Our feature photo this month is Marilyn, one of our reblooming irises. The Marilyn Monroes of the flower world, irises dominate the gardens during the month of May with their eye-catching blooms. Tucked in here and there about the farm, year after year they add grace and beauty to whatever spot they find themselves in. Readers may click on any photo to enlarge.
News from the farm
May has been a tentative month, still feeling the presence of Old Man Winter with cooler, although drier, weather patterns. Many a morning has been cool and grey, dissolving into a patchwork of assorted clouds forms against the stark blue of late morning or afternoon. The aerial rivers of moisture that flow across the Pacific Northwest have yielded little precipitation this month in our area though, and some plants here are prematurely showing signs of water stress.
Deer have already begun to make themselves known, sampling the roses in the garden. Rick noted deer damage in the back of the rows of table grapes, mostly in the Niagara and Delaware varieties; fresh green shoots were eaten back to the main cane in many places. They will regrow from other dormant buds, but this will set back fruit production in those ones that were eaten. At this time of year we spray deer repellent on the new growth, often initiated by the first attacks on the vines. Our pinot vineyard is safely behind deer fencing.
The progression of spring continues into its last phase as more irises enter their bloom time; the gardens have shifted from the golden yellows and whites of daffodils to the predominant late spring and summer shades of blue and purple. Dark purple columbines have been increasing their representation in the gardens every year since a few hitchhiking seeds arrived in a bag of rabbit manure a number of years ago, and settled in by the old garage.
Cherry, plum and pear blossoms have fallen like snow, replaced by small, hard, green growing fruit.
Our vineyards are at the flowering stage, and we hope for an uneventful summer and a good grape harvest. To grow and tend the grapes, and taste one’s own wine made from them, is to truly appreciate what goes into a bottle of wine. It is no longer just a drink, but now a living thing. It is the alchemy of air, sunlight and rain, the soil with all its minerals, nutrients and microbial life, guided by caring and hardworking hands from vine to bottle.
A clear and chilly 36 degrees greeted me at daybreak this morning before I headed across the valley to Corvallis. Down by the waterfront, I was greeted by cold and windy conditions which were mitigated by an unusual and fascinatingly beautiful milky sky. Clouds seem much more impressive when seen through polarized sunglasses; there is an increased sense of depth and distinct boundaries not available to the normal eye. A thin light grey film of high ice crystal clouds covered the sky, providing the backdrop for lower level amoeboid altocumulus and cirrocumulus wandering though the double halo, created by refraction of light through ice crystal prisms. These wanderers passing through the inner circular of the halo took on a faint opalescence of their own. Many bystanders took pictures.
The first daylily bloomed today; the only peony to bloom this year is opening its buds; the north border heirloom rose is beginning its short bloom cycle. The air is thick with the heavy, musk of the black locust tree in bloom. As frenetic as this time of year can be, it is a good time to be alive and feel a part of all things.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has called upon the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk for Correspondent Lucky’s report on the olive farm at The House of 40 Paws in May. Without further ado, Mr. Lucky will present his findings.
Spring on the olive farm has brought longer days and warmer weather which led to the Sicilian Olive Farm cats changing their napping accommodations. The preferred arrangement now is boxes and crates which give enough protection and ample space for piling as many cats as possible into one place. The sunny terrace provides a good vantage point for observation. The mulberry tree, which so kindly gives morning shade, currently shelters a nest of magpies, who are always scolding any cat that approaches too closely.
There are two kinds of lavender currently blooming, Stokes or Italian Lavender followed by French Lavender. These plants are a haven for the bees and good hiding places for felines in need of a good surprise ambush to raise adrenaline levels.
Early in spring there was a bumper crop of Spinacciola or wild radish. One might consider it a weed but here it is appreciated both for its fragrance and the edible leaves. “Cooked saltate” means boiled first then drained and sautéed in olive oil with hot pepper and garlic; it is delicious!
As winter wheat, vetch and fave beans planted in nearby fields mature, the countryside changes from shades of green to yellow and gold. The wild red poppies that sprout amid the crops visually set the fields on fire.
Among the olive trees in our field is a nitrogen fixing plant called Sulla which looks very similar to a red lupine. The resident human farmers have tilled up our field to aerate the soil for the olive trees. We feel fortunate to have a two acre sand box, quite suitable for a blind feline to take care of his personal needs, chase fellow correspondents and hide from human caregivers. I am the primary inspector on this farm, periodically climbing the olive trees to check for buds. I am pleased to report they are ready to bloom. We are hopeful that the rain will hold off until the bees can complete their work pollinating the entire grove.
The other correspondents are not quite as adventurous. They express a preference for playing with laundry or having serious philosophical discussions on the terrace.
The Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk wishes all our readers a bountiful and beautiful summer season.
– Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, reporting from the olive farm at the House of 40 Paws
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
I continue to enjoy playing out again, especially as a terminal musician. Juggling music, farm and outside work which pays the bills which enables us to play music and keep the farm (and cats) going has kept me more than occupied. May has not been any more conducive to finishing projects at home than April, and I will make no excuses. Things will be done when they will be done. If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.
For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 15 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! 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 https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross