Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2017

Readers may click on any photo in this post to enlarge.  Our feature photo this month is of what we believe is a fine specimen of the orb weaver spider clan,  Argiope aurantia, commonly found hanging about gardens throughout North America.

A most comely garden resident, on duty and ever vigilant for the next meal. Interested readers can find more information at

With luck, someday this autumn I may catch her tending her web, freshly festooned with the night’s dew. It has been too hot and dry lately to see these arachnid silk Brigadoons.  Damp, sunlit mornings can sometimes reveal an entire dazzling city of webs, which fades into invisibility in the heat of the day.

News from the farm

August brings day after day of heat and drought; temperatures in the 90s and 100s are common, with few interludes of coolness.  Large farms, such as grass seed growers, have harvested their crops, tilled and pulverized the soil with impressively large machines.  Dust devils, heat-spawned vortices known by different names around the world and thought to be the spirits of the dead in some cultures, spin lazily across the broad, barren farmlands, carrying the fertile soil of Oregon skyward until the bright blue above is stained with a tan haze.   Smoke from forest fires around the region contributes a grey hue to the canvas; the sun and moon rise in bloody orange colors against a murky, alien sky.

Early morning on August 22nd.

And the morning of August 28th. Fortunately, most of the smoke from fires has cleared at this time.

Stratified smoke and morning mists on August 22nd.

As occurs with most things in life, beauty and goodness come packaged along with assorted trials tribulations; August was no exception.  We were fortunate to have clear conditions on the day of the eclipse, and were in the path of totality.   Witness to the changing light and temperature, the emergence of stars mid morning accompanied by the blazing wedding ring in the heavens, we count ourselves among the blessed to have attended this once in a lifetime event.

The smoky pall that periodically engulfed us, and was driven aways by the winds during the month, did serve to mitigate temperatures slightly.  The roses, which ceased blooming during the earlier summer heat, have reawakened.  A close inspection of the blooms often reveals a visitor, in this instance, a 12 Spot Cucumber Beetle.  Although we normally do not see many of these beetles here, there appear to be more of them about this year.

A rose with a visitor, a 12 Spot Cucumber Beetle. Interested readers can find more information at

A 12 Spot Cucumber Beetle visiting a Rose of Sharon bloom at sundown.

I have been observing the progress of our resident paper wasps nesting in a blueberry bush.  These fascinating and relatively docile wasps were featured on last month’s post, which can be found in the archives at  Click on any photo on this site to enlarge.

Our paper wasps featured in our July 2017 newsletter. Photo taken July 16th.

This photo was taken August 8th. One can see that chambers have been capped off and brood is developing. The wreath of blueberries around their nest is shriveling.

The same paper wasp nest on August 29th. Young have hatched. They have survived the worst of the summer heat and drought. The blueberry wreath continues to shrivel, and the bush itself is showing signs of late summer heat stress.

Other visitors have come through, including skunks, much more pleasant seen than smelled, to the mischievous ones, some leaving paw prints on the patio and damaged bird netting from attempted grape filching. Raccoons are the prime suspects, breaking clips and ripping holes in bird netting.  They have hit our farm before, and will again. They too, enjoy the season’s bounty of fruits and vegetables.

Muddy footprints left behind after a night of overturning flower pots and general mayhem on the porch. Raccoon or skunk? The odor of skunk was very strong in the general area when the tracks were noted.

Visitors from past years consenting to be photographed included skunks and nutria.  Stinklesby, was a resident skunk for one summer.

“YOUR grapes? I thought these were MY grapes!!!!” Stinklesby was a resident for one summer, but met an untimely demise in the road.

“Visiting” nutria from late 2015 though spring 2016. They pulled the white tags out of the pots of grape starts. Yosemite Sam posing for the camera.

Rick and I have been hard at work, tending vines and gardens. Spot watering plantings to conserve water becomes a labor-intensive undertaking at this time of year, when temperatures soar into the 90s and 100s, and little to no rain falls.  The heavy, clay soil bakes brick-hard and fissures like wounds in the earth. Even gophers do not enjoy tunneling, preferring to dig in areas that were just watered.  Once verdant fields wither under relentless heat and summer sun, turning brown, then progressing into light tan to almost white, crumpled skeletons of vegetation; the grass crunches underfoot in the annual cycle of growth, drought and dormancy.

