Are the cinderblocks enough to keep the greenhouse in place? Our winds would carry it off cinderblocks and all. I set 8X8 post in concrete and fastened the frame of our canopy to the 8X8’s to keep it in place. The wind rips the cover, but the frame stays in place.

    I see jack the ripper frost goes after your plants, also. Everything else looks nice and green and colorfully blooming. Nice rainbows. The gophers laugh because they steal all the gold. I love this Pearls Before Swine comic with the end of the rainbow:

    We’ve been getting cooler weather the last several days.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Tim, thanks for stopping by! The Sisters made great subjects in their kittenhood, but are not so inclined to sit still for the camera now. I get more nose photos than cat faces.

      The cinderblocks will work well enough for now, although it would be better to have it screwed into something. I thought about putting permanent mounting posts up, but decided to leave the “floor plan” open in case I change out the greenhouse at some point. The old one was held down by strapping it to the contractor’s temporary wooden stairs they used when this house was built. Nothing moved, even in the strongest wind here. I may build a heavy bench to go in there which would serve the same purpose. I can also strap it down over the ends of the greenhouse to screw posts off the cement pad. That would also ensure the canopy stays put.

      It’s been on he cold side here lately, although I hear a warming trend is coming for the weekend.

      I think I have seen that particular comic. Better to have a gopher on the other end… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful Spring post dear Lavinia, you are so nice. I really wished to be near to you and to say my Thanks and my love 🙂 and to give a big hugs… and to see your lovely cats… They are so beautiful, kisses for me too dear Lavinia. Spring is the most beautiful season… The flowers, trees… they are all dancing into the colours. Thank you, your Irıish wishes so nice too, Blessing and Happiness, Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by, dear Nia! I would love to meet you too someday. I have so enjoyed your posts and photos of your beautiful Istanbul and Turkish countryside, and especially the cats! All the best to you and your family from the cats and crew of Salmon Brook Farms. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Doug! Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! April and May in Oregon are beautiful, and cherry and blueberry season is coming up in June. We have both here on the farm, along with other tasty fruits and vegetables.

      Please give our best to our favorite Persian brothers Dougy and Andy. The cat crew here likes to hear about their adventures too! We look forward to your daily posts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We have a spring snowstorm here today. Lots of broken branches and occasional power outages….! Andy and Dougy are wearing their winter coats, so I doubt they were too concerned about the outage at our place. I was at dialysis, and the power went out there briefly till the hospital generator kicked in. Though it is possible to go without complete dialysis for a few days, (as I found out in March), it still causes anxiety to think you might not get the full four hours!

        Liked by 1 person

      • We missed the surprise April snowstorm this year, fortunately, as everything came out so early. It is hard on the trees when the branches are weighted down with new growth. Springs snows are usually wet and heavy, making things worse.

        I can imagine a power outage during dialysis would cause anxiety. It would for me! It is a good thing hospitals have backup power for times like that. All of us in your blogging community worried about you when you suddenly dropped out of sight in January. We worried about your cats Andy and Dougy too, and if anyone was taking care of them. We are glad to have you back in the saddle over at Weggieboy’s Blog at Many more tales of your adventures with Andy and Dougy to come!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘I am savoring this time of few obligations to anyone except myself, the farm, and it inhabitants.’ These words strike a chord with me. I am still savoring my own time but loving my little dips into the blogosphere. May the lovely blessings of this world be with you, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gallivanta, thank you so much for visiting! I am glad you are taking time for yourself, although I do miss seeing your posts from New Zealand. You are coming into winter there soon, and I wish you peace and blessings as you savor your own private space and time. It is something we all need on occasion.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sadly Jack Frost ruined a lot of our plants too… even my geraniums… that evil devil :o( I’m sure you can jump over the cam with one leap Miss Nod… and I would like to see the face of your human when you do it :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Easy, thanks for stopping by! Yes, Nod has done that, and I was bowled over backwards once trying to take a photo. There was a photo of the ceiling and a blurry cat.. 🙂

      Sorry to hear old Jack Frost got your plants too, including your geraniums. We are usually not out the woods here until May 30th. After that, Mother Nature turns on the blast furnace.

