Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2017

Our feature photo for May is of the line of apple trees near the house, earlier this month when they were all sporting a profusion of blooms.  This particular day opened with an assortment of cumulus, cirrus and altocumulus clouds painted in textured strokes of white mixed with the pastel colors of dawn on a canvas of early morning blue.  The scene continually shifted as the day progressed on into evening: thin, high cirrus clouds, towering cumulus, developing stratus and distant nascent nimbus.  The scent of earth and new vegetation clung to moisture-laden air moisture as flashes of lightning appeared to the southeast of us over the Cascades, followed by the low roll of thunder. Although no storms passed directly overhead, the quiet stillness gave one the feeling that the evening was waiting for something.

Feature photo for May 2017. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge for detail.

News from the farm

The month of May arrived, cold and wet, at our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Pacific chorus frogs provided nightly music, the annual symphony to accompany life continuing in all it cycles.  The days grew steadily longer, punctuated with sunshine and dry days, even as the temperature fluctuated. Seeds that had been started earlier in the season under plant lights and on heating mats in the old garage grew steadily, and most of them have now graduated to life in the greenhouse on the porch, hardening off before continuing the next phase of their life in the main garden. The apple trees were particularly showy, adorned with more pink and white blossoms that I can remember. I recall a poem by Robert Frost“Good-bye and Keep Cold”. Perhaps the long, cold winter has been good for them, and we will be rewarded with a good harvest.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44265

Crab apple tree covered in blooms.

Developing plum.

The brightly colored trumpets of daffodils slowly gave way to the deeper and quieter colors of irises. Roses and daylilies are now assuming their strategic position as color guards in the garden, standing tall above ox eye daisy, dandelion and buttercup growing wild in the yard.  The roses still show signs of black spot fungus from the cool wet spring; later blooms will be more exuberant, ruffled skirts flaring wide like flamenco dancers.

These many irises of this type are all descendants of a few given to us by friends. Hardy souls with a light, sweet, musky scent, I manage to divide and move some around every year, expanding their territory.

The first daylilies of the season

Clear mornings bring a creamsicle colored eastern sky as well as the deep lavender and rose colors of receding darkness in the west.  Mists begin to rise and coalesce, and either drift away up over the mountains, or very quickly spread like spilled milk into an overcast sky for most of the morning. Sun breaking through the cover stirs up a good breeze that sails us into the afternoon, and the daytime temperature may reach into the 80s on some days.

Blooming chives add color and seasoning to the kitchen garden outside the door.

Work in the garden can continue after dinner during these longer days. I feel the air temperature drop as the sun sinks further behind the hills to the west, which has now taken on the hues of early morning.  I stop and observe the color change unfold above as the night progresses. The growing moon with its thin, bright crescent and illuminated silhouette, appears like a giant eye trained on the greater universe, set against the Maxfield Parrish colors of last light. All is as it should be at this time, a moment to record in mind’s eye, a memory to cherish.

Table grapes in progress.

Pinot noir in the test block on rope trellis.

Pinot noir in the main block on conventional wire trellis.

We have a short row of a mix of Early Muscat and Gewürztraminer. So far, all vines are doing well and progressing nicely.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our resident feline correspondents are busy this month working diligently on their assignments, although in their case, it is often difficult to distinguish working from loafing.  Correspondent Nano has contacted the Sicilian feline correspondents regarding a story they have been working on this spring, the story of Lucky, and how he came to live at the olive farm there.

Correspondent Nano, always watchful.

Before turning this section of the newsletter over to Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, Mr. Nano would like to introduce readers to editor, author, teacher and musician Lorraine Anderson.  Lorraine can be found at Earth & Eros, http://earth-and-eros.blogspot.com/   Lorraine updates Earth & Eros twice a year at the solstices, and can also be found at http://www.ecoeditoronline.com/

Without further ado, Mr. Nano presents Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, who has filed the report for May.

A view of the Sicilian countryside. Photo credit MG/JP.

