Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2017

Our feature photo for April is of a honeybee coming in for a landing on an airstrip of crabapple blossoms.

Our feature photo for April 2017. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge for detail. The bee is just to the left and above center.

Her baskets will soon be loaded with delicious, nutritious pollen, like her sister shown in the photos below.  The crabapple trees in the front gardens were alive with the sound of these industrious little sisters; the lighting and breezes were cooperative in capturing their beauty.  Nothing says spring quite like bees happily sipping nectar and gathering pollen on a soft, blue sky day marbled with cirrus clouds.  “Gather ye pollen while ye may” the sisters say, with acknowledgement to poet Robert Herrick, and to any other bees who may have expressed similar thoughts on such a fine day.

The bee in the center has loaded pollen baskets.

Same bee, but I loved photographing her, as she was one of my more cooperative subjects. Here she is again in a side view.

News from the farm

The skies of April 7th were the theater for this year’s epic battle between Old Man Winter and Spring as Warrior Princess.  We were awakened around 5:45 AM by strong winds ringing the alarm in the chimes, a call to stations; by 7:30 AM we had lost power and phone service.  A double rainbow appearing in the west against a dark, heavy sky indicated more was coming our direction.

Double rainbow in the west as the storm approaches.

Many rounds of high winds and heavy rain were fired throughout the day, lifting the neighbor’s tarp-covered metal frame shed from two doors down and smashing it up against the fence next door.  Their chicken coop, still under construction, took a direct hit; I watched as the tar paper on the roof was ripped off and blew away.  Considerable damage from falling trees, loss of services and some loss of life occurred in this unusual storm for April in western Oregon. We were fortunate not to have sustained any damage here on the farm other than downed limbs; the greenhouses held to their anchors, although the contents were found dumped on the floor.  By the end of the day, Spring emerged victorious, as she always does, leaving a Rainbow of Peace in the eastern sky.

A rainbow in the east at day’s end. A storm of this magnitude is unusual for April in Oregon.

She was quite shaken, though, by this unexpected intrusion into her time and place, and has shown restraint in unleashing all the green growing things in her care, unlike the previous April.  Yet life is driven by the growing light levels as much as warmth, and will not be denied access to the world for long; leaf buds and blossoms have opened, leaving the farm soft, green and full of color.

Sun-dappled vinca blooming along the north border.

The cherry tree garden in bloom. This grand old Black Tartarian cherry tree produces a soft, dark and very sweet, flavorful cherry.

Ladybugs are out and about on the farm. This one has found a pleasant sunning spot on a lemon balm leaf.

Chive blossoms preparing to open.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano volunteered to cover the April report, and has provided an interesting ghostly selfie of him watching over the farm.   Not much escapes Correspondent Nano’s sharp eyes!

Correspondent Nano, hard at work keeping an eye and an ear tuned on the farm and all its residents.

This April, he sent the resident photographer on assignment to investigate particular areas of interest and bring back photographic proof for his report.

Without further ado, we present Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent of Salmon Brook Farms.

The days have been steadily growing longer and brighter as the season progresses.  Sunrise and sunsets have been been particularly colorful, although the photographer must be available and prepared to catch them in the rapidly changing light that occurs at the beginning and end of the day.

Sunrise on April 2, 2017

Pruning of the vineyards was completed in March, and bud break has finally occurred. These tender buds are now at the mercy of spring frosts, especially multiple spring frosts which can kill secondary bud development.

Bud break in the table grapes.

Although more typical of weather patterns over a decade ago, the unusually cool, wet spring has not only delayed the time of fruit tree blossoming in comparison with recent years, but also appears to have extended the bloom time of daffodils.  The scent of so many different blossoms can be intoxicating on days when it is sufficiently warm enough to open the windows.

The ancient lilac on the northern border.

Daffodil “Thalia”, I think. There are also “Mt. Hood”daffodils planted in that space.

I have since forgotten which variety this one is, but it is a particularly long bloomer.

The fig tree, started several years ago from a cutting provided by our friend Lyn, has grown tall, and finally had to be planted outside. It appears to have survived the winter in its sunny, sheltered location, and has produced new growth.

The fig tree lives to see spring outdoors!

As April comes to a close, we wish our readers a pleasant month ahead, good food and the warmth of family and friends.

– Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent reporting from Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you Mr. Nano!

Correspondent Nano, off-duty and relaxing as only a cat can.