Rick, spot watering in one of the tomato beds.

Rick working the table grapes.

Cascade table grapes behind bird netting.

A test row of Early Muscat and Gewurztraminer wine grapes under insect netting we are trying out. Hopefully this will help keep out wasps and bees, who also like the sugary, moisture laden fruit.

Rick working in the main block of pinot noir. We will be selecting two of the best rows to test out insect netting.


Ripening pinot noir on Salmon Brook Farms.

Several rows of of the best of our pinot noir will go under insect netting soon. We will be attempting to make a test batch of wine from our own pinot noir this season using Epernay II yeast.  Last year, the birds, bees and wasps managed to clean us out, and I was left with  Cascade table grapes for testing, with promising results.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano, ever watchful.

Mr. Nano at the Salmon Brook Farms Feline Correspondents Desk received the sad news this month of the passing of Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent Otis.  Mr. Nano, with the help of Otis’ family, has written a eulogy.

Mr. Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent, has passed away peacefully at his home in Connecticut. He will be missed by all. Photo credit C.M.

There comes a time when the body is too worn and tired to continue, and the spirit longs for freedom from it.  Mr. Otis passed away peacefully at home on August 22, 2017 after a long battle with old age and kidney disease.  A true journalist, he worked right up until the end, investigating everything that happened on his farm.  No news escaped his keen vision and nose, and he often listened in on conversations in the garage, no matter what the weather, whenever there was a gathering of men over beer and assorted snacks.  He is survived by his companions Izzy, Rosie and Sadie, and his humans Rob & Carolyn. 

We celebrate Otis’ life and legacy.  He is now a part of the history and legends of the farm he called home, woven into the tapestry of the lives of all those who loved him.   Friends for a short time, but remembered for a lifetime.  We are all made of stardust, and to the stars we all ultimately return.  The memories of those who have left us travel on starlight, to be heard on the wind as it whispers in the pines, and seen in the moon’s soft ghostly glow.

Otis, collecting news at a gathering of family and friends in February, 2016.

Otis, basking by the wood stove.

The Northeast Regional Feline Correspondents Desk HQ, February 2016.

Otis has taken over the dog bed. Photo credit C.M.

Otis, keeping an eye out for news from the hayloft. Photo credit C.M.

Otis, after a hard day of work. Photo credit R.M.

Otis curled up in his basket by the wood stove. Photo credit C.M.

Otis relaxing his his basket.

Otis relaxing on his porch. Photo credit C.M.

Mr. Otis’ family also sent the following for the readers of this newsletter.

“For the rest of my life I will search for moments full of you.”

“May you have safe travels over Rainbow’s Bridge, Otis, and may you be greeted by all the other Hope Valley loves that have crossed it before you. We will miss you dearly, but we know you are in a better place. So, until we meet again, much love and peace to you, dear friend. “

Goodbye Otis, my friend, my colleague.

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

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I will be returning to the Spokane Fall Folk Festival this November after being away for a number of years due to elder care duties. See our post In Loving Memory, December 2015.  I took 2016 off from performing to recover my health and recharge, and I am looking forward to seeing friends old and new.

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.  I have no new videos this summer due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, once the harvest season has passed.

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

An April sunrise, spring being one of my favorite times to catch sunrise. The position on the hill where the sun rises over the farm, and the morning cloud conditions offer some beautifully saturated colors and skyscapes. The promise of a new day, a new page upon which to write the story of our lives.