There are times when sheer luck and circumstance save the less fortunate of us from an untimely demise.  My own astute and compassionate human rescuer spied me stumbling about on the streets of our little town here in Sicily. My odd behavior having caught her attention, she observed me as I repeatedly fell off the sidewalk into the street, noting that I was hugging the curb as a reference point.  This determined angel, whom I was unable to see or appreciate, swiftly came to me and lifted me up, saving me from certain death. I was so frightened, however, that I scratched and clawed her, trying to escape. Fortunately for me, she had an iron grip as well as compassionate heart.  I found myself incarcerated, although I later learned that I had been rescued and instated on their farm as Lucky, Prince of la Casa delle 36 Zampe, as the House of 36 Paws is known in Italian.  And Lucky me, I have not one, but two doting humans!

Lucky in younger days. Photo credit MG/JP.

After several trips to a medical facility and two surgeries to remove my eyes that had been damaged beyond repair, I am now free of chronic eye infections. The kind veterinarian, now known to me as my Auntie Rita, took very good care of me as I learned to adjust. It has been more than four years now, and I am quite acclimated to my indoor and outdoor surroundings; I have even climbed trees!  Lulu, my house-mate and fellow correspondent, is the most attentive and playful of my fellow feline companions, and is an expert at the game of Cat Rolling, a game where Lulu rushes me and makes me roll over. I am aware there are at least four or five other feline correspondents living outside on this farm, and I have a hard time keeping them straight.

Little Lulu as a new refugee at the House of 36 Paws. Photo credit MG/JP.

My duties as the Prince of the House are many. My most important function is napping in one of my many favorite spots, followed by making demands of my humans as only a cat of my ranking can do.  Keeping Bob, Hilda and Little Girl, the three big dogs, properly respectful of me requires more energy, resulting in additional napping. Little Girl and Hilda have learned to give me a wide berth; Bob, however, knows that he must greet me quickly then retreat before I give him the royal greeting, a stiff nose-biff.   In my spare time, I oversee tending of the olive trees and the garden, investigating the many fascinating sounds and odors outside.  The bees are having a go at the second batch of blooming lavender, among other things. The olive trees are loaded with blossoms this year and we hope nothing goes wrong before the fruit is set. A bad rainstorm would really impede the pollination.

Lucky investigating an olive tree! Photo credit MG/JP.

Although I am blind, my hearing is highly acute; the many sounds of the farm, including birds as they call and flit through the trees and lizards and small mammals as they rustle in the grass, paint a detailed acoustic image of my world.

Lucky, hard at work investigating the garden. Photo credit MG/JP.

My fellow correspondents take me on short excursions through the fence to land they tell me is owned by a neighboring human. My own people watch over me as best they can.  I am, however, very good at hiding from them. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear their plaintive cries of “Lucky, Lucky where are you?”  I have a very good life and I am indeed Lucky in both name and happy circumstance.

I would like to close my report by introducing readers to our friend and house musician Patrizia Capizzi.  She is a dear friend, talented musician and animal lover. Readers can find her at https://www.youtube.com/user/MyBlueBossa

– Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, reporting from the House of 36 Paws.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

Readers, please do take a moment to visit Patricia Capizzi’s site listed above.

For those readers who are new or catching up, the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March.  I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle.  It has been an interesting ride, with more to come!  I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the “Keepsake” CD, so that task will be in my work queue.   Having just come through Memorial Day weekend, I opted to post a video of “Remembered Goodbyes”, which is also on the original CD.  The CD version of this instrumental also features Jim Lamontagne on fretless bass.

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

The month of May brought many storms, and many rainbows. This particular rainbow lasted a good 30 minutes.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2017

Our feature photo for April is of a honeybee coming in for a landing on an airstrip of crabapple blossoms.

Our feature photo for April 2017. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge for detail. The bee is just to the left and above center.

