Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April, May and June 2020

Our feature photo this quarter is of a snail visitor, whom we think may be a Monadenia fidelis, spotted back in late April.  Although we see many slugs, we don’t often see snails on the farm.  Often times it is only the shiny, dried slime trail left behind, as well as damage to plants, that indicates slugs and snails have been by during the night.  The State Library of Oregon has an informative snail and slug poster available for those interested in such animals.  Nature’s creatures come in what seems to be an endless variety of forms, lifestyles, colors and patterns.

A visiting snail whom we think may be a Monadenia fidelis, seen making his way along the garage wall.


Of the various slugs we have seen about the farm, I find the most intriguing species to be the leopard slug, Limax maximus.  They are also carnivores, and prey on other species of slugs.  Although it is difficult to envision these animals as moving quickly, Limax maximus is roughly four times faster than other slugs, including our native banana slug, and easily overtake their prey.

News from the farm

The last three months have gone by more quickly than expected.  I’ve watched the new crescent moon appear above the Maxfield Parrish colors of the fading western sky, and followed its waxing and waning cycle back into darkness, each time eagerly awaiting its reappearance in the west .  It is an old friend I have known all my life.  At times, I have seen her set upon blue sky, white marbled with grey. She is like quartz tumbled by the sea and cast upon the shore by the tides, waiting for the fingers of a wandering, small beachcomber to pick them up and admire them.  My mother called these rounded quartz treasures “moonstones”, and I think of her when I see the moon amid the blue.  After nightfall, she takes on gold to golden-orange hues as she rises, desaturating as she sails overhead, bathing the farm in cold, pale light.  In the shadowy, colorless world of a moonlit night, many nocturnal creatures can be seen moving about, and I will wake up and spend a while at the window.  It is a time to remain still and observe, watching for movement, capturing the moment in mind’s eye.  I think of those who are no longer with us. The memories travel on starlight, replayed under the moon’s soft ghostly glow. Long-stilled voices are heard once again, riding on the night breeze as it prowls about the farm, rustling leaves and plucking a melody on the wind chimes on the porch.

Sunset on May 5th.

April still presented mornings down near or below freezing, resulting in some frost damage to trees and plants heeding the call of the sun, now past the equinox position in his travels north.  Our new everbearing strawberry plants, Charlotte and Eversweet, were set out under small grow tents to protect them during their vulnerable phase.

By early May, we had flowers on the strawberries!

Kale from last year was still producing, and the flowering tops fresh from the garden made a good stir fry with sweet potato, chickpeas and onion for lunch, along with with our own fresh asparagus, broiled with lemon juice, oil and vinegar.  Life can be simple, and good.  Little to no processed food is eaten here.

The greenhouse frame from the last project back in 2016 was moved to the main garden, and the remaining cement slab had two raised beds built on it from pavers removed along the edge of the original gravel drive, put in by the old owner.   They had been sinking over the years into the wet clay soil, serving no use as a border, so I began digging them up for the purpose of building raised beds for chives and oregano.    Elbert’s Garden lies along the north side, Surya’s Garden along the east side, Peter’s Garden on the south.  I am slowly adding perennials to all.

The new herb beds and flowers planted for friends and fellow bloggers in memory of their loved ones.

May irises in Elbert’s Garden.

The annual parade of flowers begins in January with the first daffodils and snow irises that brave the cold and dark days, surviving below freezing temperatures and tolerating coverlets of snow.  Crocuses soon follow, along with the one tulip that has not been eaten by gophers or voles as I planted it in gravel near a building, a note to self for the future.  Cherry, plum and pear explode in a profusion of white, then apples in shades of white to pink.  The droning of bees can be heard throughout the orchard.   Petals soon fall like snow, drifting on the breezes that wind through the farm, settling on the green grass below.

A crab apple in early May, a blue sky, warm day.

And the parade goes on!  The tall bearded and Dutch irises in many shades and moods will pass quickly, as come late May and early June, daylilies raise their blazing orange trumpets in a joyful noise.  Reblooming varieties will fall in behind them.

A sunny yellow flag iris, simple and elegant.

A reblooming iris, bending low out of her barrel to catch the sun.

A shy beauty. These will be moved as the crab apples shading them have grown. She needs more sun.

A cheerful bloom!

Trumpets held high, nothing says early summer like a daylily.

One of our rebloomers, planted in a barrel in memory of a girl who was bullied to death some years ago. She took her own life.

In May, the snowball bush blooms grace the dark green leaves like a shower of bridal bouquets.

The snowball bush on May 11th

A bridal bouquet of flowers!

This rhododendron bloomed profusely even after it was severely damaged by rutting deer last autumn.

The end of May also found us blocking off part of the gravel drive containing a slight depression with a killdeer egg was found.  It blended in so well that I almost stepped on it.  There were numerous such scraped depressions in the drive, but apparently she settled on this one.  I did not find eggs in the others.  We roped off that section of drive, a  bad location for the mother bird to have chosen.   Although we were fairly sure she had abandoned the egg, we left it roped off for a month.  There was no sign of the parents.

Lone killdeer egg in the gravel drive.

Roped off area.

June brings the roses, at least what was left to us after three wandering young male deer came through nightly.  Blackberry blossoms, the main honey flow in the Willamette Valley attract honeybees.

A hardworking bee collecting nectar and pollen from invasive blackberry. Oregon does have a native trailing blackberry, but the invasive varieties are everywhere. At best, we keep them at bay and collect the fruit for ourselves.