101 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2017

  1. Timothy Price says:

    So sad to read that Mr. Otis has passed on. It’s so heartbreaking to lose kitties. You have had all kinds of critters visiting you. The lead spider is what we call a Zipper Spider, and we have not seen any yet this year. They usually start weaving their zippy webs about this time of year. We’ve had a few skunk encounters on our walks in the dark the past few days. Something, possibly a coyote, made on spray along the ditch bank and it was eye-burning fresh when we walked by. The grapes are looking good. Our grapes are all over the place. They end up being a hedge, and I eat some of the grapes, and the critters get the rest. I haven’t been paying much attention to the music scene lately. There are at least three big name concerts coming through each week, and dozens of local events. Other than few events are free, I don’t know how people can say there is nothing to do in Albuquerque.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Tim! Those orb weaver/zipper spiders go by many different common names. I knew them as”garden spiders” growing up. Zipper spider certainly seems to fit the webs they weave.

      I love that description of skunk spray as”eye-burning fresh”. That about sums it up!

      There is usually more going on in any particular area than most locals think. I usually have too many things on my plate at any time, and am never bored or wanting for things to do. I hope you get back into playing guitar. I thoroughly enjoyed your music that you sent.

      Say hello to Laurie and Tristan, and give all the critters a scritch for me.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so sad that your Otis had to go… but they all live on in our heart and in our memory… I’m sure.
    I can not imagine to have raccoons or Mr. Pepe Le Pew in my garden, they fortunately belong not to our wildlife… although I’ve heard that raccoons have crazy ideas… they would fit to Phenny LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always good to see you, Phenny and family! Thanks for stopping by.

      Old Otis will be missed. He put up a good resistance to old age and infirmity, but finally let Carolyn and Rob know it was time. The vet was able to come out to their farm and give him his release to head over the Rainbow Bridge, to see his twin brother Milo and others who passed on earlier. It is painful to see them leave us. I’ve come to look at it as they are not on the “front lines” of life with us anymore, but just on the other side of the veil, only a thought away.

      Yes, those raccoons have crazy ideas. Hope that Phenny never meets one… 🙂

      I have a shipment of fall bulbs coming in soon, and some from this batch will go into a memorial planting for Easy. I have not forgotten that beautiful silver-grey Weimaraner.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Herman says:

    Hi Lavinia! Thank you for another great post. I would love to pay Salmon Brook Farms a visit! But so sorry to read the sad news about the passing of Mr. Otis. It is always so painful when we have to say goodbye to one of our friends…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Herman! You are always welcome here.

      Old Otis will be missed. He put up a good resistance to old age and infirmity, but finally let Carolyn and Rob know it was time. The vet was able to come out to their farm and give him his release to head over the Rainbow Bridge, to see his twin brother Milo and others who passed on earlier. It is painful to see them leave us. I’ve come to look at it as they are not on the “front lines” of life with us anymore, but just on the other side of the veil, only a thought away.

      You and Mr. Bowie have a wonderful weekend ahead, my friend. All the best from cats and crew here, and Mr. Nano wishes Mr.Bowie a speedy recovery. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Lavinia!! Rick is certainly the busy bee all summer, as I’m certain you are – having a ranch/farm I’m sure leaves very little you can call ‘free-time’. With Mr. Otis’ passing, does a cat-nip bush get planted in his honor? I think it would be good to think his fellow felines would be thinking of him while they imbibed.
    I had to smile at your mention of the ray Bradbury Theater! I used to so look forward to him picking out an object from the room for his story!!
    Have a terrific weekend!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you,GP! Thanks for stopping by! No, not much free time for us here in season. Even the line of redwoods which are heavily mulched, including Michael’s tree, needs supplementary water in this weather. The bucket brigade continues. We’re headed back into really hot weather this week.

      I have a shipment of bulbs coming in, and some will go for Mr. Otis’ memorial. The catnip bush sounds like a great idea though, and I will do that too!

      Ray Bradbury Theater was a great thing! I have been trying to get the chiropractor to watch the episode called “Skeleton” 🙂

      You have a great weekend, too, GP!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, Jill. Good to see you! Yes, old Otis certainly did live a life full of love, and he will be missed.

      Connecticut winter scenes are beautiful. I love that log home where Otis lived.


  5. While spiders are regarded as prey and a good time by some of us here (Ahem! Andy and Dougy) others of us (me) regard them as pest control agents and beautiful little creatures that display incredible skill and patience catching their lunches.

