Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2016

Our feature photo this month is a colorful autumn view through the south row of table grapes.  The grass in the background has turned a lovely emerald green, as it always does at this time of year when the rains begin again.  Although we do not experience the vibrant colors of New England here except for where ornamentals and other non-native species are planted, our grapes, blueberries and hawthorns provide some red and orange hues to the predominantly green, yellow and browns of the season.

News from the farm

The days have grown noticeably shorter on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  As Autumn wearily trudges on towards Winter, her traveling companion Wind has grown restless.  Sometimes playful, sometimes angry, but always on the move now, driving the herds of wandering dark clouds before her, leaving a cold, fragmented sky in their wake.  She shakes tree, shrub and vine, demanding them to release spent leaves and overripe fruit.  Come January, she will call like a Banshee in the night, and I will wake and listen for a while, the sound of her wailing striking some momentary primordial feeling of dread.  Her siblings Storm and Mist visit much more frequently.  Mist is a shadowy figure, stealthily creeping in at times when the afternoon sun is warm and the air is still.  The breath of the mountains slides down into the bowl in which this farm sits, and I feel the cold dampness on my neck.  I turn to face this amorphous stark white entity, who soon envelopes me and all my surroundings.  I find myself ingested.  At night, her fingers curl and probe under the lights, attempting to find a way into the warmth beyond the door which shuts her out.  Waiting for me to leave the safety of the house, she knows I will eventually have to come outside for various reasons.  She will meet me on her own terms in this dark time of year.


October sunrise in progress over Salmon Brook Farms.


These intrepid little dandelions still bloom at this time of year.


A nasturtium plant snuggled up against the garage provides color as well.


The persimmon tree lost many leaves during the last storm.


Falling rain at sunset, Nature’s fine filigree of black locust tree against the sky.


And a rainbow to the east at sunset. Storm leaves a present for those who take time to observe.

Rick was busy rolling up netting today where all the grapes have been harvested.  We had a good year in the vineyards except for where quail and other birds robbed us clean in sections that were not netted.


Rick, busy collecting netting this morning. Those are pruning shears at his side, for those who might be wondering.


We still have table grapes!


And a fine patch of kale, liking the cooler wet weather.

Earlier this month I had Rick collect four trays of Cascade table grapes for me to experiment with, as out Pinot Noir vineyard had been stripped clean by Quail, Inc.  Sorted and crushed by hand, I decided they might at least make a good vinegar, as I had done back in 2014 when the vineyard was also stripped clean.   Feeling adventurous, I decided to add a packet of Red Star Epernay II yeast that had been in the back of the refrigerator since last fall.  I wasn’t sure if the yeast would still function, so I decided to find out!  The stock pot was happily bubbling away within a couple of days, and the juice fermented dry to about 10% alcohol, based on the starting sugar content measured in the initial grape must (freshly pressed juice) and post fermentation juice.  Cascade grapes on their own don’t make great wine, but they are sometimes used for blending.  The “wine” is sitting sur lie in the refrigerator, before I rack it off and decide what to do with this experiment.

For more information see


4 trays of Cascade grapes ready for crushing!


First load in the “press”.


A makeshift press. Any good colander will do!


Grape pomace – skins, stems and seeds ready for composting.


Grape must, or juice ready for fermenting. The wild yeasts present 2 years ago were not sufficient to go the distance, and so we had great pinot noir vinegar that year when acetobacter took over.

And then there are those unpleasant events that occur.  We woke to find a large buck had expired out in the back yard.  The ODFW was called, and they indicated there was nothing to be done unless the animal had died of gunshot wounds, in which case they notify the State Police.  Rick and I rolled the buck over and could not find any signs of bullet wounds, so we dragged the poor fellow out of the way.  A shallow pit was dug, and I covered him with dirt and sod as best I could.  He will return to the earth from whence he came.


John Doe, a handsome buck, expired out back from unknown causes. Not what one wants to find in their yard. Most likely cause according to ODFW was internal injuries from and encounter with other males during the rutting season. It is possible he was hit by a car, showed no external damage, and managed to wander back this far before falling.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Miss Wynken of The Three Sisters wanted to file a report this month for the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms, as she had plenty to say.


Miss Wynken files her report.

Miss Wynken would like readers to know she is well again, having stopped eating on us.   She was treated for a possible urinary tract infection, but we suspect the real culprit or at least an additional problem was her catching a front claw in something and ripping it out.  She received antibiotics, special food and lots of TLC.  The nail is growing back in nicely, she is eating and playing with toys again.


The lovely Wynken, all recovered.


Miss Nod, also known as “Sister Bertrille” or “The Flying Nod”. She is the most talkative and most adventurous of the Three Sisters.


Miss Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual. Studies people.

Miss Wynken would also like readers to know old Willow, the Calico Matriarch is doing well, and is still enjoying her window seat.  She is up there in age, although we are not sure exactly how old she is.


Miss Willow, Calico Matriarch. She is somewhere in the vicinity of 20 years old, we think. Only she knows for sure.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I am looking forward to the dark time of winter as a time of creativity, and getting fully back on my feet.  Stay tuned!  A few more tests and some surgery to get out of the way now.


Photo credit Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.


Album photo credit Sharon Mayock


Photo credit Rick Ross

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.


One of the last roses of autumn to survive all the recent rain. A sweet reminder of summer, and a promise of good things to come.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms


61 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2016

    • Hello Arlingwoman, thanks for stopping by! Yes, John Doe was a real surprise the other morning. Last year it was 2 young bucks up by the road that went down the embankment so neither the town or the county would pick them up. One’s choices are digging a hole, or dragging the dead deer to an out of the way place on the property to let scavengers clean them up. It is illegal to remove them from the property unless the town or county does the pickup. It is rutting season. That is life in the countryside, the other side of paradise. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Timothy Price says:

    Oh no! Not another dead dear. At least he got a decent burial. The first photo is wonderful, but all the photos are great. I really like the photo of you by Mike and Liz Santone. That looks like a pretty decent grape harvest, looks like some good wine will come out of that batch. The cats are looking good. Apparently we have had unusually warm and dry weather for the past couple of weeks, but that’s supposed to change on Wednesday.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Tim, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! The deer needs more covering. Looks like the neighbor’s dogs may have dug it out a bit. By spring it will be melted flat except for the rack of antlers. About 35 lbs of quicklime will help keep the smell down.

      Yes, that is a great shot by Mike and Liz. The lighting was perfect.

      The table grapes did really well, and at least those were netted. What you see on the table there is a very small part of the table grape harvest. We have roughly 138 pinot noir vines on top of the table grapes, and someday I hope to have the process down and make some really good wine from them. For now, experiments with whatever is available are in progress. The current experiment is with Cascade table grapes, which are sometimes used for blending with wine grapes. They are sweet and fragrant, but don’t make great wine on their own. This month I’ll rack off what I have made and give it a taste. Worst case it is cooking wine.

      The forecast here shows partly cloudy weather coming up this week, no frost predicted, yet…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Best of luck with the surgery; I hope you soon feel better afterwards. I’m sorry you found a dead deer in your yard. We found a dead dog fox a couple of years ago and thought that was difficult enough to bury! I am so glad Wynken is better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Clare, thanks for stopping by! Always good to see you! I am looking forward to all the medical testing being done with and any surgery as well. 🙂 That will give me something to celebrate at the end of this year.

      Yes, the deer was a bit bigger of problem to handle, but fortunately he had a good set of horns to pull him by. Speaking of foxes, I haven’t seen any of them around here in a while now, and I hope they are OK.

      It is good to see little Wynken playing with her toys again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So good to catch up with your news, today. Your wind sounds as unruly as the spring wind we have at the moment. It howls round the house, and sets my teeth on edge. Sending lots of good wishes for your health.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gallivanta, thanks for stopping by and the best wishes! Wind is quite the entity, no matter where in the world she blows.

      Looking forward to seeing your more of your gardens in spring, and hearing your news from New Zealand. Wishing you all the best. And please do give little Jack a pat on the head for me.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Musiewild, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! It is a pleasure for me to try to find words to describe this beautiful place we live in, and the cats always have something to say too. 🙂 I look forward to your own posts, and have always come away learning something new. The Scottish Wildcat was a new one for me. I did not know they existed, and seems their population is in danger, with fewer than 100 individuals left.


  4. Herman says:

    Hi Lavinia! As always, I really enjoyed reading your latest post. But I felt a bit sorry for John Doe, though…
    The table grapes look very delicious, any leftovers? Glad to see all the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms are doing well, especially Miss Wynken and old Miss Willow. Mr. Bowie sends his regards to the crew out there!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Herman and Mr. Bowie! Thank you for stopping by, and I would love to send you grapes if I could! I will miss all the fresh fruit come winter, but it won’t be long before that passes too, and it is spring again.

      That was very sad about the deer. Such a beautiful creature.

      All the cats and crew here send their warmest regards to you and Mr. Bowie. May you both have all the cat treats, vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate and espresso your hearts desire this season. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Interested to hear what you decide to do with the must. Burying that deer must have been very hard going but at least the rains had come and the ground wasn’t like concrete.