Her baskets will soon be loaded with delicious, nutritious pollen, like her sister shown in the photos below.  The crabapple trees in the front gardens were alive with the sound of these industrious little sisters; the lighting and breezes were cooperative in capturing their beauty.  Nothing says spring quite like bees happily sipping nectar and gathering pollen on a soft, blue sky day marbled with cirrus clouds.  “Gather ye pollen while ye may” the sisters say, with acknowledgement to poet Robert Herrick, and to any other bees who may have expressed similar thoughts on such a fine day.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46546

The bee in the center has loaded pollen baskets.

Same bee, but I loved photographing her, as she was one of my more cooperative subjects. Here she is again in a side view.

News from the farm

The skies of April 7th were the theater for this year’s epic battle between Old Man Winter and Spring as Warrior Princess.  We were awakened around 5:45 AM by strong winds ringing the alarm in the chimes, a call to stations; by 7:30 AM we had lost power and phone service.  A double rainbow appearing in the west against a dark, heavy sky indicated more was coming our direction.

Double rainbow in the west as the storm approaches.

Many rounds of high winds and heavy rain were fired throughout the day, lifting the neighbor’s tarp-covered metal frame shed from two doors down and smashing it up against the fence next door.  Their chicken coop, still under construction, took a direct hit; I watched as the tar paper on the roof was ripped off and blew away.  Considerable damage from falling trees, loss of services and some loss of life occurred in this unusual storm for April in western Oregon. We were fortunate not to have sustained any damage here on the farm other than downed limbs; the greenhouses held to their anchors, although the contents were found dumped on the floor.  By the end of the day, Spring emerged victorious, as she always does, leaving a Rainbow of Peace in the eastern sky.

A rainbow in the east at day’s end. A storm of this magnitude is unusual for April in Oregon.

She was quite shaken, though, by this unexpected intrusion into her time and place, and has shown restraint in unleashing all the green growing things in her care, unlike the previous April.  Yet life is driven by the growing light levels as much as warmth, and will not be denied access to the world for long; leaf buds and blossoms have opened, leaving the farm soft, green and full of color.

Sun-dappled vinca blooming along the north border.

The cherry tree garden in bloom. This grand old Black Tartarian cherry tree produces a soft, dark and very sweet, flavorful cherry.

Ladybugs are out and about on the farm. This one has found a pleasant sunning spot on a lemon balm leaf.

Chive blossoms preparing to open.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano volunteered to cover the April report, and has provided an interesting ghostly selfie of him watching over the farm.   Not much escapes Correspondent Nano’s sharp eyes!

Correspondent Nano, hard at work keeping an eye and an ear tuned on the farm and all its residents.

This April, he sent the resident photographer on assignment to investigate particular areas of interest and bring back photographic proof for his report.

Without further ado, we present Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent of Salmon Brook Farms.

The days have been steadily growing longer and brighter as the season progresses.  Sunrise and sunsets have been been particularly colorful, although the photographer must be available and prepared to catch them in the rapidly changing light that occurs at the beginning and end of the day.

Sunrise on April 2, 2017

Pruning of the vineyards was completed in March, and bud break has finally occurred. These tender buds are now at the mercy of spring frosts, especially multiple spring frosts which can kill secondary bud development.

Bud break in the table grapes.

Although more typical of weather patterns over a decade ago, the unusually cool, wet spring has not only delayed the time of fruit tree blossoming in comparison with recent years, but also appears to have extended the bloom time of daffodils.  The scent of so many different blossoms can be intoxicating on days when it is sufficiently warm enough to open the windows.

The ancient lilac on the northern border.

Daffodil “Thalia”, I think. There are also “Mt. Hood”daffodils planted in that space.

I have since forgotten which variety this one is, but it is a particularly long bloomer.

The fig tree, started several years ago from a cutting provided by our friend Lyn, has grown tall, and finally had to be planted outside. It appears to have survived the winter in its sunny, sheltered location, and has produced new growth.

The fig tree lives to see spring outdoors!

As April comes to a close, we wish our readers a pleasant month ahead, good food and the warmth of family and friends.