Finally flowering! The deer have chewed them repeatedly.

Young buck, one of three I’ve seen.

We are privileged, having what we need, living here in a tranquil bucolic bubble.  Covid-19 did not affect us in the same way as it has those who live in cities and more heavily populated areas.  Seasonal chores still require us to outside and working.  Nature waits for no one, and we are isolated enough to work outside on our farm in relative safety.  We are also privileged to not have to live under the same fear for our lives as do many of our fellow Americans and citizens in other countries.  The news has been nothing short of horrific.  We stand with Black Lives Matter, because all lives matter.  Our species, which has given itself the  arguable genus and species classification of Homo sapiens, or “Wise Man”, makes slow progress with each generation before passing the torch.  The real hope of each generation for continued change for the better lies with the young.  They have the opportunity, and ability, to continue to make this a better world than what the previous generation was able to achieve.   They are open to change and new ideas.  Many of us live in bubbles of one kind or another, oblivious or indifferent to the lives and needless suffering of others.  Author Cynthia Reyes has offered 8 Specific Actions one can take to attempt to understand and bridge the gap.  When all else fails, there is also the Golden Rule, simple yet complete in its message, and I still find it worth aspiring to, especially in these times.

The western sky on June 15th. We all share one planet, and all see the same moon.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Miss Abby sailed into her 18th year this April.  Although she has retired from filing reports, she would like readers to know she is comfortable and happy, and enjoys a good nap.  Although she only has two teeth left, her upper canines, she eats well, and enjoys a good meal.

Abby was sleeping in her padded chair when she was awakened by the photographer.

Mr. Nano, head of the Feline Correspondents Desk of Salmon Brook Farms, always watchful.

Mr. Nano, head of the Feline Correspondents Desk of Salmon Brook Farms has asked correspondents Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio to present their report for this quarter.  They have been quite busy observing the farm from their various window posts.

Marcus (left) and Lucio (right) leisurely collecting news.

Without further ado, correspondents Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio will present their report.

It has been a prolonged, cool and wet spring here on this little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The nightly enthusiastic chorus of frogs continued on into April, audible even with the windows closed.  It is an annual event we look forward to after the winter’s long darkness, one of Nature’s timeless rituals that speaks of life and its cycles.  Birds, as well as the chipmunk, were continuing to feed from the north side bird feeder that caught the first rays of morning sun.  Cold mornings, the grass heavy with dew and temperatures near freezing marked the month of April.  Some days soared into the lower 70s, with marbled skies and a promise of warmer days to come. 

In mid to late April, the air between sundown and nightfall is overwhelming with a symphony of scents from the various fruit trees, their brush-like forms in blossom coloring the farm and distant hills in shades of white to pink. A lighter yellow-green amid the blossom colors begins to offset winter’s grey-green lichen covering. It is spring, a good time to be alive, and observing Nature.

By April’s end, the bird feeder was abandoned, only the occasional towhee stopped by to kick out seed, which was promptly picked up by mice that live under the thick cover of vinca on the north border.   Spring continued her annual roll out of blade, leaf and flower. The season of the daffodils was at its finale as a few late plantings finished their bloom cycle. Pears, plums and cherries had already finished and were forming tiny bulbs of developing fruit at the base of older browning blooms. Apples were done blooming within the week, and forming new fruit. The vineyards were in bud break, some sections further along than others. Purple columbines began to open along with Dutch iris as German bearded irises were still forming fat buds.    Petals from trees, especially apples, fell like snow.  The grass seemed to grow ever faster, higher than the day before, while irises continued to unfurl. Everything was proceeding according to its own life plan on the grand Stage of Life. The play is always a bit different year to year, weather and temperature drive the script.

Rainbow in the east after a storm on May 2nd.

The month of May was the peak month of the iris with her subtle fragrances and Marilyn Monroe frills and flair. Only the gardener knew her secrets.   There were still many passing storms, and rainbows, an offering of peace from the heavens.   We are grateful for the rains, and that ever changing canvas of sky.   We find ourselves looking more closely at things with new eyes.  We are all temporary here, each with our own time in the sun.

Sunset clouds on May 5th

We spotted the first goldfinches of the season on May 4th.   Post sundown skies were particularly colorful, as a clearing in the west allowed the longer rays to highlight the bottoms of higher clouds and lower sitting cumulus directly.  Windows started opening at night to let fresh air in, and we heard the chorus of frogs continuing on into May.  The air was fragrant with hawthorn’s musky sweetness, and the white fragrant bells of blueberries.

On May 22nd we watched the tree swallows begin their evening feed around 5:00 PM, a great number of them performing an elaborate aerial ballet as they caught dinner on the wing. A pair of them stopped to rest and preen on the overhead electric wire we could see from the office window. The hummingbird finally made an appearance in the trumpet vine as well.  We had wondered where they were this year.

On May 25th,we listened to a robin and another unidentified bird that evening at dusk. Visibility was good enough to see the growing crescent moon in the west. The few clouds about the horizon caught the last pink rays of sun, ever running westward, a time of peace and beauty.   We noted the waxing crescent moon was higher in sky each night.

The month of June brought warmer mornings, and silver-grey mists that rose with the sun.  A pair of grackles performed their courtship ritual on the overhead electrical wire early in the morning on June 8th.   Careful observation found their well constructed nest in the upper profusion of new growth. They were not able to tolerate the comings and goings from the new garage, and abandoned the nest.  Tree swallow continued their aerial feeding acrobatics.