    Thanks Miss Wynken for the update on you and your feline companions. Touchy to lose a claw, can quite understand why you were off your food. Glad you have Miss Willow keeping a matriarchal eye over you all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Annie, thanks for stopping by! Yes, the soil was not a hard brick, but I started hitting water. I will need some additional soil to help cover him for the winter, and should get the quicklime on him as well.

      Miss Wynken had us worried for a bit,but she is back playing with toys, using the scratching post and running about. And lots of purrs now too!

      Miss Willow has adjusted to life without Gladys, her elderly human companion. She was so sad for many months, but she has continued to eat, and we think we have her chronic urinary tract infection problems under control now. The vet said she has a congenital defect where the neck of her bladder does not close all the way, and she leaks urine when she sleeps. She is prone to UTIs. I do a lot of laundry…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi GP, thanks for stopping by! Yes, poor John Doe. It was sad to see such a large, magnificent animal come down that way. This past week has been crazy with one thing or another, including the deer, and I have a few posts of yours to catch up on this week. Your site has helped me understand what my own father went through in the Pacific during WWII.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am sad too about John Doe, dear Lavinia. I can’t believe how passed the time and autumn is going to be end, winter will be soon. The first snow was seen in our region, I mean in Marmara region. But for Istanbul not yet. Today it was cold for me. I love your cats and I am so glad to hear the good news too. You know my heart with you always, Good Luck for your surgery. The grapes seem so beautiful and so delicious. Good work. Thank you dear Lavinia, I miss to hear your news 🙂 Blessing and Happiness to you all, Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nia, thanks for stopping by! Yes, this year has gone particularly quickly, and winter is just around the corner. I think about you in your corner of the world, and hope there will be a long-lasting peace for all. Your photos and stories of your beautiful Turkish homeland are a treasure, as are you. I have come to know better and appreciate another part of the world though your lens and your words.

      All the cats and crew here send their best to you and the cats of Istanbul. I love those photos of little Bobo, Mrs. M and Mrs. G and their kittens. Blessings and happiness to you too, dear Nia!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know feelings and thoughts same for me too, for you 🙂 dear Lavinia. About peace, ah! How I wish, but not seems possible. I don’t watch and read any news, politically everything goes badly. You are welcome and Thank you again, dear Lavinia, as always you are so nice. Love, nia

        Liked by 2 people

  7. The grape leaves actually have a much softer, more subtle beauty than those flaming trees elsewhere! I could live with that.

    As sad as John Doe’s demise is, it is touching that you gave him a return to the earth. In the wild, all sorts of creatures would have fed on his body, sustaining their lives. Nature is an amazing process, though. Soil organisms will make good use of his body just the same.

    I enjoyed the updates on the kitties, of course, and thoroughly enjoyed the photos of the harvest. I look forward to hearing how the experiment turns out!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Doug, thanks for stopping by! If you have ever seen a large vineyard expanse in autumn, it can look like a field or hillside of gold. I will try to get the wine racked off by next post so I can let you know how it came out! 🙂

      John Doe was a magnificent animal. I wish I knew for certain what killed him. Hunters sometimes don’t get a clean kill and the animal escapes, only to die elsewhere. That was not the case here.

      The cats & crew all send their warmest regards to you, and Doug & Andy, our favorite Persian brothers. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I always enjoy your updates and this one was no exception. I hope that everything goes well with your health plans and you are back in full working order soon. You are right that there is nothing to beat live music.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Tootlepedal! Glad you enjoy the updates. My surgery is now scheduled for next week, and I am hoping it takes care of things.

      Your Langholm, Scotland is a very beautiful area rich in history, and I hope I will visit that part of the world someday. I have enjoyed all your updates and photos of Scottish paradise. 🙂


  9. Dear Lavinia,
    First off, I’m miffed at WordPress for not emailing me your post. They can’t use the spam folder excuse because I always check that. I’ll redo the process and hope I’m not late next time. 🙂 ❤
    I'm glad the tests finally got done, and sending you good thoughts and healing energy, my friend.
    Also happy that Wynken is doing well now, and the other kitties too. Crystal is good now as well, even with two big "noise events" on Halloween. I'm doing National Novel Writing Month… So on with it. Light and hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Teagan, thanks for stopping by! Always glad to see you here! More than a few bloggers, myself included, have noted that WordPress is not always sending out the email notifications we expect, and it is definitely not a case where they end up in SPAM. They must be having some sort of problem there, which will hopefully get remedied soon.

      Good to hear little Crystal is doing well, even with the Halloween noise events. Our kitties can sure keep us busy worrying about them.

      I finally caught up with you last night, and noted your new book in progress. Wishing you all the best. I know it will be a great one!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I really enjoyed this interesting post and the wonderful picture you paint with words. Fascinating to learn about your grape harvest. So sad about that beautiful deer. I hooe all goes well with your health.
    Live music is alive and well here and my husband plays his part with regular gigs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Chloris, thank you for stopping by and the kind comments! Glad you enjoy the writing, as I enjoy creating these posts.