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

Thank you Mr. Nano!

Correspondent Nano, off-duty and relaxing as only a cat can.

Postcards and Letters

We received a beautiful postcard from our blogger friend Doug and his cats Andy and Dougy over “Weggieboy’s blog – surviving retirement with two cats”.  Doug is an inspiration; I admire his fortitude and cheerful wit in the face of adversity. He has a disease called  Wegener’s granulomatosis – now called GPA– that attacks the small and medium-sized blood vessels in the body, hence the “Weggieboy” part of the name of his blog. His Persian cat brothers Andy (named after the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew) and Dougy (named after Doug himself; Douglas is about as Scottish as you can get) provide plenty of material for a daily blog about life with his two feline companions, my two favorite Persian brothers.  Readers can visit Doug and cats Andy and Dougy at https://phainopepla95.com

Willow enjoying the card from Doug!

“Turn it over and let me read it!” she says.

A wonderful postcard!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who may have missed our post last month, The Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March.  I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle.  It has been an interesting ride, with more to come!  I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the “Keepsake” CD, so that task will be in my work queue.  April has been busy month on many fronts, and I expect to be catching up on this project in May.

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

Sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms on April 22. There is only one Earth upon which we all go about our separate lives. Treat her kindly.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November 2016

Our feature photo this month is a of a cluster of wild blackberries that bloomed late and were attempting to ripen in the latter part of November. Any cane fruit found at this time of year has little to no flavor, and little to no hope of fully ripening.  They did provide a colorful centerpiece amid the ambient tans and browns of autumn in this photo.

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The apple tunnel a week earlier in November.

The apple tunnel, that magical gateway to the wild area of the farm, still has some very tasty apples hanging from it, although a few less now since this photo was taken on November 22nd.  Formed by an old feral apple tree that fell over but did not die, this old tree is one of my favorite denizens of the back lot.

News from the farm

Another day retreats into the shadows on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The high pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights on the barns and utility poles of neighboring farms are already glowing softly in shades of orange and greenish-yellow, colored stars on the hillsides as the light fades, and the still air of early evening has taken on a pronounced chill.  After days of rain, mists and damp, the sun’s warmth and soft, low-angled light prevailed today.  Only a few cirrus clouds are present to witness daylight’s end.  In the southwest sky, a single, bright star appears on the celestial canvas of Maxfield Parrish colors.  I stand in awe of the Universe, and in unity with all its creations.

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Sunrise on November 26th. Sunrise and sunset, the bookends of the day, are my favorite times.

 

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A different sunset I was more successful capturing on camera. The sun appeared briefly though an opening in the clouds long enough to generate a rainbow in the east in the next photo. My favorite black locust tree, the same one seen on our “About ” page, adds a lacy dimension on the backdrop of multi-layered storm clouds.

 

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The fleeting rainbow in the east at sunset.

For those readers interested in following up on our winemaking experiments from last month, I cautiously ventured into the refrigerator where the stock pot of nascent wine had been cold stabilizing and sedimenting.  I ladled a sample into a glass, and was quite surprised to find that although light-bodied, as expected from late in the season Cascade table grapes, the wine actually had some character to it, a fruity nose reminiscent of golden apple and was perfectly healthy!  Being a resourceful and thrifty soul without standard winemaking equipment, I ladled the remaining liquid into jars and returned them to the refrigerator to finish sedimenting.  The brown goo left in the bottom of the stock pot consists of sedimented grape solids (grape lees) and sedimented dead yeast (yeast lees), which was promptly composted.  Rick was served a glass after dinner tonight, for proper evaluation purposes.  Our test wine, at roughly 10% alcohol fermented dry, was against all odds dubbed a successful “Cascade Kabinett”.

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October’s Cascade table grapes were used for winemaking experiments. Quail, Inc and other avian as well as hymenopteran friends happily ate our pinot noir, which was not netted.

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The clearest wine is in the half-gallon jars on the right. They will continue to sediment in the refrigerator until ready to rack off again. Jar #1 is headed for immediate consumption.

