Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2016

Our feature photo this month is of one of our red roses from the garden in front of the house.  Sunlight coming in at low angle caught the backside of swirling red petals, detailing the ruffled skirt of this cheerful, flamboyant blossom.  Depending on the weather, we may have blooms into late October or early November, a final farewell to this year’s growing season.

News from the farm


The Apple Tunnel, formed when a very old and very tall apple tree fell over long ago, but did not die. The tunnel entrance is facing west in this photo looking back toward vineyards and house. On this side of the tunnel is the wild area of the farm, including an acre of hazelnuts.

Autumn has settled in on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Her arrival, unlike that of her maiden sister Spring, comes without the fanfare of golden trumpets and bright colors bursting forth from winter rain-damp soil and emerald green fields to meet her.  No, Autumn is a slow, stealthy traveler, preferring to keep her own counsel as she stalks the farm.  She is first seen out of the corner of one’s eye, cloaked in dessicated shades of yellow and brown, in the dry grass underfoot and stark white cirrus clouds overhead, foreshadowing much-needed rain.  The land and all its rooted and mobile inhabitants begin a slow shift towards the inevitable as they become aware of her growing presence.  Garden, orchard and vineyard race to ripen the fruits of their summer-long labor, and wildlife wait to feast on whatever they can before what all creatures know as the Hard Time sets in.  Jack Frost will not be far behind now, his icy brush painting the way for Old Man Winter.  It is the time of transition.


Strands of cirrus clouds marbled the sky today.


A sunset photo from last week. The depth and color of the clouds is beautiful to behold.

Plums have been dried and put away for the winter, and we are canning as many tomatoes as we have time for, since there are so many! The table grapes have done exceptionally well this year, and are providing us with copious fresh fruit. Since grapes can tolerate a light frost, we leave them on the vine until we are ready to pick.


Ripe Cascade table grapes, fortunately protected by netting.

Our pinot noir which was not bird-netted was completely stripped clean by quail.  I had postponed harvesting the pinot since there was a lot of uneven ripening this year.  This proved to be a mistake.  The quail, not seen all summer long, launched a stealth attack on the vineyard, where there were many grapes hanging from the vines only a few days before.  Caught red-footed among the vines, they ran quite a ways before they achieved lift-off.  No wine this year, but I will make some vinegar from the Cascade table grapes of which there are plenty, and are covered with netting.


I see a lot of applesauce in our future.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms


Abby “Eleanor of Aquitaine”. Holding court in her personal bookcase.

Our feline correspondent this month is our own Miss Abby, who would prefer to be known as Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Miss Abby would like readers to know she will be 15 years old next April, but has not let age slow her down!  Well, not much anyway.  She is sleeping in later these days, and enjoying that.  As one of the dominant female cats of the household, she feels it is her duty to keep the younger cats in line, especially Mr. Lucio whom she feels is always out of line, even when he is doing nothing.  They have established a truce during the nighttime hours so that all may sleep, mostly.


Lucio, Alpha male, 11 years old. Has learned, mostly, that Abby is one of the Alpha females and commands respect.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The end of all the medical testing this year is in sight, and I made a good bit of progress.  After what I hope will only be minor surgery later this fall, I should be back in the saddle.  I have put the studio back together again, and barring any unforeseen problems, will have something going soon, including some videos. I am looking forward to the dark time of winter as a time of creativity.


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


The white rose of remembrance in our garden. Planted in memory of my own mother, and shown here for all who are remembering someone today. May you find peace.


65 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2016

    • Easy! So good to see the silver-grey Weimaraner this morning! I love that apple tunnel too, and you would have a great time running around the farm. We could use you to protect the grapes!

      I am a week or two behind catching up with everyone, and I will remedy that this weekend. Looking forward to your adventures, Easy! A big hello to your Mom and Dad from all of us here. Tell them to give you a treat, one for each of your 7 stomachs. 🙂


  1. Oh NO – the rotten quail! a few tasty mouthfuls perhaps but not the whole crop 😦 You seem sanguine about it all and at least have lots of other lovely produce. We had our first crop off our babies last week. They managed a very feeble 2 tonnes but after a poor spring and complete drought in the summer, I’m rather proud they managed anything.