      Harvest season is always a bit different year to year, as it seems Mother Nature always has some sort of surprise in for us. We have not had a frost yet this year, which is quite unusual.

      The poor deer was a beautiful creature in his prime. The Department of Fish &Wildlife people told us the males can mortally injure each other during rutting season, which we are in now. There are sometimes internal injuries one cannot see any signs of externally.

      Good to live music is alive and well in your area, and your husband is regularly playing gigs!

      I am slow at catching up with everyone with all that is going on right now, but I promise to do so this weekend.


  11. I absolutely loved your descriptions of the many facets of the ‘breath of the mountains’ Lavinia – gorgeous, vivid imagery. All of the cats are beautiful but Miss Wynken is particularly striking, I’m glad she’s feeling better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hello Andrea, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I enjoy creating imagery with words, and I am glad you enjoyed it too. Your own writing is beautiful, and I am so glad Cynthia Reyes brought you to the attention of her readership.

      We have 9 kitties here, and all of them are beautiful, but Wynken prefers to be known as “Wynken the Magnificent”. I will let her know she has another fan. 🙂

      I am slow at catching up with everyone, and promise to do so this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by from Frog Pond Farm in New Zealand, and thnak you for the kind comments! Email notification is not working consistently of late, and I notice you have some posts out I haven’t seen yet. I’ll hop on over!

      Yes, the deer was a real surprise. Every year we have males battling it out with their antlers during rutting season. It can sound like clicking bones at night in the dark. This is the first year we have seen a casualty, which appears to be due to internal injuries.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Suzanne, thanks for stopping by! Yes, there is usually a lot going on here. I only post once a month, and it used to be sometime within the first 2 weeks, although that seems to have changed to the last few days of the month this year.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Inese Poga Art plus Life says:

    I love your newsletters, so much nice information there. That’s also stuff which I never knew because I have not seen grapes growing in the backyard and also have no idea how to make wine. Cats are lovely, the white fur so clean. I wish you lots of listeners, it must be great music!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Lavinia, you have outdone yourself in describing Autumn with her traveling companions. I could practically hear – and see – mist snaking herself under the door. I am sorry about the buck you found on your farm. A number of years ago, a doe came running at high speed out of the woods at night and into my car. She’d passed away by the time I got the trooper to come back, but like this buck, there wasn’t a mark on her. It’s very sad.
    Best of luck with your music (from an old folkie at heart.) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jeanne, thanks for dropping by and the kind comments on the writing! I have enjoyed your posts as well, and look forward to reading them.

      I’ve been amazed at the number of deer that run into cars. He was way back from the road though. Ether he was hit an made it a good ways back, or it was internal injuries from sparring. We’ll never know.

      And thank you for the good wishes on the music!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. How curious and sad, about the buck that died mysteriously in your yard. It can’t be hunger –wrong time of year, right? Hmmm….
    Please thank Miss Wynken for her update – glad to hear things are going smoothly on the feline front. And on the vineyard front.
    But I also wanted to say how much your beautiful writing moves me, Lavinia. Wow. “As Autumn wearily trudges on towards Winter, her traveling companion Wind has grown restless. Sometimes playful, sometimes angry, but always on the move now, driving the herds of wandering dark clouds before her, leaving a cold, fragmented sky in their wake. She shakes tree, shrub and vine, demanding them to release spent leaves and overripe fruit. Come January, she will call like a Banshee in the night, and I will wake and listen for a while, the sound of her wailing striking some momentary primordial feeling of dread. Her siblings Storm and Mist visit much more frequently”. And of course, there’s more like that. Wonderful and wonder-filled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cynthia, thank you so much for stopping by and the kind comments on the writing. I feel quite honored to have these words from you, and it encourages me to achieve more than what I am. You are a kind and caring mentor!

      Miss Wynken is doing quite well, and sends her warm regards along with the rest of the cat crew. Poor old Seabisquit the Subaru is not feeling as good today, and goes into the shop tomorrow morning. I believe it may be the neutral safety start switch. I am hoping that is all.

      The buck in the back yard was a real surprise. The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife thought it may have been injured by a car, or in a fight with another male deer. Sometimes there are no obvious external injuries, but the deer has bled to death internally.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jason, thanks for stopping by! Yes, finding the buck was a bit distressing. So sad to see such a magnificent creature dead, and it was not easy moving him.

      Little Wynken is doing quite well now. Playing with all her toys and chasing her sisters about!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2018 | Salmon Brook Farms

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