    Best wishes for a successful grape harvest and a vintage that gives you a better sense of how your project goes! I found robins loved the grapes I grew, and squirrels, too. Netting was an improvement, though I wonder how commercial wine producers manage to save their crops without netting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you and the boys, Doug!Spiders are wonderful little pest control agents, and I enjoy seeing them about. I hadn’t seen an orb weaver in the garden for several years, and was very pleased to have this one set up shop.

      Large commercial vineyards often use bird cannons, which fire off periodically and make a loud noise. Some fly predator “kites”. Some vineyard owners will actually shoot and kill the birds.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, and the kind comments, Derrick! The weather report this morning shows my area as heading back up into the 90s and low 100s again this week. Past a certain point, gardens and vineyards shut down in the heat, and plantings require much more water to stay alive. We mulch heavily, but that only goes so far.

      Mr. Otis will be missed, for sure.

      I am looking forward to Spokane. It is a wonderful festival held indoors, with many performance rooms hosting a wide variety of music and dance sets going on all at the same time. It is supported by the community, which comes out in droves for the event.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, and the kind comments, dear Nia! I thought of your sweet Princess as I was writing this post. A shipment of fall bulbs is coming in soon, and some will be planted in her memory.

      Yes, old Otis will be missed, like Princess. He put up a good resistance to old age and infirmity, but finally let Carolyn and Rob know it was time. The vet was able to come out to their farm and give him his release to head over the Rainbow Bridge, to see his twin brother Milo and others who passed on earlier. It is painful to see them leave us. I’ve come to look at it as they are not on the “front lines” of life with us anymore, but just on the other side of the veil, only a thought away.

      Have a wonderful September, too, Nia! I will catch up with you shortly. I apologize for being so far behind on keeping up with everyone. I miss the Cats of Istanbul and your posts on your beautiful Turkish homeland. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Tootlepedal! I don’t see many of these fine orb weavers, but I am always happy to have them in my gardens.

      I hope the insect netting works. If it does, we will be investing in more or it.


  6. Such beautiful lyrical writing, Lavinia! I love reading your descriptions of the area where you live, the weather and the creatures that visit your farm! You have both been very busy this summer and also very hot and dry it seems! I hope the autumn brings you cooler weather and some refreshing rain. I was sorry to hear of the passing of your Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent, Mr Otis. I am glad that Miss Izzy will be able to take over the task. I look forward to hearing how you get on at the Spokane Fall Folk Festival this November. Take care of yourself, my dear Lavinia!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Clare, and all the kind comments! This blog is a release for me, an opportunity to paint a picture in words about what I see and feel. I am always pleasantly surprised and honored when someone finds something of value there.

      We had a brief respite from intense heat, but we were back in the mid 90s yesterday, and headed for the high 90s and low 100s this week. The sun is further south now, and we are rapidly losing daylight as the equinox approaches, so at least it is not so hot as long during the day now as it was earlier in the season.

      I am able to do more this year, and summer is always a balancing act between doing all that needs to be done, and pushing it too hard.

      Carolyn warned me earlier this summer that Mr.Otis was not doing well. I am glad that the vet was able to come to the farm, and let Otis go peacefully with his family in attendance.

      I am looking forward to Spokane. It is a day’s journey from here, a very beautiful drive up through the valley to the Columbia Gorge and on over into the rolling hills and high desert of eastern Washington. I will remember to bring the camera this time. 🙂

      All my best to you and the family.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for stopping by from gardeninacity, Jason! I don’t see many of these magnificent orb weavers here and this one was particularly beautiful. 🙂

      Those grapes are good! The Cascade table grapes are coming in now, and we had some for dessert at lunch.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. How fascinating to watch the progress of the paper wasps…I’ve commented before how much I admire you sharing your bounty with your fellow creatures but I’m glad to see you testing out protective nets for those luscious looking grapes! So sorry to hear about Mr Otis but Mr Nano’s tribute was lovely. To stardust we return indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Carol! We are hoping the insect netting works. Yellow jacket wasps chew holes in the grapes, and the honeybees follow to feed in the wounds the yellow jackets make. At this time of year water and nectar are scarce, and honeybees will scavenge any fruit they can. Here is a photo from 2014 of them feeding on a fallen plum.