      All the best to you and your Mom and Dad. I am enjoying reading about your adventures, Easy! And please don’t eat anymore toads, my friend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by! And a Happy Spring to you, too! I’ll be sure to pass on your comment to little Miss Nod. 🙂 She reminds me of our old Klaatu, a neighborhood feral we fed for a number of years. He had the mixed eye color as well, and was a white cat. He was quite vocal, as is Nod. He died before she was born, and his tribute was my very first blog post. I was devastated when we had to euthanize him. I like to think his spirit came back in this little one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, sigh! Oh, swoon! Between your wonderful way of seeing what’s happening in your environment, and your truly special way of describing those happenings, your newsletter is a delight to read. Eg: “There will always be gophers. Many a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has been filched by gophers, happily counting the coins down in their burrows along with my potatoes.”
    Bless you, Lavinia, for being you, and for sharing your world with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Lavinia, thank you for this magical post. One of your best. Of course I enjoyed Miss Nod and everything else, but I love your beginning with the pear tree. I remember my Granny having a giant one in her back yard. She called it a “free will” tree. Which had to be explained to childhood me. It amazed me that the magnificent tree had not even been “planted.”
    I love that you have a whimsical sense of humor about the gophers and your potatoes. I got a kick out of your comments about the pot of gold.
    Blessings of the May, my friend. Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Teagan, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! The gophers seem to be permanent residents here, and provide lots of entertainment. Occasionally I catch a tunnel in progress, and it is interesting to watch the dirt being pushed up from below until they have a small mound going. They would probably make good characters for a child’s story. 🙂

      All the best to you and your books in progress over at Teagan’s Books!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You write so beautifully even when describing the awful effects of frost on your plants. I am sorry you have health issues to deal with – I hope they get better quickly. The photo of your blossoming crabapple is lovely as are all the rainbows on your farm. It would be lovely to find a crock of gold wouldn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clare, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Glad you enjoy the writing. My 10th grade teacher turned us on to creative writing, and I have never forgotten it, although I did nothing with it for many, many years. It is an enjoyable way to spend time, for me.

      My physical problems at the moment are a real nuisance, but not insurmountable. At least they are now being properly diagnosed, and treatment is in sight. They will pass.

      Oh, it would be so wonderful to find a crock of gold! I doubt the gophers will give theirs up though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello Lavinia! I really loved this post! You write so beautifully and have such a sense of humor which is something I really appreciate. I love seeing all the signs of spring on the farm although I am sorry you have had some late frosts to deal with. I especially loved the photos of the apple trees and the lovely tunnel. Apple trees are close to my heart because I grew up in an old house in England which had a big apple orchard. You are so lucky to have them! Of course I loved the photos of Miss Nod and the rest of the family – like you I seem to have one of those “signs” that tell animals where the best house is!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a lovely post Lavinia – I so enjoyed it. Your crabapple is smothered in blossom and looks amazing. Wonderful photos .. and those cats! I’m jealous. I have 2 cats and would love more. Isn’t Jack Frost a worry? It doesn’t take much for him to burn new growth. We are heading into winter and Mr Frost will be with us soonish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Yes, you are headed for winter now as we head into summer.

      I’m sure there are plenty of cat waifs needing neutering, spaying and a good home indoors down your way. You are in New Zealand, where I have read they are considered an invasive species by some, and have sparked quite a controversy. All our cats are indoors, spayed, neutered and vaccinated. If they arrived as wild ferals, they were eventually brought in, with the exception of Klaatu, who would not let us near him, and evaded capture until the end when he was too weak to escape. He was seriously injured by something out there, so badly that he had to be euthanized. There are several feral colonies in the rural area in which we live, which I am sure where most of ours have come from. I would like to see more low cost neuter/spay clinics, or more “Neuter Scooters” available. There are far more cats (and dogs) needing homes than homes to accommodate them.

      The Neuter Scooter:

      You may have seen this article already:

      On a lighter note, I look forward to your posts from that beautiful farm you live on! All the best to you and your family. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Lavinia .. I would love to have lots more cats, I just have to convince my husband. We do have 2 cats – one of which I got from the SPCA. It is all about desexing cats and dogs … and people being responsible for them. I think low cost spey clinics would be fabulous. I used to work years ago as a vet nurse so I’m very aware of the sad status of many unwanted animals. I wish I hadn’t heard of Gareth Morgan … I’m glad you enjoy my posts Lavinia, it is so nice sharing our place 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Julie, with your vet nurse background, you know what these poor animals are up against. I am sorry to have brought Gareth Morgan to your attention. I found him on a Google search once I became aware of the controversy around cats in New Zealand, and went looking for more information. Yes, it is all about neutering/spaying and being responsible.

        Yes, I do enjoy your beautiful posts, and look forward to them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry to hear Jack Frost made a visit. Some in our area have had whole areas wiped out for this season but we’ve (fingers crossed) come off relatively untouched. Our disaster this year is snails munching our babies 😦 We spend many evenings walking through the vines beating the sticks to knock the horrors off. Your rope bearers look great! Your photos are lovely and give a great impression of how far Spring has sprung for you. We do find it one of the most tiring times of the year trying to get everything ship shape for the heat of the summer but it remains my favourite season.