    Eleanor of Aquitaine certainly looks the part in that picture. It is so much easier when the clan knows who is top cat and it’s always the girl 😉

    Good luck with the surgery – great to hear of your progress. Look forward to seeing/hearing your creativity soon.

    Our jazz season came to an end earlier this month. Five concerts (us cooking for 130 people each time) were almost too much but the audience just want more! Our fourth season needs careful consideration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annie, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Oh those quail! Yes, they stripped the entire vineyard. This year has been enough work that I won’t cry this time, but next I will for sure. We are in heavy clay soil of the type called “Bellpine” where the pinot vineyard is located. We do know we need to get some manure and compost on the vines to increase their nutrition to get good wine, and I will look into getting a truckload delivered this fall. Glad to hear you got 2 tons from your vineyard in spite of the adversity of a poor spring and summer drought!

      Abby certainly does command respect, and can’t understand when Mr. Lucio won’t give it to her! Old Willow, the other dominant female who is “around 20 years old”, is a Force of Nature. All she has to do is give the Evil Eye from her perch. 🙂

      Glad to hear your jazz season went well. 130 people each performance is a big crowd! Good luck with next year’s concert series, and figuring out the balance point.

      I am looking forward to winter here this here on many levels. 🙂

      All the best to the Animal Couriers crew and their passengers. Looking forward to more of your travels with your passengers through such beautiful country.

      Liked by 1 person

    • GP, than you for stopping by and the kind comment! Oh, we have lots of apples. 13 apple trees, and not all of them produce in a given year, but there is always more than enough fruit for applesauce, apple crisp, apple this and apple that. And plenty for just plain eating! Soon the larger birds will start pecking conical holes in the tops of them as they hang from trees. The holes collect water. Those apples may look fine from below, but when one goes to pick them, one gets a face full of water! I can swear I have heard the birds laughing in nearby trees. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here you are GP! I pulled the netting off long enough to get the photo. The tree was about up to my knee when it was planted. It is now up to my waist. You can see the neighbor’s goats in the background that escaped earlier. We are working to keep deer and goats off of these trees until they are big enough to withstand wandering herbivores.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Brought tears to my eyes, Lavinia! Thank you so much. I’ve copied it for my own gallery and I’ve printed it out. Michael was quite the character, I’m almost certain his tree will prove be the same as it grows!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome, GP! Michael’s tree is one of 5 planted in a row there on our south border, all are in memory of someone. I gave all of them a good helping of good planting mix soil, horse manure and mycorrhizal fungi which will help them grow. I will post updates on his tree so you can chart the progress. They are growing fast!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael was always more concerned for others than himself, that will very appropriate! I feel closer to you than people here in FL, Lavinia – stay as you are forever!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, GP! You and your family always have friends in Oregon! I may be getting older, but I’m still the spirit of my younger self, a little bit different coming out of the box, as they say. My mother caught that on film. I thought my brother’s boy scout uniform was the coolest thing on earth. I called myself a “Bird Scout” 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • Kerry, thank you so much for stopping by and the kind comments! I am looking forward to winter this year, and a return to music.

      I am behind catching up with all of you by a week or two, and thank you for bearing with me as I have gone through the summer! 🙂


  2. Dear Lavinia, my eyes always looking for news from your lovely farm days. Your garden, flowers, fruits, trees and yes your lovely cats, I love them all. The apple tree tunnel is amazing, I try to imagine myself there 🙂 About your surgery, sending my positive thoughts and love, I hope and wish everything to be fine. Thank you for sharing with us, Blessing and Happiness, angels and the sun and the muse be with you all there, Love and Hugs, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nia, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I love the apple tunnel, the gateway to the working part of the farm and the wild part of it, where our visiting wildlife come from, or some of them pass through here. Thank you for all your kind, positive thoughts and love. Wishing you and your family, and all the kitties peace, joy and love. I look forward to reading about your part of the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Timothy Price says:

    I like that apple tunnel. Sounds like things are going well. The kitties look good, and it’s great you ar getting your studio back together and health in check. Best wishes for a creative winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tim,thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I do that apple gateway that leads to the back lot, and where the wild things are. I haven’t seen any signs of the nutria in a few months now. Hard to say if they moved on or became dinner for another wild creature.

