Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

In Loving Memory – Abby

Abby, taken back in February of 2019, a commanding presence in her favorite chair. She was always on the move, and difficult to photograph unless she was sleeping or eating. Take too long, and one would be guaranteed a good picture of her nostrils in the lens.

There comes a time when the body is too worn and tired to continue, and the spirit longs for freedom from it.   Abby had a good long run with us, and at 18 1/2, she had run out time.  Since March we had noted she was losing a little weight, and some muscle mass, although that only slowed her down a bit.    Although she was never overweight, she had always been a good eater, even when she was down to two teeth, her upper canines, by the end.  Those upper canines were also used to get attention, and Abby would bite the top of my head with those sharp teeth at night if I was asleep and she wanted petting.   Rick and I used to joke about her having a hollow leg to hold all that food, and I would say when the day comes she stops eating, she is probably done for.

We noticed she was not so interested in her food for the last few weeks of her life.  A trip to the vet revealed high blood glucose that was spilling into her urine.  Abby’s urine had been fine in March, her last checkup.  She was fitted with a sensor and calibrated reader, and started on one unit of Lantus glargine insulin twice daily on September 4th.  Her kidney function was deemed good for a cat that age, and staff remarked how beautiful she was and how sleek her coat was.

Abby with newly fitted Freestyle Libre glucose sensor.

Her interest in food continued to go down, although her attitude was good, and she still greeted people with a purr and inquisitive paw.   Her glucose took some wide swings, and she was brought back for observation and recommendations a few days later.  On the 10th, I checked her at 4:00 AM, her glucose was reasonable, and she was awake and sitting up in her basket, so I went back to sleep for a little while until it was feeding time.  I found her immobile, unable to lift her head, under the entertainment center, but still purring and happy to see me.  She went back in immediately on emergency.  The emergency vet indicated Abby’s glucose was fine, but she had palpated a mass along the GI tract.  She asked us what we wanted to do.   The Oregon wildfires were in full swing at the time, and we were situated in a Level 1 evacuation area, with a Level 3 about 10 minutes down the road.  Given her age, a probable tumor, diabetes and possible evacuation to unknown facilities that would accept 8 cats along with us, the decision was made to let her go peacefully.   Euthanasia has never an easy decision for me.  Never will be.

It is here I will close my own thoughts, and leave readers with an eloquent note I received from Kerm Jensen, an old friend and long-time mentor, back in 2015 when Rick’s mother passed away.   This note from our friend still brings us great comfort.

“I join you in your sorrow and joy.  I am aware that getting old is mostly a matter of letting things go, giving up many thoughts and dreams that we compile during our lives.  I have come to believe a page from the Buddhist philosophy, dependency arising.  All things are connected to all things.  Nothing happens without a ripple through the universe whether we are able to perceive it or not.

I also believe it has been a blessing that she was surrounded by the cats and the farm, all the things that speak of life with their cycles and acceptance of all that happens.  A few days ago I had a five minute stare down with a four point buck and several does.  He was a little curious but very separate with his little family.  He was also fearless and accepting of our sharing a space and time.  Eventually he went back to eating and I went along my way.  The does weren’t concerned in the slightest.

There’s nothing special in that five minutes except that we are all here, we all have our part to play and then we go forward to whatever dimension is next.  The rest of us remain with our memories, selecting out the good and mostly letting the rest fade away.  While I’m in no hurry, to me Death is a friend whom I’ll have plenty of time to get to know in the future.  I’m watching the seasons come and go with more intensity than ever before.

You and Rick have come through a very difficult time that has increased the wear and tear on both you.  You are changed by it as we all are by every difficulty that comes our way.  Now is the time to sit back quietly for a short while and cement the good while letting the bad find it’s own way down the road.  I admire your strength and fortitude tremendously, both of you.  I want you to finish out this winter and walk into spring with all of its new promise.  I hope you will find renewed happiness in the renewed season.    – Kerm.  December, 2015”

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

We love you, Abby, and will miss you.

 

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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
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January, February and March 2020

Our feature photo this quarter is of the Oregon coast as seen from Route 101 on our way to Yachats back on January 14th, a view which we will not be able to see again for a while due to the current pandemic.

Sundown on the Pacific, from Route 101 on the Oregon coast on January 14th, 2020.

The Pacific is a beautiful and powerful entity, from steady and serene on a calm day to a deadly force to be reckoned with at her worst.  I find myself thinking back to much younger days, when our 9th grade English class read The Odyssey during our study of Greek mythology; its description of the sea-grey eyed goddess Athena struck me at the time for the poetic beauty of it.  Goddess of wisdom and war, I can see her eyes in the restless grey of the Pacific.

The late President John F. Kennedy expressed his appreciation of the sea in his remarks at the America’s Cup Dinner Given by the Australian Ambassador, September 14, 1962.  His famous quote came from that speech, from which I have included the excerpt below.  One can listen to the entire speech at The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum site.  His words often come to mind when I  look out to sea, and finding tranquility in the tang of salty air, cry of shore birds, and the sound of waves breaking on the shore.

“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it is because in addition to the fact that the sea changes and the light changes, and ships change, it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.”  – President John F. Kennedy, Newport, Rhode Island , September 14, 1962

News from the farm

Mr. Chipmunk has discovered the feeder. His motto seems to be “Come early, come often.”

The last three months have passed quickly, with spring arriving shivering, wet and cold.   There has been little snow this year at our elevation, about 800 ft, for which we are grateful.  This farm is nestled in a geologic bowl of sorts, with cold air ponding, and uphill water collecting down in the bowl.

With January comes the slow, but steady increase in light. Our daffodils, which began emerging from the soil in December in the more sheltered south facing locations, commenced their bloom cycle in mid January, the first golden trumpets lifted their heads to herald warmer days to come.

The cherry tree garden on March 25th

Dandelions bloomed throughout the mild winter, keeping leafy rosettes and sunny faces close to the ground.  Rain pools formed in the low areas, soon followed by the nightly calls of chorus frogs.  The grey foxes were still about, their unusual call and response growly barks and whiny screams could be heard back in the wooded area.   One year, a fox came up to the big fenced-in garden where Rick was working on the other side and held a conversation with Rick for a while before moving off and returning to his haunts back in the woods.

The increase in daylight comes faster during February and March as the sun rises ever earlier and makes his way northward along the horizon.  The transitional days bring a kaleidoscopic selection of weather and cloud forms as the aerial river of moisture travels up the Willamette Valley, condensing and congealing into some of Nature’s most beautiful displays.

A section of sky on March 25th, full of towering clouds with silver linings.

Some days, the grey fractures, and one can appreciate the multilevel,  textured sky, canyons and caverns of cloud given depth and character by angled sunlight finding its way through.   Above it all, the riverbottom of blue sky.  From sunrise to sunset, the sky is a work of art, a study in shades of blue, grey and gold, painted in the swirling, heartfelt brushstrokes of a keen-eyed master.

Sunrise on February 4, 2020.

Sunrise on January 15th.

There is an old saying that if one sees enough blue to make a pair of Dutchman’s breeches, the sky will clear.   Often there is only enough blue to make breeches for the Dutchman’s cat, but it may or may not clear anyway.  Clouds pay no attention to human proverbs.

Another dramatic section of sky on March 25th.

It is still the bookends of the day I find most intriguing, a time to see crepuscular wildlife wander though, and enjoy the quiet and Maxfield Parrish colors sometimes graced by a waxing or waning moon.  On February 17th I recorded the following:

“I heard the heat come on frequently during the night, so I knew it would be on the colder side this morning. It was 34 degrees when I awoke around 6:30 AM, in time to see the waning crescent moon, still golden and bright against the deep blue tinted with first light from the east. Morning clouds had not yet obscured my view of her. Our sky has been filling in rapidly since then – these fleeting glimpses of the edge of night and day are lost to those not actively seeking such things. My last view of of the disappearing orb was 6:55 AM, peering out from a thinner area of cloud, soon vanishing behind the thickening mass. I will not see her again until tomorrow. Mists and chimney smoke stratifies and rises as the last barn lights on the southeast hill still send their beacons across the bowl. All is still as the light grows and sky congeals, soon area lights will be off for the day.”

Sometimes it is night’s deepening purple veil rising in the east as the last of the gold fades in the west that catches my eye.   In the waxing part of the lunar cycle, a thin crescent moon can be seen in the west, at times with a bright planet, and the first bright stars in the deepening sky overhead.

I enjoy my time working quietly among the gardens and vines, and feel at peace and a part of things as only one can outdoors.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

Mr. Nano, from the Feline Correspondents Desk of Salmon Brook Farms has asked for a brief update from the Northeast Regional Farm Cats Desk in Connecticut, given by  Rosie, the sole remaining dog on the horse farm, who has been accepted into the feline correspondents circle.  They have not had a report from the Northeast since head feline correspondent Otis passed away.

Rosie, enjoying the snow in New England this winter.

Without further ado, Corresoondent Rosie will present her report.

It has been a while now since my canine companion Sadie passed away, leaving me as the remaining dog on this horse farm in rural Connecticut.  Otis is also gone, leaving my feline companion Izzy and two new recruits, Odin and Nick, to carry on where he left off. 

Sadie and Rosie by the wood stove, on the Connecticut Horse Farm homestead. From November 2016.

Nick came to live with us a year ago November, a rescue from a feral colony. He sports a clipped ear and bears a very strong resemblance to his predecessor, Otis, although he does not have the size or stature of his predecessor.

 

Nick, taking over Otis’ old chair.

 

Odin, or Odie as he is known to us, rode in from parts unknown.  He is thought to be a Maine Coon Cat, and at an estimated 9 months old, and quite large already, has much to learn about farm protocol.

Odin enjoys high places.

As for more general news, more land was cleared, new fencing was put up, the electrical to the house was upgraded, and the new generator was installed.  There will be no more worries about losing power in our remote area   Last year’s vegetable garden was a fine producer of greens and tomatoes, while the human master of the house is in a much better frame of mind now that his back is  mending.   Aside from the human master’s car getting totaled when a backhoe backed into a fallen tree, life has been good.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever your destination in life may lead you.

The late correspondent Otis, gathering news from the hayloft on the Connecticut horse farm.

– Canine Correspondent Rosie, reporting from the Northeast Regional Feline Correspondents Desk in Connecticut.

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 regularly. New videos will follow as soon as I can get to it.  After a very busy start to the new year, I fell ill with a tenacious respiratory bug at the end of January, requiring me to cancel most of my shows during February. It was a rough start when I did return, as my voice had not quite recovered.  I had finally gone to Urgent Care after 4 weeks, where it was deemed  a sinus infection, and given antibiotics for a week.  I got in a few shows and then the pandemic hit, requiring venues to close down and people to self-isolate.

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 coughing and what seemed like endless sleepless nights in February had been hard on me, and I have not attempted to actually record anything yet until I feel my voice is back to where it was. It is still a little rough.  We are almost there.

 

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
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November and December 2019

Our feature photo this month is from sunrise on December 28th, the morning clouds provided a canvas upon which the longer rays emanating from below the horizon painted in fiery rose.

Sunrise on the 28th, painted on the underside of a bank of clouds.

A wider view of sunrise.

The sun rises in the southeast these days, quickly traversing a southerly arc before disappearing in the southwest. Days are short, and often grey and wet, low clouds and mists clinging to hillsides and low areas. Our mornings will continue to get darker for a while, even as the evenings slowly gain daylight, an observation I made as a child having spent much time outside, and many years later was pleased to find is actually a real phenomenon.

Copper-colored sunrise from December 17th. I’ve always loved the black lace effect of trees against the sky.

News from the farm

Jack Frost has paid us many visits since October, shutting down the garden except for the hardiest residents, broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts, and the occasional intrepid dandelion which flowers low to the ground in this season.

A bright and cheerful dandelion in winter, blooming low to the ground. We will see them in more protected areas all winter long.

After clear, cold nights where it may drop into the 20s, grass stays frozen in shaded areas that do not see direct sun. This photo was from late afternoon on November 29th.

Mists form, rise, and float away as cloud over the Cascades, although sometimes they settle in, cloaking tree and surrounding hills in a silver-grey shroud.  After night, tendrils of fog writhe and curl under the floodlights with a life of their own, the damp currents of air brushing against my face, and I am aware of a  primordial uneasiness of things that might be in the dark, things unseen under the cover of fog.

Mist covered hills to the southeast on December 13th.

As happens every winter, a spider takes up residence by the thermometer on the porch, conveniently noting the spiders activities as well as the temperature.  I have only seen her out on the web after dark, or in the early blue light of morning.  A shy creature, I have not been able to get a good photo of her to attempt to determine her species.  A small, fat-bodied brown spider, she works in lower temperatures that I would think would discourage most of her kin.   She hides in the space behind the thermometer in bad weather.  After a wind and rainstorm, she will repair her web in preparation for the nightly feast.  I find tiny wings and body parts stuck in her web when she has had a successful hunt.

I lightened this photo using the Gimp editor so that the web would be more visible.

It was 40 degrees on December 23rd when these photos were taken. The small dot off to the right near the top of the thermometer is our spider. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

I welcome the winter darkness as a time to rest and recover from the warmer months’ activities about the farm.   It is good time to walk about, and observe the small signs of life everywhere, from fat buds waiting for spring, growing hazelnut catkins, to lichen and moss communities on branch, trunk and rock.  Moss thriving in some areas tells us that the soil is acidic there.  Daffodils are already up several inches by the old garage where it is warmer; their golden trumpets will soon herald spring.   We have past winter solstice, and all is dormant with one eye open, trained on the sun’s slow progress back north.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk of Salmon Brook Farms has decided to file a brief end-of-year report written by Mr. Nano.  November and December were tough months for the correspondents.  Mr. Lucio had surgery in November to remove four small tumors, which fortunately were benign. There was a suspected brawl at the Correspondents Desk, resulting in Mr. Nano getting a bite at the base of the tail which abscessed, requiring his veterinarian to lance and clean out the wound.  No one is talking, but Correspondent Nod is the prime suspect.

Correspondent Nod in her innocent kitten days.

Without further ado, Mr. Nano will present his observations of from November and December 2019.

The slow, steady tread of winter can be heard in the wind, and felt upon the cold, wet ground.  Leaves in shades of brown, red and gold abscise after their duties of turning sunlight into food have completed. Tired and spent, they quietly slip way with the daylight hours, returning to earth and completing the yearly nutrient cycle.  They have been gathered up several times, and placed on the garden beds, along with kitchen compost and manure from the neighbor’s alpacas, adding to the tilth of the soil there.

