Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2017

Our feature photo is of a particularly beautiful sunset on January 3rd, and our resident black locust tree once again made a fine winter display.  The sky was on fire, and in the closer view below, appeared to be emanating from a neighbor’s conifer.  Click on any photo in these posts to enlarge.


I almost rejected this photo for being too dark, but decided I liked the visual effect of the dark tree against the last rays of the sun on the cloud cover. Nature provides the most beautiful light shows on Earth.

News from the farm

January arrived on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, shivering under a thin covering of snow.  I have hope that this young and impressionable New Year will bring peace and reconciliation as it develops and matures.  The first chapter is already coming to a close, yet there is still hope. The rest of the story is yet to be written, the final chapter dependent on the actions of us all.  It rests in our collective hands and hearts.

Wet and rather sticky at 32 degrees, new-fallen snow created rhythmic sounds of compression underfoot as I moved about.  Birds actively scratched about for seed in the early morning light, coming and going with purpose.  The morning cloud cover was not uniform, sporting some thin areas with blue behind them.  More dark grey wanderers from the south and west soon joined the parade, filling in the voids.  Somewhere above, the sun was shining, although we never saw it that day.  Daffodils, which had grown and formed buds back in December and threatened to bloom at Christmas, had chosen to remain in stasis, defiantly waiting out Old Man Winter.


Daybreak on January 1st. The farm in snow.


Blueberry bush still sporting some ice under the snow on January 1st.


Daffodils in snow on January 1st.

Between December and January, we experienced a prolonged cold, allowing snow and ice to linger for a while.  Another storm on the 7th transformed the farm into a monochrome snow globe as large, heavy flakes descended from a low, uniformly silver-grey sky.  For a short time, we lived inside yet another frozen kingdom, designed and built by the reigning monarch of the season, but not meant to endure.  The enchantment only exists now in mind’s eye and stored aural history, and to a lesser extent, in digital format.


A monochrome snow globe. Early morning light.


Our patient resident black locust tree posing for the photographer.


East view of the January 7th snow globe.


Taken through the window. The quail were quite wary of me holding anything in my hands, even though I was inside. Left to right: Towhee, California Quail and what I believe is a Junco on the right. Snowstorm on January 7th.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our brother and sister resident feline correspondents Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope agreed to file a report, with the help of the farm’s photographer and chief gopher hole inspector.  This sharp-eyed pair will be 10 years old this summer, and have come to know well the farm’s seasonal rhythms through their constant peering out of windows, accompanied by copious note-taking, over the years.  Without further ado, we present Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope, Resident Feline Correspondents of Salmon Brook Farms.


Resident Feline Correspondents Mr. Marcus (left) and Miss Hope (right), lounging in their basket this morning.

January is normally a season of rest here on Salmon Brook Farms, a time to watch birds, sleep, read and reflect on the past year as well as the new one underway. Seed catalogs are of particular interest, and are carefully scanned for favorite old varieties as well as new ones to be tested this year in the garden.  The order was placed and arrived promptly.  With the exception of the wrong variety of corn being sent, all was in order, and the company will now send the correct corn variety known as “Top Hat”.


Moss and lichens weathering out the winter out back near the apple tunnel.

Life quietly waited in every corner of the farm as the days grew perceptibly longer.  Lichen, moss, dandelion, daffodil, wild garlic chives, small shoots and creatures large and small grew bolder as the days passed and snow and ice retreated. 


Winter dandelion keeping a low profile. They will bloom here and there in protected places about the farm all winter.


Moss growing on the north side of an apple tree.


The first daffodil bud opened January 29th.

Our photographer’s excursion to the back lot revealed evidence of creatures that regularly pass through or live somewhere in the wild areas of the farm: gophers, deer, feral cats and nutria.  Gophers have been particularly active now that the ground has thawed, and one animal has chosen to leave his own mark on top of the gopher hole.  We suspect that the resident of the gopher hole met with foul play.  Deer are always lurking about, leaving plenty of droppings of their own, a telltale sign they have been feeding out back.  Surprisingly, it appears at least one nutria has amazingly survived the prolonged cold, as evidenced by the presence of their characteristic scat.