      Yes, glad to be figuring out all the health issues and getting back to normal. I am looking forward to winter this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lavinia, I love the insight into your farm life. Although I live in the most highly agricultural county in my state and make good use of my local farm stands, farmers’ markets, etc. it’s not the same as living it. Enjoy your wonderful apples, grapes and tomatoes! And be in good health. Eleanor of Aquitaine indeed! I have one of those. She is the only cat at the moment and I fear what she might do to potential subjects. 😦
    Thank you for the rose of remembrance – you took me right to my dearest friend who passed on a few years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jeanne, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! We love living here on this farm. It has been good to us.

      Our Abby cat is a benevolent ruler, as long as the other cats don’t get within a certain radius. 🙂

      I am glad that the white rose helped you remember your dear friend. I had hoped it would bring comfort to whomever need it.

      I am behind a week or two catching up with everyone. Thank you all for bearing with me!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was surprised to see the quail among the vines as I had not seen any hanging about the farm earlier. Our main problem with quail in past years was that they were rooting about and scratching up plants in the garden, so we would roll up bird netting and put it down as a perimeter barrier specifically for them. They didn’t seem to like to walk over it. As far as the grapes go, somehow word always gets out on the bird channel about ripe fruit waiting to be plucked from the vine! The quail must have been the first to get the news this time. The ripening was so uneven in the pinot vineyard this year that I thought I might have a bit longer as nothing seemed to be going after the grapes. I was wrong! One never quite knows what Mother Nature will do from year to year.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This post started with the stunning beauty of the rose, but then I read of the trouble that you had when the quail gobbled down all of your pinot noir grapes, and I know that it took a lot of effort to grow them. I would be considering a few quail dinners for a while to thin the flock down a little. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jerry, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I am still learning how to take reasonable photos with that old Sony Cybershot. It’s a fun process.

      Being up in the Cascade foothills, there is always some critter here ready to help themselves to what they view is their personal pantry. We end up sharing a lot. We were fortunate not to see as many yellow jacket wasps this summer. I am not sure why their numbers were down in our area, but they can make harvesting plums and grapes difficult without getting stung. Wasps pass through the bird netting. Once they drill holes in fruit, honeybees join the raids. Two things they are short on here by late summer are water and nectar, and I have photos of honeybees and wasps feeding side by side on fallen fruit.

      The quail were a real surprise, as I had not seen them all summer. In other areas of the garden we roll up bird netting and put it as a ground level perimeter barrier around plants. They don’t like to walk on it, probably as their feet would get tangled up. Wild turkeys can be a problem for grape growers in this area, and friends have made many a turkey dinner from raiding birds. This year I did not get to purchasing insect netting, which would have taken care of birds and bees. I will have to do that, if I want any pinot in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I join with your other readers in sympathy for you after your visit from the quails. That is the trouble with sharing land with creatures – they want to share your harvest! I am so pleased you have put the studio together again – there is more hope in this post than in many you have written this year. I am sure you will be pleased to get your operation over with and to see the back of this troublesome year. I see your dear cats keep you busy and amused.
    With best wishes and love, Clare x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clare, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I will be pleased to have this year with all it testing, poking and prodding come to an end. I don’t know how things work in your country, but I am waiting insurance approval for what may or may not be the last set of imaging that needs to be done prior to surgery. Waiting is maddening.

      Those quail! Hadn’t seen them all summer, and now a huge flock! Well, I still don’t mind sharing the land with them, bless their little hungry beaks! 🙂 I will have to net the pinot if I want anything from that vineyard.

      Love to you and your family, Clare. Always good to see you in my mailbox!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank-you Lavinia. With the NHS we don’t need to wait for insurance approval but we often wait and wait for an appointment to see anyone!
        We are often disappointed and frustrated by the damage done to our plants by wildlife, but as you have said, our garden is in their natural environment and we are the interlopers so we shouldn’t really complain but learn to protect our plants the better.
        Take care and enjoy October xx

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Mrs. P says:

    What a nice post! Your red rose picture is stunning and I like the white one as well. I have recently transplanted a rose from our neighbors house to the project house. I hadn’t thought of it as a remembrance plant but it is quite fitting since my sister passed away earlier this year.

