Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2017

Readers may click on any photo in this post to enlarge.  Our feature photo for July is of some resident paper wasps found nesting in one of the blueberry bushes this month. We are not sure if they are native paper wasps, or European paper wasps in the genus Polistes. The legs tend to dangle below them in flight.  Both types prey on insects.

Paper nest building wasps have built a home in a blueberry bush.

I almost put my hand in their nest by accident while berry picking.  Fortunately for me, these paper nest building wasps were relatively non-aggressive, only flying out to investigate who was disturbing them, returning to nest sitting once they were satisfied I was no serious threat.  Satisfied in turn that they were no serious threat to me, I have been picking that bush right up to the immediate vicinity of their nest since then, and have enjoyed observing them.  The paper nest, being situated where it is at the top of the blueberry bush, has no real protection from relentless sun, or the autumn rains when they come.   In this case, they have selected a doomed building site.  I will not disturb these industrious wasps that feed on other insects, and continue to work around them this season.  Unfortunately, their ground nesting relatives the yellow jackets in the genus Vespula or Dolichovespula, tend to be highly aggressive, swarming and stinging without what we humans feel is sufficient provocation; we usually have to eradicate at least one nest, generally found by accident during the season, only because they present a real physical danger.

News from the farm

Among the many visitors to the farm this month were the gray foxes.  Rick came out with binoculars early one evening, indicating he had seen four of them cavorting on a pile of grass clippings out back.  There were only two by the time I had a look, and I was fortunate enough to get a couple of quick photos before they disappeared. According to ODFW, there are three species of foxes in Oregon: the Common Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus, the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, and the Kit Fox, Vulpes velox.  Our visitors, as best as I can tell, were gray foxes.

A curious fellow wanting to know why I was interested in him. 3x telephoto is the maximum this old Sony camera can do.

He proceeded towards the woods, but stopped to have a look.

Same fox, doubled back for another look. Click on any photo in this blog to enlarge.

Having been spared continual excessive heat earlier this season, we have now entered the time of heat and seasonal drought here in western Oregon. As the chapter for this July comes to a close with temperatures in the mid 90s, August will make her debut with 100+ degree temperatures for several days.  The hillsides have appropriately transitioned from emerald green to a more seasonal dress of toasted gold as grass withers and goes dormant.  Deer will grow bolder, coming closer to the house, looking for any green shoots they can nip.  Every creature will be looking for shelter from the relentless heat, adequate food, and whatever source of water or moisture they can find.  I find myself becoming more of a crepuscular creature at this time of year, preferring to be active in early morning and late evening.  Tree, shrub, vine and plant life in general are not so fortunate.  Stoic beings rooted in place, they bear the sun’s searing heat in silence, waiting for rain, or a kindly drink from a watering can or soaker hose.

A golden gladiola in Elbert’s Garden at the end of the day. The garden bed this gladiola graces along the side of the greenhouse was planted for Elbert. It has grown to include others now as well. It is the gift of the living to those left behind, sometimes the only meaningful kind thing I can do. See

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

There was some confusion among the correspondents this month as to whose report for July was being filed for publication, and was complicated by the photographer forgetting to pack a camera along on a recent trip to the northern California coast.  Mr. Nano has decided to file a quick report on an unusual skull found in a garden bed next to the garage.

Correspondent Nano

A small white object lying in the mulch amid withered daffodil leaves drew attention to itself.  It could not have been there long, yet did not seem to be too recent.  Mostly clean and still bone white, no other bones were found along beside it to aid in identification.  The cavity where the brain once resided and directed the body’s activities seemed relatively large, the upper jaw long and narrow with many sharp teeth.  Any information leading to the identification of the specimen would be greatly appreciated.

Alas poor Yorick, although I did not know him at all. Young possum, perhaps?

Yorick skull bottom view, showing teeth.

Top view of skull.

We wish our readers a pleasant day and evening ahead, wherever you may be.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who are new or catching up, 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 is still in my work queue, which gets longer and harder to keep up with in summer.  The days disappear all too quickly, and Rick and I managed to get in a three day vacation to go down to Arcata, California to see Jennings & Keller in concert, with the help of Lyn, who took care of the cats and the farm while we were away.  I have no new videos for July as promised due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time.