A typical gopher mound. Activity has increased with the lengthening days and softer ground.


Another creature, perhaps a feral cat, has left their calling card on a gopher mound. The resident gopher was possibly the victim of foul play. Or perhaps the presence of soft, crumbled dirt was attractive to whomever left their scat.


Evidence of surviving nutria.


The deer have also been grazing out back, leaving evidence of their presence.

Many sunrises have come and gone here on the farm during our time.  We find each one unique, each noteworthy in it own way.


Sunrise January 27th.


Sunrise January 27, view a bit further south. The jagged line of conifers make an interesting silhouette against the dawn sky.

As the day closes, we wish our readers a pleasant evening, warm blankets, good food and company.

– Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope, Resident Feline Correspondents reporting from Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page


The new year is already flying by!  I am still working on projects which are long overdue.  Until I can post some of that work, The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on YouTube.  Anyone wishing to see the entire track listing and stories behind the songs should visit my personal page under MUSIC in the menu at the top of this post.   Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked.  Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.  See

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


I would like to mention fellow musician, author and editor Lorraine Anderson, who posts twice a year at the solstices. Please visit Lorraine at


70 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2017

    • Arlingwoman, thank you for stopping by and the kind comments! That tree is a wonderful photographic subject, no matter what the season. It never complains and always looks beautiful. As for the gopher, we may never know his fate. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Susan says:

    Hi, Lavinia. You know I love the sky images, and I am so glad you chose the one you almost passed by as the featured image! All are beautiful, but I particularly enjoy the drama of that particular one.
    I still have one tiny patch of snow/ice in my yard from several weeks ago. Today we were in the high 50’s, so I suspect that will be gone soon. My daffodils are just now peeking their little green heads out. It is way too early to prune roses here, but some are threatening to leaf out. I’m going to try to cut out the dead and crossing branches while I can still see them, and then prune in April. But, the hope of Spring is definitely in the air here.
    Of course, I enjoyed the pics of your cats, as well as reading about your enjoyment of seed catalogs and getting an almost-right order!
    And, what I enjoyed was hearing your voice! You sound very close to what I had expected, and the song is wonderful. Thank you for posting it here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan, thank you for stopping by and the all the kind comments! Glad you enjoyed the post, photos and the music!

      I think we made it into the low 50s here today,and had a beautiful armada of altocumulus at sunset this evening. The western skies are so wild and colorful compared to what I remember from back east.

      Readers, please visit Susan at Susan is a retired physician, author and professional photographer from New Mexico.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Timothy Price says:

    I love the sunsets. Many of the photos look cold. Brrr. Ferrel critters. We get raccoon and porcupine poop around, but surprisingly the cats that hang around the property don’t seem to use the many gopher mounds. Sounds like all is well on the farm.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Lavinia, Good Morning, and Have a nice day There is sun this morning in here but very cold. Snow seems there and beautiful photographs. Gopher(s) should be so lovely, do the cats know them? Yes, Marcus and Hope, I loved them, it s amazing photograph, as if they say, let us to sleep please…. Thank you dear Lavinia, my surprise still on the process and soon I will send, I will inform you. Have a nice and enjoyable new month, love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nia, thank you for stopping by and the kind comments! The snow has disappeared here, but we can get more snow between now and April, but that is unusual. Your weather in Istanbul seems it has been colder than normal, and I hope the cats there are finding warm places and plenty of food. I love your stories of Mrs. G, Mrs. M, little Bobo. I am behind on catching up with everyone’s blogs, and hope to do so this week.

      No worries on the surprise. Take your time. Having come to know you, and learn more about your part of the world, has been the greatest pleasure. So many good people all over this Earth! I hope peace and tranquility will eventually come for all this year.


    • The gophers – some of the cats like Nano, that used to be outside, know them. They used hunt and eat the gophers. Gophers are hard work to hunt, and can be quite dangerous prey. The cat waits by the gopher hole, sometimes for hours until the gopher emerges. The cat launches straight up into the air, and comes down o the gopher’s back. The cat gets one chance, then the gopher will turn and fight with razor sharp teeth that can easily cut through roots.