We saw two bucks early in the morning on June 21st, both 4 pointers, one slightly larger than the other, who was limping slightly.  He stood and looked around intently, with those deep brown eyes and serene expression, before moving off along with his companion.  A third buck, another 4 pointer, was spotted on the 27th.

The days are slowly growing shorter as the year progresses, another trip around the sun.  We wish our readers a pleasant day ahead, and safe travels to wherever your destination in life may lead you.

Taken from the plane coming into LAX in 2018.

– Feline correspondents Mr. Lucio and Mr. Marcus, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who missed previous posts or are new to this blog, I will be posting on mostly seasonal basis now. Hopefully someday, I may be able to actually catch up on the many projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, as well as stay in touch with all of you.  I will keep the performance schedule updated as venues become available to me again.  Due to Covid-19, what was once a full schedule is now empty.  New videos are in process, and will be posted to YouTube before long.   Unfortunately they did not make the train for this quarterly post.    Life has not slowed down for me at all since mid March, and somehow managed to speed up!

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 17 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!   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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms


164 thoughts on “Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April, May and June 2020

  1. niasunset says:

    WOW! I am really happy to see your monthly stories from your farm…
    The first photograph is amazing, how beautiful their shells… In the village home there are many of them too… I don’t like them to be in everywhere… And slug!!!! we don’t have them but makes me bad to see them…
    “Moonstones”…what a beautiful expression about the moon night… Fascinated me dear Lavinia, you should write more…

    and “Surya”s garden… I can’t explain my feelings… how nice of you dear Lavinia… I wished to give you a big hug…

    Flowers are so beautiful…. and cats too, I love your cats, days actually same for us too with cats… they watch outside we watch them…

    I am glad to know that you are in safety place… I hear the news from your country about coronavirus, really so scary and makes me worried… I do hope and wish to be found a solution… exact cure or vaccine…as soon as possible… I do pray for this too.

    Thank you dear Lavinia, this morning when I open my pc, I found your post at first… How made me happy. Blessing and Happiness to you ALL, and please be careful, stay in safe…

    Much Love and Hugs, nia

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Nia, it is always wonderful to see you! Thank you so much for stopping by and for all the kind comments! The cats and crew here all send their best to you and your family. Thank you for being our friend. Wish I could visit and stop in for tea!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. so great to listen to your music while reading… we have a lot of snails this year and sadly even this dagerous worms obama nungara, who destroy all plants..but we hope july will bring good news to all of us and the second part of 2020 is much better than the first one :O)

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Herman says:

    Hi Lavinia. Thank you so much for the update on what’s happening out there on the Farm. This is my favourite season of the year. I love to see how everything’s coming back alive after the winter. The last years we’re having problems with snails in this part of the world. There are just too many of them and they eat a lot of plants in our gardens. I refuse to use poison and gave up catching them, it’s just a hopeless situation. Well, I always say live and let live.
    I also enjoyed the report of correspondents Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio. Jimi sends his regards to all the cats and wishes Miss Abby a happy and peaceful life!

    Glad you’re all healthy and safe, my dear friend!

    Liked by 4 people

    • It is always good to see you, dear Herman and Jimi cat! Thank you for stopping by and for the kind comments! The cooler, damp weather has given the slugs a boost, and they are hungry devils. Slugs and snails can be vectors for parasites that cats can get infected with, so keep an eye on Jimi and make sure he does not eat any while he is outside in the garden with you.

      Wishing you both a wonderful, peaceful day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your usual beautifully written resumé. The cats have learned well. It was good to read of other recipients of your memorial generosity. Messrs Lucio and Marcus make a sound observation with “We are all temporary here, each with our own time in the sun”.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Snails — now they are on our minds this year! They ate our vines badly in the spring. Very depressing to watch and so many that picking them off was a fool’s errand. Incredible how the plants recover but sadly the flowering stems were considerably reduced 😦

    The land, garden and flowers are all looking super. Sensible use of the pavers. The cats are super correspondents — very observant too.

    We too feel enormously lucky to have our land during this worrying time. Enforced time away from others is never hard to fill.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Annie! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments! The cats thank you, too. 🙂

      I’ve never seen slugs on vines here for some reason. Maybe they have too many other things to eat. 🙂 They can do so much damage overnight to things. Yes, the plants do recover, but at a lower energy level.

      Stay safe and well! You are right, time away from others is never hard to fill.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Heitor Villa-Lobos’ aria from Bachianas Brasileiras Nr. 5 is my favorite “moon song”.
    This version, released in 1951, was recorded a decade+ earlier. 1940, I think, in ione take.], something you should appreciate!

    Afternoon a slow, transparent pink cloud.
    About space, dreamy and beautiful!
    The moon appears sweetly in infinity,
    Dressing up the afternoon, like a sweet maiden
    Who gets ready and the beautiful dreamily,
    In longings of the soul to be beautiful
    Scream to heaven and earth all Nature!
    Shut the pass to your sad complaints
    And the sea reflects all its wealth …
    Gentle moonlight awakens now
    The cruel longing that laughs and cries!
    Afternoon a slow and transparent pink cloud
    About space, dreamy and beautiful!

