Our feature photo this month is a of a cluster of wild blackberries that bloomed late and were attempting to ripen in the latter part of November. Any cane fruit found at this time of year has little to no flavor, and little to no hope of fully ripening. They did provide a colorful centerpiece amid the ambient tans and browns of autumn in this photo.
The apple tunnel, that magical gateway to the wild area of the farm, still has some very tasty apples hanging from it, although a few less now since this photo was taken on November 22nd. Formed by an old feral apple tree that fell over but did not die, this old tree is one of my favorite denizens of the back lot.
News from the farm
Another day retreats into the shadows on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. The high pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights on the barns and utility poles of neighboring farms are already glowing softly in shades of orange and greenish-yellow, colored stars on the hillsides as the light fades, and the still air of early evening has taken on a pronounced chill. After days of rain, mists and damp, the sun’s warmth and soft, low-angled light prevailed today. Only a few cirrus clouds are present to witness daylight’s end. In the southwest sky, a single, bright star appears on the celestial canvas of Maxfield Parrish colors. I stand in awe of the Universe, and in unity with all its creations.
For those readers interested in following up on our winemaking experiments from last month, I cautiously ventured into the refrigerator where the stock pot of nascent wine had been cold stabilizing and sedimenting. I ladled a sample into a glass, and was quite surprised to find that although light-bodied, as expected from late in the season Cascade table grapes, the wine actually had some character to it, a fruity nose reminiscent of golden apple and was perfectly healthy! Being a resourceful and thrifty soul without standard winemaking equipment, I ladled the remaining liquid into jars and returned them to the refrigerator to finish sedimenting. The brown goo left in the bottom of the stock pot consists of sedimented grape solids (grape lees) and sedimented dead yeast (yeast lees), which was promptly composted. Rick was served a glass after dinner tonight, for proper evaluation purposes. Our test wine, at roughly 10% alcohol fermented dry, was against all odds dubbed a successful “Cascade Kabinett”.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
The Three Sisters filed a report last month, and left this month’s report to our other correspondents Miss Abby (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Mr. Lucio, Mr. Marcus, Miss Hope, Mr. Nano and Willow, Calico Matriarch. Unfortunately, all our remaining correspondents listed above were found sleeping on the job, with nothing new to contribute this month.
Fortunately our Northeast Regional Correspondent had a report ready and waiting, so without further delay, we present Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent, and his report on late autumn in Connecticut.
The dreariness of November has settled upon us here in Connecticut. It is a transition month along with March where Mother Nature is caught between trying to decide if she should bestow upon us rain or snow, sun or clouds, warm temperatures or cold ones. It is a fickle month and one that I am not too fond of! December is closing in quickly and will hopefully be more consistent weather-wise, although last year it reached over 60 degrees on Christmas Day!
I spend much of my time now settled happily in my basket by the woodstove or snuggled into the sheepskin throw on the window seat.
On days where the temperatures are mild I will leave my creature comforts and venture outside to the “man cave” to watch golf with my master or up to the barn to lurk between the hay bales for rodent activity, of which, sadly, there is little due to the “Reign of Izzy”.
The ponies now look like woolly mammoths with their winter coats. They are arctic animals, so they love it when temperatures drop! They frolic and play, leaping in the air and rearing up, spinning and galloping through the pastures. They are bug-free and the heat of summer is long gone and so they are the happiest in these cooler months! I make sure to stay clear of their flying hooves, so I never enter their playground!
The vegetable garden has been put to bed with the picking of the last of the kale and the trimming back of the blackberry canes. The flower gardens are awaiting frozen ground before their perennials can be cut back and mulched. All the fragile houseplants have been brought inside to the sun room where they will spend the cold months basking in the weak winter sun. Speaking of sun, I am now looking forward to the Winter Solstice. It is my favorite winter event since I know the days will become longer and longer once we are past December 21st. Come February I will relocate my naps to the sun room couch and happily soak in the sun’s warmth there. I am definitely a solar kitty!!
My master has yet to put the snow blower on the tractor. I think he is afraid that if he does we will not have any snow this winter. I wish he would just put it on! No matter whether it snows or not, humans and animals all agree that the best place is by the woodstove. Sadie and Rosie always insist on front row seats
and Izzy stretches herself out on her back to capture as much heat from the stove as possible.
Even my master will stretch out in front of the stove with us making it quite a challenge for my mistress to get by without stepping on body parts!
Well, I hear my master making the fire now, so I think I will curl up in my fireside basket and warm my old bones. Stay warm all and may your winter months be peaceful and restful. All my best to each and every one of you.
– Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent.
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
We have come through our surgery that was scheduled for this month, and I look forward to December to focus on moving forward with my projects. It has been a difficult year health-wise, but I can say things are looking up now.
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