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Grape and yeast sediment headed for the compost pile.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

The Three Sisters filed a report last month, and left this month’s report to our other correspondents Miss Abby (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Mr. Lucio, Mr. Marcus, Miss Hope, Mr. Nano and Willow, Calico Matriarch.  Unfortunately, all our remaining correspondents listed above were found sleeping on the job, with nothing new to contribute this month.

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Correspondent Abby, who prefers the title Eleanor of Aquitaine, catching a nap. She said it must be Mr. Lucio’s turn to file a report.

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Correspondent Lucio, who says he thought Mr. Marcus was filing this month.

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Correspondent Marcus, blissfully asleep. Now who would want to disturb him? We turned to Miss Hope.

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Correspondent Hope looking warily at the camera. Surely I must be mistaken? Ask Mr. Nano. He may have seen something out the window worth reporting.

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Correspondent Nano, looking groggily at the camera. Would prefer to go back to sleep. Ask Willow, Calico Matriarch. She’s always watching the neighbors.

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Correspondent Willow, not even bothering to look at the camera. Call Otis!

Fortunately our Northeast Regional Correspondent had a report ready and waiting, so without further delay, we present Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent, and his report on late autumn in Connecticut.

The dreariness of November has settled upon us here in Connecticut. It is a transition month along with March where Mother Nature is caught between trying to decide if she should bestow upon us rain or snow, sun or clouds, warm temperatures or cold ones. It is a fickle month and one that I am not too fond of! December is closing in quickly and will hopefully be more consistent weather-wise, although last year it reached over 60 degrees on Christmas Day!

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A November snow in Connecticut. Photo credit C. M.

I spend much of my time now settled happily in my basket by the woodstove or snuggled into the sheepskin throw on the window seat.

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Mr. Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent. Photo credit C. M.

On days where the temperatures are mild I will leave my creature comforts and venture outside to the “man cave” to watch golf with my master or up to the barn to lurk between the hay bales for rodent activity, of which, sadly, there is little due to the “Reign of Izzy”.

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Mr. Otis in his loft. Nothing escapes his attention! Photo credit C.M.

The ponies now look like woolly mammoths with their winter coats. They are arctic animals, so they love it when temperatures drop! They frolic and play, leaping in the air and rearing up, spinning and galloping through the pastures. They are bug-free and the heat of summer is long gone and so they are the happiest in these cooler months! I make sure to stay clear of their flying hooves, so I never enter their playground!

The vegetable garden has been put to bed with the picking of the last of the kale and the trimming back of the blackberry canes. The flower gardens are awaiting frozen ground before their perennials can be cut back and mulched. All the fragile houseplants have been brought inside to the sun room where they will spend the cold months basking in the weak winter sun. Speaking of sun, I am now looking forward to the Winter Solstice. It is my favorite winter event since I know the days will become longer and longer once we are past December 21st. Come February I will relocate my naps to the sun room couch and happily soak in the sun’s warmth there. I am definitely a solar kitty!!

My master has yet to put the snow blower on the tractor. I think he is afraid that if he does we will not have any snow this winter. I wish he would just put it on! No matter whether it snows or not, humans and animals all agree that the best place is by the woodstove. Sadie and Rosie always insist on front row seats

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Sadie and Rosie enjoying some heat from the woodstove. Photo credit C.M.

and Izzy stretches herself out on her back to capture as much heat from the stove as possible.

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The lovely Izzy! Photo credit C. M.

Even my master will stretch out in front of the stove with us making it quite a challenge for my mistress to get by without stepping on body parts!

Well, I hear my master making the fire now, so I think I will curl up in my fireside basket and warm my old bones. Stay warm all and may your winter months be peaceful and restful.  All my best to each and every one of you.

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Mr. Otis, wishing all readers a pleasant evening. Photo credit C. M.

– Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We have come through our surgery that was scheduled for this month, and I look forward to December to focus on moving forward with my projects.  It has been a difficult year health-wise, but I can say things are looking up now.