    Liked by 3 people

    • One day in early 1999 I was driving and listening to a classical music program on the radio. Near the end of the program the announcer said: “Happy birthday to you, Bidú Sayão.” I was really surprised. After all, way back in 1959 Villa-Lobos had coaxed her out of retirement to record the vocal parts in his A Floresta do Amazonas, so I assumed that by 1999, forty years later, she was long dead. I searched the Internet and was surprised again to find out that Bidú Sayão had ended up in Rockport, Maine. Somehow I found a phone number for her there, and I called. An American woman answered, and I asked if I could speak to Bidú Sayão. The woman identified herself as Bidú Sayão’s guardian and said it wouldn’t be possible to speak to her. I don’t know if she had a form of dementia or was too physically ill to speak, but she died not long afterward, on March 13. I was sorry I came so close but never got the chance to talk to her.

      Liked by 5 people

  7. Lavinia, an incredible essay encompassing so many themes and news. I feel I’ve visited your wonderful farm a little bit, the flowers so beautiful, the egg so delicate. I’m touched how you plant flowers in memory of lost friends; so moving and a precious memory. Keep well and safe in your bubble of nature, work outside, music . Xx

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I love your (and the cats’) prose, Lavinia. It so poetic, whereas mine is, well, prosaic! I’ve learnt of two completely new birds today, the killdeer and the towhee. I wonder whether your goldfinches are the same as ours. I know that our robins are completely different species. And thank you or the recipe. I’ve made a note of it. During lockdown I, who usually live on readymeals, have been experimenting with vegan and vegetarian recipe that I find in my online newspaper, The Guardian. They seem quite often to be based on chickpeas I’m glad you are so far from Covid hotspots. I am very worried for my niece, who lives in Los Angeles County.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Musiewild, and thank you for the kind comments! The cats thank you, too. Our goldfinches have a lot of yellow, but look different. Our robins, who belong to the genus Turdus, remind me more of your blackbirds in form except our robins have a chestnut colored chest. The Cornell University guide is pretty good.

      I am glad you enjoyed the recipe! I got the basic recipe from Cynthia Reyes and modified it. It is a good base recipe where any greens, beans and potatoes will do, but sweet potatoes are best! 🙂

      Yes, I am glad we are not in a Covid hot spot, but the potential is always there if people are not careful. We still have to make supply runs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As always, I love to hear of the blooming and gentile life of the farms. In my opinion, you and Rick live the perfect American dream. At least it was certainly a dream of mine!
    I am thrilled that Miss Abby is still with us. Sometimes I sort of hold my breath when I see your post in the Reader page. But this post has been one of hope, growth, Nature and good people!
    Thank you for being my friend!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for stopping by always, GP! You are a dear friend. I wanted to get Michael’s tree and Michael Knight’s tree into this post, but it was pretty long already. The trees are doing well and enjoying the weather! 🙂

      Old Abby is doing pretty well, and we hope to bring her plane in for a soft landing when it is her time. That’s what all of us would like at the end, a soft landing. I’ve worked hard at caring for all these cats.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know you do, you are such a sweet person! Derrick and I were just speaking about the trees you have for our sons the other day. We can never thank you enough!

        Liked by 3 people

      • Always good to see you, GP! Yes, Your Michael’s tree put on a real growth spurt and is far taller than me now. He is the tallest of the line of sequoias. Planting a tree for your Michael and for Derrick’s Michael was the least I could do. I know both of you feel a great loss.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Timothy Price says:

    I haven’t seen snails around here in a while. That’s a beautiful snail. Beautiful flowers, Lavinia. I always like hearing from the kitties.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Today is a banner day! I actually got notice of your post in my email. A first, I think, even though I have been a subscriber of your newsletter for some time. Anyway…I really enjoyed reading about how spring unfurled itself in your part of the country. Different from Maine in that it came earlier to you, but yet the essentials of growth and rebirth are the same. It’s an old story that never feels old. Give those kitties a pat on the head for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Laurie! Thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments! No worries, the email notifications don’t always work, and I am only posting four times a year now, so it is 3 months between posts. Somehow that time goes by very fast.

      I have really enjoyed your books in the Maya series, and look forward to the third one this fall!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I always feels though I’ve taken a little vacation after reading your posts, Lavinia. I’m happy to hear all is well on the farm. Everything looks so beautiful. You are blessed to live on such gorgeous land. Thanks for sharing your photos with us and all the happenings. Stay well!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Jill! Thank you for stopping by and for the kind comments! I am both privileged and blessed to be here on this farm. And thank you for all the author introduction you are doing on your blog site! Many of the people I had not heard of, and it is always good to be able to go back through your posts to reread entries about new authors.

      All the best to you, and stay well!


  13. Lynda says:

    So very happy all are doing well during these crazy times. Reading about the farm helps relieve stress from all that is happening around us. God Bless and stay well

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Lynda! I wondered where you had gone off to. I am glad to hear you are OK and are well. Yes, things ar crazy all around now.

      Bless you too, and stay well!


  14. Formerly, Lavinia, I had to dissect snails (previously killed) and I discovered that they had a very complex organization with, in particular, the two genital systems. I used to post about snails and how kids ran snail races !

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always good to see you, dear Michel! Thanks for stopping by and for commenting on the snails! Yes, snails and slugs are complex animals.

      Much love to you, Janine and the family, ❤


    • Always good to see you, Mr. T! Thanks for stopping by! I am going to try NewHampshire’s solution of putting a salt block way out back, to see if they will stay back there. He said he had some success with that previously. I also picked up some stakes for deer fencing this afternoon, and will start fencing in the blueberries.