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the  previous two videos.

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


98 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2017

  1. I just went out and plucked two of my raccoon skulls from the pot where they nestle next to prickly pear cacti. Comparing them to your photos, I feel pretty confident that’s what you have: raccoon skulls.

    I smiled, but didn’t laugh, about your yellow jackets. This was the year I learned that bumblebees are ground nesters, and don’t like having their nests disturbed. I also learned that bumblebee stingers are smooth, so they can sting multiple times. Mine little friend got off six stings before I escaped!

    We’ve been in the 90s for some time now, and heat indices have been into the 100s. But, we’re still green, since we’ve had fairly regular rains. I hope you get some relief from the heat, and the blessed rains.

    It’s always nice to see a post from you in my inbox!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is always good to see you in my mailbox, too, Shoreacres! 🙂

      Thank you for the tip on the skull. A very young raccoon would be a definite possibility. I just measured the skull at roughly 1.75 inches from the snout to back of the skull. I have searched a few times for additional bones, and found none. I am curious how it got there, just laying on top of the mulch and in fairly good condition. Birds, perhaps?

      Our normal “dry” season is July though late September or early October. Little to no rain falls during this time; the ground bakes hard like a brick. I tell family and friends back in New England that our grass turns brown in summer and green in winter.

      The forecast has been changing during the day. The projected high for the week is 107 on Wednesday and Thursday.

      Now that the blueberry patch has been picked fairly clean, the bulk of the outside work is done and we are back from vacation, I will be slowly catching up with everyone. I learn a lot from all of you. I am physically doing much better this year and getting more work done outside. If only there were more hours in the day!


  2. Your blueberries are looking good. I am wearing lots of them. Unfortunately, the two bushes I planted never took off. Benji especially loved your yellow gladiola photo. He looked at it with lots of interest 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to see you Anarette, Benji and Mrs. Zulu! And thank you for the kind comments! That garden with the gladiola is getting established. I thought I had lost all the gladiolas but the one in the picture, but two golden ones more popped up. The dutch iris suffered some losses, but the German bearded ones survived and will take a couple of years to spread and fill out the area. The daffodils in there looked good this spring. The color scheme for that garden is purple and gold. Ali cat, Sox, and Doug’s brother share that memory garden with Elbert. There will be others.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Susan Brandt Graham says:

    Hi, Lavinia. Those blueberries are beautiful! I’m glad those particular wasps live and let live. How many blueberry bushes do you have?
    Love the foxes.
    The skull images are striking. Nano’s report made me think “Oregon O’Keeffe.”
    I’m glad the music is moving along. A 3 day vacation for a concert also sounds wonderful. The
    I appreciate the brown you are seeing and sympathize for the heat you anticipate. Our monsoon has been good this year, temperatures and precipitation wise.
    Wishing for you the temperatures stay fairly moderate.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by, Susan, and the kind comments! The music, along with everything else. proceeds slowly. At this time of year, whatever needs immediate attention works its way to the top. My lists of projects moves ahead like a rippling, jagged line. Eventually we get there, but what a ride. 🙂 “Oregon O’Keeffe” – I’ll let Mr. Nano know. 🙂

      The coastline on Rt. 101 is one of my favorite travel routes. We have passed through Arcata many times, but never stopped in. Seeing our friends in concert there was a good excuse to get to know the area better. I would forget the camera! We did stop along 101 at various places, including Trinidad, California. I have made mental notes where to try to get interesting photos next time.

      No chance of moderate temperatures this week, at least by western Oregon standards. You are all used to much higher temperatures in summer down there in the Albuquerque area. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, Gallivanta, and thank you for the kind comment! The record harvest for our blueberry patch was 72 quarts, before extensive damage was done by rutting deer several years ago. Many are are coming back from the roots, some producing again already, although not near as much. We picked 30 quarts this year. There is probably still a quart or two left out there.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Beautiful blueberries. I love the way the bushes turn in the fall. As for your wasps, they are fascinating. We have a gigantic bee here that looks like a wasp on steroids and it builds ground nests. It is a cicada killer, perfectly peaceful, but alarming looking. I think I met a grey fox one night on my way home. It had a rat in its mouth. We were going different directions on the same path and paused to look at each other and decide what to do. It moved uphill to higher ground and we passed each other at different levels…Your pictures confirm me in the thought it wasn’t a coyote. So glad your skull mystery is somewhat solved!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to see you Phenny! I bet you would love that bony treasure!