    Seems like you’ve got your hands full. I am envious but at the same time, listening to all the pests that come between you and your harvest, I am grateful for planning a smaller scale garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Andrea! The apple tunnel is a magical gateway, prettiest in spring and fall, in flower and in fruit. There are two ancient apples back there on each side of it. The second one fell to the north a couple of years ago, and is providing shelter for small creatures. The tree has continued to live as the roots did not entirely break, so it will stay there, as is.

      Here is another apple tree photo you might like. They look like old friends leaning towards each other. You can see the derelict hazelnut grove behind them.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. A delight to read – your writing is poetic at times! Fall is my favourite time of year although with our drought this summer we aren’t going to get the glorious colours we usually see. How fortuitous that the apple tree lived and now bows down low enough for you to pick the fruit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I love the flowers and flowering trees in spring, but I think I love autumn the best of all. Not too cold and wet yet, and lots of good things coming in from garden and orchard. Those old feral apples trees are tough souls. The tunnel tree appears to be some kind of pie apple. It never gets very sweet, but has good firm flesh and ripens later than the other varieties.

      I miss the fall colors of my native New England. Occasionally I see non-native maples planted somewhere that are so colorful, and I toy with the idea of planting some here. Our summers are so hot and dry though, it would have to be some drought tolerant variety. The native maple in my area is the Big Leaf maple, Acer macrophyllum. Although not colorful in fall, it has a beauty all its own.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by, and thank you for the kind comments and best wishes! Abby AKA “Eleanor of Aquitaine” is indeed an Abyssinian. The woman who gave her to us back in 2005 had rescued her from a cat show as a kitten. A lone kitten was sitting in a cage, apparently ill. Abby had feline herpes in her right eye, and the cattery owners were going to euthanize her, but decided to let her admirer take her home just to get her out of there. We were given Abby when she was 3 years old, as her rescuer had fallen ill and had to farm out her animals. Abby is blind in her right eye, but sees quite well with her left eye, and has not let her partial blindness stop her from enjoying life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Lavinia .. my cat Grace also has herpes of the eyes. We had them operated on a few years back to save her from losing her sight. Big op. I now put lubricating ointment in her eyes daily .. but she has her sight, which I’m thankful for. I bet Eleanor enjoys her life and all the love she gets from you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Glad to hear Grace came through her operation and has her sight! When we first got Abby, the entire right eye was covered in a bluish-white film of scar tissue. That has cleared a bit over the years, and one can see there is an intact eye behind there now. She does get artificial tears in that eye to help lubricate it. The vet thinks she may be able to see shadows and light with that eye, but she does not like other cats coming up on her blind side. Fortunately her left eye was not affected.

        Just read your latest post. Sorry about the chicken with bumblefoot and the sheep in the garden, helping themselves. Hope Dan the pooch is OK. Always something with our animal companions to make us worry and keep us busy!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful newsletter for September. Thank you, Lavinia and Rick.

    And a great harvest of tomatoes, grapes, apples, etc.! I must tell you that your photo of the rose is one of the loveliest I’ve ever seen. I almost reached my fingers out to touch the photo.
    A salute to Miss Abby AKA Eleanor of Aquitane. 15 years is nothing to sneeze at!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cynthia, thank you so much for stopping by and the kind comments! I am still learning how to take reasonable photos with that old Sony Cybershot. The lighting and conditions were just perfect at the time, the wind and my hand were still.

