Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick & Lavinia Ross, Salmon Brook Farms – Autumn 2021

The usual autumn leaf colors here tend towards a dull yellow which quickly fades to crinkled brown and quietly slips away with the daylight hours.   Blueberry and snowball bush add a darker, almost maroon color to autumn’s palette, though in a good year, the grapes can dress the vineyard in vibrant gold.   A sizeable vineyard can be rather striking in autumn.  An early light frost and a long drought this year have diminished the chances of that happening here.

Pinot noir grape leaf

The vineyard colors in autumn 2021 may look more like this one from our pinot noir vineyard.

Snowball bush

One of several snowball bushes adding a maroon shade to autumn’s palette.

I did find some unusually festive color while wandering about the back lot on October 1st.   Our feature photo is of a colorful sprig of what looks to be hawthorn berries, also known as haws, a more unusual orange-gold color than most of what we see for hawthorn fruit around the old farm.  Members of the genus Crataegus , hawthorn leaf shape varies, and as well as fruit color can vary from yellow through red to blue-black depending on the species, estimated to be roughly 200 in number.   There are a few small bushes of this yellow haw kind growing along the north border.


Hawthorn with orange-yellow fruit. We spotted a few of these this autumn.


A red berried hawthorn, the most common type we see here.

Lichens are beginning to recover from the heat and drought, including my favorite patch of Cladonia I have been watching.  The old defunct hazelnut grove is a particularly good place to observe lichens and mosses which grow copiously along the branches, forming multi-species communities up the trunks and along the branches.

Lichen and moss community

A lichen and moss community along a hazelnut branch. There are at least three types of lichen here.


Cladonia growing on old black locust stump.


Delicate Cladonia cups in a miniature garden on same stump as above.

News from the farm

Summer in our region has been one of extreme heat and drought this year, requiring hours of spot watering and rotating which plantings got water so as to conserve well water, and well pump of unknown age.  We will have been here 18 years come December.  Most plants that tolerated the heat came through the season, though fruit set was often limited, and quite small in the case of our blueberries.  Trees with relatively shallow root systems were particularly hard hit, and we may yet lose some of our older fruit trees.  Unlike birds and animals that can migrate and search for water, trees and fellow plants are rooted in place and must make do with what they have.  Mycorrhizal networks can assist in water and nutrient transport, and general soil health is of particular importance.

Grapes throw roots that can reach 5 to 6 feet down. Our pinot noir did well in spite of the heat, and ripened early.  The harvest came in at 22 brix, and two separate fermentations of rosé wine using Premier Blanc yeast finished up on September 25th and 27th.   I leave them to settle out on the lees under refrigeration until December, when they will be bottled.  Hand crushed, strained, inoculated and fermented in stainless steel stock pots by me, it is enough to keep Rick in lunch wine for a good part of the year.  I have reused some old photos of the process here.

Wine harvest

An old photo from the 2017 harvest. This is still my own time honored way of making small batches of wine.

Rick testing the 2017 vintage

Rick working Quality Control in 2017.

Most readers are aware of the fires out here in the West, along with the resulting smoke and poor air quality, even in areas the fires did not reach.  We have been lucky here, and are now entering the rainy season.   Each year is a bit different, though the overall trend is becoming hotter, and drier.  We note what does well, and what does not, and will adapt what we attempt to grow to conditions as they change.

The constants in life I hold dear are the rising and setting of the sun, the cycles of the moon, familiar constellations in the night sky.   Night’s dark veil rising in the east after sundown and rolling away to the west come morning, the color changes at the bookends of the day.  I wake up during the night, and watch out the window.  I see and hear a lot on moonlit nights.  Tree frogs chorusing in late winter and spring, raccoon tries to get through bird netting to eat our grapes in fall.  I listen to the coyotes sing up in the hills, the piercing cry of the hawk, the pleasant peeting of the chickadee.  I know when the neighbor’s chicken has laid an egg.  We all have our time and place.  Time is a precious thing, as is a sense of place.  There is less road ahead than there is behind me, and choices have more meaning.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

It has been a hard year for the crew with the loss of three of the old guard.  The remaining five have been adjusting, and establishing new routines, and alliances.  They will return to news gathering and writing their observations come December.

Marcus and the Sisters

Marcus, Wynken, Blynken and Nod enjoying a sunny day. Looks a bit crowded up there in the window.


Nano enjoying a peaceful snooze on a soft blanket. He is now the oldest.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I have been able to play music out on a limited basis this year.  If you are in the area and wish to stop by and see me, do check out 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 regularly. New videos will follow as soon as I can get to it.  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.

Those who know me well also know I am a big fan of the late Kate Wolf, recorded a few of her songs on my last CD, and I will be recording some more of her music in the future as well.  The Minstrel is one of her songs I learned last year.  Here it is adapted and arranged for the 12 string guitar tuned to Open G.