      Old Mr. Otis will be missed for sure. I’ll let Mr. Nano know his efforts were appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Carol! I have seen honeybees and wasps feeding side by side on rotting fruit. I have been told drinking fruit juices is not good for honeybees as it does not process and concentrate the same way when they try to store in in their comb; it just ferments. I can see them doing anything to stay alive, though. They need the calories. I am working on planting as much mint and dry weather tolerant plants that will bloom up until frost as I can. I see lots of honeybees on spearmint at this time, but I only have so much of it here. They love dandelions, both the Common Dandelion taraxacum officinale and the Coast Dandelion hypochaeris radicata but these too, are shutting down. The Coast Dandelion does better in extreme heat than the Common Dandelion.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Lavinia .. I’m so very sorry to hear about Otis .. how very sad. Lovely sweet kitty. Your April sunset is very special … Those grapes look so healthy too. Nice job with that netting. Yes, thank goodness the paper wasps aren’t aggressive .. I try and leave their nests as they also pollinate. That is some spider .. I hope you get some rain soon .. wish I could send you some.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by from Frog Pond Farm, and all the kind comments, Julie! Carolyn had let me know earlier that Otis was not doing well. Our animal companions do let us know when they are ready to cross, and fortunately, the vet was able to come to their farm and help Otis drift peacefully away.

      I love all forms of life. All play a role in this world. We try to coexist with wild creatures as much as possible, and these wasps were no threat to us. I have enjoyed watching them. We do not see many orb weaver spiders here, and that one I found in the garden was a real beauty!

      We won’t see rain here until late September or October; our usual dry period runs from late June until equinox. That has its advantages and disadvantages. Coupled with high temperatures, it be difficult to keep gardens and plantings alive. We spot water to conserve resources, and I save the water from changing out the cats’ water bowls to water flowers out front.

      All the best to you and your family in New Zealand. You should be coming into spring soon there, and I look forward to all the beautiful spring photos and tales of your farm. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Please tell Mr. Nano I’ve never read a more beautiful eulogy! Mr. Otis must’ve been a heck of a cat. And I love hearing that you’ll be performing soon–I so wish I lived close enough to come listen . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and the kind comments, Kerry! I will let Mr. Nano know his efforts were appreciated. He will like that! 🙂 Yes, old Otis was a very unusual cat, beloved by all who knew him.

      Rick and I used to tour and play music around the country. It is impossible to do that now between the farm and aging cats, but venues within a day’s drive are still possible with the help of our farm and cat sitter, Lyn.


  10. I’m so sorry to hear about Otis, I wish all his family well at this sad time and know that he’ll be keeping a close eye on things from the other side of the rainbow bridge. I love your description of spiderwebs as silk Brigadoons and I enjoyed hearing about life on the farm this month. Much luck with the folk festival 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by from Harvesting Hecate, and for the kind comments, Andrea! Old Otis will be missed by all who loved him. I don’t think our loved ones are ever that far away. We live in and perceive a 3 dimensional world; what lies beyond is in the extended realm of mathematics and physics. Someday there will be answers; for now, there is only faith, and experiences that cannot be explained.

      Years ago, I came upon a silk city early on morning in the back lot. I was fascinated by these webs which I had not seen the evening before, sparkling with dew in the first rays of sunlight that spilled across the hazelnut grove. They were gone by noon, invisible in the heat of the day.