  15. Hi Lavinia! My gosh you write beautifully. Yes to Maxfield Parrish sunsets. He’s always been a favourite of mine. I like what you did to the concrete slab and made a raised bed! Quite brilliant !
    Your garden is so beautiful, how nice to enjoy blooms soooo early in the year. I popped into YouTube to hear your music, just gorgeous!
    It turns out, our CD player isn’t working…?? I hadn’t tried it for a long time. But my brother has a gadget that turns a CD into a digital file I can then put on my computer. So I will get him to rescue me xo Have a Happy July 4th. Canada Celebrated mildly today 😀 ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Kelly! Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind comments! Yes, by all means, do turn that CD into a digital format you can listen to. It is possible you already have CD ripping software on your computer.

      Yes, this is Canada Day today. Happy birthday to our neighbor to the north! 🙂

      Wishing you a pleasant evening ahead, Kelly. Someday when there is a proven working vaccine and cure, and travel is open again, I just might make it up there to the frozen north. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is always a pleasure to see you, Teagan, and you should never worry about being late. I only post 4 times a year now, so everyone has 3 months to get there. You have plenty of writing you are working on, and I am still waiting for you to finish Guitar Mancer and publish it. You have a customer waiting here!

      Many hugs back to you and Crystal! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • ❤ Thank you for encouraging me, Lavinia. I decided a year ago that when I finally finish and publish Guitar Mancer, that the dedication will go to you.
        By the way, I guess it's been a year since you left "ancient tone" as a thing for the Delta Pearl, but it will be in tomorrow's short chapter. It's going to become an important part of the story. Hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

      • It is always a pleasure to see you, Teagan, and I am honored that you would dedicate a book to me. I look forward to you finishing Guitar Mancer!

        I will catch up with you tomorrow on the Delta Pearl. It’s been a hard week here, and I am looking forward to some good reading! Hugs back to you, and Crystal. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I love your descriptions of nights at the window, Lavinia, and all your photos and words on the happenings at the farm through the last few months. It’s so nice of you to make the memorial gardens. I so agree about the social issues too. Many greetings and purrs to you and your family and your feline correspondents.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. It’s always a treat to read what’s going on at Salmon Brook Farms. The photos, your writing, and the feline correspondent’s report are just wonderful. Spring is the best time of the year and it must be a glorious time there with all the plants coming to life. You captured the beauty of the snail in the feature photo. I haven’t seen snails in my garden but I have seen slugs. I finally got a solution for them. I spread crushed eggshells around my hostas and they never crossed them. You should try those. Deer love roses and I’m glad they have not discovered my yard. Good to know you are safe from coronavirus. I’m OK from where I am. I’ve only ventured out three times (two to the funeral parlor and one to Lowes) with my mask on. Stay safe and healthy.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. From abundant nature’s creatures to crescent moon that evokes memories while bathing your farmstead in light; all these wonders for you to observe unhurried are a joy to read. You and your felines 🙂 always capture happenings in and around the farm in an elegant and rich prose. I seriously love how you describe the moon as your old friend. What a blessing is life in the countryside, indeed!

    The array of blooms in your garden is impressive, too. And how thoughtful of you with new herbs and flowers planted for friends and fellow bloggers!

    You are so right, the pandemic effects are more acute in the city. We are so grateful for the opportunity to spend summer in the country, it does help shut off the noise and reconnect with self. And as for the Golden Rule, the world can do more with it.

    Thank you always Lavinia for sharing your beautiful world with us. Enjoy the summer!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Hi Lavinia so good to hear news from the farm! And such a wonderful array of photos! Your flowers are lovely … Thanks for sharing these. We are in the middle of winter and it is wet and chilly. Mind you we had such a mild autumn. Oh Abbey is just so sweet … is she an Abyssinian? Love the raised beds .. Those pavers are super!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always a pleasure to see you, Julie! Thanks for stopping by from Frog Pond Farm in New Zealand, and for the kind comments. I keep forgetting it is winter in your hemisphere right now. The days are passing by so quickly it won’t be long before we are there, too!

      Yes, Abby is an Abyssinian. I believe her coloring is known as “ruddy”. She has a lot of energy for her age! 🙂

      The pavers were a blessing! There are still more out there I can dig up for other projects. They make great raised beds.

      Stay safe and well! Sending best wishes to you and your family. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Steve, always good to see you! Thanks for stopping by! We have grackles. I am definitely a snail fan, and find slugs fascinating, too. I checked that abandoned grackle nest in the trumpet vine the other day, as I needed to trim back the vine. Three eggs, all thin shelled and stinky rotten. I don’t know why they built a nest there, laid eggs, and then decided it was too busy a location.

      The first half of this very crazy year went by amazingly quickly. 2020 is one year I will be happy to see in the rear view mirror.


  20. We watch the same moon, 3000 miles away, from our mountains. We grew ever-bearing strawberries for some years, but found that those slugs/snails and chipmunks took more bites out of them than we did. We have turned that garden area over to onions now. Over a few years, we have been growing more onions for immediate consumptions and fermenting. Last year, we completed most of the winter eating our fermented onions on salads, etc. Ole-timey ways with new appreciation for how to live before deep-freeze and refrigeration. – Oscar

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Oscar! Thanks for stopping by from The Hermits Door. Funny you should mention onions. I am growing Walla Walla Sweet onions around the new strawberries, and have been pulling one now and then to have with dinner. We make a lot of cucumber and green tomato pickles, but haven’t tried fermented onions yet. They sound good! Do you have a protocol for fermenting them you can share here?