Postcards and Letters

We received a beautiful postcard from our blogger friend Doug and his cats Andy and Dougy over “Weggieboy’s blog – surviving retirement with two cats”.  Doug is an inspiration; I admire his fortitude and cheerful wit in the face of adversity. He has a disease called  Wegener’s granulomatosis – now called GPA– that attacks the small and medium-sized blood vessels in the body, hence the “Weggieboy” part of the name of his blog. His Persian cat brothers Andy (named after the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew) and Dougy (named after Doug himself; Douglas is about as Scottish as you can get) provide plenty of material for a daily blog about life with his two feline companions, my two favorite Persian brothers.  Readers can visit Doug and cats Andy and Dougy at

Willow enjoying the card from Doug!

“Turn it over and let me read it!” she says.

A wonderful postcard!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who may have missed our post last month, The Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March.  I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle.  It has been an interesting ride, with more to come!  I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the “Keepsake” CD, so that task will be in my work queue.  April has been busy month on many fronts, and I expect to be catching up on this project in May.

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

Sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms on April 22. There is only one Earth upon which we all go about our separate lives. Treat her kindly.


69 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2017

  1. Timothy Price says:

    You have lots of blooming going on around the farm. The kitty correspondents are lots of fun. Nano’s ghostly selfie is wonderful. Willow and the postcard is fun. It’s amazing how time keeps on it’s way, especially when we think of how many years older we are from any given milestone.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Tim! The ghostly selfie was a stroke of luck, with Nano being in the right place at the right time and the right lighting conditions. Willow doesn’t move much these days, so she is easy to photograph.

      Yes, time marches on without us thinking too much about it until the day comes we are suddenly aware of all the changes that have slowly been creeping up.

      All the best to you, Laurie, Tristan and all the critters. Keep those beautiful photos from New Mexico coming! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. your post is like a song… an ode to spring… it was a pleasure to read ;o) Glad your fig tree made it, do you know how long it takes till the fruits are edible? we have some on our tree but the taste is awful… they are small and somehow unripe inside…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, and the kind comments, Phenny’s Mom & Dad! The fig tree bore fruit in the second year, none in the 3rd year, and this is now the 4th year. If we get though the May without frost damage, I am hoping it bears fruit again this year. This variety has to turn dark brown black and get soft before they have any flavor. They were slow ripening. Yours may be one of those. I would like to say the variety is Desert King, but I don’t think that is it. I will ask Lyn. I know she gave me 9 cuttings of two different varieties. Only one survived.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oops! Hit some key before I was ready to post and… Anyway, you are a bit ahead of us out here in Western Nebraska, Tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils risked coming out, but the flowering trees and bushes made a mistake if they tried to come out just yet.

    We had a spring snowstorm and freezing weather just in time to thwart them from showing us their best. The birds and cottontails, though, feel the juices of spring coursing through their bodies, and it will be a short hop before we start seeing fledglings and little bunnies hopping in the grass!

    I’m pleased you and the Salmon Brook Farms kitties enjoyed the post card! It’s lots of fun receiving them from blogger friends, but you have to send them to get them. Always a catch. LOL!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Doug, thanks for stopping by! Yes, we did enjoy the card very much, especially old Willow. 🙂 You are an inspiration!

      We escaped without an April snow, which happens some years. Windstorms are usually reserved for late fall and winter, but unpredictable seems to be the new normal these days. Now if we can get through May without frost damage and get through summer without hail damage, we’ll be in good shape.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Herman says:

    Hi Lavinia. Thanks for another great post. I really enjoyed it while having my first espresso in the morning.
    Mr. Bowie sends his regards to all the cats and crew of Salmon Brook Farms! Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good to see you, Herman and Mr. Bowie! Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments. Today is quiet and overcast out there after rain during the night. A nice, slow Sunday here, so far.

      All our best to you and Mr. Bowie, our favorite British Shorthair, from the cats and crew here at Salmon Brook Farms. Enjoy that espresso! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Your world looks so lush and green, although that storm sounds scary! We get wild winds off the lake here and I hold my breath, waiting to see which limbs will come down, etc. Glad to hear your place was relatively unscathed. Always happy to hear news from and of the cats–tell them mine say hello!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments, Kerry! We have been hit pretty bad by winds in the past, but it is usually during the late fall and winter season. We lost Rick’s van in 2006 when the wind twisted a large black locust tree around and dropped it across the van not long after he got home that night.