      I was glad to see the gladiolas come back. I thought this past winter and spring may have been too wet and cool for them, but they came back. I haven’t forgotten about Easy’s and Sammy’s garden, and will keep you posted. This autumn, when the daffodils bulbs come in, would be a good time to set an area aside.


    • Good to see you, Maureen! Our fox visitors are curious little fellows. One year, a fox stopped to talk to Rick from the other side of the deer fencing while he was watering the main garden. This fellow was one of two foxes still playing about on the grass pile by the time I got the camera. The other one took off, but the one in the photo wanted to know what I was doing out there. Wildlife comes and goes here on our farm. Lyn, our cat and farm sitter while we were away, came upon a doe and fawn out back. The doe jumped the fence on the south border, but the fawn could not. She eventually came back for her baby, and I suspect probably crossed the north side where the old property border fence is down.

      Give little Bert a scratch behind the ears for me. All the best to you and Rod. I enjoy your poetry, prose and photographs of your beautiful New Zealand. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Timothy Price says:

    Hi Lavinia! Our paper wasps can get quite aggressive. The yellow jackets come and steal food off our plates, and they don’t bother when we brush them off, but if you step on one of the nest, wow! They attach and don’t give up. Tristan got stung by a paper wasp the other day from a nest that was under a chair on the deck. Laurie had the chair blocking the south stairs on the deck, but Tristan moved it a little and got them going. She seemed to have a mild alergic reaction to it.

    There was a paper wasp nest under my chop saw that I didn’t see. I moved the saw all over the place and cut all the wood for the kitty staircase and didn’t even notice the wasps. I put the saw back when I was finished with it, and noticed a couple of wasps flew out from under the saw and were acting aggressively toward me. I looked under the saw and there was a paper nest with about a dozen wasp giving me the stink eye. If they are not in a high traffic area I leave them along, but these guys and the ones that stung Tristan had to go. Mortal non-chemical combat, and I was victorious in both cases.

    The skull looks raccoon-like to me, but I’m no expert in skullography or whatever the forensic science of skull identification be called. I like your fox and it’s nice to see one live. Our neighbor found a dead fox along the ditch bank a few weeks ago, and took us over to look at it. It was really cute and so sad it was dead. It had a big hole in one side, so we weren’t sure if someone had shot it or a dog had killed it. I would guess a dog killed it, but it’s hard to say.

    Great looking blueberries, wasps and all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to see you, Tim! The main problem we have is with the yellow jacket ground nesters. I try to keep a lookout on the ground when I am walking around out back now, watching for their entrances. You are right, they don’t want to give up stinging once they have you. Wasp stink-eye is not a pleasant thing. Our paper wasps (and there seem to be two varieties: one native, one European) are nowhere near as bad as the yellow jackets.

      The blueberries were good this year. The bushes also produced a lot of new wood this year. They produce on 2nd year wood, so next year should be better.

      That is two reader votes for raccoon on the skull. I hear them out back at night on occasion, but rarely see one until the grapes are ripe. Even though the table grapes are netted, they stick their fingers through the net and filch individual grapes. I’ve looked out the window at night and seen them at work during harvest season.

      Sorry about your dead fox. Hard to say what may have done it in, or who may have taken a meal from it afterwards. They are cute.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “blueberries” photograph is amazing, fascinated me dear Lavinia. As always I am so happy to be in your farm, I can understand that Mr. Nano is an archeologist too. What a great found. About fox, made me excited, gray fox, should be so beautiful. Thank you dear Lavinia, you are doing great in your farm. I wish you to have a nice and enjoyable days in August too. And music, you are my voice, Thank you for this too.
    Love and Hugs, nia

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nia, always so good to see you stop by from Turkey, and thank you for all the kind comments! I am honored you enjoy the music too. Mr. Nano cat has many interests, including archeology. The skull was an interesting find. I’ve been looking at skulls online. Another possibility besides a young raccoon is a weasel, based on size and shape. I hope to take the skull over to Chintimini Wildlife Center sometime soon and see what they think.