    You’re progressing really well with the greenhouse – looks like most of the back-breaking work is done.

    Thanks Miss Nod for the feline updates. All looking gorgeous as per!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Annie, thanks for stopping by! Snails in the vines? That’s terrible! We have native and non-native slugs here, but we have not seen them up in the grapes, not yet, anyway… The slugs are mainly a problem in the kale, strawberries and mustard. I’ll keep you posted on the rope bearers and how they work this year. They are relatively cheap compared to metal wire, and much easier to work with. I agree Spring is one of the most beautiful, but labor intensive times of year. I still have plenty of work to go.

      Miss Nod and the cat crew thank you for reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I absolutely loved all the flower photos, especially the flowering crab! it’s too bad about the frost damage, but it doesn’t look that bad in the photos, I hope everything survives and bounces back with some better weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jerry, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! We get nipped by frost here some years, and most of the time, don’t get many pears off of that tree as it is in the bottom of the bowl we are in, and it blooms early too. It looks as if the pear tree made out better this year. Rick and I went though the orchard and vineyards, and the pattern of damage was a bit odd. The bottom of the bowl which is quite exposed got the heaviest damage, as we expected. And then there seemed to be these odd “cold pockets” here and there. I know from working out there I can move through pockets of air of varying temperatures in different parts of the farm, so perhaps that came into play. The worst damage showed itself several days later. It is an odd weather year here. Iris should not be in bloom here until late May, and they started in late April! I lost 2 brand new peony starts. They did not rebound, although the other 5 nearby those are doing well. My black Beauty grapes, starts given to us by a friend gave us a few years ago, are damaged as well. Didn’t look that bad the first day! All the leaves have dropped off now. The wine grapes aren’t too bad, and will rebound. We had 80 degree weather yesterday, 70 today, and more rain coming tonight. It will be interesting to see how the birds and other wild creatures we see coming through respond to the “new” weather patterns.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Seville & Nerissa, welcome to the blog site! You are very beautiful kitties!

      We have a fairly mild climate here in western Oregon, and the apple blossoms came early this year on top of that. In spite of the frost a couple of weeks ago, I think we will have good fruit set.

      Purrs to you from all the cats and crew here at Salmon Brook Farms.


  12. The names! Oh the names! 😀 Who came up with those names for your kitties? I love them Lavinia! And they seem to be quite characters! Thank you for the beautiful Irish blessing at the end. I got a postcard with those same words from Ireland decades ago and I’ve kept it since. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields. Sharon x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Another delightful stroll through Salmon Brook Lavinia. It’s amazing how things were already on their way by April 29th. Your spring is really ahead of ours but we also had early warm weather. Most folks here wait for the May long weekend to plant up annuals in pots. But garden centres were crowded two weeks before that this year.
    Your feature photo was gorgeous on this post. The apple trees on your farm all seem to have delightful personalities, I like that. Especially the two chatting over the fence like old neighbours. How fun 😀 I also enjoy a patch of Iris in my garden. They bloomed so fast this year due to our warm spring. One day I admired them and the next time, they were done. But what a heavenly display they make.
    I can’t imagine what magic your camera holds to get all your kitties in one spot AND almost all looking at the camera at the same moment. Bravo ! They’re all adorable looking, especially the photo of Miss Blynken’s paw on her brothers head, so cute. Maybe she was saying, “Look out ! Mommy needs a photo of me!”….snicker.
    I should never (ever) consider any of my mini garden projects as ‘work’ when you’ve made by hand all those bags of cement and poured and finished the foundation for your greenhouse. Good grief woman ! You are a force. Thanks for all the news Lavinia, I always enjoy your posts even though it takes me a month to come by xo K

    Liked by 1 person

    • Boomdee! Thanks for stopping by and all the kind comments! Always good to see you in my mailbox, whenever that may be, and I know you are busy up there in Canada. Someday we shall meet!

      Oh I wish I could get the Sisters to hold still now! It is harder to get them to hold still these days. they are much younger than the rest of the cat crew, and still full of energy. Most photos of the older crew now are napping cats.

      This is the year of “catch up” outside in the gardens. That greenhouse project had been waiting for over three years, and it was about time I got it done. I was very tired, and had to pour in stages. I was lucky that Lyn was able to help with some of it.

      All the best to you, Boomdee, from cats & crew at Salmon Brook Farms!

      Liked by 1 person

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