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Album cover photo credit Sharon Mayock.

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Photo credit Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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Photo credit Rick 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.

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I believe these might be Turkey Tail mushrooms I found growing amid moss on a hazelnut limb. Beauty is everywhere, from the shaggy carpets of mosses and lichens to the vast blackness of the heavens above. It is there for those who seek it with an open heart and open mind.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
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 September 2016

Our feature photo this month is of one of our red roses from the garden in front of the house.  Sunlight coming in at low angle caught the backside of swirling red petals, detailing the ruffled skirt of this cheerful, flamboyant blossom.  Depending on the weather, we may have blooms into late October or early November, a final farewell to this year’s growing season.

News from the farm

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The Apple Tunnel, formed when a very old and very tall apple tree fell over long ago, but did not die. The tunnel entrance is facing west in this photo looking back toward vineyards and house. On this side of the tunnel is the wild area of the farm, including an acre of hazelnuts.

Autumn has settled in on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Her arrival, unlike that of her maiden sister Spring, comes without the fanfare of golden trumpets and bright colors bursting forth from winter rain-damp soil and emerald green fields to meet her.  No, Autumn is a slow, stealthy traveler, preferring to keep her own counsel as she stalks the farm.  She is first seen out of the corner of one’s eye, cloaked in dessicated shades of yellow and brown, in the dry grass underfoot and stark white cirrus clouds overhead, foreshadowing much-needed rain.  The land and all its rooted and mobile inhabitants begin a slow shift towards the inevitable as they become aware of her growing presence.  Garden, orchard and vineyard race to ripen the fruits of their summer-long labor, and wildlife wait to feast on whatever they can before what all creatures know as the Hard Time sets in.  Jack Frost will not be far behind now, his icy brush painting the way for Old Man Winter.  It is the time of transition.

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Strands of cirrus clouds marbled the sky today.

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A sunset photo from last week. The depth and color of the clouds is beautiful to behold.

Plums have been dried and put away for the winter, and we are canning as many tomatoes as we have time for, since there are so many! The table grapes have done exceptionally well this year, and are providing us with copious fresh fruit. Since grapes can tolerate a light frost, we leave them on the vine until we are ready to pick.

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Ripe Cascade table grapes, fortunately protected by netting.

Our pinot noir which was not bird-netted was completely stripped clean by quail.  I had postponed harvesting the pinot since there was a lot of uneven ripening this year.  This proved to be a mistake.  The quail, not seen all summer long, launched a stealth attack on the vineyard, where there were many grapes hanging from the vines only a few days before.  Caught red-footed among the vines, they ran quite a ways before they achieved lift-off.  No wine this year, but I will make some vinegar from the Cascade table grapes of which there are plenty, and are covered with netting.

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I see a lot of applesauce in our future.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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Abby “Eleanor of Aquitaine”. Holding court in her personal bookcase.

Our feline correspondent this month is our own Miss Abby, who would prefer to be known as Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Miss Abby would like readers to know she will be 15 years old next April, but has not let age slow her down!  Well, not much anyway.  She is sleeping in later these days, and enjoying that.  As one of the dominant female cats of the household, she feels it is her duty to keep the younger cats in line, especially Mr. Lucio whom she feels is always out of line, even when he is doing nothing.  They have established a truce during the nighttime hours so that all may sleep, mostly.

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Lucio, Alpha male, 11 years old. Has learned, mostly, that Abby is one of the Alpha females and commands respect.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The end of all the medical testing this year is in sight, and I made a good bit of progress.  After what I hope will only be minor surgery later this fall, I should be back in the saddle.  I have put the studio back together again, and barring any unforeseen problems, will have something going soon, including some videos. I am looking forward to the dark time of winter as a time of creativity.

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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.