      I am looking forward to Spokane!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. In the first part of your newsletter, Lavinia, you decribe the change of colors of the sky like a painter . The causes are well analysed ; big machines in the dry fields giving dust, fire giving smoke .You are luck to still have dew in the morning with this drought.
    You are very attentive to the fauna not only mammals but also insects and arachnids. This is important for your grapewine . for table or wine . You are blessed to produce such famous wines . Bit what a work : nets agaisnst the insects for instance . You do not speak of the mushroms . No oidium, nor mildew ? Probably you have to spray against those .
    In this first part you associaye poetry, sciences and hard work . This is wery well the spirit of the true farmer.
    Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always a pleasure to see you, Michel! Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments! Mildew and mold is not something we have any problem with here, most likely due to the hot, dry summers, and our particular location. We do not use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides on our farm. Wasps and honeybees will go after grapes in the dry season, as water and food are in short supply. Here is a photo of them from 2014 feeding on the pinot noir.

      The only spray we use is Deer-Off, a deer repellent mixture we use on the first growth in spring on the table grapes which are not behind deer fencing. Only the pinot noir is behind the 8 foot tall deer fence. Deer love to eat the new shoots of grapevines, and they can be a problem here in the grapes, and with new blueberry bush shoots in early spring. In autumn, male deer will scrape the velvet off of their antlers on blueberry bushes, reducing them to scrap wood. I will have to spend the money fence in the blueberries. Here is a photo of a couple of deer between a row of netted table grapes and the blueberries back in 2014. The photo is from early fall that year, and all is still hot and dry.

      Love to you and Janine, ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Lavinia for your precise reply . You are respecting the natural balance without use of fungicide and insecticides. Your products are certianly renowned .. Iunderstand you have to take off deer to protect young shoot of grapes and blueberry., if you want to save them. In my modest veggie garden I use nets and veil against some insects but do notuse spray either.
        Love ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I read the following Euloge of Otis by Mr Nano. We love our pets and they exist because we love them .Love is creator.
    I do not think I underlined the work of watering you have in this dry area . At reading a second time I realize much the hard work that Rick and you are doing . What you say about the fissures in the clayer soil recalls to me my own veggie garden . Sometimes I am wondering how the plants succeed to find some melecules of water in this dry soil. The vegetal resilience is incredible .
    Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Michel! Mr. Nano wrote a beautiful eulogy for Mr. Otis. Our animals are part of our family here.

      Yes, this time of year presents many challenges; watering is one of them. Plants can’t get up and search for water like animal life. In spring, we do put down mycorrhizal fungi we get from a local garden center, which helps plants absorb nutrients and water, and even form networks. I am still learning a lot about how they function. Here are a couple of links for you.

      Love to you and Janine, ❤


      • THANKS for this link, Lavinia . This reminded me of old knowledges about mycorhizzas and their symoiose with roots of plants. Very interesting reeminder.
        Perhaps the crop in your wineyard is done ?
        Love ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good to see you, Michel, and thank you for looking into the fungi link. 🙂

        We picked 4 trays of the4 ripest pinot noir grapes not under netting and started 4 gallon fermentation today. The brix level is only around 18%, but Rick felt the grapes not under bird/insect netting were beginning to get the attention of the yellow jacket wasps, and he wanted to make sure we got something. The rest of the grapes we will let ripen another 1 to 2 weeks, depending on weather and other factors.

        Much love to you and Janine! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • We have three rows of grapes netted with insect netting, some with bird netting only, some not netted at all. The ones not netted are starting to be attacked by foxes now as well as wasps. The bird netting ones are starting to see some wasp activity. The insect netted ones still look good.


  13. So sorry to hear about Mr. Otis. He was loved by all. Those fires are sure something else. Wished there was a way to balance everything out instead of having to deal with the extremes. Best wishes from us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Anarette, Mrs. Zulu and Benji! I wish us all luck. Between fires, floods and world events, we all need all the luck and best wishes we can get.