      I’ll say “Hello, Oscar” next time I see the moon. 🙂 We had an overcast night last night, but we might get to see the moon tonight if things clear. And thank you for your work on the front lines during this pandemic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will have the Mrs where the fermenting book is to get the recipe. Basically, slice up a canning jar of onions (we do this in half-gallon jars), add a mix of brine, put a covering/weight on the onions to keep them under the brine, put on a fermenting burping lid (looks like a canning jar size baby bottle nipple) to let out the CO2, and put it on the shelf for a certain number of days. Once you get to your desired tanginess (the longer the ferment, the more zing), put a regular canning lid on and put them in a refrigerator (we set up a college refrigerator just for fermented stuff, and measured the shelves for maximum half-gallon jar filling). Once refrigerated, the fermentation will stay stop and they will keep for months. Once garden season is over, start putting a few on your winter salads, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just had to look on the cookbook shelf… “Canning & Fermenting” (published by Harris Farmer’s Almanac, Sept 17, 2018), it is sort of magazine style cookbook, which I believe I probably bought impulsively at Tractor Supply Store, the best place for farm-porn. Anyway, page 122, Fermented Red Onions:

        this is for 1 quart, so multiply for 1/2 gallon jar

        red onion thin sliced to fill jar
        1/2 tsp whole black pepper corns
        2 garlic cloves, crushed
        1 bay leaf

        1 Tbsp salt dissolved in 2 cups of water

        put pepper corn and garlic on bottom, add slices of onions, add bay leaf in the middle

        leave 1/2 inch of head space, filling jar with brine

        add weight to keep onions submerged in brine (we have read elsewhere that old-timers put a grape leaf or cabbage leaf with a clean rock on the onions for weight)

        put on burping lid, or lid ring w/ cheesecloth, to let CO2 out.

        Place out of sunlight, at room temperature (60F – 75F) for 7 days. Check every couple of days to assure than onions remain covered in brine

        after 7 days, taste. If you like them put metal lid on and put them in the back of the refrigerator until you want to eat them.

        If you grow mold, you have some really good compost starter — do not eat moldy stuff

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Lavinia: I thought for sure I had already commented on this newsletter post because I remember the irises and thoughtful content…I guess not. And I’m glad I came back to check – not only because it’s fun to reread stuff sometimes, but also because the paragraph above the reply box is just what I need to put up on mine since the ‘comment is waiting for moderation’ notice doesn’t show on my ‘new’ site…Wow. Thanks for the idea!
    Keep on pluckin’…

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I am sorry COVID stopped your live performances, Lavinia. So many people’s work had to be cancelled. But I am glad to hear that your feline companions are doing well, and continue to be correspondents on your blog. I think Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio are trying to compete with your writing skills, though!
    But, oh, how I love your writing. It reaches out and pulls this Canadian straight into life at at your farm, making it once again, a magical and comforting place to land. Lines like these are compelling: “The droning of bees can be heard throughout the orchard. Petals soon fall like snow, drifting on the breezes that wind through the farm, settling on the green grass below.”
    My best to you and your family, dear Lavinia.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I am always glad to see you, Cynthia! Thanks for stopping by and for all the kind comments! Everything I know I learned from the cats. It is hard for me to keep up with them. 🙂

      I am glad this farm and our lives here draw you in, and you come away with a sense of peace and tranquility. If I have done that much for a fellow human being through my writing, then I have achieved a milestone towards my real purpose in life, to bring joy and healing to others. It is the only real thing of value I can leave behind when my own time on this earth is finally through. Each person is a tiny spark, capable of fanning the flames of greater good. Thank you for your faith in me!

      Sending our collective love and best wishes to you and your family! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  23. Nature always surprises and that is good. The moon is so soothing, I like looking at her. And moonstones is such a beautiful word. I looked up Kale, I don’t think we get it here. What is the taste? Is it like cabbage?
    I loved your post and all the photos and it was wonderful listening to you.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • So good to see you, Lakshmi! Thank you for visiting from My Reflections and Expressions, and for the very kind comments!

      To me, kale tastes a bit different than its relative the cabbage, a little “greener” and more flavorful. There are different varieties of kale, some leathery with dark green ruffled leaves, some with flat leaves, some more reddish in color. We grow the Red Russian variety, as it does well here and self seeds readily. It has reddish-green leaves and it a flat leaf variety. We like to use it cooked into a number of different dishes, and when young and tender, can be eaten in salads. Kale likes cool weather, and goes to seed as soon as the heat picks up here. It may be too hot in your climate for it, but it is always worth a try.

      We also grow cabbage, a variety called Red Acres, a purple cabbage.

      All the best to you and your family, Lakshmi!