  4. your photos are great!!! I agree with you normally january is the month for rest and for making plans for the next months. I always enjoyed it to look through seed catalogs with my grampy, I ordered the weirdest things and I counted the days to plant it in my part of the garden…. it was the part what looked like a nuclear test site, because nothing of the exotic stuff grew there :o)))

    Liked by 1 person

    • My favorite Weimaraner people! Thanks for stopping by from France and the kind comments! I am behind on catching up with you all, and hope to do so by the end of the week. I am glad you took on little Phoenix, who is not so little anymore. They grow fast! Your dear Easy will always have a place in my heart, and flowers in my garden.

      Seed catalogs are wonderful things in late winter, and I bet you and your grandfather had a great time looking at them together. I love going through and thinking about what we might try growing. We make mistakes with some plants, others don’t seem to like the climate or soil. Some do really well; those are repeat orders.


    • JebusandAndrea, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments. And thank you for listening to the music!

      We don’t see a lot of snow or ice here on the farm, and it was a wonderful opportunity to play with the camera.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good to see the signs of spring in your part of the world. Things are beginning to wake up here in south-west England, but are not as advanced as around your way. Good also to see that resident cats have been persuaded this month to comment and not leave it to foreign feline correspondents!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Musiewild, thanks for stopping by from England! The western part of Oregon where I live generally has mild winters, even though we are up in the Cascade foothills. I am always curious to see what is going on over there in terms of your countryside and weather. From what I can tell from your accounts, Tootlepedal’s blog and others over there in the U.K., your climate is a bit cooler than ours, but I am amazed at what is still blooming over in Tootlepedal’s area. Our climate here has been changing, and rather unpredictable.

      I was able to wake up the cats for a short time, long enough to go over their notes and file a report. 🙂


    • Jill, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! We get a lot of them here too, as well as towhees and chickadees. The weather was a bit rough on them all this winter, so I put out extra seed. The quail can come in a clean up quite a bit of seed, and are good at scratching down through the snow cover.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Doug, thanks for stopping by! I am behind on catching up with everyone else, and hope to be by the end of the week. I generally see sunrise every morning. Cat stomach clocks will not be denied! 🙂

      Give my best to the my favorite Persian brothers Dougy and Andy. I’ll be over shortly to see what they’ve been up to this week! Keep your fingers crossed all the bulbs I planted made it through the crazy weather. I’ll have some photos of Elbert’s garden this spring.


    • Kerry, thanks for stopping by! Daffodils normally start pushing up through the soil in December, and start blooming in more protected locations by January, as our winters here are milder than our native New England. Our weather has been unusual this season, and they were quite confused by it all.


    • Chloris, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! That black locust tree is beautiful no matter what the season. In summer it sports long clusters of creamy scented blooms that bees love. We used to have two of those trees. The tree that was a close companion of the one in the photo came down across Rick’s van, not 15 minutes after he got home, in a very unusual windstorm back in 2006. I watched the wind spin the tree around, uprooting it. Amazing and frightening to watch as locust wood is hard and heavy. It was December and the leaves were already down. Nature is both beautiful and violent.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful photographs of sunset and sunrise. It is also good to see your farm in the snow and ice and to know that all is well with you. You have plenty of visitors to your farm and like us, it’s only by the calling cards and footprints they leave behind that we know that some of them have been there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clare, always so good to see you in my mailbox! Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments. We don’t normally get so much ice and snow, but this year has been unusual, and it was a good opportunity to play with the camera. All has melted now, and we have been in the 40s. We could still get a surprise storm or two between now and April. I am surprised after all the very cold weather in the 20s that we still have signs of nutria.

      Readers, please visit Claire at “A Suffolk Lane”, a blog about her life in rural Suffolk, England. So many beautiful photos and descriptions of life in rural England.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Lavinia, Let me first comment on the song you placed on your site. Not only do you play beautifully, but your guitar has a most beautiful sound. What kind is it? I didn’t expect any vocals – could have just listed to the guitar – put really enjoyed your singing as well. (I am an old folkie, after all.) And your playing reminds me of all the albums – guitar and folk – that I can no longer listen to as my turntable needs repair, though I suppose it’s all online now. Thanks for sharing more visions of your farm … just lovely. As for birds, we don’t have any towhee here that I’m aware of. Juncos, definitely – so cute – and quail, probably in more forested areas. Nature is such a gift; thanks for the photos of her beauty out your way. Jeanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeanne, always good to see you stop by! And thank you for the very kind comments! There were four different guitars I used on making that CD. “The Keepsake” was either done on the 6-string Martin HJ-28 or the hand-built 6-string I made in class. I am pretty sure I used the Martin HJ-28 for that one, the guitar in the photo below:

      The tuning is AADEAD, where the 6th string is tuned to “A”, a full octave below the 5th “A” string. It has a wonderful other-worldly sound, and I like the Martin tuned down to open D or other variants. To me it doesn’t sound as good in standard tuning. Having small hands (I am leaving myself open here with that one) :-), open tunings are much easier for me to work with. They also provide an interesting palette of sounds.

      Towhees – I remember them from Connecticut. It is a different variety of towhee out here, as well as the juncos and quail. You mentioned being able to see the Delaware River in one of your posts, so I did a quick check. You should have the eastern towhee in your area. You live in a very beautiful place, and I have enjoyed reading about it in your posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Now Lavinia, you are talking way over my head when you discuss the fine points of tuning. 🙂 My gifts are of the visual nature, and although I have a good ear, I don’t have any talent when it comes to playing a musical instrument. But thanks for the explanation. Someone I was very close to a number of years ago played both acoustic and electric. A Stratocaster on the latter and a Martin on the former. He was very gifted – I never knew what he did, but he could evoke those gorgeous sounds as you do.
    The link you have above is actually in the state of Delaware. Though I am next to the Delaware River I am in northwest New Jersey. I’ll have to check my bird guide, but I do know birds fairly well, and if we have towhees here I’ll have to see whereabouts they might be.
    Have a good night!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Lavinia. I almost lost the email for this post. So for a moment I became the White Rabbit, “Oh dear! I shall be too late!” (Now if I can make the long ears and puffy tail go away…)
    What a lovely newsletter. I enjoyed every word and photo. Marcus and Hope are so beautiful. 🐱 Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sylvia, thanks for stopping by and all the kind comments! More daffodils are opening up now, and the snowdrops have finally come up as well. Those kitties do a great job,and know how cute they are. 🙂

      I am behind on catching up with everybody, and hope to visit everyone by Sunday. I enjoy reading about your life in Florida as well as your various travels around the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Kev says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this post, Lavinia. The photo’s are wonderful… especially you adorable cats Ours will be six years this year. I wish you all the best of success with your music this year. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you Kevin! Thank you for stopping by, the kind comments and best wishes!

      Our youngest cats, The Three Sisters, will be 4 years old this year, the eldest is Willow, who is somewhere in the vicinity of 20. We are not really sure. The rest are centered around 10 and 12 years old.

      Wishing you all the best this year with your own writing and music. Always good to see you in my mailbox!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I sure do! Almost forgot to mention Abby cat, who will be 15 in April. My Abby girl, who prefers to be known as Eleanor of Aquitaine, would not be pleased if I left her out of the line up. With 9 of them, it is easy to do. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kev says:

        It most certainly would be most improper to even suggest such a thing, I’m sure. Not to worry, if ever queried, I should be apt to reply that you most certainly did highlight the qualities of your most eloquent Eleanor of Aquitaine. (Phew! I think that covers it!) 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by from Frog Pond Farm in beautiful New Zealand!

      The gophers here are pretty feisty and good at defending themselves. I have watched feral cats hunt them, and it can be dangerous for the would-be predator. My guess based on our location, the burrow probably belongs to a Camas or a Western Pocket Gopher.