The moon’s progress is more difficult to track in this time of heavy skies and passing rainstorms, although at full moon, the farm appears somewhat illuminated even under heavy cloud cover.   The soft ghostly glow illuminates yet masks the color of things we know by day, giving the night and its wandering creatures an other-worldly appearance.   At waxing and waning thin crescent stage, the moon’s silhouette gives the appearance of a giant eye trained out into the greater universe, and we know there is something  out there, greater than ourselves.  These are the cyclical things we know will continue happen long after we are gone from this world.

The foxes are still about, and can be seen and heard in the night.  Four were counted earlier this year.  By morning, they have left copious scat on  the gravel drive, rocks or other objects, calling cards of their visits.  Gophers, mice, moles and voles still tunnel about the farm in this weather, kept in check by the foxes and other predators.   We have heard an occasional tree frog, but not the early winter chorus we have had some years.  The winter rain pools are forming in the low areas, and we will soon hear their song, indicating all is proceeding as it should.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

View from the plane coming into LAX in January of 2018.

 

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 regularly. New videos will follow as soon as I can get to it. I have my new used computer now, specifically for video and music, a gift from friends and a serious nudge from them to get moving on this project.   I have loaded it with Lubuntu Linux, and am in the process of learning the tools, amid all the other activities that occupy my days.  There was not enough time to get a new music video out with this end of year post.

Setting up to play by the Christmas tree at D’Anu. I saw old friends and made new ones, too.

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.

Mural from The Drift Inn over on the coast, one of my favorite places. The restaurant interior displays beautiful murals of all kinds of exuberant sea life.

Rick will be making a guest appearance with a couple of songs at the end of some of my more local shows in 2020.  He had given up playing for some years now, but has taken an interest again.  His music is also available through The Orchard as well as Getty Images.

Rick Ross the Bluesman, in his younger days back in Connecticut. Photo credit C.M.

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 16 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 am now almost sold out of CDs and must get to work on the new one.

This may be the cover of the next CD. This was my pet rooster, Mr. Pluff. I was teaching him how to sing.

We have enjoyed playing out in both new and familiar places this year.

A view of the bridge over the Siuslaw River, seen from below, Florence, Oregon.

 

A view of Bay Street and River Roasters, Florence, Oregon.

A lone seagull that day, on his post in the Siuslaw River. He gave us a good look.

And then decided we were not a threat. He continued his vigil.

 

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos available before the end of March post.  I have been playing out far more this year, which by necessity slows down progress in other areas.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

If you have read this far, please note we will post again at the end of March in 2020.   In the meantime, please visit our other pages in the menu at the top of this post

The sun low in the sky, almost sunset, on Christmas day.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August, September & October 2019

Our feature photo for this autumn is sunrise on September 26th.  The waning crescent moon can be seen to the right, catching the growing light of morning. The rising mists take on dawn’s colors before coalescing and floating away over the Cascades as clouds.   Color and intensity change rapidly at the bookends of the day, requiring one to be aware of the impending transition, put aside other activities, and observe the Earth and sky at work.  I feel privileged to witness such beauty unfolding into a new day, or writing the final chapter of one.

Sunrise on September 26th. Click on any image in this post to enlarge.

Sunset on September 22nd. Such a warm coverlet of golden light upon the day’s clouds!

News from the farm

Our weather tended toward cooler and cloudier in late summer, and a bit wetter than recent years.   We were pleased not to see any days over the mid 90s, and the extra moisture helped with fire suppression and watering the gardens.   Rainbows abounded; sunrises and sunsets were more dramatic and colorful than usual due to the canvas of cloud cover.

A molten sky on September 5th.

Early August was still fairly dry, but cloudy, as can be seen in this photo of Rick watering the vines.  We had good grapes, but did not get the pinot noir netted in time.  Birds, wasps and we suspect foxes helped themselves.  Fox scat loaded with grape skins and seeds was noted along the gravel road, and the unmistakable growly bark of Mr. Grey Fox and family was heard off in the woods.  We counted four of them this year.   No wine was made this year – no wine grapes, and no spare time.

The grass was dormant, dry and brittle on August 6th.

Sunflower and attendant bee on August 1st. A feral flower that came up in the rose bed.

The same sunflower plant commiserating with a wet rose on August 10th.

Time passes all too quickly here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Once again, another year has almost completed its cycle.   The garden beds, except for the ones containing cold-hardy kale, broccoli and brussels sprouts, have laid themselves to rest following numerous sub-freezing mornings.  We are grateful for the bounty of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.  Each year, Jack Frost, herald of Old Man Winter, paints a silvery shroud upon the land, smiting all but the most cold tolerant.   The rising sun slowly warms the glittering frozen, stoically rooted in place; by early afternoon the extent of the destruction is evident.  Dandelions, those cheerful, intrepid souls, still bloom, although much lower to the ground.  Small birds attack the globular seed heads; the breezes disperse the tiny parachutes, which sometimes lodge in spider webs.  After a windstorm, remnants of the webs, still carrying seeds, cling to their anchors, their builders dead or in hiding.

A fern growing among the vinca on the north border, turned to gold by frost.

Like spring and summer, autumn wears a cloak of many colors.  Although the reds and golds here seem muted compared to my native New England, western Oregon puts on a fine show, assisted this year by cooler temperatures and some summer rainfall.  Mostly we observe tired leaves wither into pale yellow and brown, and quietly slip away with the daylight hours.

A blueberry bush in full autumn color.

News from Canada!

Cynthia Reyes has published another excellent memoir, Twigs in my Hair, accompanied by lovely photographs from Hamlin Grange. The chapters are well-written, straight from her heart, the vivid descriptions leaving me with the feeling that I was there, too, seeing all through her words. Although I knew I would love this book based on her earlier memoirs, ” A Good Home” and “And Honest House”, I found myself particularly moved by her latest work, as she takes her readers through her early days and gardens in Jamaica, her first real teacher and mentor, Mr. Smith, to all the various gardeners she has come to know, learn from and share with over the years. Beginning with her accounting of her elderly mentor Mr. Smith, it became apparent that one’s relationships with others need to be tended just like our gardens, each person being different, with different needs. Lives are gardens, blossoming and fruiting if carefully tended. Love of gardening and love of life, even in the face of physical adversity in the form of a serious accident, are the ties that bind this work to the heart of not only any gardener, but to anyone with an interest in life.

Created with GIMP

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk of Salmon Brook Farms received the sad news back in September that Lucky, occasional guest columnist and distinguished member of the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk has died.  Lucky was recused from the streets by our friend M.G., who realized by his movements that he was blind. Lucky’s eyes were infected past the point of saving, requiring his eyes to be removed.  He adapted beautifully to life on the olive farm, even climbing trees.  On September 8th, his curiosity about the world outside the olive farm beckoned him to escape through a hole in the fence.  He was struck by an automobile. Correspondent Lucky will be remembered for his plucky can-do spirit, and knowledge of olive farm operations.    Mr. Nano, with the help of friends M.G. and J.P., will present the eulogy.

Correspondent Lucky, scouting for news in his beloved olive trees. Photo credit M.G.

When Lucky arrived on the olive farm in Sicily, he was a wild one, blind and injured, and trusted no one.  Time and patience eventually won over this tough marmalade street cat, and Lucky became overseer of the farm and his caring humans.  His communication style was unique, described as sounding much like a quacking duck.  When he needed to check his surroundings or go exploring, he would extend his paw like a cane, and wave it around until he touched something solid, or found empty space. Lucky also knew when to turn left on the walkway around the house because he could sense the changes in the passing air. 

Lucky holding court with fellow correspondents. Photo credit M.G.

In spite of his blindness, he could climb trees, climb up on rocks, tables and chairs. Always testing the boundaries, he learned how to push the window screens out and escape. Furniture had to be moved away from the windows, although this action did not deter him.  Lucky would sit under the window, staring up, and planning his next escape. His veterinarian called him Houdini. Lucky was also clairvoyant, appearing to know when a sewing project was being planned. He could found napping in the middle of the fabric or in front of the sewing machine.

Lucky hard at work. Photo credit M.G.

One of Lucky’s favorite spots was under the grape arbor that covered the driveway. With his head pointed up, he could listen for the birds and track them with a unique head bobbing movement. Among his favorite locations was up the spiral stair case up to the terrace, where there was a birds nest behind one of the lights. He was not able to reach it, but the chirping and comings and goings of the birds fascinated him for hours.

Olive trees in bloom. Photo credit M.G.

Lucky took his gardening and olive tending activities seriously. He would be in the fresh tilled or planted beds or up the olive trees making his supervisory rounds. Lucky touched many people during his life.  Friends who met him never forgot him and were fascinated by his ability to navigate blind. Correspondent Lucky will never be forgotten, and will always be loved.

Lucky on patrol in the olive farm garden. Photo credit M.G.

Lucky is survived by M.G. and J.P., and all the feline and canine residents of the olive farm.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Sicilian countryside as seen from the olive farm. Photo credit M.G.

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 regularly.  New videos will follow as soon as I can get to it.

One of my favorite places on the coast!

Dorian Michael graciously invited me to play a couple of songs during one of his shows. Photo credit Rick Ross.

I bring three guitars along, the Martin, Guild, and my old Ventura. providing me with a larger palette from which to paint music. Photo credit Rick Ross.

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.

The old Ventura 12 string I am playing here is no longer made. I have only come across one other one in all these years, and it was not made as well as this one. Photo credit Rick Ross.

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 16 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 am now almost sold out of CDs and must get to work on the new one.

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Eastern clouds over the farm catching afternoon sun on September 16th.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May, June & July 2019

Our feature photo this summer is of Queen Anne’s Lace. It was difficult to choose a favorite flower from the season’s parade of blooms, although at this time of year, this familiar wildflower with its lacy white umbrels can be seen practically everywhere along with the ubiquitous oxeye daisy.

The hardy yet delicate-looking Queen Anne’s Lace.

A neighboring field of oxeye daisy

News from the farm

With the month of May, came the time of irises and rhododendrons, heralds of summer.    Each year is unique in how the oscillating weather patterns play out over the season, affecting bloom time and growth.  The residual  coolness this year prolonged the time we enjoyed some of our garden residents, as well as the symphony of chorus frogs whose music graced the late spring nights.

We planted this beauty last spring.

A few of these irises were given to us by a friend. There are now many of them.

Daylilies followed, along with spearmint in spires of pale lavender, attracting clouds of bees and various insects.  Each passing year I watch the procession, never tiring of what nature sends us.

The color of summer, captured by a sun-dappled daylily growing beneath a crabapple tree.

The barrel of reblooming daylilies, hard at work.

The rains have since ceased.  Late summer is harsh as the daytime temperature rises, cracking open the hard clay earth.   Grass, a collection of hardy souls here in the Willamette Valley, goes dormant when not watered, taking on a whitish-tan hue, becoming brittle and cracking underfoot.   Our gardens and plantings need spot watering and heavy mulching to stay alive.  Some garden areas have gone feral while I have been occupied with other needs, needing no help from me,  just yet.

Feral California poppy and sweet pea amid a bed of untended irises.

The dark green, hungry-looking maw of a developing feral sunflower that came up amid the roses.

That sunflower now has many colorful heads and little visitors.

One of our red roses unfolding. The mulch is sawdust, and helps with needing to water less often.

It is the seasons of dust devils in our area, those carefree vortices spinning lazily across farmland, spawned in the late summer heat after grass seed and wheat farms have harvested their crops.  I noted my first one this year on July 23rd, while driving across the valley.  I find myself patiently waiting for autumn’s cornucopia, and the first rains.

For Pacific Paratrooper – Michael’s tree is now taller than me!

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk is back at work after recovering from a respiratory illness earlier this summer that affected most of the crew, passing cat to cat, taking several weeks to recover from it.   Mr. Nano, head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, will provide a short essay for May, June and July.

Spring tarried a while this year, long and cool, accompanied by the nightly sounds of chorus frogs as darkness set in.  She sent the rains, the moon bobbing along on her nocturnal cloudy seas, and the morning’s rain drenched flowers.

A clump of Dutch iris after a storm in May.

Our days grew longer as Old Sol approached his northernmost post, peering over the horizon, spilling golden light across a green land, sending the myriad drops of water on leaf and blade of grass into prismatic brilliance.   Those who have witnessed sunrise, seen the gold upon the green, the sparkle of a new day, know an ephemeral wealth far greater than any jewel cut by Man.  No day can be replicated, only appreciated in mind’s eye and felt in the soul.

Some cloud sport downward tails, appearing much like the trumpets of chanterelle mushrooms as seen looking up from the forest floor

I watched the glow one evening as  molten golden-white clouds took on the longer peach and rose colored rays post sundown. The grey fox was sighted out back, leaping and prancing with his long brushy tail streaming out behind.   Humans had only been walking through his area a few minutes earlier.

The longer rays light the clouds in a post sundown sky.

The tree swallows followed summer’s longer days, wheeling in the early evening sky, catching insects on the wing.  Grass grew long and coarse, a house finch sat on the overhead electrical wires and sang his heart out to no one in particular.  Goldfinches arrived, darting about the roses and out in main garden.  A mole came up out of one hole, and went down another, a great blue heron flew overhead, long legs out behind, wings like oars methodically rowing across the river of sky, out towards the lake.  Each species goes about life according to its own needs, in its own time and space, separate yet shared and connected, gears in the great clockwork of life.

Chive blooms from earlier this summer.

Now well past solstice, the days grow perceptibly shorter, and the transition of day into night seems different somehow, perhaps reminiscent of my own aging bones, knowing the road ahead is shorter than the road I have already traveled.  The same barn lights glow softly on neighboring hills as night’s deepening veil rises in the east, and the last rays disappear below the horizon, as they always have done.  Stars emerge, one by one, lighting the blackness of space, beacons for imagination.  Another day has come to a close.

A spectacular sundown from October, 2018.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who missed the spring post, 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.

The westbound PIE sign as seen on May 7th on the way to the Oregon coast. This time there was no traffic behind us, and Rick was able to slow down the car while I took this shot out the window.

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.

The source of PIE, further on down the road. We did not check the odometer.

I have been enjoying playing over on the Oregon coast regularly.  Rick has been an excellent driver, roadie and sound man.  I grow his tomato, eggplant and pepper starts, and make wine for him from our grapes in autumn.