      Foxes pass through here from time to time. They are beautiful animals, and very curious, although also very cautious. Many years back, I woke up one night, hearing a strange barking sound near the back of the house. I looked out the window, and one was sitting by the back door!

      I will catch up with your corner of the world soon, dear Nia. I miss your beautiful photos of the Turkish countryside, and especially the cats. I have had a hard time getting my arms around all the work here, and keeping up with everyone. I was glad to get three days down on the shore with Rick. I could kick myself for forgetting to take the camera though! The coast is beautiful, and there are places to watch for whales and seals. Love and hugs to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • sitting on the back door! I imagine myself, 🙂
        Don’t worry about catching the world in here, please take a rest whenever you can visit. Thank you and welcome, Love, and Hugs, nia

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Herman says:

    Hi Lavinia! Thanks for your post, I always enjoy to read your story and to find out what’s happening on the farm. And of course, there’s always the interesting views of the cat correspondents of the month…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Herman! Always good to see you and Mr. Bowie drop by, all the way from Belgium! Mr. Nano came up with a quick report on the skull for us this month. Northeast Regional Correspondent Otis was originally scheduled for July, and hopefully he will be back at the end of August for one last report. He hasn’t been doing well lately. The Daniel Schorr of cats, he is working right up to the end, bringing news from the farmlands on other side of the country to readers.

      All our best to Mr. Bowie, and we are sending all the Power of the Paw to him we can collectively muster regarding his eye problems. Both of you have a wonderful day filled with cat treats, espresso and dark chocolate. And some vanilla ice cream too, in this hot weather. 🙂


  8. The plump blueberries looked so tempting …. and then I spied the wasps nest. Still, with thirty odd other bushes I guess you can skip past this one🙂. We’ve had twice as many nests this year, which sadly doesn’t work well with garden visitors so we do get them dealt with as quickly as possible. ‘Yorrick’ made me smile!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to see you, Kate! Thanks for stopping by! These particular paper wasps have been relatively non-aggressive, so I have been picking that bush right up to the immediate vicinity of their house without problems. I have been fortunate not to have run into the ground nesters, yet, this year.

      The skull was an interesting find. I’ve been looking at skulls online. Another possibility besides a young raccoon is a weasel, based on size and shape. I hope to take the skull over to Chintimini Wildlife Center sometime soon and see what they think.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you, Jill! The blueberries are good, and we look forward to them every year. The bushes that were destroyed by rutting male deer are making a comeback from the roots, so next year should be even better. I was afraid we had lost our gladiolas, as the winter and spring were wet and cold. They are beautiful.

      I will catch up with your corner of the world soon. I have had a hard time getting my arms around all the work here, and keeping up with everyone. I miss all of you. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Luscious looking blueberries and handsome wasps too…Our poor dog Ivy stepped near ground nesting wasps once and found out the hard way how aggressive they are. Enjoyed learning about the word ‘crepuscular’ that you used – must work it into a conversation soon! The videos were great and you have such a soothing voice. Enjoy the rest of this all too short summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always good to see you, carol! Thanks for stopping by and all the kind comments, including the music! I agree this summer is going by all too quickly. It has been hard for me to get my arms around all the work, keep up with creative pursuits, and keeping up with people and other blogs. It won’t be long before harvest season is here, including the grapes. We invested in some insect netting this year for the pinot noir grapes, enough for about 3 rows. Yellow jackets and even honeybees attack the grapes as well as plums because of the high sugar content, and they are one of the few sources of moisture out there in this dry season.

      Poor Ivy! I found one nest by accident a number of years ago. They had set up housekeeping near a water spigot out near the garden. I had quite a few welts.