      I loved the film “The Lion in Winter”, and the history of Eleanor of Aquitaine. She lived a long life, especially for back then, and was a Force of Nature in her own right. Our Miss Abby is quite the regal little cat, and is still quite active for her age. She and Mr. Lucio sleep in longer in the mornings now, for which I am grateful. 🙂

      All the best to you and your family, and wishing you a beautiful autumn season!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jason, thanks for stopping by from

      The grapes are good, and really ripening up now and developing their sugar content and full flavors. I always loved my aunt’s wild concord grape jelly growing up. She gave everyone a jar for Christmas. I made jelly here one year, but we don’t eat much jam or jelly enough to warrant putting the time into making it. The plums are really great dried,and we put away a lot for the winter. The variety, which we think is called “Emperor”, is one that is commonly made into prunes commercially.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Baz, thanks for stopping by! If the weather holds, we might have roses for another month! We had great weather here yesterday, and I was out working in Archie and Marion’s garden, preparing it for winter and the eventual spring to come. More bulbs and daylilies going in there this week.

      You are in spring in your hemisphere now, and I look forward to more photos and tales from the Australian Outback. All the best to you, Janet and TomO, and keeping Merle in my thoughts and prayers.

      Readers, please visit Baz at XPLORE to see some really beautiful country!


  10. Inese Poga Art plus Life says:

    I love red roses, your picture is very successful.I have lived here and there in the countryside, it’s tough work and plenty of picturesque moments. I feel sorry for any harvest that gets damaged, but that happens, unfortunately.
    I love the description of fall, it was poetic and full of verbal pictures. I also find very interesting the genders of seasons because in Latvian “fall” and also “spring” as a season is a man: fall is a rich man that either rides on a horse or arrives with harvest loaded on a carriage. They are masculine in German, too, but “fall” and “spring” are woman in Russian. I love languages and it is interesting to find out something new.
    We have to support all arts in order the globalization and internet would not kill the live interaction and performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hmmm I’m mystified and miffed… that I was so late finding this newsletter and that WordPress never emailed it. I’ve heard many people say that their settings and follows have been mysteriously changed…
    I’m happy to hear you’re getting the studio back together. I hope the medical things turned out minor. The roses are glorious and the kitties cat-tastic! 🐱
    Love, Light, & hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Teagan, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I have also noted I am not getting email notifications on a number of blogs I subscribe to. Apparently I am not the only one! It is a sporadic problem, and hopefully WordPress is aware of it.

      As for me, I’m still waiting on the surgeon’s office, insurance company, and bloodwork results. I would rather have this all be done with myself! 🙂 All the best back to you, and hope your own downtime leaves you feeling refreshed and recharged.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello Lavinia, I’m on a mission to catch up with a few friends tonight and starting here. It appears you really had your work cut out for you with everything ripening at summers end. Hopefully, that went well and your pantry is overflowing with goodness. Winter gave us a wee slap down on Oct 4th, when we had a snowstorm of sorts. It was cold for a week after and it took a while to melt. Then the next weekend it snowed again. We were going to enjoy fall just then, so it felt very early. Since then, the weathers been a bit of a roller coaster. Today it snowed, tomorrow the forcast is 10C or 50F. I never know what to wear in the morning, ha.
    Lucio looks like a big fluffy push-over sitting there all relaxed and sleepy-eye’d. Are your kitty’s love bugs? Petals and Blossum can’t seem to get enough snuggles and love. If I had the time, I could carry Petals around the house all day long. She loves to be carried around, ha! Blossum loves when Jim picks her up more than me. He calls her sweet-pea and she follows him everywhere. I wish we could have more, but Jim says two princessess is enough for now. xo K

    Liked by 1 person

    • Boomdee! So good to see you! Snow in early October! Yes, that is a wee slap down from Old Man Winter. The weather has been a bit of a roller coaster ride here as well, and the plants didn’t quite know what to make of it all. October here was one of the wettest I remember. We usually don’t get that kind of cool and wet weather until November.

      Our kitties are love bugs, each in their own way, and Mr. Lucio is a big fluffy one for sure! Purrs like a John Deere tractor, sleeps on my head. Willow, the old Calico Matriarch, is not fond of being picked up or handled. She is the one we found almost dead in our yard 4 1/2 years ago. She has her physical problems, but is always glad to see us and get a head pet. She is really not fond of being groomed, which is more of a problem now as she is not grooming herself as much anymore. So I have to don gloves, and go at it a little bit at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

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