View from a scenic area on Route 101. Filtered light played on a thrashing silver-grey sea, the wind cool and refreshing with the light tang of salt. The Pacific has her own spirit and mood compared to her sister, the Atlantic, scents and sounds particular to her.

We stopped here for a quick look around.

We will come back and hike the trail.

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 16 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. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Safe travels to wherever your destination in life may lead you. This photo was taken from the plane on my way into LAX from Phoenix last year.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for February, March & April 2019

Our feature photo this spring is of a lively cluster of crabapple blossoms from April 25th.

One of my favorite trees. This one was grown from a 1 foot high start obtained from the National Arbor Day Foundation in 2004.

It is said that change is the one constant in life. My responsibilities and activities have been rapidly increasing over the last year, bringing more change to my own. I will be posting the Salmon Brook Farms blog less often now, so I may be able to actually catch up on farm, music and winemaking projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, work on the book that my dear friend, blogger and author Cynthia Reyes has been gently nudging me to write, as well as stay in touch with our readers and their own endeavors. The format will remain the same, but will now have a more seasonal focus. The feline correspondents may actually find time to compile their journal notes into real essays, at least that is what I have asked them to do. We thank all our readers who have stayed with us as the blog site enters its sixth year, and our lives evolve.  Life’s adventure here in Oregon continues.

News from the farm

After a relatively mild December and January, we experienced an unusual amount of snow for our area in late winter. The brown, dried skeletons of lemon balm stalks and seed heads caught the fine snow in small tufts, icy inflorescences that did not last the day of our first snowfall.

Dried stalks of lemon balm, February 2019.

Lured by increasing daylight and January’s relative warmth, irises and other early risers from the sleeping earth found themselves shivering in a frozen world. Green shoots, swelling buds and birdsong told of the coming spring, not far off, in spite of the cold and snow.

Green swords of iris making an entrance in February, only to find snow.

And of course, snow iris!

We found ourselves wielding snow shovels when the biggest storm hit, bringing back distant memories of life in another time back in New England. Snow has a way of softening sight and sound, lulling one into a sense of peace and tranquility. Dark forms of conifers, frosted white, loomed tall amid the mists and falling snow, giving the appearance of a scene one might typically find on a Christmas card. Little to no traffic except for snow plows passed by on the main road that day; I could hear birds singing somewhere off to the south. Shrubs and blueberry bushes were heavily bent earthward under the weight while daffodils by the old garage stood tall and perky up against the building where snow did not accumulate. There is something peaceful about watching snow fall, if one does not have to travel anywhere. Distances shrink, boundaries are softened, sounds and colors muted in a womb-like enclosure of white, a death waiting for rebirth in a state of colorless tranquility.

The farm in snow. We don’t usually see this much, if any.

Many days the surrounding hills and southwest pass were completely hidden behind the soft veil of light silver-grey, tendrils of fog curling and writhing before me, examining my presence. I could feel the water droplets that comprised it settling on my face, each drop an individual entity. Many small streams from melting snow and rain flowed toward the low areas, rippling and sparkling in the late winter sunlight.

Early March brought many cold mornings in the low 20s. Looking up into the starry blackness one such morning at 5:20 AM, I could almost feel the heat escaping from everything, including myself, radiating out into space. On mornings like this I have a much greater appreciation of our position, third planet from the sun, orbiting in a habitable zone, and just how much the sun’s warmth makes our present life here possible.

Spring arrived, as always, amid a riot of rainbows, catkins, blooms and new life in all forms. I found several osoberry bushes in the back lot, one of the first bloomers.

An intense rainbow in the east. A sign of peace.

Osoberry, also known as Indian plum.

Osoberry and lichen.

The annual symphony of chorus frogs performed magnificently in the many late winter and vernal pools on this farm we call home. Tree swallows have also returned, gracefully swooping about the farm and perching on the wires. Out in the back lot, blue camas are flowering. Cold hardy dandelions have been showing their faces about the farm for some time, and forming seed heads.

What I believe is a camas in bloom in the back lot.

A Dandelion in Winter.

Forming seeds.

Broccoli, sheltered under mini-greenhouses in the garden all winter, have been providing nutritious greens and stalks. They have started flowering, along with last year’s kale.

Overwintered broccoli. Quite tasty!

Old Man Winter and his companion Jack Frost have been slow to leave, and still send us an occasional night below freezing, even though the daytime temperature may rise into the 60s and 70s. They are headed north, climbing higher into the mountains as the sun rises further north along the eastern horizon. The air still feels crisp and cold here under the warm, golden light, their cold breath lingering in the foothills and shaded areas of the farm as April comes to a close.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk is back at work after a brief hiatus. Mr. Nano, head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, has asked correspondent Miss Abby to file an essay about her observations from late winter through early spring, and about life in general as seen from the perspective of advanced years. Correspondent Abby has consulted her notes and has agreed to share the wisdom of her 17 years with readers. Without further ado, correspondent Miss Abby will present her essay.

Correspondent Abby, celebrating her 17th birthday this April.

I have reached a venerable age, having traveled around the sun and observed the changing of the seasons 17 times, although I still promptly greet all guests, and make them feel welcome in my home. I spend more time looking within, and dreaming, not only of what was, but where I am going in the years that are left to me.

Correspondent Abby, enjoying her shelf in the bookcase some years back.

With age comes that quiet realization one cannot jump as high, or as accurately as one did in their youth, and that to remain engaged in life, one must find other avenues of self-expression, while attempting to keep a positive demeanor as long as possible. The day will come, as it comes for all of us, when it is time to relinquish our past, with all the associated memories and emotions, and look forward into that bright abyss from which there is no return, following those before us. That is the nature of life and its cycles, as it plays out on this Earth, in this universe. There is no sadness, no regrets, only what is. Those to whom we mattered will remember, their memories of us evoked by some random sight, sound or scent, traveling on starlight, or distantly seen the moon’s soft, ghostly glow. We all walk among ghosts, including our own.

A sunset scene here from 2018.

Winter’s dark season has passed once again, barn lights on the distant hills glowing through the mists and snowfall like stars in hues of orange high pressure sodium and blue-green mercury vapor.   Lichens, swollen with winter rain, helped catch and retain the fine coating of snow; trees, especially apple and plum, stood frosted with an icing of the first snowfall of the season. Mornings often came in silver-grey, soft and quiet. Green grass in the wetter areas poked up through the covering, a juxtaposition of spring green and winter white. After sunrise, milky white mists would coalesce and rise, floating up the hills and skyward with the sun.

Winter view of the hills to the south of the farm.

Spring came slowly, stealthily to the farm, changing the face of sunrise and sunset. The white mists of dawn ran like a river of spilled milk along the base of the hills to the south; dark forms of trees rose up from the vapors, waiting for sunrise to give them color and substance. The time between first light and the first rays of emerging sun is a magical time, quickly changing its character and mood on the threshold of a new day. Crepuscular wildlife can be seen going about their business on the farm. In evening, the final rays of sun as it disappears below the horizon mark day’s end, and the transition into night.

Day’s end as last colors are caught by clouds to the east.

The sun has made good progress northward towards its position at solstice along the eastern horizon. High ice clouds and contrails catch the longer wavelengths of pink and rose; each partly cloudy morning makes a different yet equally spectacular entrance in form and hue. Once the transitional colors have passed, the blue dome above is marbled with stark white, that in itself a miracle of Nature. Down below, filtered sun streams across spring’s emerald green growth; heavily dewed grass scintillates from a myriad tiny prisms. The mornings are lighter now as old Sol moves northward along the eastern horizon. Come solstice, he will be rising behind the trees on a neighboring property and more difficult to spot peering just over the horizon.

One evening I watched as thickening contrails and filamentous cirrus clouds had not yet occluded an almost full moon in the eastern sky, a ghostly white orb marbled with grey, like quartz tumbled by the sea. A chorus of frogs was singing in the vernal pools as the sun dipped below the horizon, and night approached. Somewhere up there above the chorus of late winter frogs and cloud cover that night, the moon was sailing in the blackness of space, staring back at her companion, this marbled bright blue gem called Earth.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Abby, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Miss Hope and Mr. Nano, enjoying quality time.

Sisters Blynken and Wynken enjoying quality time.

Sisters Blynken and Nod enjoying quality time.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

February, March were a relatively quiet month musically, with construction projects (some more difficult and time consuming than initially thought) and family matters taking precedence. I will be blog posting less often now, so I may be able to actually catch up on 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.

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.

Live with the Martin, Guild and Ventura.

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 16 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. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Enjoy the time here on this unique, beautiful planet.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2019

Our feature photo this month is of a particularly beautiful sunrise on January 1st, starting off the new year on a colorful note.

Our morning sky on January 1, 2019.

The waning crescent moon hung in the sky accompanied by a bright planet.

Readers may click on any image in this post to enlarge. The moon and one bright planet (to the lower left of the moon) hung amid the pink clouds and early blue. I believe the planet pictured to the lower left of the moon here is Venus.

The 2nd of January was no less delightful, making her debut in pink, peach and blue.  Dark branches of bare trees made a fine filigree set against an early sky.

Like waves reaching for the shore, the clouds this morning gave the appearance of rosy-peach colored white caps on morning blue seas.

Of Special Note to Readers

I am not someone who offers reviews of books, art or music, being neither qualified nor having the time, energy or interest to do so. I am an observer and recorder of life as it wanders through this farm, brushing against my own in some way I find meaningful to share with others once every month, sometimes two, and I am very grateful to all who have stopped by to view the reflections of it in the still waters of my words and photographs. Artists, musicians, photographers and writers are among the regular visitors here on this blog site, and I cherish all of you, not only for your individual creativity, but for whom you are as people. That said, there are times when someone’s work comes to my attention, not only for the quality of the individual work, but for something I find inexpressible, something I find of far greater value to society than the sum of its parts.

Author Cynthia Reyes, and her then 4 year old daughter Lauren, and Cabbage Patch doll Quentin.

Cynthia Reyes, a former journalist, producer-director and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, turned to blogging and writing after a serious car accident derailed her career. I thoroughly enjoyed her first two books, A Good Home and An Honest House, both memoirs, but it was Myrtle the Purple Turtle, a children’s book of all things, that spoke to my heart. The story was written to comfort her four year old daughter Lauren, who had been bullied at school for bringing a black Cabbage Patch doll named Quentin. The other children told her they would not play with her if she brought the black doll along, because they thought it was dirty. Over a period of weeks, the family worked on improving the story until all were happy with it, and many years later, in 2017, it finally became a published children’s book. Myrtle the Purple Turtle tells the tale of her initial heartbreak at learning she is different, and being bullied for that, but in the end comes to respect herself for who she is, with the help of her friends. In my enthusiasm for the message behind this book, I gave a copy to our local library for the children’s section, sent a copy to Operation Respect, and also sent one to Scott Simon at NPR. I would love to hear Scott interview Cynthia and Lauren someday!

Cynthia, her daughter Lauren, and students.

I was pleased to learn that Cynthia and her daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange have jointly written a sequel to Myrtle the Purple Turtle titled Myrtle’s Game, which expands upon the lesson of acceptance to include working and playing together in spite of our differences. The illustrations by Jo Robinson in both books are beautifully done; the colors vibrant and rich, the animals expressive. My hope is that there will be a entire series of Myrtle books to encourage young people to grow up leading more tolerant, happier lives. It is unfortunate that books like Myrtle the Purple Turtle and Myrtle’s Game did not exist back in my childhood days. They should be required reading in the classroom. I believe Myrtle is a great educational tool for teaching the Golden Rule.   For all of us who share this one Earth, it is really the only one we need to remember.

News from the farm

The dark month of December has come and gone, a time of death and rebirth, the cold earth sleeping yet quietly incubating life for the coming spring.  The first shoots of January’s daffodils were emerging in December, even as our old Willow cat took her last breath, joining the ranks of the sleeping.  Come spring, her daffodils will bloom, and I will see her peering out from behind the golden cups, calling me to play.  She loved the sun and its golden warmth.

Willow in younger years.

Trees also come and go here. These old friends do not have the option of moving themselves out of harm’s way.   These stoic individuals, rooted in place, must endure weather, pests and the whims of mankind.  We lost our big black locust tree to construction equipment’s needs, but still have a smaller one which had grown from the roots of another locust lost in a windstorm back in 2006.  I will remember the fragrant, creamy blossoms, and bees attracted to the heady scent and promise of nectar.  The tree service company was requested to give the firewood to a family in need.

Creamy white locust blooms from 2017. I will miss this tree.

The black locust tree after an ice storm in 2016, covered in icy jewels and sparkled like diamonds in he sun.

Other trees and some gardens were impacted by construction projects and equipment, and will need serious repair.   A large redbud tree up front was lost as the result of a car going off the road and crashing through the tree, snapping it off at the base.  These trees are beautiful, but seem to have brittle wood.    I will not plant another one of these ornamental trees up front, although perhaps in the back if my cuttings from this fallen beauty manage to root.  I had watched it grow over the last 15 years, having planted it and its smaller partner tree back in 2004 from roughly 1 foot high starts obtained from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  The smaller partner tree also suffered some minimal damage, and we will see how it fares this summer.

I will miss this tree. We still have the smaller of the two redbuds left.

The old black tartarian cherry tree still graces the back lot, minus some limbs and a few side roots.   The garden there is intact, but has a gravel road running right past it now, and that bed will require attention and reworking very soon.

The cherry tree garden will be much closer to the cherry tree on the front side, as a gravel road runs right past it now. We avoided having to have this tree cut down. The garden will have more of a horseshoe shape to it this year.

The days are noticeably longer now, although clouds and mists hold the winter’s chill; I must keep moving to stay warm out there. Daylilies have emerged, and are already several inches high.   Some have divided beyond their original borders and will need moving to spots where I feel their summer beauty and protective nature would help some of the apple trees.   I am acutely aware of the passage of time, and nature’s gathering surge; it is time to attend the gardens, trees and vines.    She will not wait for me, and says I am already a bit late; catching up will be difficult.  I give her a nod, and tell her I will do my best.  Rick has already begun work in the vineyards.

Daylily bed from 2017.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk was closed during December in honor and remembrance of fellow correspondent Willow.   Mr. Nano , head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, has asked correspondent Miss Blynken, to file a brief report of her observations from January, even though the farm photographer was unavailable to help her.  Miss Blynken has consulted her notes and has agreed to share some of her entries that she feels may be noteworthy to readers, and hopes her words will suffice for lack of photos.  Without further ado, correspondent Miss Blynken will present her report.