Full Circle, one of my own songs, was written in the aftermath of 9/11/2001 and is a song about love and enjoying life while one can.  I’ve played it out all the intervening years, and recorded here recently with the lights down, much like a typical evening here I’d be practicing.  It is a bit dark, but I make no apologies.  There are no flashy graphics, just one woman, one voice, and a guitar.  The guitar featured here is my old Ventura 12 string.  I bought this old friend at a kiosk in a mall for $100 back in 1977.  For those interested in lutherie, this guitar is a bit different in that it has a zero fret up by the nut.  To my knowledge, this brand of guitars, which were made in Japan, are not made anymore, and I have only come across one other, not nearly constructed as well.  I keep the Ventura tuned to DGDGBD or DGDGA#D.  Flat the 3rd and you get G minor.  Alternate tunings are easier for small hands and present a bigger box of acoustical paint from which to draw upon.    I use Martin Acoustic SP extra light phosphor bronze strings on the Ventura, Martin Acoustic SP  light gauge phosphor bronze strings on the Martin guitar, And D’Addario light gauge coated phosphor bronze on the Guild.

I am 18 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!   The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on Spotify and 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 due to digital rights content. Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.

Rick retired from playing music some years ago, but he still practices, and plays a few tunes at some of my shows.  Here is is at St. Innocent Winery back in August.

Rick Ross, Bluesman

Rick on the stage again at St. Innocent Winery.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

I leave readers with an old Irish blessing.  Until we meet again.

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Rainbow in neighbor's field.

We live in a land of many rainbows in season. This one was persistent and easy to catch.


183 thoughts on “Rick & Lavinia Ross, Salmon Brook Farms – Autumn 2021

  1. Fantastic blessing, wonderful poetry. Who knows maybe the road will take me over there when times are better for that?
    The lead picture was also very impressive, just like painting.
    I certainly enjoyed reading about your wine. It must taste great, I’ve never tried such wine.
    Congratulations for never giving up music in spite of all kinds of hardships and also daily routine which takes so much of your time. Well, everyone of us needs not only work, but also soul food.
    Altogether, interesting read.
    Wishing you, family and farm pets all the best to your upcoming Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is always a pleasure to see you, Inese. Than you for stopping by and for the kind comments! We are fortunate to have gardens, vineyard and orchard to help sustain us. The wine is made as simply as possible, no “corrections” or additives. We just let it reflect the vintage. And you are right, music feeds the soul. I strive to keep it going.

      Your Canadian Thanksgiving Day was back in October, so we all send our best wishes to you!


    • Thank you for visiting this blog, Minametry84, and I am pleased to meet you, too! I already follow more blogs than I can reasonably keep up with, but I appreciate you taking the time to politely ask. If I spent any more time online, I would get nothing done here on the farm.

      If you are looking for participation, and not just followers of your own site, I would suggest that you follow other blogs that you are actually interested in, join in the discussions, and let people get to know you. There are many wonderful communities within WordPress.

      Wishing you the best as you develop your own blog site and following.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That was a touching post you wrote, dear Michel. It was hard to lose both of your parents on the same day in 1956. You and Janine went on with your lives together, and raised a wonderful family. Your parents would be proud.


  2. Sorry to be so late to the blog Lavinia, still having trouble catching up.

    We have, as far as I know, only two sorts of hawthorn in UK, and they are very similar. The berries can vary a bit from place to place and year to year, but I’ve never seen any orange ones, just shades of red.

    We used to use them to make jam – normally mixed with blackberries and elderberries to make hedgerow jam. They are full of pectin and a pleasure to use – just a bit small and fiddly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is always a pleasure to see you, Quercus, and thanks for stopping by! There is never any being “late” here. People are welcome whenever they wish.

      The orange haws were a surprise. I had not noted them before in the back lot. They almost look like Tootlepedal’s barrbery fruits, except that barberry is an evergreen shrub and our orange hawthorns, if that is what they are, are not.

      With lots of pectin, haws should make good jelly. I looked back at your old post and had a good laugh when I got to the rowan berries and earwigs. Grapes seems always highly infested, and I go to great pains to get them out as I am crushing grapes for wine. A few always slip through, and I find them when I rack off the finished product. Wine is not quite vegan. 🙂

      I look forward to more of your poetry being published, and congratulations again on the acceptances. Many more to come!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is always good to see you, dear Michel! We are OK here. The last few days were pretty busy and I got behind. I have caught up with Doug and Andy, too.

      Wishing you, Janine and the family a Merry Christmas. ❤️


    • A Merry Christmas to you, too, GP! I like the Christmas picture you sent, and I wish our military personnel everywhere a peaceful and beautiful Christmas and holiday season.

      I will be posting next week as it is the end of the year, and put up a photo of Michael’s tree and pine cones.

      I am digging trench today for cable (300 feet yesterday), and will be a little slow getting around to all today. 100 feet left to go, and I am all done with that project. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I seem to have missed this post, Lavinia, maybe because of our trip to South Africa. Your voice is so soothing. I’m sure that Rick loves listening to you. So sorry about the loss of your three felines. It’s always hard to have to say goodbye to beloved pet members of one’s family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is always a pleasure to see you, Sylvia,and thank you for the kind comments. I am late for the spring post where I hope to showcase Rick and his music, and introduce an old friend who moved to Sicily. In late February, we lost another cat to sudden left heart failure. She had a murmur as a kitten, and eventually “outgrew it” and it was no longer heard. I suppose the defect had been there all these years, but hard to detect. She had recently seen two different vets, one for an exam and rabies shot, a second one a month later for a dentistry. She came through anesthesia with flying colors, but was dead about 5 weeks later. A third vet, the emergency vet, tried to save her, but she couldn’t survive outside the oxygen cage and the clot moved before dissolving. She had to be put to sleep. This pandemic has been difficult since the beginning and I have not had much motivation to write.

      Liked by 1 person

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