      Crepuscular is a great word. I got that one off of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife web site. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I cannot imagine the kind of heat you’d describe! We haven’t even hit 90 once this summer and have had mostly 70s or low 80s. We all learn to deal with what we have, I guess. I love seeing the fox and was surprised to hear that the wasps are so unconcerned by your presence–nice that you can co-exist!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to see you, Kerry! Thanks for stopping by! Today’s forecast has been revised up to 108. Fortunately we don’t have the humidity along with it. It’s pretty dry. You live in a very beautiful area in upstate New York. The lake must help moderate the temperature and keep things on the cooler side.

      The wasps were an interesting find. I am always happy to observe wild creatures of any sort, and I am glad they let me pick berries around them. Co-existence is always preferable. 🙂 The foxes are beautiful. We enjoyed watching them play on the grass clipping pile.


  11. Wasps are curious things. We’ve had a relatively wasp-free summer which is strange as it’s been so dry. They usually build nests where we have taps but nothing this year. Hope to keep it that way. Hope your growing things go well and cope with the hard summer you describe! You and the furries too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to see you Annie, and thanks for stopping by! Wasps are indeed curious creatures. I have not run into any ground nesters, yet, and hope not to this year, especially at grape harvest. It was about 102 here today, a bit cooler than originally predicted I am told due to smoke from forest fires which are making quite a bit of haze out there.

      Wishing you a bountiful harvest season over there in France. I hope the dryness you are currently experiencing does not turn into drought again.

      All the best to the Animal Couriers team, too! 🙂


  12. I have been interested in watching the nest of paper wasps . I have to say it is the first time I see it . What great architects !
    The fox was really curious and not frightened by you,Levinia . I hope for you your hens are well guarded ! 🙂
    I guessed you had not rain enough at seeing the color of the grass where the fox is standing. In my area it is almost the drought and I am admiring the ability of the plants to resist and give flowers et fruits .
    Enjoy your musical trip in California.
    Love ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • So good to see you, Michel! Thank you for stopping by! In my region, we normally get little to no rain from July though late September or early October. It is very hot here now as well, with smoke from forest fires creating a hazy sky. It was around 40 degrees centigrade here yesterday.

      The wasps, foxes and other wildlife are fun to watch here. We do not have hens, although the neighbor’s chickens sometimes wander over here. There are also coyotes, mountain lions, and birds of prey in the area that will take chickens. They do have to be watched carefully. 🙂

      I forgot to take the camera with me to California, so there are no photos of the trip along the coast. Next time I will remember!

      Love to you and Janine ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Lavinia, What a great photo of the paper wasps in the blueberry bush. Good thing you spotted them before you really had your hand in further! I don’t envy you that heat – stay cool! So far we’ve only gone over 90 one or two days and I’m very grateful. I’m not sure about the skull – I Googled “possum skull” and most don’t look too close, but I can’t imagine what else it could be. Let me know should you do further research. :-). Stay well – hello to Rick and your kitties from me and my Jazzy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to see you Jeanne, and thanks for stopping by! Yes, I am glad I saw the wasp nest before going in any further. Glad you like the photo. I thought it made an interesting composition as well as documentation of their nest building activities.

      I hope to get the skull over to Chintimini Wildlife Center, and see what they say. Could be anything from a very young possum or raccoon, or perhaps adult weasel, which is where I am currently leaning.

      I will pass on your and Jazzy’s best wishes to cats and crew. Have a pleasant evening ahead, and a wonderful day tomorrow! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had actually looked at a marten skull, so we’re having the same thoughts on that. I’m sure the wildlife people will know. (You can really Google anything – it’s amazing.) Have a great day! Jeanne

        Liked by 2 people

  14. We always have many paper wasp nests in our garden over summer. They often turn up in the strangest places. I agree, they are not really aggressive which means I usually leave them where they are. I wonder what that skull is? Strange that it is without other bones. Love the glad 😃 Your summer sounds hot .. here’s hoping for some rain

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, Julie,and thanks for stopping by from Frog Pond Farm in New Zealand! So you have paper wasps too? They are interesting residents.

      I hope to get the skull over to Chintimini Wildlife Center, and see what they say. Could be anything from a very young possum or raccoon, or perhaps adult weasel.