Correspondent Miss Blynken, facing the camera. She is pictured here with her sister and fellow correspondent, Miss Wynken.

January 1, 2019

Dawn arrived, colorful and cold at 24 degrees. The undersides of clouds reflected the rose colors from the longer rays from the sun, still well below the horizon. A single planet and the crescent moon hung in a Maxfield Parrish blue sky. Even a minute or two makes a difference at the bookends of the day, the colors quickly taking on the shorter, brighter wavelengths of peach, cream and finally stark white. Our sky soon populated with clouds, leaving winter grey and filtered sunlight until the herd moved on up the valley, leaving mostly ice crystal cirrus, some formed by spreading early morning contrails. Every drop still clinging to tree, shrub, rosebush and blade of grass scintillates in the angled light, a good omen for the year.

January 4, 2019

A variably partly cloudy day reaching the low 50s, clouds just as soft looking as the air felt mild and springlike. Filaments of cirrus, high level ice clouds, marbled the blue above the breaks in river of moisture headed northeast.

I can see some stars overhead, but barn lights on the distant hills reveal a growing fog at ground level as the temperature falls.

January 5, 2019

A variably cloudy day with some periods of sun, peaking in the higher 40s. A freak wind squall came through this evening. I could see stars through patches of cloud and driving rain. A few strategic plastic cross member supports gave way, destroying the small greenhouse on the porch. Most of the strawberries and the tray of garlic starts survived. There will be a lot of work tomorrow cleaning up the area, and seeing what else gave way in the night.

January 12, 2019

A frosty 26 degrees under mostly clear skies this morning, warming into the high 40s. Everywhere daffodils and more ambitious winter shoots are poking above the soil, lured by the increasing daylight and relatively mild weather. By the old garage, daffodils will bloom soon in this protected space.

A clear calm, and cold evening in progress. It is already down in the 30s. An old friend, the constellation Orion, is overhead. I can pick out a few others.

January 15, 2019

Barely 32 this morning before 7:00 AM. The sky has been mostly overcast, with a few breaks to the south-southwest which seem to be filling in. The sun is attempting to burn a hole through the cloud cover in the southeast, and appears as a bright glowing orb behind sintered glass.

January 16, 2019

Barely 32 degrees under mostly cloudy skies at dawn. The sun rose about 5 minutes ago amid a clearing sky of passing smudges of cloud, spreading contrails and bright filamentous flows of cirrus. It is still, and peaceful.

The clearing skies of early morning did not last long, and our sun soon became a bright light behind a sintered glass disc before disappearing entirely behind a thickening cloud cover and light rain. Another raw day in the lower 40s.

January 17, 2019

A balmier 43 degrees this morning under mostly cloudy skies. The air felt as soft as a fuzzy cat’s tail. There were enough breaks in the clouds to allow the longer, redder rays to catch on the undersides of clouds. Sunrise was mantled in lavender and gold, quite pleasing to behold.

PM PST: Our high was somewhere in the mid 40s, with some morning sun, soon returning to silver-grey followed by charcoal grey, heavy skies and light rain. A stiff, biting wind from the south-south west made it feel colder than it was. The sun made a brief appearance again at sundown.

January 18, 2019

A chilly 34 degrees under generally overcast skies. Any hint of clearing has vanished in the east as the thickening clouds in the southwest slowly advance up the pass. The grey has a hint of blue steel to it today, making it feel colder than it is. The sun weakly shines through the veil of thinner cover in the southeast, as if a light source behind sintered glass. The winds are absent at ground level. Everything waits.

January 20, 2019

Mists have been wandering through the farm this morning, with a very light wind from the west at ground level. The neighboring properties where vegetation has been grazed down to nothing are rutted and flooded, the sort of mild winter conditions nutria would enjoy, but I haven’t seen them, or any sign of them, in a long time.

January 26, 2019

The first glimmers of eastern light at 6:37 AM are visible. A clear sky dawn graced with stars, planets and a bright half-moon overhead, the night’s citizens retreating as the light grows and spreads, chasing them westward. Barn lights on the distant hills glow softly in shades of blue-green and pale orange. I love the transitional times of the day, the time between the dark and the light. It is a cold one out there at 29 degrees on the porch thermometer. I can smell fireplaces burning, and some burning plastic amid the woodsmoke from folks burning things they should not be burning.

The mists thicken and rise, obliterating the hills except for the dark forms of trees higher up the slope, and the barn lights in shadow further down still glowing like beacons. The white icy sheen on the grass will disappear quickly once the sun has risen and temperatures rise. Our local forecast is for clouds and mid 50s. It remains to be seen what the day will actually bring.

January 27, 2019

35 degrees and a thick ground fog out there in the morning darkness. It must be clear above it all, as I can see the veiled, waning moon overhead.

A cold, damp day in the mid 40s in spite of some good filtered sun. The morning mists never quite cleared, and a mist roller crept down from the mountains to the east by afternoon, the cold breath of the mountains on a slow moving ground breeze that was palpable in its moisture content.

We are fully encased in palpable fog this evening, and I watched it writhe in the beam of a flashlight. On nights like these, fog feels like a living thing that could ingest one, and not leave a trace. It is already down in the 30s, and will be quite cold by morning.

January 30, 2019

A silver crayon morning at 28 degrees, is what Jack Frost’s handiwork looks like, cold and glittering lines upon this first page in morning’s sketchbook. Our skies are mostly clear except for thin, high clouds and contrails in the east, which are reflecting the peach colors emanating from below the horizon at this time. Even the thickening mists at ground level are taking on color as they form and rise. All is still, and frost covered, but will thaw as the sun climbs. Sunrise, as we see it here from the view of the geologic bowl in which this farm sits, is now at 8:05 AM, and old Sol is slowly working his way north along the horizon. At Equinox, sunrise will shine directly in the east window.

 

More sunrise clouds from January 2nd.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Blynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Miss Blynken (in back) with her sister Miss Wynken (long haired cat in front), gathering news.


Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

January has been a relatively quiet month musically, with construction projects (some more difficult and time consuming than initially thought) and family matters taking precedence.

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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

September, 2018 sundown. Nature puts on a colorful show for those who will take the time to watch. No two are alike.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

In Loving Memory – Willow

Willow, taken back in October, 2015. One can see the love between these two elder ladies, one human, one feline. Rick’s mother, holding her here in this photo, passed away in December, 2015. Willow has now joined her elderly companion.

There comes a time when the body is too worn and tired to continue, and the spirit longs for freedom from it.  Willow, by all reckoning 22 years old, had been losing ground to extreme old age and failing kidneys.   The intervals between her trips to her veterinarian had become shorter and shorter this year, and she had been placed on subcutaneous fluids for hydration these last few weeks.  There came the dreaded but expected morning when she made it known that it was time to assist her departure from this life, with all the infirmities of her age and chronic illness.  She went for her last ride to her veterinarian that afternoon.  We are extremely grateful to River’s Edge Pet Medical Center for their compassion and support.

Willow, in younger days, reading a card from her friends, Doug (human), Andy and Dougy (cats) over at Weggie Boy’s Blog, https://phainopepla95.com/ Doug has Wegener’s granulomatosis- now called GPA- that attacks the small and medium-sized blood vessels in the body, and is on dialysis due to kidney failure.

Willow was laid to rest the following morning at sunrise, on the farm she loved so well, facing the eastern light.

It is here I will close my own thoughts, and leave readers with an eloquent note I received from an old friend and long-time mentor, back in 2015 when Rick’s mother passed away.  We had cared for his mother in our home for over three years, until her body finally gave in to the infirmities of old age. Willow, her elderly companion cat, was there with her when she died.  This note from our friend still brings us great comfort.

“I join you in your sorrow and joy.  I am aware that getting old is mostly a matter of letting things go, giving up many thoughts and dreams that we compile during our lives.  I have come to believe a page from the Buddhist philosophy, dependency arising.  All things are connected to all things.  Nothing happens without a ripple through the universe whether we are able to perceive it or not.

     I also believe it has been a blessing that she was surrounded by the cats and the farm, all the things that speak of life with their cycles and acceptance of all that happens.  A few days ago I had a five minute stare down with a four point buck and several does.  He was a little curious but very separate with his little family.  He was also fearless and accepting of our sharing a space and time.  Eventually he went back to eating and I went along my way.  The does weren’t concerned in the slightest.

      There’s nothing special in that five minutes except that we are all here, we all have our part to play and then we go forward to whatever dimension is next.  The rest of us remain with our memories, selecting out the good and mostly letting the rest fade away.  While I’m in no hurry, to me Death is a friend whom I’ll have plenty of time to get to know in the future.  I’m watching the seasons come and go with more intensity than ever before.

     You and Rick have come through a very difficult time that has increased the wear and tear on both you.  You are changed by it as we all are by every difficulty that comes our way.  Now is the time to sit back quietly for a short while and cement the good while letting the bad find it’s own way down the road.  I admire your strength and fortitude tremendously, both of you.  I want you to finish out this winter and walk into spring with all of its new promise.  I hope you will find renewed happiness in the renewed season.    – K.  December, 2015”

Rest in peace, little one.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Blynken (left) and Wynken (right), enjoying a good snuggle. Cherish the ones you love. The time passes all too quickly.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October-November 2018

Our feature photo this month is of a particularly interesting sunset cloudscape from November 27th.  I was captivated by the sense of depth, texture and mood presented on this particular evening.

Sunset clouds on November 27th.

Each day is unique, quietly revealing ephemeral treasures to those who take the time to look for them.

Heart of blue amid stormy skies.

Sunset in pink.

The transition into night is a time for reflection as the day comes to an end; the purple veil in the east rises earlier and earlier as the season progresses. Our November moon is waning, just past last quarter, rising later each evening.  She is a beacon for all who wander about in the darkness, observing the heavens.  We will not see her tonight due to heavy cloud cover and rain.

Night draws closer as the sun drops further below the horizon.

Early morning is a beautiful, contemplative time of day; silver-grey mists form and rise, taking the sunrise colors of pink and gold, and finally stark white when the sun has climbed well above the horizon. They will quickly drift away as cloud.

Early morning mists.

Morning contrails.

News from the farm

It is the time of year when the farm may stand enshrouded in heavy fog all day, with no sign, no hint of the blue river above the soft, quiet coverlet of mist and low cloud. Occasional pockets of cold air moving at ground level brush against my face and arms as they wander across the farm, like the touch of passing ghosts, sentient and otherworldly.

A doe and her offspring grazing along the row of table grapes back in October. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

The months of October and November marched on through the farm in the yearly parade of seasonal produce, changing colors, turbulent skies, windstorms, falling leaves and deer in search of greenery.  Jack Frost, herald of Old Man Winter, has come by on clear nights with his silver brush, leaving a trail of both scintillating sunlit morning beauty and destruction in his wake. The persimmon tree, and some types of apples, welcome his return with sweeter fruit after a good frosting.

Lovage growing in a half barrel sports a light covering of frost. The lovage clump did not appreciate Jack Frost’s visit.

Our beautiful old persimmon tree, festooned with fruit and colorful leaves.

Apples on a frosty morning.

Most leaves except for the marcescent have fallen, and have been raked up and placed in garden beds to help build the soil. The last roses of the season have bloomed; I lost a dear relative to extreme old age; the eldest of our cats now lives on borrowed time, the endless cycle of life of which all of us are a part.  We all have our time. It has been a bitter-sweet season, and when darkness falls, I find myself thinking of a Maori evening prayer I learned from a friend in New Zealand.  Safe and warm inside, the Christmas cactus enters its bloom cycle again. Outside, a lone red rosebud which never opened remains tightly folded against the cold.

Ross were still vibrant and blooming in late October.

Rosé wine from our own pinot noir is still cold stabilizing on the lees; samples were taken for evaluation today.  I processed and fermented two batches of our best pinot noir grapes, selected and harvested  by Rick,  within a week of each other.   Epernay 2 yeast (Red Star Cotes des Blanc) was used for its characteristics, as was done the previous year.  Rick found both samples acceptable, they will be bottled soon.

Rick, hard at work evaluating the new rosé wine with food.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

Mr. Nano contacted the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk for this month’s report, as old Willow is seriously under the weather and receiving much attention. Her kidneys are failing, and she is currently on subcutaneous fluids. For readers familiar with the BBC/ PBS series Poldark, Mr Nano is of the opinion Willow would have made a most fitting old Aunt Agatha Poldark, as played by Caroline Blakiston. One a  geriatric feline, the other a fictional human, both are beloved to those who understand and appreciate their unique spirits.

Willow in earlier times, reading a card from her friends Doug (human), Dougy (cat) and Andy(cat). Willow is not well these days.

Without further ado, Sicilian feline correspondent Lucky and his fellow correspondents from the olive farm present their findings on life in the Sicilian countryside. Readers may note from previous posts that Lucky is blind, and although his acute hearing, exceptional navigational abilities and sense of olfaction are invaluable to his reports, his fellow correspondents have provided all the visual descriptions. Olive farmers and photographers  M. and J. have kindly provided the photos of their farm in Sicily used in Lucky’s report.

Autumn on the Olive Farm in the Sicilian Countryside

Autumn arrived, bringing more rain than is seen in a normal year for our region. Between August and October, almost a year’s worth of rain fell, making tilling the ground and harvesting olives extremely difficult. Fortunately, we did not have to harvest olives this year. The previous year, a bountiful harvest gave us enough oil to last two years, allowing one time enjoy reading and strolling through garden and olive grove.

Although Lucky is now blind, he understands the value of reading. Photo credit M.G.

While making my daily rounds, I happened upon a visitor lurking in the lavender, an Acherontia atropos, more commonly known as a subspecies of the Death’s head hawkmoth. As an adult it is commonly identified by the vaguely skull-shaped pattern adorning the thorax.

A hawk moth caterpillar. Photo credit M.G.

Due to unusual weather, a prickly pear plant with a flower, opuntus fica-indica, was found near others bearing their fall fruit. 

Prickly pear cactus in flower. Photo credit M.G.

 

Prickly pear with fruit. Photo credit M.G.

The array of autumn colors was stunning. Fiery pyracantha presented its bright orange berries while the Lantana burst with red flowers.

Pyracantha. Photo credit M.G.

Lantana. Photo credit M.G.

Fall irises and golden oxalis were nestled in along the path while wild mushrooms were discovered scattered throughout the field, much to my delight.