      I will pass on regards to all the kitties! 🙂


  6. The Springtime Warrior Princess has certainly found Salmon Brook Farms and saved all her precious blooms from Winter’s damage! Tell Correspondent Nano I am counting on him watching over the farm and it’s precious residents!
    Now, I’m on my way over to see Mr. Herrick’s site….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a lovely mix of photos and reflections. I especially enjoyed reading your comments about local musicians. There’s a strong singer/songwriter tradition in Texas, and here in Houston, there are new venues popping up that do showcase local talent. Some of its very, very good, but even those who aren’t so good are offered appreciation and encouragement — the very things that will help them continue to improve.

    Happy May to you — I hope there are no more storms, and no nippy weather to harm those buds.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments, Shoreacres! Texas is full of good music!

      I hope to get through May without any major frost damage. Last year it was frost, then hailstorms in June. Every year is a new challenge.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by, Musiewild. It bet your venerable crabapple tree is lovely! Fruit trees in spring are such a wonderful thing after a long winter: Blossoms full of happily droning bees, the heady scent of so many blooms, spent petals falling like pink and white snow.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a newsy and interesting update! You (and your feline correspondents) write about nature and the weather and the farm in such marvelous ways, Lavinia. And I am so glad to see the photos.
    I enjoyed your lovely music on youtube. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments, Cynthia! Mother Nature provides an endless amount of material for curious cats, as well as people. Our Sicilian olive farm feline correspondents will be back next month with more stories and photos from their area of the world.

      Wishing you and your family a beautiful spring season there in Canada. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  9. At first I salute the new official farm representent:Nano! 🙂
    I loved very much your post where you are like the singer of the beauty of the nature around us at spring . I share your way to see.
    I am sorry you had to cope with a storm . here in northern France after the glory of
    the trees in bloom we had frost . The cherries are frozen just after the bloom! . and the earth in the veggie garden is dry . We have the drought. I hope May will be better.
    Love ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments, dear Michel! Nature gives us so much beauty to enjoy!

      I have read about the frosts in France, and how it has affected everything. I am sorry to hear you are still in drought, and hope May is kinder to your countryside and brings you gentle rains.

      I leave you and your family with an old Irish blessing:
      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.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. I so look forward to reading your blog each moth, Lavinia! I love your descriptions of the weather and the seasonal changes on your farm. Your photos are excellent as always and I enjoyed Mr Nano’s report very much!
    The storm that passed through Oregon last month sounded really unpleasant. I am glad you weren’t hurt and the farm came to no serious harm.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Kev says:

    Love the ‘ghost cat’ pic. The daffodils are lovely. I like the way you incorporate your newsletter as part of your blog. It’s such a great idea, Lavinia, I might start doing it myself. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Kevin! Mr. Nano’s ghostly selfie was a lucky shot of being on the outside looking in at the right time of day with perfect lighting conditions to get the cat and the reflection of the farm in the photo. Sometimes I am lucky! 🙂

      The music newsletters we used to email out sporadically. The farm was incorporated later, but eventually I decided to move them over to a blog when I wanted to post a memorial to Klaatu, who was probably from the same feral colony and related to Mr. Nano. Our first newsletter where I published his memorial was June of 2013. The link is below.

      Liked by 3 people

  12. I just loved this post .. spring here is always so unsettled. Sigh .. that bee sure is loaded with pollen. Gosh aren’t they amazing! And so industrious .. the bees here are getting ready for the big sleep. I just love Nano keeping an eye out .. oh we all need that! Wonderful images .. thank you Lavinia 😃🌷

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Julie! I love that photo of Nano too. 🙂

      Spring is beautiful but unsettled,for sure. It was almost 80 her yesterday, and a cold front is coming in today. It will be down in the 50s tomorrow, with overnight lows in the 30s again. The sky is beautiful this morning; cloudscapes painted on a canvas of blue sky, and light filtering through the apple trees,loaded with blooms.

      All our best to you at Frog Pond Farms in New Zealand!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Ah blossom season, I do love this part of spring. I’m sorry to hear about the damage caused by the storm and hope that spring will be more peaceful. Lovely images – I’ve just bought a dwarf lilac for our back yard and am enjoying the flowers opening 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Andrea! We had weather in the 80s that last two days, and it is now back in the low 50s, windy and rainy. At some point it will settle out. 🙂

      Lilacs are such lovely shrubs. That old one on our north border probably dates back to the previous owner’s parents.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Quercus! Glad to see you back on your feet after your last adventure! 🙂

      That windstorm was rather unusual for this time of year. I am hoping we can avoid major frost and hail at this point..