      This is our normal dry season. We usually don’t get rain from July to late September or October. I am hoping for a break in the heat, and soon. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I find wasps so interesting though I often get stung by them. Our common wasps are like your yellow jackets in that they are quite aggressive and will sting for no reason I can see! We once had a potter wasp make a tiny nest in an old shed of ours and we often get hornet nests here. The hornets aren’t as aggressive as the common wasps but they are big and I wouldn’t want to provoke them!
    Your blueberries look so tasty! I am glad the plants are recovering from the deer-damage. Don’t over-tire yourself this summer, Lavinia. Take care of yourself xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you Clare, and thanks for stopping by! Yes, the hornets are big, and don’t look like the type of resident one would want to provoke. I’ve only run into them once here, nesting in the old cherry tree. I will have to look up potter wasp. I wonder if that is what we call a mud wasp here.

      The blueberries are good. We got a grand total of 31.5 qts from the patch now, and that is it for the season, except for a few stragglers. Before the deer damage, the record was 72 quarts.

      I am trying to be careful not to do too much. Unfortunately, summer is the time of many things going on, multiple projects and sleep deprivation. I’m heading in for a nap now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you are right about the potter wasp/mud wasp. The deer caused a real loss in productivity then! I hope the bushes continue to regrow and provide more fruit.
        Sleep deprivation is something I understand. I am a really light sleeper and am easily disturbed by any noise and of course, as soon as it starts to get light I wake up! Summer is certainly a very busy time of year but we just garden for ourselves unlike you with your farm!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Our involvement in trying to sell produce at markets became less and less after we took on Rick’s mother. After she died, I was thoroughly exhausted, had serious medical issues, was not doing well in general last year. Things are looking better in 2017, and I am doing much more work outside, and getting back into playing music out again. At this point we mainly grow for ourselves, and sell to or barter with individuals we know, outside of the market environment. I think we will continue along that path for the foreseeable future. With all the pinot noir vines on hand here, I am learning to make wine, and still in the testing phase with small batches. That may yet turn into something interesting. Last year’s test was promising. 🙂

        I am a light sleeper as well, and the early morning light is like an alarm clock. I love that part of winter, although cat stomach clocks do not seem to change with the seasons. I might still get a breakfast call at 4:00 AM. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I remember cat stomach clocks! They don’t take account of the clocks going back or forward either 😀
        I am so pleased your health is slowly improving. No-one knows how exhausting caring for loved ones can be until we experience it for ourselves. There is very little assistance or advice for families in this situation either.
        I hope your wine-making is a success this year 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jason, good to see you, and thanks for stopping by from Garden In a City! These paper wasps are fairly nonagressive, so I leave them be. I checked them this evening during watering rounds. Some of the chambers have been capped off now, so there is developing brood in there. It has been really hot in the 90s and 100s here, and dry. They picked a rough place to nest in terms of sun exposure.

      I am slowly getting around to catching up with all the blogs. This summer is flying right by. Not enough hours in the day anymore, although I know when the first frost hits, I’ll be yearning for warmer weather again. 🙂


  16. RYC Thanks Lavinia for your kind comment about the birth of our great grandson .
    About Mr Nano’s trophy . Are the teeth on the skull carnivorus ‘ s ones or rodent’s ones ? I was intrigued by the specie opossum that we have not in France . But on Google it is rather complicated ! 🙂 I suppose it is a carnivorous .
    Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was a beautiful photo on your site of the four generations together! You have a wonderful family, Michel. ❤

      The teeth appear to be carnivorous or at least could belong to an omnivore. Opossums, or 'possums' as we tend shorten the name to over here, are omnivorous, eating plant and flesh. Another possibility is that the skull may belong to a weasel. When I am able to get over to Chintimini Wildlife Center, I will bring the skull, and I hope they can positively identify it for me.

      Love to you, Janine and the family ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I normally take the attitude that because I’m not out to bother wasps and bees, they’ll pick up on that and leave me alone. That attitude has worked pretty well, and I can recall getting stung by something only twice. In both instances I never saw what stung me, so I assume I accidentally came too close to something.