Iris. Photo credit M.G.

Oxalis. Photo credit M.G.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

 –  Lucky, Sicilan Feline Correspondent, reporting for the House of Many Paws

Correspondent Lucky, at home in Sicily.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I was privileged to be accepted into the Spokane Fall Folk Festival again this year. Once again, we saddled up a trusty vehicle and made the trip up over the Cascades, through eastern Oregon and on to Spokane in eastern Washington.  We stopped to eat at the Black Bear Diner, our favorite breakfast place.

The Black Bear Diner in Madras, Oregon. The bear is still driving the truck.

I was pleased to have a good set, superb sound engineers and an appreciative audience. It was all I could have asked for at the festival.

A blurry photo as the flash was unfortunately off, and the hand of the photographer unsteady as my own. Photos of all the performers can be found on the festival’s site.

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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Cherish the days. They pass all too quickly.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2018

Our feature photo this month is of an orb weaver spider found inhabiting the northwest border of the farm.  Although not as large or colorful as the resident orb weaver from 2017,  I was quite taken with the intricate design on this one.

Our 2018 resident orb weaver, sporting some striking markings.

Rather camera shy, she fled into the arbor vitae and this photo was the best one I was able to take of her.  A very brief rain and wind squall took down her web.  We hope she was safely ensconced in the arbor vitae until she can rebuild.

On the other hand, our 2017 orb weaver in the garden was quite willing to be photographed from many angles, and was featured in our August 2017 post, where she is presenting her best pose.

Our orb weaver from 2017, a bit larger and more colorful.

News from the farm

The month of September has passed, along with summer’s intensive heat.  Even on an aberrant late September day in the low 90s, the sun coming in at a much lower angle is much more pleasant in mid afternoon.  Although still fairly dry, rain has come in small amounts in the form of misting rain or brief squalls.  Not enough precipitation has fallen to soak the hard, sun-baked clay soil, only just enough to wet flower, leaf and stem, with promises of more to come.

After a brief storm, roses were beaded and heavy with raindrops.

The leaves seem more intensively colorful this year, showing a bit more orange and gold among the usual paler yellows and crumpled browns.  Perhaps it is all my perception, wishing this year’s work on all fronts to be completed as soon as possible, so I may rest, dormant until spring might awaken me in all its floral abundance and sense of wonder at the annual renewal of life.  Dormancy is never an option here, though; life only slows down, temporarily.   Yet I would hold onto this transitional time of year, savor all its sights, scents and sounds.  The unique sense of clarity in autumn’s low angled light,  the touch of warm sunshine and cooler air on the skin, the colorful cloudscapes at the bookends of the day are all unique to the transitional seasons here, although autumn wields a special magic all her own in this season of falling leaves and bounty from garden, orchard and vineyard.

Developing apple in progress!

Cascade table grapes behind bird netting. They are providing good eating!

Suffolk Red table grapes behind bird netting. Ready to harvest any time now.

A good supply of plums have been dried and stashed away for the winter months. There are days when I feel much in common with some of the little fellows in the order Rodentia during the late summer and autumn months of food preservation and storage.  In the old doublewide “farmhouse” that stood on the same site as our present home, wild mice bunking in for the winter would bring in hazelnuts and store them in my boots, which were kept in the back extension. For good reasons, we nicknamed that house “The Mouse Hotel”.  At night, stray hazelnuts energetically rolled down the inner walls, sounding much like bowling balls fired down an alley, the final crash at the bottom reminiscent of a multiple pin strike.  I sometimes wondered if the mice up in the ceiling were gleefully squeaking, “Strike!”  Perhaps the old house should have been named “Murine Lanes”.  Fortunately there are no signs of mice in the new home, now 6 years old, and the youngest cats, now 5 years old, are content to be the lead investigators regarding any anomalous noises.

The Boys of Salmon Brook Farms, Mr. Lucio (left), Mr. Nano (center) and Mr. Marcus (right), keeping vigil in the old house. That house did have bigger windows, which they enjoyed very much. The only cat from that time period to ever catch a house mouse was Abby, who has been blind in one eye since before we acquired her. Nothing escaped her one good eye. She will be 17 years old next spring.

Our pinot noir grapes are almost ready to press for wine now, and other tasks will wait while grapes are harvested, crushed and the grape must (juice) inoculated with Epernay II yeast.   Our goal is to make a rosé wine as good or better than our 2017 vintage.

A small number of pinot noir grapes from our 2017 harvest, enough to squeeze juice to fill a 16 qt sock pot for inoculation.

2017 harvest and crush – all done by hand for small test batches.

Rick, our Quality Control person, personally testing two different batches at lunch last year.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident feline correspondent and head of the local correspondents desk Mr. Nano has agreed to let correspondent Miss Nod present September’s report.   She has been gathering news from the various window stations, and keeping a journal, from which she would like to share a few selected entries, which she feels would give readers the sense of wonder she experiences here.  The farm photographer agreed to assist her.  Without further ado, Miss Nod will present her report.

Feline correspondent Miss Nod, conducting an eye to eye interview.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

 It was a beautiful late summer evening, passing all too quickly, as they all do. It was a bit warmer today, which enlivened the stridulators’ evening symphony. A light veil of thin clouds gathered in the west, catching the last glimmer of deepening rose on their undersides, was noted past sundown. The last bit of light disappeared from view around 8:30 PM, the sun headed ever westward. Somewhere in the world, dawn is always breaking.

Sunrise on the farm, September 17, 2018.

Friday, September 7, 2018

In the predawn hours, I noted the constellation Orion near the horizon in east. Towards sunrise, the silhouette of the waning crescent moon hung low in the eastern sky, as the first rays from below the horizon lit up the underside of morning clouds, a beautiful scene to hold in mind’s eye.

A variety of cloud forms noted today, from long, sweeping cirrus mares’ tails to cirrocumulus and altocumulus along with a lower trail of smoky, dusty pall that crept in on September 6th.

A beautiful sundown tonight.   One must be quick with the camera at the bookends of the day, when lighting changes rapidly. Nature waits for no one.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

56 degrees and mostly overcast at daybreak, with a narrow blue rift in the bank of clouds to the south. I watched the doe and fawn for a while this morning, grazing out at the edge of the hazelnut grove. The fawn was running high speed circles and figure 8s for the sheer joy of it, the strong legs and spirited heart of youth at work on a cool morning. The doe would join her offspring now and then, but only racing a few strides before returning to foraging. Mother had her own priorities.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Clouds crept in overnight, allowing a warmer morning today at 55 degrees. A light misting rain fell at daybreak. Not enough to soak the ground, just enough to caress the earth and tired vegetation with promises of more to come later. The ceiling soon fractured into heavy cumulus clouds. The cumulus grew fat and woolly during the day, feeding on the aerial river of moisture coming up the Willamette Valley. Stark white to pendulous and grey, these wanderers headed north, sometimes straying over the Cascade foothills to the east.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A cool, relatively cloudless evening in progress, with a growing, thin crescent moon above, a clear silhouette of the dark side present forming the illusion of an eye trained out into the greater Universe. The temperature is already in the low 50s and dropping. It will be cold in the morning unless a new blanket of clouds buffers the fields and garden from the night’s chill.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

41 degrees before sunrise under mostly clear skies, which are now filling in quickly. The rapidly changing cloud forms are fascinating to watch, especially at the bookends of the day when light levels change rapidly. A few cirrus here and there become long rows of cirrocumulus, looking like corduroy patterns in the sky.

Sundown on the 17th of September. The photographer missed the sunrise clouds on September 15th.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Down in the low 40s this morning at sunrise under mostly clear skies. The season of thick morning mists that stratify, curl and wind among the hills is here. Eventually they rise along with the climbing sun, and drift away over the mountains.

The mists of dawn on September 17th. Soon they will rise and drift away as cloud.

A mostly clear evening in progress, with a waxing gibbous moon overhead shining down upon the nightly stridulators still singing out the end of summer.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I watched a most beautiful end of day present itself, complete with the rising purple veil of night in the east, a golden gibbous moon overhead, and the fading glow of the sun to the west, which had just gone below the horizon. The summer stridulators are still performing nightly in this fine transitional weather.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

It is 58 degrees at 9:19 PM under a fractured night sky, and a gibbous golden moon peering out from behind the galleons sailing by.

Shadows and light from earlier in the day on September 22nd.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Young ladybugs were found in the greenhouse, under a strawberry leaf, sitting among the remnants of the egg cases. The nymphs had metamorphosed into tiny adults. They had been feeding off of aphids, some still visible on the underside of the leaf along the mid rib.

Click on photo to enlarge. The photographer returned the ladybugs to the greenhouse after documentation.

Sunday, September 23, 2018 – Autumnal Equinox

45 degrees and mostly cloudy at daybreak, the official first day of the fall season. A daily pattern can be seen now of mists that stratify and rise with the sun, coalescing into ragged clouds that wander away to the north or east over the Cascades. We soon had an autumnal blue sky with patches of cloud, and light breezes stirring about the farm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A chilly 37 degrees under clear skies before sunrise. The purple veil of night rolled away to the west, accompanied by the bright, full moon majestically set upon it. Mists stratify and wind around the hills, thick in the low areas, but soon rising and drifting away. I particularly enjoy these times when night is caught running westward while the brightening new day draws near the eastern horizon. One leaving, one arriving, different colors and moods.

A closer view of sundown on September 17th.

A warmer, summer-like day, rising into the low 80, with a few scant cirrus clouds. The sun is still quite warm, although not so intense. I have been watching its progress south along the eastern ridge at sunrise, and south along the far hills at sunset. A mostly clear night in progress. A deer took off down the driveway after dark.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

It was not quite 44 degrees under clear skies just before sunrise. A waning gibbous moon hangs higher and higher in the western sky each morning, an apparent retrograde movement of the orbiting body to the observer. Mostly clear skies and as warm as a summer day at 87 today, although the sun was not as intense, being at a lower angle at this time of year. The air has a slight nip to it by sundown, even after a warm day. A time to observe pink contrails forming in the western sky, and the rapidly changing colors of any clouds present as the sun continues to sink below the horizon. They eventually fade to lavender, then grey, as night overtakes them.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A brief thunderstorm dropped 5 minutes of rain, cooling things off and making creating one of the most beautiful and colorful cloudscapes towards sundown.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to all wherever their destination in life may lead them.

-Resident Feline Correspondent Nod, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Wishing our readers safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

A couple of musicians I know from the Corvallis Folklore Society, Kurt Smith and Dick Thies, performing at the Corvallis Wednesday Market on September 26th.

Kurt Smith and Dick Thies at the Corvallis Wednesday Farmers Market on September 26, 2018. A thoroughly enjoyable show, and great sign on Kurt’s wagon.

September was a relatively quiet one musically, as most of my time was involved in projects here and working extra time.  I am looking forward to October!

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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.  There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Our butterfly bush revived and went through a second bloom after the weather became cooler.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2018

Our feature photo  for August is of a resident crab spider that has ambushed an unwary visitor to this lovely rose.   I have often found these spiders inhabiting floral truck stops in the gardens, waylaying assorted pollinators that have come seeking refreshment, and sometimes a place to spend the night, amid the beautiful but potentially deadly blooms.

An unwary visitor has been captured by this flower’s resident crab sider.

News from the farm

The air has been hazy with dust from agriculture, and smoke from field burning and distant fires.  There is little to no rain, and what seems like endless days in the 90s.   Rooted in place, trees, shrubs and other plant life stoically wait out the dry season, the only indication of their stress noted in their dry, drooping leaves.    We spot water the most needy, conserving water and well pump.

We have four young pinot meunier vines that were given to us. They came from a heritage block up around Newberg, Oregon. A place has been found in the vineyard to grow these youngsters who will require water until they are established.

August is the primary month to view dust devils, those carefree vortices seen spinning lazily across farmland after grass seed, wheat and straw have been harvested in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Impressively large machines harvest, plow and pulverize the soil, sending the dust of Oregon swirling up into the atmosphere until early summer’s azure blue has taken on tones of tan and grey.   The clarity of light noted earlier this summer is now gone, and will not return for some time.  As this month of heat and dust comes to a close, we are grateful for this year’s bounty of fruit and vegetables, and anxiously wait for the grape harvest and this year’s wine.

Pinot noir before covering with insect netting. It is a heavy yellow jacket year here.

Insect netting was quite effective last year, and worth the investment.

We have a short row of Early Muscat and Gewürztraminer. The grapes shown here are Early Muscat.

It is cooling down sooner in the evenings now as the last light fades and the stellar community reveals itself, as a symphony of stridulators performs in the growing darkness.  The rising veil of night in the east comes earlier;  the calendar shows we are only about three weeks now from autumnal equinox.

Sunset on the 29th of August.

The same sunset, a short time later.

A week earlier, I saw one of our grey foxes one evening when I was finishing up watering the garden. A sleek healthy fox had flushed a dove, and was chasing it down past the garden where I stood not 50 feet away. The fox was not quick enough, and the bird escaped the jaws of death yet another day. Looking longingly after a lost meal, our fox sat down, unaware of my presence, turning to look at me only when I called to him. He moved only when I went out the gate, disappearing back into the woodland, long brushy tail streaming out behind.

We have been enjoying eating fresh plums and apples right off the trees these days, as well as blackberries, raspberries and tomatoes.  We are grateful for all that we have, and consider ourselves very lucky to be here on this farm.  Life is good.

Raspberries, variety “Amity”.

Raspberries, variety “Autumn Bliss”.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident feline correspondent and head of the local correspondents desk Mr. Nano is still on vacation this month, sleeping off the summer heat and enjoying the breezes coming in the window.  Miss Wynken of the Three Sisters will file another report in his absence.  She has chosen a few excerpts from her daily logs for August, 2018. Without further ado, Miss Wynken will present her report.

Correspondent Miss Wynken gathering news from one of her many window stations.

Correspondent Miss Wynken contemplating her report. “What do I tell our readers?”

Saturday, August 4, 2018: A breeze sprung up in mid morning, and a front appears to be coming in from the south. A long swath of altocumulus and cirrus, a clear zone, and then another band of interesting development, including some kind of cumulus convection cell that grew in the shape of chanterelle mushrooms. Flared tubes with delicately gilled throats, rising up and capping off in a frilled top, were a reminder that mushroom season will be here again in a few months.  I see these unusual cloud forms from time to time. The waning moon in last quarter, white with faint grey marbling like sea-tumbled quartz, was sailing west on an intensely blue river of sky between the swaths of frontal cloud.