      All the cats and crew here send you and Julia their warmest regards, and best wishes for a speedy recovery. We also call Mr. Nano “Doctor Nano” because of his white coat. When I am ill, he never leaves my side. Dr. Nano prescribes good, nourishing food, and long walks with Julia for your recovery protocol. He also says to avoid the national news over here, which is most upsetting. 🙂

      Our feline correspondents at the end of May will be from an olive farm in Sicily.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Spring at your place looks magic, and everything is blooming. The storm has moved over and you are probably in the middle of the most beautiful time of the year. However, farm keeps one busy, doesn’t it? What a nice place to enjoy the nature!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments, Inese! Yes, mid spring is very beautiful right now with all the apple trees in bloom. We had a normal succession of flowering plants and trees this year as the spring was wet and cool. No mass blooming in 90 degree April weather like last year!


    • Thanks for stopping by, Annie, and the kind comments! I will let Mr. Nano know his update was appreciated. 🙂

      We are still getting lots of rain, and it it warming up now. Everything is growing a mile-a-minute, including the grapes. I am hoping we can avoid frost this month, and hail in summer.

      Wishing the Animal Couriers crew safe travels with all those beautiful passengers, and best wishes for sufficient rainfall, an uneventful growing season and a bountiful harvest in your vineyard. 🙂


  15. Hi Lavinia, Glad you came through that storm with no serious damage – it seems almost that you were protected, (considering what happened to your neighbors.) I like the little honeybee photos – we see so few of them nowadays, even though many of our farmers are starting to set up hives to help remedy the worldwide colony collapse problem. For as far north as you are, you seem to experience spring much sooner than we do here! Soon I’ll unchain myself from my work desk and get out with my camera and share. Take care and hello to all your kitties from me, and Jazzy, too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Jeanne! Winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest is generally milder than what we experienced in New England. We are in the Cascade foothills on the Willamette Valley side at about 800 feet. There is usually little to no snow to shovel, and a good south facing garden will usually sport daffodils in January, in most years. Windstorms in April are unusual though, and we are seeing more oscillations in weather patterns these days.

      Looking forward to seeing your posts and photos from your area, as well as more of your cards and drawings. You do beautiful work, Jeanne! Readers, please visit Jeanne at

      Liked by 1 person

  16. This is great April post, loved so much all your photographs, Nano is amazing. Thank you dear Lavinia, at last Spring is there…. I hope and wish the summer to be nice and not toooooo hot. Have a nice day and weekend, Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Nia! Always good to see you! Our spring has been a long and cool one, but it is definitely spring here now. We do hope to avoid frost now that everything is budding out, and hail like we had last year which shredded everything.

      Love from all the cats and crew here at Salmon Brook Farms! I will let Mr. Nano cat know he has a fan in Turkey. I am looking forward to catching up with your blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Darn WordPress… they didn’t send the email. I’m so sorry to be late Lavinia. As always, this is a wonderful newsletter. Always professional and very well written.
    I’m so glad to have spotted it on LinkedIn. I hope you’ve had a beautiful weekend. Huge hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always good to see you, Teagan, from wherever you may be and happen to find me! 🙂 And thank you for the kind comments! WP keeps us all on our toes. I have also noted that the email notification doesn’t always work, and find someone’s post way down the road.

      It’s been rainy here this month, with days of multiple passing storms galloping through like mustangs, across the valley and up over the mountains.

      The Sicilian olive farm cats will be back at the end of this month with the story of Lucky the blind kitty. Stay tuned! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Lots of rain here too. At least it has washed away some of the overwhelming pollen. (I’ve been sick with allergy/asthma for a month from it, but finally getting back to normal.)
    Your feline correspondents are always a delight. I look forward to it. More hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am sorry to hear the allergies and asthma got the better of you, but I am glad you are feeling better now with the rain. Washing the pollen away it does quite well. Spring is a hard season for pollen sufferers, although out here in my part of Oregon, anyone with grass seed allergy really suffers when the grasses start blooming. Fortunately I am not allergic to grass seed pollen! The county we live is known as “The Grass Seed Capital of the World”. Sometimes I have driven through clouds of pollen drifting across the road from grass seed farms.

      Liked by 1 person

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