    Fire ants are a different story, and I’ve gotten plenty of their bites when I’ve accidentally trodden on a nest. Chiggers, which are too small to see and therefore to avoid, are another perpetual problem in Texas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you Steve, and thanks for stopping by from Portraits of Wildflowers in Texas! Our general policy here is to leave the wild residents of this farm alone; there is enough space and resources for all to co-exist. I enjoy observing the various critters.

      Fortunately we do not have fire ants up here; chiggers I’m not sure but think we probably do. 🙂


  18. Hi Lavinia. I apologize if I’m late. WordPress only just told me about your July newsletter. I enjoyed reading about the foxes! That’s quite a pile of grass clippings. I can imagine their delight at playing in it. Mr. Nano did a fine report. 🐱 That really is very curious about the little skull. It’s fun to have a mystery to solve — and kitties have terrific imaginations.
    My weekend evaporated, and Monday is already here. Back to Mordor. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, Teagan, and thanks for stopping by! Foxes come through the farm from time to time, and are curious souls. The grass clipping pile we keep for mulch and compost. They liked the warmth of the pile in early evening, and used it as a lookout station. They even left a few poops in it. 🙂

      I will be taking the skull over to Chintimini Wildlife Center eventually, and I hope they can positively identify it for me. Weasel is another possibility I cam up with based on size and shape.

      Yes, those weekends go by all too quickly! I wish you safe passage through Mordor this week. Beware of Orcs and giant spiders!

      Never worry bout being late, Teagan. I only post once a month, so people have all month to find me. And if you miss posts, no worry. Hugs on the wing back to you too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Timelesslady says:

    My husband and I were just talking about these wasps and how we very rarely see their nests anymore. We live in NJ. When we were younger…for both of us near 50 years ago for our childhood years, these wasps were everywhere and so were their nests. I was a rather wild child and remember knocking them down with rocks. I also remember being stung by the angry wasps on the forehead. Oh the joys and pains of childhood. Now, as an adult, I think I would greatly admire the wasps ingenuity and skill in building such a home…but as I said, I rarely seem them now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, Timelesslady, and thank you for stopping by! We have lots of paper wasps here, as well as the aggressive ground nesters. Unfortunately children are not taught to respect insect life, and especially were not back then. Most importantly is that now people are beginning to learn how important a role they play in our world. I don’t know why you don’t see as many wasps in your area now. That is a good question. The Xerces Society may be able to provide an answer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Timelesslady says:

        Thanks so much for the contact address. Yes, we thought it was great fun…now I love the graceful wasps…but I agree with you, the ground bees are not good at all. My sons have a construction company and they are attacked quite frequently by ground bees/wasps.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I leave the ground nesting yellow jackets alone too, unless we happen to stumble over a nest and they go after us. I unfortunately have to do something about them at that point, as they are a hazard. We try to co-exist as much as possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Greetings from the horse show in Iowa (near Des Moines). Those blueberries do look very tempting. At least you’re able to share with the deer, or more like the other way around – they sharing with you. Regarding the early morning breakfast call, I had a pair Siamese that got me up around 1:30 – 2:00 am for early breakfast, with their regular breakfast coming around 7:00 am, and their bacon break at 10:00 – 10:30 am. Not a chance they were spoiled, lol. 🙂

    I like that 12-string guitar you have. I have a 6-string Gibson and an 8-string Ibanez acoustic guitar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, David, and thanks for stopping by! I have been enjoying reading about your daughters and their horses. I am vicariously living one path not taken in my youth through reading your blog. 🙂

      My own view of this farm is that is a community of humans and wild creatures of all sorts, including insect life like the wasps. The Xerces Society here in Oregon works to promote conservation of invertebrate species, creatures most people do not realize need to be protected.

      Your kitties do sound like you are catering to them, and their eating schedule sounds more like one would expect from a hungry Hobbit! 🙂 I also find that cat stomach clocks are permanently programmed to the time zone of origin. When we moved from back east, our two cats that came with us wanted breakfast at 2:00 AM.