Sunday, August 12, 2018: 52 and mostly cloudy at daybreak, which opened up soon enough into mostly clear skies,a pleasant breeze and a high somewhere in the low to mid 80s. I watched a squirrel come barreling down the driveway, followed closely by a blue jay who was pecking the squirrel’s behind. The windows stayed open until the late afternoon sun heated the house up; the arrival of dinner guests who had been traveling in a hot car were pleased to come into a cool place. It was a day busy end to end with small things.  By post-sundown, a patch of hazy clouds to the southwest had grown, and more had flocculated in the direction of the setting sun. A partly clear night in progress here as another day has slipped though my paws like sand.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018:  A pleasant 52 degrees under hazy skies at daybreak. It was extremely hazy but not humid today. I did not smell smoke today or this evening, yet it looks smoky; the dark forms of conifers on the surrounding hills appear as if through a veil.  I am becoming used to heat in the 90s, perhaps because the daylight hours are shrinking and the heat does not build for quite as long.

Another orange-red sundown this evening. It is still near 80 out there at this time as another day comes to a close, and the stridulating insects of late summer play their symphonies out there as the daylight fades and the cooler realm of night rises up from the east.

Thursday August 16, 2018:  Small birds perched sideways on lemon balm stalks collected seed. I noted a brief interaction between a goldfinch and a hummingbird, the surprised goldfinch getting out of the way of the hummingbird.

A summer night in progress, complete with August’s nightly symphony of insects, signaling September is not far off. A waxing orange-red crescent moon sails across a smoky sea. Even the bright planets appear reddish, and far fewer stars are visible through the haze.

Tuesday August 21, 2018:  Another orange sunrise, hazy morning down in the low 50s, rising into the mid 90s by mid afternoon. A warm breeze blew most of today, with a pensive, wandering feel to it; its path revealed in the rustling of leaves, shrubs and dry grass . Everything is so dry, waiting for rain that will be a while in coming.

Saturday August 25, 2018: A variable cloudy day, rising into the mid 70s by afternoon. The feeling is more autumn-like out there, and it is easy to envision first frost within a month. The bright orange, golds and reds of New England do not grace the hills here. Tired, drought-stricken leaves slowly turn a faded yellow and brown, quietly slipping away with the daylight hours. The rains and winds will come, stripping the remaining leaves off the branches.

Sunday August 26, 2018:  The earth is damp this morning; dew covered webs of ground nesting spiders cover the yard in a silver gossamer patchwork. A light breeze gently ripples through trees and vegetation, a whispered prayer for rain.

Monday August 27, 2018:  I awoke just after 7:00 AM to overcast conditions. A relatively warm 57 degrees; all was wetted down from a very light rain sometime during the night, not enough to really do much good except keep down the dust and bring an arachnid Brigadoon into view. A rain-drenched city of spider webs, particularly the ground spider webs that resemble tiny faerie trampolines, was now visible. Eventually they will all fade from view in the heat of the day, concealed until the next damp window of visibility.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to all wherever their destination in life may lead them.

-Resident Feline Correspondent Wynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Bright sunset clouds on August 29th. Nature’s most beautiful skyscapes, and wildlife, can be seen at the bookends of the day.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

On our way over to a show in Yachats, on the westbound side of Route 34 we passed a small wooden sign with red letters which read, “PIE 3.14 miles”.  Unfortunately, there was no good place to stop on that side of the narrow road, which winds its way through a sparsely populated section of the Coast Range, and take a photo.  We did pass a real pie shop out in the wilds further down, and figured there must be a sign somewhere on the eastbound side about 3 miles down.  Sure enough, we did see one, managed to turn around without getting ourselves killed, and got the photo below.  Some mischievous soul had added  “.1427” after the “3”.   My brother the mathematician informed me that the sign was incorrect, and that the decimal expansion of pi is approximately 3.14159265.

There really was a pie shop down the road, although we are not sure of the exact mileage. Click on photo to enlarge.

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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.  There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Developing blackberries, variety “Black Magic”. The changing of the seasons and so many good, healthful things to eat make the end of summer and early autumn my favorite time of year.

Standard
Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for June-July 2018

Our feature photo this month is of a bumblebee parked in a hollyhock bloom after sundown.   Like truckers on the interstate,  over the years I have seen bumblebees pulled over and settled in for the night in blossoms, on grape leaves, or other plants.

Let sleeping bees lie. This little bumblebee tucked into a hollyhock bloom for the night.

News from the farm

June’s fractured skies, cold mornings, lush green and colorful flowers have given way to hot, bone dry conditions in July, and an early fire season.  The frogs have long since ceased their songs of vernal pool days and are quiet, occasionally found hiding in a flower pot, or in the greenhouse; only the sound of a distant peacock rocks the night from somewhere over across the fields on another farm.

Early June’s rain-drenched roses.

And a daylily bloom, beaded with raindrops.

Spring was long and cool, although drier than normal for our area, her mood pensive and unresolved.  She chased Jack Frost about with cloudy nights, driving him away while fruit trees blossomed and set.  We will have pears again this year.

The multilevel skies of early June.

A wild rabbit inhabits the north border once again, and has become somewhat used to my presence.  At times, rabbit is bolder, wandering about the rose bed on the other side of the house.

Our north border resident, just below center. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Grass, now mostly golden brown to whitish-tan and punctuated by heat tolerant coast dandelions, hypochaeris radicata , crinkles and crushes underfoot.  I feel the changing of the seasons more acutely with every passing year.  A lifetime of noting the temperature, the skies, vegetation and wildlife, knowing what to expect and roughly when, yet each year is unique in its presentation, sometimes oscillating wildly about the normal of my experience.  Each passing year is more precious, not only for its annual abundance, but for its bright parade of memories, and for our own growth as individuals living upon this Earth.  All things are connected to all things.

Early June – old heirloom roses on the north border, with myrtle growing below, wild and carefree.

Early June – the first peony to bloom.

Watering becomes more critical to heat stressed plants that do not have deep root systems like mature grape vines, resulting in much spot watering, bucket brigades and soaker hose sessions.

A view up the row of table grapes from this afternoon.

And up a couple of rows in the pinot noir vineyard. Rick has been hard at work trimming and tying up canes. We had good fruit set this year.

In the cool of the evening, hummingbirds dart about the hollyhocks in the main garden, occasionally coming close in to observe us. The resident doe sometimes comes out to feed up near the house.  Sundown does not often disappoint, coloring whorls and flows of cirrus clouds in flaming orange-rose set against a fading light blue sky.

Dust devils, those carefree vortices spawned by heat and dry soil conditions, have been sighted already since wheat and grass seed appear to have been harvested early by several weeks.  They will soon turn summer’s brilliant blue skies to tan and grey, especially when soot and smoke from forest fires around the state add to the mixture of airborne particulate matter.

One evening, I found an old tattered honeybee of the field class, crawling along the ground. Young bees have a fuzzy thorax, the older ones go bald on the thorax, giving away their age. The typical life span of the field worker in season is only 6 weeks. She was found crawling at a good pace along the ground; a yellow jacket was hovering around, perhaps having caught her scent. I scooped up the old bee on a dandelion leaf, and put her in a shallow container with a few drops of water and some honey on a toothpick to help revive her.  She was gone an hour later, after darkness had fallen.  Most likely she crawled away, or was eaten by something.

I sit in my office, well fed and safe. Everywhere out there in nature, small dramas continually unfold. Someone is eaten, someone survives another day, someone dies or is born. The moon rises as it has for millions of years, watching the history of Man unfold, and endless cycles of life on this planet.

Sunset on July 24th, clouds over the hill to the south.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident feline correspondent and head of the local correspondents desk Mr. Nano is on vacation this month, sleeping off the summer heat.  He has assigned correspondent Miss Wynken of the Three Sisters to file a report in his absence.  After much thought, she has chosen a few excerpts from her daily logs for July, 2018.  Without further ado, Miss Wynken will present her report.

Correspondent Miss Wynken gathering news from one of her many window stations.

Correspondent Miss Wynken contemplating her report. “What do I tell our readers?”

Wednesday, July 4th:  I enjoyed the post sundown sky, mostly lavender-grey and cream colored splotchy cumulus type clouds, splattered across the dome above like paint thrown at a canvas. Summer is moving along at a fast clip; I note the daily changes in the land and in myself.

Thursday, July 5th:  The moon is approaching last last quarter, or waning half-moon, and rises late. She is a good companion, shining in the east window, golden and bright in the wee hours of the morning, still bright enough to illuminate the farm and its nighttime residents lurking about.

Tuesday, July 10th:  A cool and breezy 49 degrees morning here under clear skies. Cheery, fair weather cumulus soon made an appearance, dotting the azure blue above with stark white cotton ball forms.  From the window, I watched blueberry picking in progress in late morning, a moving meditation for the human among the curious and playful breezes, insects and birds, at times feeling the cool shadow of a passing cloud overhead.

The hummingbirds have been quite active, probing the sweet pea blooms along the north border. Occasionally one hovers in front of a window, where I am stationed. Curiosity satisfied, they return to their duties among the flowers.

Wednesday, July 11th:  The land has cooled down at this time; tendrils of night air bring in the scents of grasses, various forbs and dry earth. Another day comes to a close. Darkness does not descend upon us, rather it rises in the deepening band of purple-blue on the eastern horizon as the sun continues its westward run below the horizon, and the last glow fades. Stars make themselves known, the brighter ones a few at a time until blackness overtakes the dome, and vastness of space with its stellar community is revealed again.

Wednesday, July 18th: Sundown on July 18th was memorable, not so much in terms of color but in clarity of light. A clear night in progress here; the occasional breeze off the cooling land plays amid the chimes on the porch. Summer stridulators have replaced the chorus frogs of spring, changing the mood and tempo of the Nature’s nightly performance.

Friday, July 20th:  I awoke to a cool and clear 43 degrees at 6:30 this morning. A small band of clouds appeared around the south to southwest horizon not long afterward, which have now almost overtaken us. Morning light dims, but somehow still maintains the sharp, crystalline look of daybreak. A light breeze has sprung up, gently rocking the vegetation at close to ground level.  Another day begins.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to all wherever their destination in life may lead them.

-Resident Feline Correspondent Wynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Crossing contrails that have spread, and captured the last colors of the day in pink. Another day ends.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I continue to enjoy playing out again, especially as a terminal musician. Juggling music, family, 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. June and July have not been any more conducive to finishing music projects at home than May, but I did make time to attend John Doan’s 11th annual harp guitar retreat, a much needed refreshing and energizing four days at the end of June.   Rick took excellent care of the cats while I was away, and he says they were very good boys and girls, mostly.  It sounds like the nine of them kept him quite busy, with little time for anything else.

The harp guitar is a both a beautiful and amazing sounding instrument;  I encourage readers to learn more about it, and the musicians that perform this kind of music.  Readers can visit John Doan’s official website here and see  videos of his concerts, presentations, and interviews.  He is a master of the 20 string harp guitar, Emmy-nominated performer, composer, public speaker, historian, instrument collector and university professor.

In July we were visited by our traveling musician friends Laurie Jennings and Dana Keller.  It is always a pleasure to hear them perform when they pass through our area.  Please check their tour schedule.  You may be able to catch them in California or Texas before they return to Florida at the end of October.   They are considering a tour of the United Kingdom.  Please don’t hesitate to contact them if you would like to see them in your area!  You can catch their videos here.

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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.  There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

For Nia, my Turkish friend and fellow cat lover. These flowers are part of a living memorial for her cat Surya who passed away earlier.

We received news of a small, curly-haired black dog named Mowglee, a dear companion to a friend (she does spell his name this way, not like R.K.’s Jungle Book character Mowgli), has passed away unexpectedly. He was 14, and suffered a seizure or stroke. Somewhere in the greater Universe, he is running, pain-free and unencumbered by the infirmities of advanced age. He will be missed by all who loved him.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2018

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.

“Marilyn”, our featured iris for May 2018. In full display, she is reaching for the afternoon sun, her ruffles crisp, clean and elegant.

The appearance of iris blooms signals the month of May is on schedule and in progress.

Looking down the throat of one of our original irises given to us by friends long ago.

And more irises. I believe these were from a discount box of Dutch iris bulbs planted many years ago.

A small patch of wild yellow flag iris.

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.

The wild and everchanging skies of late spring.

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.

There were two of them that evening. This one headed for the woods.

Peering out from the apple tree tunnel into the back lot, this deer was waiting for me to leave.

The back meadow, beyond the apple tunnel.

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.

Purple columbine by the old garage.

Cherry, plum and pear blossoms have fallen like snow, replaced by small, hard, green growing fruit.

Pears in progress!

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.

One of our table grapes in flower. When this photo was taken, they were slightly ahead of the pinot in development.

Our head grape tender, also quite happy about the pepper plant starts I grew for him.

Rick enjoys cooking what we grow.

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 Nano, ever watchful.

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.

Correspondent Lucky, from the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk. Lucky is blind, but navigates the upper and lower bounds of his world on the olive farm with ease. He is an inspiration to all.

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.

How many cats can fit in a box? Photo credit M.G.

More cats. Photo credit M.G.

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.

Lavender and a view of the spectacular Sicilian countryside. Photo credit M.G.

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.

View of the countryside overlooking the olive trees. Photo credit M.G.

Photo credit M.G.

Poppies abound! Photo credit M.G.

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.

Olive flowers. Photo credit M.G.

And more olive flowers. Photo credit M.G.

Correspondent Lucky, on the job. Photo credit M.G.

The other correspondents are not quite as adventurous. They express a preference for playing with laundry or having serious philosophical discussions on the terrace. 

Many a serious discussion has taken place here. Photo credit M.G.

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

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Our roses by the house are now beginning to bloom. This particular one is hosting a spider enjoying a sunny afternoon in May.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2018

Our feature photo this month is one of our more tenacious, scrappy and colorful residents, a shrub I believe is a most likely a flowering quince. Planted by the previous owner right next to the well house, Lucille soon outgrew her allotted space.  I moved her some years ago, to a location where she could grow unfettered by human gardening sensibilities. She proved difficult to extract from the hard clay soil, having firmly entrenched herself by sending many roots far underneath the cement floor of the well house. Like the original Disney movie The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, starring Mickey Mouse, the numerous rootlets cut and left behind soon regrew into many, sending up stout shoots between cracks in the floor, and all around the building. It is now a continual struggle to keep her myriad offspring at bay.