  24. Lavinia – how well-put – Maxfield Parrish skies. One of my favorite illustrators and he no doubt took his inspiration from the magnificent sunsets and sunrises you have out there. They are amazing! And the endless array of flowers – you are so fortunate to be surrounded by such beauty, and to be able to work as you always have in this pandemic. And who knew some slugs could move any faster than others? Your post is like a personal National Geographic program – thank you, as always. 🐌

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, Jeanne, and thank you so much for the kind comments! We are indeed fortunate to be surrounded by all this beauty, and be able to work amid the gardens. 🙂

      Wishing you all the best!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you Andrea, and thank you so much for the kind comments! Snails have a certain magic about them, carrying their homes on their backs. The spiral colors are beautiful. I learned the rabbits will eat snails, too. I have often wondered how those empty shells get to their resting place.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Your description of the apparent movement of the moon is grandiose , Lavinia . This is a painter’s landscape .
    I imagine you, gazing at the night through the window to be led in deep meditation.
    Is it you who works in the flowers garden, and the green house ?
    At reading you I have to re-orient me . Yes we see the sea to the west but for you this is the Pacific Ocean and for me it is the Atlantic ocean.! 🙂

    LOve ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is wonderful to see you, Michel! Thank you so much for the kind comments!

      Yes, it is me who works the flowers and I grow the vegetable starts from seed, but both of us work the gardens, each with our own areas we attend. Rick is our primary vineyard attendant.

      When I lived on the east coast I used to see sunrise on the Atlantic, but now in Oregon, on the west coast, I see sundown on the Pacific.

      Much love to you and the family, dear Michel! ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. What a beautiful description of Spring, Lavinia and accompanied by your gorgeous photographs, too.
    We once found a Leopard Slug in our garden; we didn’t know what it was at first but soon discovered what fascinating creatures they are.
    I like the look of your new raised beds! Such excellent use of an unwanted concrete pad and some old pavers!
    I am pleased that you and Rick are continuing well and safe. Living out of town is such a blessing in these frightening times.
    Best wishes, Clare xx

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Hi Lavinia … I finally saw a killdeer bird for the very first time on Saturday. I was hoping it was official state bird, the Lark Bunting, which is sparrow-like. I would have to go much farther out on the eastern plains to see one. I’ve read the Lark Bunting, however, may not be easy to spot these days compared to the 1960s or earlier.

    By Colorado standards, today is a muggy day, and it is noticeable. Hopefully it will rain, we could stand to use it. For the most part, it has been hot for the past 2-3 weeks. I’m ready for a break in the heat … not necessarily fall or winter kind of relief, just more comfortable warmth.

    The feline correspondents’ desk are quite lyrical in their reporting. Do they dictate their report to you? (lol) 🙂

    I’m looking forward to your new videos. If you’re like me, there are a few missed deadlines when it comes to projects on the board. Attention gets diverted by the priorities of life. I have a couple videos from Elizabeth’s last singing gig. I’ve rebalanced the audio tracks. However, YouTube has the bad habit taking a properly synced video and make it look very amateurish from a production standpoint. Not unless I do a WP upgrade to include audio/video.

    Have a good week ahead. Stay well, stay safe.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Always good to see you, David, and thanks for stopping by from Hidden Lens and for the kind comments. Glad you finally got to see a killdeer!

      The cats write their own material. I am merely the blog conduit. 🙂

      As for videos, I am low budget and low key, getting the songs right is my main focus. YouTube works fine for me. Yes, life priorities do come first.

      Our weather is turning hot and dry now, and there will be little to no rain until late September or early October, although the oscillations within the current climate change trend can be a bit confounding at times.

      All the best to you and your family, and many thanks to your wife and daughters for their work on the front lines of Covid-19. Stay safe, all of you.


    • Always good to see you, dear Michel, and thank you commenting, as always! Yes, black lives do matter because all human lives matter.

      I read your snail post, and enjoyed reading about the races from your childhood. Glad to help provide an idea!


  28. I loved listening to you again Lavinia whilst I read through your post and lovely comments. Your farm looks idyllic but I imagine a lot of hard work. I hope your concert venues open up again soon for you, people keep talking of a second wave here in the UK as people return from holidays abroad, i read there have been new spikes in Spain and France and that is where a lot of Brits go for a bit of sun in the school holidays.

    It’s been nice being at my parents with a garden to enjoy in good weather although my Mum has warned of more weeding work and now the green bin has been emptied the lawn needs mowing this weekend!

    Liked by 4 people

    • It is always good to see you, Charlotte, and thanks for visiting and for the kind comments! Yes, the farm is a lot of hard work, especially at this time of year. I am glad you are able to visit with your parents, and be together with them again. No matter how much work it is, that family time is worth its weight in gold. 🙂

      I played one show at an open air venue, a mountain top winery, where I filled in for a cancellation. We had a good night, and was grateful for that opportunity. Eventually the corona virus will pass, and whatever the new normal is will happen. This won’t be the last pandemic, and I think this modern day one has opened people’s eyes.

      Enjoy these days of summer, Charlotte and George, and all the good things life has to offer. Your balcony concerts have been a thing of beauty to listen to, a wonderful gift you have given listeners. Stay well!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always good to see you, Wayne, and thanks for stopping by from Tofino Photography and for the kind comments! Those wildlife friends and photos of your are amazing!

      As you know from your own adventures of being out in the woods and streams and observing life in its many forms, working in the green zone amid the gardens and vineyards keeps one grounded.


  29. What a rich and interesting post, Lavinia. Several details caught my attention, but I have to begin with the banana slugs. A dear friend lived in Santa Cruz, California, for years, and she still wears a tee-shirt with an image of the UC-Santa Cruz mascot on the front: the Banana Slug! I’d thought the Fighting Sand Crabs of Port Lavaca, Texas were the oddest mascot, until I met the Banana Slugs.