      The Guild 12 string is a real beauty, and I enjoy playing it. Rings like silver, shines like gold, as the song “Nine Pound Hammer” goes. It was one of the last ones built at the Guild factory in Westerly, R.I by Guild luthiers. The company was sold to Fender and now is owned by another company named Cordoba Music. I don’t know what they are like now.

      Gibsons are great guitars, and the 8-string Ibanez sounds very interesting!


    • Good to see you, Quercus, and thanks for stopping by from the U.K.! The wasps made their home in an interesting location this year. Not a good site in terms of getting blasted by sun, but the neighborhood is nice. 🙂 I checked their progress yesterday. They have capped off several cells, meaning their is developing brood inside.

      The foxes are interesting and curious souls who visit every so often. I have not seen a mountain lion yet, although I am told they are in the area. Coyotes are about as well, although I have only heard them.

      We had a brief respite in the low 80s yesterday, but are now sailing into the 90s again today and for the next few days. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Well! I hardly know where to begin. Wasps nest in blueberry bushes? (Those blueberries look lovely.) Feline correspondents confused about whose turn it is to post? I shall focus on your yellow daffodil, and the wonderfully caring tribute garden you have created for friends. What a kind thing you’ve done, Lavinia my friend. As I listen to your music and write, this stays in my heart. Best to you and Rick and the menage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, Cynthia, and thanks for stopping by! Mr. Otis, our feline correspondent from Connecticut, was going to file a report this month, but I learned recently he is not doing well, and his secretary is overwhelmed caring for him in addition to taking care of their farm in summer. That old kitty needs our thoughts and prayers. The Daniel Schorr of cats, he is working right up to the end, and will try to file one last report, if he can.

      The memory gardens are often the one meaningful kind thing I can do, the gift of perennial life to those left behind. They are scattered all over this farm, sometimes just a lone daffodil here and there. A favorite aunt who passed on years ago has one of those at the edge of the woods, as that is what she would have liked. She was a naturalist and a keen observer of wildlife, having grown up in the Kentucky mountains. I see her every spring when she blooms at woods edge.

      All the best to you and your family, Cynthia. Have a wonderful summer season filled with flowers and sunshine!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Kev says:

    Lol… You made me cringe when you mentioned putting your hand on the nest… Phew! I was relieved to find they are non-aggressive… Lucky you! Love the foxes. Then again, I’m fond of nature in general. Nice post, Lavinia. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you Kevin! Thanks for stopping by, for the kind comments! I was also relieved to find out these wasps are non-aggressive. They have now several capped-off brood chambers on that nest. The bush has been picked clean of fruit except for a little wreath of blueberries around the paper nest. 🙂 Our foxes are about, as I see the scat, but they have been keeping a low profile.

      Readers, please visit musician and author Kevin Cooper at


  23. Dear Lavinia, if it would have been possible, I would visit you and give a big hug to you. You are so nice. Your beautiful heart/spirit and also your beautiful voice being a power/happiness and peace for me… God be with you always, Thank you so much, love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to see you, Nia. Thank you for stopping by! My heart goes out to you for the loss of your Princess cat. I will plant daffodils here in her honor when the bulbs arrive this fall. She will visit me every spring and grace the farm with her beauty; I will send you her picture. ❤

      We all send our love and may God always be with you too, dear Nia. You are a kind, loving soul to care for all those cats I have come to know on your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by Luanne! Glad you love the photos. 🙂 I love invertebrates too, and found our wasps fascinating. That is the first time they have nested in the blueberry bushes, but at least they are relatively peaceful from what I can tell. I have picked the bush clean right up to a wreath of berries right around their nest. They capped off many chambers, and young have hatched now, chewing their way out.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I came here a few times ,lavinia but every time I have a shock at seeing your header photo.; This looks in 3D . The blue berries photo are amazing and so, for the paper wasps. . I think I already told you this but we are never tired of the beauty.
    Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you, Michel! And thank you so much for the kind comments! The paper wasps in the blueberries are a bit unusual, and made an interesting feature photo. They are still there. The tube chambers containing eggs were capped off, young have hatched, and the wreath of blueberries surrounding them is shriveling. The cycle of life.

      Love to you and Janine, ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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