Lucille, flowering quince

News from the farm

It has been a long, slow transition from the cold, damp reign of Old Man Winter. He has lurked about longer than usual this year, taking his time moving on down the road. The exuberant growth of spring cannot be contained for long, however, each species in turn rushing to complete its flowering cycle before the next phase. Daffodils have peaked and are now waning with the moon; bud break has occurred in the vineyard; the first iris has opened by the old garage.

First iris of the spring season!

Our only surviving tulips outside any planters, planted in gravel by the garage. Too much work for gophers and voles?

The skies of spring are highly changeable, drawn from the rivers of moisture flowing over the Pacific Northwest and painted with an artist’s eye from a palette of blues, greys, golds and white. Coming down off the foothills into the valley floor below, the sky often opens a bit for the observer. From here, one can see the armada of wind driven clouds sailing up the valley, heading north, some lodging like river foam along the banks of mountains, the Coastal and Cascade ranges. Each cloud floats at a level according to its buoyant density. Dark grey flat bottoms mark the lowest level of the heavily laden cumulonimbus, carrying the lavender grey and stark white mushroom towers and canyons above like floats in a parade. The still angled sun casts its gaze upon these travelers, highlighting their forms in shadow and light, much to the delight of the viewer at the bottom of the aerial river.

Crab apple tree in full bloom. The sky is typical of this time of year.

Our first thunderstorm of the season blew through on Saturday. Some partial clearing occurred that morning, soon followed by a flotilla of heavily laden cumulonimbus clouds sailing up from the southwest, creating an ever changing scene of intense sky blue, dark charcoal to white cloud over spring green and bright gold amid the passing storms. I feel the same sense of wonder at such things as I did as a small child, when such phenomena were fresh and new. Sight evokes a sense of touch at times. One can feel the movement of clouds overhead in the shadows racing across the land, of being in warm sun one minute, then in the cold shadow speeding by the next. Eventually, all became heavy and ominous as the aerial wanderers coalesced into something bigger and more powerful than themselves. The grey ceiling became ragged. Lightning flashed, thunder pealed and rain fell as pent up energy from the day was released.

Redbud tree reaches skyward on April 28th.

Rainbows in both the east and west are many, a promise of peace to come after a long winter and dark skies. The sweet musky fragrance of fruit tree blooms fills the air, most notable towards early evening.  A growing symphony of chorus frogs ushers in the night.

An eastern rainbow created by setting sun and rain still falling as the bank of clouds moved on over the Cascades.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Mr. Nano, ever watchful

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has called upon Correspondents Miss Hope and Mr. Marcus to file their report for April. Sister and brother, they will be 11 years old this August. They have diligently been observing the farm from the window. Without further ado, Miss Hope and Mr. Marcus will present their findings.

Miss Hope (Left) and brother Mr. Marcus (right)

April came into being a wild, unruly month, not quite fitting of spring, yet no longer winter.  On April 7th, the wind was quite energetic by sunrise, ripping the cloud cover apart; the sun spilled through a break in the east, lighting the undersides of a growing mass of clouds to the west in soft shades of light peach and lavender; the waning moon in its last quarter hung pale gold in a morning blue sky. It was not long before we spotted an intense rainbow to the southwest, a sign of an approaching rainstorm coming up through the pass.

A morning rainbow in the west. Weather was moving in quickly up through the southwest pass.

The weather front moving in quickly obliterated sunrise.

Common Dandelions, Taraxacum officinale, punctuate the green fields with their bright yellow faces, adding cheer as daffodils will not last long now with the increase in temperature. Rain-swollen lichens cling to most every branch, festooning the trees in a vibrant light green-grey.  The remaining daffodils have bloomed as April bids adieu, and we greet the coming month of May.

The last of the daffodils. To the left are developing German bearded iris buds.

On many mornings, the coverlet of damp grey slowly rends under the rising sun into a patchwork of friendly cumulus, and sails away over the Cascades.   Sometimes afternoon arrives before the sun makes an appearance.

A textured afternoon sky to the south.

The sun made more frequent appearances amid dark skies and rain squalls, making promises of warmer days to come. The contrast of bright golden light against heavy blue-grey nimbus on a freshly washed, emerald green landscape is a delight to behold at this transitional time of year. On some evenings, the sky presents itself as a masterpiece in brushstrokes of light golden cream to many shades of grey cloud on a fading light blue canvas. The days grow longer; the last light faded at about 8:50 PM on April 18th as a bright silhouette of the dark side of the moon appeared with the growing crescent moon, hanging in the sky like a large eye trained out into the greater Universe. A star to the left stared back at the moon, set against the deeper Maxfield Parrish colors of last light.

Petals from plum and cherry trees are beginning their annual descent from the trees, single spent blossoms falling here and there as the apple trees begin their blooming cycle. Soon their numbers will increase until the wandering breezes are filled with them, drifting like snow and settling on the green grass below. The air is filled with their sweet, musky scent; it is a pleasant view of the orchard.

Ox-eye daisy and fallen cherry tree petals. Ox-eye daisy will bloom short and close to the ground if mowed.

The blending of pink and white in the opening buds of apple trees is a visual delight.

The pear tree. Most years it flowers too early, a hard frost or two occurs, and we get few to no pears. This year may be different.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

Heading towards LAX in January. View from the window.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Miss Nod, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I continue to enjoy playing out again. April has not been any more conducive to finishing projects than March, and I will make no further excuses. Things will be done when they will be done.

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

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

A solar powered frog light, a gift from a friend, watches over one of the front gardens.

 

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2018

The transition from winter into spring brings forth a profusion of wildlife, blooms, and rainbows amid wild, kaleidoscopic skies. Our feature photo this month is a shy but comely daffodil residing by an apple tree near the house.

A single daffodil, tucked in near an apple tree in the previous year, presenting us with a smiling face this spring.

Over time, these individual bulbs planted here and there will continue to divide, forming colorful islands in the sea of green.

Protected from gophers, the old barrel of crocus did not disappoint us, putting on a spectacular show this year.

A half-barrel of crocus on a sunny afternoon in March.

A cluster of crocus from the same barrel, in full orange-throated song, as only such a joyous spring flower can do.

News from the farm

February passed the baton of cold weather on to March, although spring cannot readily be held back as the days lengthen and sunrise moves north along the eastern ridge towards equinox. Perhaps a blessing, cool late weather and early spring weather have kept bush, tree and vine in check from breaking bud and blooming too early.

February 26th, another light covering of short-lived snow.

Undaunted daffodils, silently waiting to open their buds.

Early March brought slightly warmer weather, and a return to green.   Stinklesby II, the first skunk of the season, came calling early on; inquisitive and hungry, he left his unmistakably scented calling card behind in many places, including the shed.  He seems to have spent some time investigating that outbuilding, unfortunately.

Stinklesby II, a handsome striped skunk, came to visit. I kept the flash off so as not to alarm him. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

Stinklesby II investigating the solar path light.

Stopping to smell the roses, although there are no roses blooming yet.

Showing us the business end. The photo shoot came to a close! It is said they can accurately spray up to 10 feet.

While the earth remained cold and wet, the first round of seeds were started indoors in preparation for warmer times.  Tomatoes are ready for transplanting into larger pots, making room for ground cherries, something I have never tried to grow, in the seed start rack.   Late winter changes continued to make themselves apparent in the local plants and animals, including myself.  Like the skunk, I feel ready to shake off winter’s torpor and wander about, soaking up the still angled but warm sun.  Everything is to be investigated, noted and logged; every ephemeral rainbow and passing cloud present a feast for the eyes to be appreciated.

Daffodils and grape hyacinths were a bit dismayed at encountering snow again on March 23rd. Hopefully this storm closed the final chapter in winter’s book.

Bright sun and a passing storm two days later produced an intense rainbow, as well as a fainter second rainbow.

Cirrus clouds quickly formed after sunrise one morning; the sun shone through the layer of ice crystal cirrostratus as if it were a light source behind a sintered glass filter.  A quick look about the sky with polarized sunglasses revealed a bright ring around the sun, and a faint cloud bow.  Nature provides a wealth of memories to those willing to take the time to look.

An evening just past sundown was noteworthy, captured in mind’s eye; sound and scent will be remembered. A sliver of growing moon hung in the fading light to the west behind the thin, long sweeping tails of cirrus clouds while the first frogs of the evening tuned up for their night-long performance; the scent of geosmin rose from the damp earth. All was as it should be.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has called upon Correspondent Miss Nod to file her report for March.  She will be 5 years old this August, and has been learning the valuable skills of observation from the crow’s nest.  Very little has escaped her sharp-eyed gaze.  Without further ado, Miss Nod will present her findings.

Feline Correspondent Miss Nod, keeping an eye on news from the crow’s nest.

In early March, I sat transfixed one morning as frost appeared to thicken into a solid white patina and sparkle as the sun rose; perhaps the mists added to it, or it was the illusion created by Old Sol’s gaze cast upon it.   The rising sun quickly dispatched Jack Frost’s handiwork; eventually the green below emerged, and all traces of the ice kingdom were gone.

Our daffodils by the old garage that bloomed in January had already begun to die back in early March, while others in less protected places were in the fat bud stage, or just emerging. Mint was slowing forming shoots and leaves from wandering rootstock, still keeping low to the ground. Crocus and other spring bulbs continued to push upward into the light, while other green shoots came out of hiding like Muchkins upon discovering Dorthy was not the Wicked Witch.

Another solitary daffodil among the daylilies.

Morning sun after a rain presents yet another view of Nature’s handiwork, spilling gold across the green winter grass and and causing the myriad water drops clinging to branch and stem to scintillate.  She sometimes sends us soft, rumply skies with patches of blue and hints of pastel color at daybreak, or dawn’s rosy glow on the underside of lavender-grey clouds.  I recall one dawn colored in Maxfield Parrish hues and a silver-gold sliver of waning moon, captured in mind’s eye.

The black locust tree at dawn on the 12th. The soft clouds in the background have captured dawn’s pink glow.

The aerial rivers of moisture that flow across the Pacific Northwest deposit a variety of cloud forms.  The light plays amid the canyons created by water-swollen cumulonimbus clouds, giving a sense of texture and depth, of places to explore.

Our multilevel sky on March 16th.

March has presented us with two full moons, on the 1st and 31st, allowing many opportunities for observation, even on nights with intermittent cloud cover.  The moon, in its last quarter, hung pale-gold in the sky.   I had seen it over the southeast horizon around 3:30 AM that morning, not long after it had risen, flooding the room with pale golden light. I fell asleep again to the sound of chorus frogs cheerfully serenading the moon’s passage high above through the blackness of space.  We all see the same moon, no matter where we reside, a common tie that binds us all on this one Earth we share.  If only that were enough.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead,  and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

Correspondent Miss Nod, on duty.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Miss Nod, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I continue to enjoy playing out again.  March has not been any more conducive to finishing projects than February, and I will make no further excuses.  Things will be done when they will be done.

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

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.
 
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com
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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for February 2018

Our feature photo this month is of the first crocus of the season, which emerged on February 13th.    The delicately striped goblet and bright orange-gold stamens made a particularly pleasing image this month.  Early heralds of the coming spring, they often endure bouts of cold, snowy weather with grace and fortitude.

The first crocus of the season opened its striped goblet on February 13th.

News from the farm

February has been a short, mostly dark month in spite of the rapidly lengthening days, a study in shades of grey, white and green.  Our pleasant but unusually warm winter weather continued on into the first half of the month before descending into more seasonal cold conditions, confounding early shoots, buds and tree frogs.

Daylilies had grown quite a bit during the warmer part of the month, but weather cold and snow reasonably well.

The first of snow fell, leaving a pristine coverlet of white across the emerald green of the farm; many passing storms brought frequent squalls of varying flake sizes. The wind’s movements about the farm were recorded in the ringing of the chimes and in the patterns of the driven, swirling plates, giving form and intent to the invisible.  Fog crawled over the hills and down into the low areas, shrouding the perimeter and sealing us in.   Daffodils patiently waited with bowed trumpets; crocus goblets were tightly folded up like umbrellas; frogs remained silent. Old Man Winter was passing through.

Crocus buds in the barrel planter remained tightly folded.

One of many nightly rounds of snow that fell during the night, only to retreat during the day.

The ground, still relatively warm, did not tolerate her covers for long, throwing them off and leaving snow stranded in the cooler branches with their nested lichens like cotton balls.

The ground is still relatively warm, leaving snow on the cooler branches above. The combination of white and green was particularly beautiful.

The land is in transition from winter’s fitful sleep and petulant late season storms.  Grass continues to green and grow; buds fatten and determined tree frogs will perform their symphonies on warmer nights.  Spring will soon arrive.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano had assigned this month’s report to corespondents Mr. Lucio and Miss Nod, but they were too busy napping and keeping an eye on the other residents.

 

Correspondent Mr. Lucio (left) and Corespondent Miss Nod (right) had other plans.

Miss Nod’s sisters Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken volunteered to report their findings of February instead.  Without further ado, Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken will present their findings.

Correspondents Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken on the job, gathering news.

Corespondent Miss Blynken says they are ready with their report.

In early February we continued to wake to darkness, barn lights still glowing on the distant hills as morning attempted to shake off the long mid winter night.   On warmer, sunnier days it didn’t take long for the uniform grey to dissolve into a variety of cloud forms, from ragged, heavy cumulus to cottonball-like altoculumus and wispy cirrus; temperatures sometimes rose into the mid 60s.

The sun’s steady journey north continues; the point of emergence over the eastern hills will change rapidly now. At equinox, it will shine directly in our east window, our own Stonehenge of sorts.  On clearer mornings, we watched the mists rise from damp earth, coalescing into milky rivers winding around the base of nearby hills.  On these days, all is rising and becoming cloud, wandering up and away over the Cascades.

On cloudy days, the sky may eventually clear enough to allow the sun to briefly kiss the hills with golden light at sundown.  The colors in the east will transition, becoming darker on the horizon as the last longer rays of sunlight fade.  After nightfall, we look for the constellation Orion, and the moon at its various points in its cycle.

The eastern horizon after sundown on February 13th.

The last light fades in the west on February 13th.

February marks the return of the American robin, Turdus migratorius, to the farm in large numbers. They have been particularly fond of scratching about under the rose bushes.