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Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

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

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The white rose of remembrance in our garden. Planted in memory of my own mother, and shown here for all who are remembering someone today. May you find peace.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2016

Our feature photo this month is of a little Pacific Chorus Frog visitor we had at the end of May.  The fellow had found a nice place to hide during the night behind the roll up windows on the porch greenhouse.  One can see in the following photo he is bent on tucking himself back up into his hiding place again.  At night, I have occasionally unrolled an unsuspecting frog.

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Pacific Chorus Frogs, also known as Pacific Tree frogs, are common visitors to the farm, sometimes hiding out in watering cans, plant trays, or hanging baskets. I recently had one of these frogs land on my head when I was watering a hanging basket of petunias. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_tree_frog for more information.

A special word of thanks

Cynthia Reyes, author of A Good Home and An Honest House, recently interviewed us for a blog post on her site.  Her questions were insightful, and I thoroughly enjoyed this interview.  I encourage readers to visit her site, not only to learn more about the residents of Salmon Brook Farms in her post, but especially to learn more about Cynthia Reyes herself, her life and her work.  I own and have read both of her books, and look forward to more from this fine author and very remarkable person.

Readers, please visit  https://cynthiasreyes.com/

About Cynthia: https://cynthiasreyes.com/about/

Cynthia Reyes on Amazon.com:  https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6

I feel deeply privileged to be a part of this very diverse online community of bloggers and blog readers.  Thank you all for your likes, comments, views and general support and kindness.  You are all greatly appreciated.

The Salmon Brook Farms interview post:  https://cynthiasreyes.com/2016/07/20/at-home-at-salmon-brook-farms/

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White rose, variety John Paul. This is our only white rose, planted in memory of my own mother.

News from the farm

Summer, with all her bounty, has fully settled in on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  July proved to be pleasantly cool and mild for the most part.  We have experienced days with unusually clear and crisp light, the kind that makes colors seem more intense, and the surroundings radiate a vibrancy not normally seen at this time of year.  Rainfall in our area has ceased now, and the grass underfoot slowly browns and curls as it enters its summer dormancy.  It is the time of Queen Anne’s Lace, with her myriad, snowy fractal-like umbrels dancing in the breezes that stir the farm as the land warms in the morning sun.  Coast Dandelions (hypochaeris radicata) and Common Dandelions (taraxacum officinale) wave a colorful hello from the orchard, and mints of several varieties attract what honeybees are out and about this year.  Wind is in one of her playful moods today, occasionally rustling the leaves in the apples trees and ringing the chimes on the porch to get my attention.

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Queen Anne’s Lace in our front garden. Thrives at this time of year.

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If you look carefully, you can see a couple of the visiting bees. They moved to the undersides of the flower spikes just before I took the photo. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

We are also coming into the time of Dust Devils, those carefree vortices that slowly spin their way across large tracts of farmland, sending the dust of Oregon’s fertile valley skyward until the crisp blue above takes on a tan hue.  I close the windows of my car, and turn the ventilation selector to recirculate.  After wheat and grass seed crops are harvested around the Willamette Valley, the soil will be tilled and then finally pulverized by impressively large machines that at a distance, are reminiscent of the giant Sandworms of Dune.  Warm, sunny conditions spawn these children of the Wind, rotating columns of air and dust that go by various names in different countries.  Thought to be the spirits of the deceased in many cultures around the world, Dust Devils visit the valley each year, reminding us of what was, and whispering to those who will listen what will be.

For more information on Dust Devils, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_devil

The original owners were quite thoughtful in planting a variety of bushes, trees and vines.  As one type of fruit is winding down its production, one or more others are coming into ripeness.  Cherries are followed by blueberries, followed by blackberries and raspberries, plums, apples, pears, grapes and finally, persimmons in late October, early November.

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Developing purple plums will provide tasty fruit for us soon!