      Readers, please visit Julie at Frog Pond Farm in New Zealand, Right now they are still in summer, and it is still lush green and very colorful with all the blooms. Julie is an excellent photographer and documenter of the beauty of New Zealand, Land of the Long White Cloud.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Inese, so good to see you! Thanks for stopping by. Our winters here are normally “green” and relatively mild. This winter has been an exception with prolonged cold. Plants seemed confused. The daffodils were up and had buds in December, but did not do much until recently.


    • Good to see you Annie! Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope send their best to you and the Animal Couriers crew!

      I have opened up a problem ticket with WordPress, but haven’t heard from them yet. I fished you out of my SPAM folder this morning, and I have ended up in SPAM recently on some other blogs for no apparent reason. Askimet goes on a rampage every now and then. I think the last time this happened was 2 years ago. I did learn elsewhere that WP quietly made changes recently due to other problems, so this may be fallout from that.


    • Andrea, thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! Always a pleasure to read your blog as well. Your writing and photography are beautiful, and I encourage my readers to stop by your part of the world, sit back and enjoy your posts. Your words are like being there.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. January 29th you got a daffodil bloom! Isn’t that early for where you are? Or maybe I’m just projecting, because we are under a very thick blanket of the white stuff here. It was the kind of day where the snow swirls around in the morning, landing on branches and evoking such tender feelings towards winter. Even after we cleaned out the driveway twice, and cleared off the cars and paths at least three times, it still looked beautiful But we were very glad to come back inside.

    I always love the way you write, Lavinia. Such lyrical expression, especially in the first 3 or 4 paragraphs as you write about January quietly arriving at your farm, then about the ‘frozen kingdom’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, Cynthia, and the kind comments! Writing is an enjoyable release for me, binding observations to thoughts and feelings. It is the neural connection between all these things, creating a whole.

      Snow is so beautiful, and so much work! I can picture the snow around your house and in the trees. It does evoke tender feelings! Snow typically does not last long here. Our winters can have some cold spells, but are relatively mild in this part of Oregon compared to my native New England. Daffodils normally start pushing above the soil in December, and start blooming in January. They were thoroughly confused this winter, budding before Christmas. For a short time I thought we might actually have daffodils for Christmas! The cold temperatures continued, and they have only started blooming recently in the more protected places.

      Readers, please visit Cynthia Reyes, author of “A Good Home”, “An Honest House” and recipient of The 2016 Diamond Book Award at Cynthia is a former journalist and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, winning national and international awards for her work. She published her memoirs “A Good Home” after a serious car accident, and later “An Honest House”, which addresses PTSD and working through the challenges of daily living with chronic pain. I had trouble putting either book down for the night, and found myself reading into the wee hours by flashlight. Cynthia is nothing less than a very remarkable person for whom I have great respect and admiration.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lavinia – Please delete the earlier comment as I posted a link to the wrong brush! Anyway, this is the brush I use on my kitty boys. It’s available many places, but I just happened to find it first on Amazon. The information suggests it’s mainly for small dogs, but don’t tell your cats that! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Doug, just got back from traveling out of state and found your comment. Thanks for the link, and I did delete the other comment with the wrong link. That looks like a great cat brush, and I won’t tell the cats here it was marketed for dogs! 🙂

      As always, thanks for stopping by, and all the best to you and my favorite Persian brothers, Dougy & Andy, at

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love listening to your beautiful music as I write my comment Lavinia – it is just magical. Your first paragraph struck a chord with me as the world seems such a troubling place right now. Collectively I hope we can all make it better. I loved the firey sunset and sunrise photos! You certainly have had a snowy and cold winter, yet the south-east has been way too warm. Not one frost – good in some ways but we sometimes need the cold to kill off the bugs! Lots of love to Marcus and Hope – they are so sweet! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, Kate! Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments! I am hopeful that the good in people will eventually make this world a better place. I have lived long enough now to have see both progress and regression on many fronts. It will take all of us to keep the good going forward.

      An unusual year here, weather-wise. Spring is definitely on the way amid the roller coaster weather patterns. We had snow, sleet and rain today and temperatures in the mid 30s after a sunny, balmy day in the low 50s yesterday.

      I’ll send you regards to the kitties. They are all very sweet! 🙂

      Looking forward to more of your beautiful garden posts at

      Liked by 1 person

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