The giant has come back to visit the greenhouse, and unwittingly disturbed the winter residents who wished nothing more than a dry, quiet place to sleep away the cold.   An overwintering yellowjacket queen was found in a pile of seed trays out in the new cement pad greenhouse. Torpid and helpless, she was put back in a protected place. A fat-bodied brown-colored spider was nestled in another set of tray inserts, complete with long-dead prey wrapped in silk.  Size and strength determine many an outcome in this game of life.

February 15th marked  a return to cooler conditions, decelerating the headlong rush into early spring initiated by January’s unusual warmth. Our frogs were mostly quiet at last rounds on this particular evening, not finding the day’s weather pattern to their liking. The  thermometer spider was actively hunting on her web that evening, undaunted by a cold morning start and a temperature that evening of 42 degrees.

The first snow of the season fell on February 18th.  We awoke to a light frosting and overcast skies that day. There is something magical about the first snow; heavy skies that are neither grey nor white seem to be one with the earth below as they meet in a fury of drifting, swirling precipitation.  A light wind drove the flakes at a gentle angle before it. Although the temperature was hovering just below 32 degrees, the ground was still relatively warm, resulting in a slushy, slippery footing just below the pristine white coverlet.

Sky and Earth become one in a snowstorm.

Daylilies frosted with snow. The walkway was quite slippery.

Our thermometer spider appears to have company now; a second web occupied by a smaller spider has been built further down and at an angle to the larger spider’s web.

The porch spider only comes out after dark, and has been rather elusive.

All has returned to green as of today, February 25th, as a steady rain falls.  It was 38 degrees at daybreak; a light wind at ground level was accompanied fast moving, low-hanging clouds, dragging their bottoms across the hills like heavily laden ships in aerial seas.  Trees, festooned with water-swollen lichens and moss, appear to have a covering of new spring growth if viewed from a distance.  It is not long now until the arrival of spring.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

View of Mt. Hood from the plane coming into PDX in February, 2017.

– Resident Feline Correspondents Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I continue to enjoy playing out again.  February has been busier than I expected, but I do hope to be catching up with some projects in March.

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! 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

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Spring will arrive soon, with all its promise and renewal.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2018

Our feature photo this month is of the first snow iris to emerge in the garden on January 28th, from within the clump of a volunteer lemon balm. Another snow iris has appeared this morning, along with the first snowdrops of the season.

The first snow iris to emerge. This iris is part of Archie and Marion’s memorial garden. Please visit https://thelandy.com/2013/11/04/the-pain-of-the-loss-of-a-loved-one-menieres-disease/ and https://thelandy.com/2013/05/21/life-death-and-grief-well-miss-you-mate/

Daffodils started their journey towards the sun back in December, forming buds but remaining in a sort of stasis during the colder part of the season, which often went down into the 20s at night. Our first daffodil of the season bloomed on January 16th.

A golden daffodil trumpet out by the old garage, herald of spring yet to come. I think of Wordworth’s poem when I see these beauties. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45521/i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud

Elbert’s memorial garden over by the cement pad greenhouse is continuing to send up new growth, and will soon be bustling with blooms.  Gophers have presented their challenges!

Elbert’s Garden continues along the north side of the greenhouse. More bulbs get added every fall as this garden continues to expand and develop. See https://phainopepla95.com/2016/04/19/

From Elbert’s Garden in late summer 2017, a sun-drenched golden gladiola.

Other memorial gardens will also make an appearance from time to time.  Watch for them in spring.

News from the farm

It is mid winter here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Yet amid the fallen leaves and skeletal remains of the previous year, green shoots continue to push their way up out of the cold, wet soil, their own internal clocks driving the annual reach for sunlight.

All that is left of the deer that expired in our yard back in October 2016. More soil will be added and a new perennial flower garden planted here. See https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com/2016/10/31/rick-and-lavinia-ross-farm-music-newsletter-for-october-2016/

It is our winter rainy season in western Oregon, punctuated with days of sun and even some days reaching 70 degrees. Low areas are channeled with runoff, and there is much standing water about. In heavy rains, even gopher holes will spout water like mini artesian wells; I wonder about the inhabitants and their evacuation strategies. Barn lights still glow on the distant hills on heavily overcast mornings; the night’s darkness is reluctant to leave under such heavy atmospheric conditions.

Some of these low areas do not dry out until some time in June.

Pruning work in the vineyard continues, trimming vines down to two lateral canes.  Our lives are intertwined with the farm, orchard and vineyard.  It is a part of us; like the plum tree whose branches have fused, separation is unthinkable.

Rick at work pruning the pinot noir vineyard.

The old, twisted purple plum tree, we think is an Emperor plum. Two of the branches have twisted around and grown into each other.

On last rounds one evening I noted the resident spider by the porch thermometer, bravely tending her web in the 45 degree wind and rain. She shelters when needed behind the thermometer, which is fastened to the post; there is just enough clearance for her to slip in behind. She is not the first spider to set up housekeeping in this convenient location, prime real estate for catching insects attracted to the porch lights, and for shelter from the elements.

We have a had some days in the mid 60s and even 70 degrees. To the right of the thermometer, a spider web can be seen on close inspection. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

On clearer evenings, the moon is a pleasant companion when she is in the visible part of her journey. A few nights ago, a gibbous moon shone down through a mostly clear sky, which appeared to be rapidly filling in with clouds as the evening progressed. Only the most prominent stars were visible, and I was able to find Orion, a familiar landmark in the sky. Pacific Chorus frogs, enlivened by the day’s warm winter sun, provided the music for the nightly dance of the moon and stars across the heavens. An owl softly hooted in the distance.

A chorus frog from 2016, found hiding under the roll-up window on the porch greenhouse.

I continue to marvel at life springing from the ground in winter, the sound of chorus frogs, the nip in the wind, and the perfection in all these things. The smallest details of life are the most important to me, to be held in the moment, studied, and released to go about their business.

The small winged insect in the center I believe is a species of hoverfly. They were out visiting daffodils.

What I believe is a hoverfly visiting a daffodil.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has observed much from his window this month, and has also enlisted fellow Feline Correspondent Miss Hope to record her observations from the crow’s nest basket perch next to her window. They have once again sent the photographer out to investigate. Without further ado, Mr. Nano and Miss Hope will present their findings.

Resident Feline Correspondent Miss Hope, reporting from the Crow’s Nest.

Taking a break while Mr. Nano is on duty.

The days are discernibly longer now that we are almost 6 weeks past solstice, especially notable on clear days when one can observe sundown through last light, unobstructed by cloud cover. Of particular beauty is the banding of colors along the eastern horizon, night’s rising purple veil transitioning into rose-pink. Contrail and cloud pick up the last long rays of sun below the horizon, briefly flaming the sky before fading to lavender and finally grey. The guard changes at the boundaries of day and night; the realm of stars becomes visible; creatures of the night begin to stir.

This is a sundown image from 2016 I particularly love for its colors and depth. It was on my wish list to get a good photo of the color transitions on the eastern horizon at sundown this month. Colors change quickly at the bookends of the day, and one has to be prepared to catch them.

Earlier in the lunar cycle, the bright sliver of growing moon bobbed in and out view on night’s partially cloudy sea one evening. A few stars peered down through portholes while a light breeze played in the wind chimes; Pacific chorus frogs struck up a symphony in the low marshy areas.  All seemed as it should be; the sense of peace was as encompassing as the mists at ground level.

Marshy wooded area in the back lot.

A walk in the back lot in late afternoon reveals signs of other lives at work. Small green shoots are everywhere, from wild garlic chives and catkins dangling hazelnut trees – the tiny red female flowers will follow in February – to fattening buds on blueberry and tree alike. A blueberry bush near the house was recently damaged by a male deer scraping his antlers, and many cuttings were made from the broken branches. This sort of destruction by roving cervids is usually not seen here past the end of December.  Hastily stuck into a pot of good clay gopher mound soil until they can be separated and individually potted, some of these cuttings may survive and root.

Wild garlic chives have sprung up many places out back.

Hazelnut catkins. Tiny red female flowers will follow.

Digger at work. Many such holes were found out back.

Blueberry bush battered by deer scraping antlers. This usually results in new shoot growth from the roots. I am attempting to root cuttings from broken branches.

A pot full of blueberry cuttings, waiting to be separated into pots of their own. Gopher mound dirt, mostly clay soil, makes good medium.

Many small tunnels lead out of the swampy area, including one that leads into the garden. The wire fence mesh would be big enough for a small fox, cat or nutria to get through. A rotten apple had been pulled out of the compost pile and dragged outside the fence; a hungry nutria tired of grass is suspected.

A well-worn path and grassy tunnel into the garden. Gopher mound in the foreground.

Another year is underway as Father Time continues his travels, taking us along with him.  We will change along with the land and the seasons, growing older, and hopefully, wiser.  Everything here is temporary, including ourselves.  Choose wisely, plant happiness wherever possible.  Live in the moment, cherish the memories.  They too will pass into the great abyss of time.  We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

View from the plane heading from Phoenix into LAX earlier this month.

Resident Feline Correspondents Nano and Hope, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We are continuing to enjoy the slower winter months, and a return to music.  An appreciative listener in an airport recently asked me what I wanted most in 2018.  I told him I would like the year to work for everyone, that World Peace would be a nice change from current events.  He smiled and said, “Music is a part of that, and so are you.”  I am humbled by those whose lives I have touched with my music, and who have touched mine in return.

I am also please to report Kate Wolf’s family has included the Keepsake CD on her Tributes page, a listing of those who have covered Kate’s songs.  Kate passed from this world all too soon and left a legacy of beautiful, soulful music.  Please visit her site to learn about this amazing singer-songwriter from California at  https://www.katewolf.com

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! Do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, now that the harvest season, and holiday 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 https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross

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

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Morning mists to the south of the farm accentuate the dark forms of conifers and winter-bare trees.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2017

Our feature photo for this month is of a colony of what I believe is Usnea
longissima, or Methuselah’s Beard Lichen, growing on an apple tree along with some Parmelia sulcata, or Hammered Shield Lichen. They are quite common here, and can be seen hanging about on many trees around the farm.  When these lichens are swollen with rain in winter, distant heavily festooned deciduous trees appear to be clothed in light grey-green leaves, riding out winter alongside their dark green coniferous cousins.

Feature photo for December 2017, Methuselah’s Beard Lichen, growing on an apple tree along with some Parmelia sulcata, or Hammered Shield Lichen. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

News from the farm

The month of December passed quickly on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The days have been a highly variable mix of cloud, rain and sun, warm to numbingly cold days and many nights below freezing.

Land of the Long Grey Cloud, a southern view from the farm on Christmas day. Many winter mornings begin this way.

Or begin this way, dawn’s colors reflected on the underside of morning clouds.

Or perhaps in misty pastel colors.

Or rose-colored contrails.

Old Man Winter established himself here early on, but seems to be currently occupied with the eastern regions of the country as they experience extremely cold and harsh conditions.  By contrast, our weather here today in western Oregon was in the mid 50s, sunny and pleasant.  We will enjoy his forgetfulness, while we can.

Christmas morning.

Fresh late-season apples were still clinging to trees in the early part of December, including a neighboring tree that has grown branches over the fenceline and over the roof of our shed.

The last hold outs, for birds only now. They were quite tasty and crisp earlier in the month.

The larger, hungry birds have since worked their way down the tree, drilling holes and slashing fruit with their beaks.  They are welcome gleaners.  Everyone must eat.

Daffodils in warmer areas with good southern exposure have already shaken off their slumber and begun the journey back up to the world of light.  Many sport buds, which will remain tightly closed until mid to late January.

Daffodils coming up by the old garage amid purple columbine seedlings on Christmas day.

Wild garlic chives stand tall above winter’s green but slower growing grass.  Pocket gophers tunnel everywhere, mounds piled up and plugged above the entrances.  Life stirs below as well as above.  I note where the tunnels are, and will collect their leavings for the gardens and barrel planters.

Gopher mounds amid the wild garlic chives.

As the afternoon comes to a close, a gibbous moon hangs in the eastern sky, white and marbled, like quartz tumbled by the sea.  My mother called such treasures cast up by the waves moonstones, and I think of her when I see the moon, looming large over the horizon, ghostly pale against a fading blue sky.  Another year has passed;  I am another year older, acutely aware of my own time and its passage here.  Mercury vapor and high pressure sodium barn and utility pole lights will soon glow like blue-green and orange stars on the surrounding hills as the sun dips below the horizon, and last light fades.  The sky is mostly clear tonight, and will be down in the 20s by morning.  A visit from Jack Frost and his silver brush is expected to close out the year.

We are thankful for all that we have, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures at this time of year.

An important and timely message for the world from the producers of these cheery and colorful crocus bulbs.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano, ever watchful.

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has observed much from his window this month, and has once again sent the photographer out to investigate. Without further ado, Mr. Nano will present his findings.

The winter solstice has passed, and slowly, imperceptibly, the days are lengthening.  The foxes have continued to be sighted near the border of the hazelnut grove; their nightly vocalizations are muted by windows closed against the cold.  Out in the grove itself, life stirs.  A plump squirrel has taken up residence in the old ash tree, nest visible up high.   He will need to exercise caution when foraging below; many would find him a good source of much needed calories at this time of year.  In protected areas, the Lilliputian forests of ferns, mosses and lichens abound.

Ferns growing at the base of the old feral apple tree, one of the guardians of the tunnel to the back lot.

Mosses and lichens on a hazelnut tree.

Possible signs of nutria have been sighted in the form of small tunnels coming out of the underbrush leading to areas where the grass has been clipped short.  We have noted that the last set of nutria that lived here liked to “farm” an area, keeping a patch of grass clipped short to provide tender growth for their dining pleasure.  Fresh scat has not been found, however, or an actual nutria sighted this season.  The presence of foxes about may have left them more wary.

A young blacktail doe, probably one of this year’s fawns, wandered through the orchard, casually nibbling grass.  We found it surprising that they appear to urinate by squatting like a cat.  The photographer was too slow at getting the camera to catch this in progress.

Pruning of the vineyards has commenced, as it does each December, beginning in the table grapes, and ending in the pinot noir vineyard behind the deer fencing. 

Unpruned vine in the foreground. Vines pruned back to two canes in the row behind.

A venerable old table grape vine pruned back to two canes.

Cuttings have been made of the Glenora Black Seedless table grapes, and started in pots filled with gopher mound dirt.  The pots will remain in the drainage area for now to keep them wet until bud break.