    The lone Killdeer egg reminded me of the day I found an egg in the middle of a dock at one of our marinas. It was a pretty blue, and I think it probably belonged to a heron. The new mothers don’t always get it right; one mallard laid three eggs on a welcome mat at the stern of a boat!

    Your stir fry sounded good, too — I rarely eat processed food, even though I have to purchase my fresh fruit and veggies rather than growing them. The flowers all are lovely, and I really enjoyed the reports from the cats. I hope by the time autumn arrives, things can be calmer and healthier around the country.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It is always good to see you, Linda. Thanks for visiting, reading and for the kind comments! Banana slugs inspire, and I learned there is also a Banana Slug String Band. And I love that Santa Cruz mascot picture! Fighting Sand Crabs of Port Lavaca, Texas is another good and unusual mascot name.

      You are right, mother birds don’t always get things right. 🙂 I’ve seen many killdeer here over the years, but this is the first time I found an egg in the driveway, or at least the first time that I noticed one.

      May there be better, and calmer times ahead for all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That Banana Slug String Band’s wonderful. I listened to their song “Too Hot” and then passed it on to a friend with a 9 or 10 year old boy who’s just learning about the ocean. It’s perfect for him.

        Liked by 2 people

  30. Dear Lavinia, you paint such a magical word-picture of your farm nestled in the moonlight.
    Your snail photo is quite fascinating. The leopard slug sounds very useful and adept at catching its prey. I didn’t realize that slugs ate other slugs. I always imagined that they just munched on plants. and vegetables. I like your raised beds and it was lovely to see your magnificent parade of spring flowers and what was left of your roses after those naughty deer had eaten the rest. 😯 What a great age, Miss Abby has reached. In cat years, she’s almost as old as my dear MiL who turns 107 on August 4th. I’m very impressed that your pair of feline correspondents report so well on the various birds that visit your farm. I presume that they all get along well together.
    It’s great that you are well away from the Covid virus, but that you take such an interest in the goings on around it. I have been so moved by the brave BLM protestors as well as by the death of John Lewis who said, “Together you can redeem the soul of our nation.” May he RIP as his work is carried on by others.
    As always I really enjoyed your soothing music. xx

    Liked by 4 people

    • It is always a pleasure to see you, Sylvia, and thank you so much for the wonderful, kind comments! The cats do get along pretty well, with a few minor skirmishes now and then. They are a good bunch. Abby is an old matriarch now, and get a little huffy at the younger cats if they crowd her. Congratulations to your Aunt Mil! Wishing her a happy 107th birthday!

      Covid is here, but we try to be careful as well as not excessively worry, that does not help either. Life still goes on, things need doing, things need repair.

      Portland, Oregon has made international news with all the troubles there, no need for me to repeat them here. I continue to pray for peaceful resolution and a way forward for all people, together.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. I find that, too, that regardless of how much time is at our hands, it’s never enough. Since posting takes away part of the precious time, sometimes big part of it, it can happen that most urgent things come first.
    We are having quite a good summer in Ontario. I hope you have satisfactory weather, as well. For gardening and farming, there is no season without troubles. It can be too dry or too wet, too hot or too breezy and cold. Everything affects the harvest and every plant in particular.
    I think it’s good not to be in a big city where one depends way too much of others and has to go out daily whether they want or not. I don’t live in countryside, but suburbs, but still the small garden provides us with very many things. I just gave away lots of zucchinis and cucumbers. Tomatoes are starting to get red, but they’re not quite ready yet.
    For me personally, it feels like a very long vacation since I cannot have students in my space, actually do not want to have.
    I hope your summer turns out to be ok, too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is always a pleasure to see you, Inese, thanks for stopping by, and for commenting!

      The weather here is now hot and dry, our normal summer drought season after a long, cool spring in this part of the country. The garden is tarting to take off, our main problems at the moment are a burgeoning vole population and roving deer. The year is passing quickly, and will be over before I know it. 🙂 I am enjoying the time here on the farm, which is all too fleeting.


  32. Mr Marcus and Lucio are as good observers of the nature as you, Lavinia. It is a pleasure to read their report where all is said . Really.
    ” We stand with Black Lives Matter, because all lives matter. ” : you are so right all lives matter. I agree fully .
    I hope you have not the heat we have here in France , as last year. My garden becomes Arizona desert !
    Love ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is wonderful to see you, dear Michel! Thank you so much for stopping by from France, and for th ekind comments. Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio cats thank you, too.

      I am sorry to hear that your garden has been so affected by the heat! It is quite warm here too, but this is our normal summer drought. We have to water a lot. Yesterday we had a small amount of misting rain, and plenty of cloud cover, so things are a little cooler today. By Monday, it will be back in the 90s again.

      Much love to you and the family, ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • At reading again the cats’report I have been stuck by the birds description especially about the swallows . A friend from Amiens sent yesterday an e.mail saying she sees from her house the swallows lined on a aerian electric cable and she says this sight recalls to her the fall is coming !
        Nostalgy for me because what she relates is a show that I did not see since my childhood . The beautiful birds that were there around our house are almost disappeared . We are surroundes by new houses all around .
        Thank Lavinia to make me dream.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Always good to see you, Michel! I am sorry you have no more swallows to watch. They are beautiful birds ans fly in an aerial ballet to catch their supper of bugs. I am glad this post brought back pleasant memories, and dreams.

        Love to you and the family,


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