      Mr. Otis will be missed. I am glad the vet was able to come to Rob and Carolyn’s farm to help Otis ease out of this world into the next.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The derelict hazelnut grove at the back end of the property is where I see spider web cities. Plenty of real estate to hang a web on! In first morning sunlight when all is heavy with prismatic dew, the scene can be startling. We have the brush and high grass cleared from around the trees once a year, so there are none right now. Sounds like I will have to put a dawn trip out to the grove, when conditions are right, on my list and try to get a good photograph. 🙂


  14. Good morning dear Lavinia,
    Beautiful post. I loev reading your monthly updates. You are lucky to live in such a paradise. The city (and even suburbs as in my case can be messy, for sure and you are not in touch with Nature, properly said).
    That featured spider looks huge. Most people don´t like spiders… But I´d say they are similar to ants or even butterflies. I basically admire the fact that they weave such intricated webs to catch their potential food. I have always felt that way towards spiders.
    You nail it with the guitar!. “Weary stranger” is such an awesome song. I just discovered this “unreleased” song by Lana del Rey. It has a beautiful guitar and melody. And the lyrics are poignant and beautiful. Please listen to it, it is very short (less than 3 minutes) and I am sure you´ll like it: Hugs & best wishes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, Aquileana, and all the kind comments! We are indeed lucky to live in such a paradise.

      The orb weaver spiders are big and imposing creatures. We don’t see many of them here, and I am lucky to have this one about. She has already festooned her web with the remains of previous meals.

      Thank you for listening to the music here. Glad you enjoyed it! I will listen to that clip of Lana Del Rey; thank you for sending it.

      All the best to you. I have very much enjoyed your posts on mythology! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Lavinia, It has been endless and overwhelming work at my end the last few weeks, and finally, I am coming to visit! But you have been very prolific, and it may take me two times stopping by. 🙂 Such wonderful photography of the farms and land around you with those beautiful, albeit smoky and hazy, skies.
    I am sorry to hear about Otis’ passing. It is always heartbreaking to lose an animal we love.
    The photo that really grabbed me? The nutria! I have never seen them in person, and never in anyone’s personal photographs. I am utterly enchanted. They look like a cross between a sea otter and a giant guinea pig or capybara. Soooooo cute! I’ll be back …. Jeanne

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a soulful, beautiful, newsletter for August, Lavinia.

    First, my condolences to those who loved Mr. Otis. Thank you for his parting words.

    Second, you are gracious even to the marauding suspects – the Racoons.

    Third, your writing is sublime – an anthem to the season, full of wisdom and beauty. I give you this, as one of many examples: “As occurs with most things in life, beauty and goodness come packaged along with assorted trials tribulations; August was no exception.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, Cynthia, and the very kind comments! I am honored you enjoy the writing, and I am always pleased when someone finds something of value there. Writing is a creative release for me, a focusing of thought and emotion. 🙂

      Rob and Carolyn also lost one of the dogs from lymphoma, not long after Otis. This summer has been particularly hard for them.

      Those raccoons! They are clever fellows, finding creative ways to get at whatever it is they want. They are very sweet-looking, but I have great respect for their ability to defend themselves, especially if cornered. They can also carry rabies. I have encountered rabid raccoons back east, staggering about in broad daylight. Documented cases of rabies do crop up in our area from time to time, and I keep that in mind when encountering all wild, and unknown domestic creatures.

      All the best to you and your family, Cynthia, and have a beautiful, and bountiful, autumn season! I think I enjoy autumn more than spring, although it is hard to choose. 🙂


  17. I remember in the past hearing of nutria raised for fur coats, much like mink farming, a dreadful, disgusting business. But they’re still cute to me. 🙂
    My sympathy to the family that lost Otis and their dog. I know how painful it is to lose our companions, but especially close together.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You certainly have some fascinating wildlife on the farm, even though some of it might be a mixed blessing to a grape crop. Hope the grape harvest goes well.

    In the UK we have managed to eradicated coypu (as we call nutria). It seems a shame, but they aren’t a native species and there were worries about them. Sadly, I can’t find part 2 of this article.

    Sorry to hear about Otis. We took the decision not to replace our last two – they died at the age of 19 and 20 – but after the last one died it was about three months before I stopped seeing her out of the corner of my eye. Cats are a big presence in any house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you Quercus, and thanks for stopping by!

      That was an interesting article on the coypu, or nutria as we call them over here. They are well established here in Oregon, and are a pest in some areas, along with the myriad other non-native plants and animals. The ironic part of their story is that they were nearly exterminated in their native range in South America due to over-harvesting. I have not seen signs “our” nutria here in many months. These youngsters either moved on or fell prey to coyotes or other predators. One site I read mentioned most die by the time they reach 3 years of age. Winter definitely takes its toll if the cold spells are prolonged. Being up here in the foothills of the Cascades, some winters can go down into low 20s, teens or even single digits.

      Mr. Otis will be missed. Rob and Carolyn also had to euthanize one of the dogs that same week. She had lymphoma and was near the end. I do know what you mean about seeing them out of the corner of one’s eye for quite a while after they have departed. Cats are indeed a big presence, and leave a tremendous hole in our lives when they leave.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Great to read your news! Animals pass away way too soon and we love them as if they have eternity ahead of them. It’s good you have other pets, too.
    Hard work is what feeds us and makes our life saturated.
    I’m glad to hear you will do some music at the festival. Certainly, soul needs something soothing also.
    I’ve been away for almost month, so, yes, I would like to be home again. It’s nice visiting loved ones, but I really do not like saying good buy and that will be the hardest part before I get back to my normal life.
    I hope you have good autumn and can make time for pleasure also since that is such a busy time at a farm.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I went to the archives and listened BACK ROAD AND KEEPSAKE . I read also what it is said about you . I agree totally. Your voice is captivating and the we are envelopped by the sounds of your guitar ( made by you ).
    Thanks for the great time you give us, Lavinia
    Love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hello hello Salmon Brook Farm, I’m really sorry to know Otis has passed on. He looked like quite the character with his big fluffy paws draped over baskets, chairs, hay lofts and the like. Something about Orange Tabby Cats makes them so personable and almost like they once were in show business then came back as a cat, ha! I Mind you, I think every living thing has personality 😀 I’m sure his family, while expecting it, were shattered. This is quite profound I think, “for the rest of my life, I will search for moments full of you”. It’s exactly have I’ve felt about our much loved fur family, it makes me a little teary but I’m glad to have read it. Thanks for sharing that Lavinia, I’m writing in my Journal.
    We’ve had a very smoke filled summer too. August is typically our warmest month and it was this year too. We had a dry spell but nothing like you’ve experienced. I’m sorry to hear things got so dry. The grapes all still look good, but I worry more about wildlife as ponds they drink at disappear. Or grass they need to graze on before winter is dead and dry. We’re on our 4th straight day of rain just now and it’s already cold. But I’m off to see Alys on Oct 1st so there is a reprieve 😀 if only for a little while.
    Could wishes for a plentiful harvest and have fun at the folk fest! Hugs Boomdee!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you, Boomdee! Thank you for the kind comments on old Otis, and will let Carolyn and Rob. He was quite the lovable character, and his passing devastated his family. Orange tabbies once in show business? Who knows, Otis may have been Ed Sullivan in a former life. 🙂

      We have a normal summer dry season here, where we get little to no rain between July and mid September to early October. The temperature has been going up over the years, with more days in the 90s and 100s. That really dries things out in a hurry. Finding a source of water or other moisture and food can be a real problem for wildlife.

      Have fun with Alys! It will be a welcome break from the cold and rain up there in Canada. Hugs and best wishes, Lavinia.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by and the kind comments, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. I pulled you out of the SPAM folder, but I did note your email address seems to be associated with multiple websites that seem to be travel/business oriented, so your comments keep ending up in SPAM.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Sylvia! Our spider is still with us, moving her web location around the cornstalks from time to time.

      Old Otis will be missed, especially by his family. Carolyn told me they had to euthanize one of the dogs not long after Mr. Otis. Sadie had lymphoma, which took her down rather quickly after she was diagnosed.


    • Thank you for stopping by Anarette. Old Otis was a very lovable kitty, and is missed by all who knew him.

      It was a good blueberry season, Anarette, wish I could have sent you some! 🙂 The harvest season is just about over here now, and I’ll come up for a breather. I am way behind catching up with everyone.

      All the best to the ZAB team! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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

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