We are pleased that what we thought might be the beginnings of mummy berry in our blueberry patch has turned out not to be the case, and we collected a good 56 quarts of delicious fruit.  This is far more than I thought we might get after the deer destroyed 10 bushes last fall during rutting season.  Most have sent new shoots up from the roots, and if I can keep these protected, will produce fruit next year.  Mother Nature has her own way of enforcing any pruning I cannot get to, so it would seem.  Sometimes pruning is done by neighboring livestock.  This young pear tree I planted 2 years ago was half-eaten by a horse leaning over the fence and pushing aside the 3 layers of hog fencing around tree.  Needless to say, I moved the pear tree to a safer location.

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Pear tree with serve pruning by equine arborist.

The warm, dry start followed by cool, wet weather conditions this spring and early summer were conducive to some anomalies showing up later.  We noted what we think may be some crown gall in the main pinot noir vineyard, the first year we have seen any.

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Main pinot noir vineyard

Rick also noted a strange phenomenon in the table grapes this year.  He brought some partially grown table grape berries to me, with what at first look appeared to be some sort of insect damage or gall on the fruit.  After cutting the berries in half, it was apparent that some of the seeds had pushed their way through the skin of the developing fruit, and were developing in a thin sack partially outside of the berry.  We have never seen this phenomenon in the 12 going on 13 years we have been here on this farm.  Photographs were sent to the Extension Service, and we are waiting for an explanation.

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Our table grapes. This vine is the variety Cascade, deep purple when ripe, and is a seeded variety. Always well ahead of the pinot noir at bud break and veraison, the time of ripening.

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News from The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is our own little Miss Hope, sister of Mr. Marcus and one of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms.  Miss Hope would like readers to know that she and her brother turn 9 years old this August. She says the weather has been quite pleasant, and she enjoys the breezes coming in the window.

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Miss Hope, sister of Mr. Marcus

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The twins – Miss Hope (left) and Mr. Marcus (right)

Feral kittens born under the old house, the two have had many adventures with the rest of the cat crew over the years.   Miss Hope is also a good wrestler, and can pin down any of the boys in a match except Mr. Lucio.  Most of the time she prefers a good snooze in the guest room, and has been keeping close company with Mr. Nano.

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Mr. Lucio (left) and Mr. Marcus (right). Mr. Marcus wants to do everything his buddy is doing!

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Mr. Nano. Has been spending more time with Miss. Hope these days.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We enjoyed seeing our friends Laurie Jennings and Dana Keller up at the Silverton Library in July!  They will be performing in Oregon again in August.  Please visit their website at

http://www.jenningsandkeller.com/

****

And as for me?

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I am making some progress, along with some setbacks, in terms of my own health.  It has been a long, slow process of recovering from caregiving, and it will have to run its course.I am still on hiatus from performing, but continuing to play and enjoy down time with my guitars while I continue to recuperate.   I learned how to make videos in late winter and do some rudimentary editing.  Technology continues to make leaps and bounds, allowing the small-time geek, tinkerer, and putterer like myself another means of expressing and sharing creativity.  Expect a surprise in months to come!  I won’t promise when, though.  I am savoring this time of few obligations to anyone except myself, the farm, and it inhabitants.

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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

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A cardinal flower in one of the front gardens, enjoying a bit of morning sun. Purchased from the local nursery, it brings back memories of the wild ones I would encounter in my youth.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for June 2016

Our feature photo this month is of one of the many daylilies blooming about this farm at this time of year.  This delicate beauty with visiting ants was found growing amid a patch of spearmint by the corner of the old garage.  We had two thunderstorms followed by pea-sized hail in the same day a few weeks back, which left strafed and tattered vegetation everywhere.  We do get hail from time to time, but being hit twice in the same day by a heavy load of hail accompanied by high winds is unusual for our area.  Leaves, flowers, fruits and buds suffered damage.  Only a few plants suffered total annihilation, so we are fortunate.  Plantings will recover, although they will be set back a bit this season.

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Daylily peering out from behind a post.

News from the farm

A clear and cool beginning to this last day of June, the thin crescent moon floating in the Maxfield Parrish colors of twilight.  Later came the warm, golden sun pleasantly beaming down from a light blue cloudless sky.  Shafts of light filter down through the apple orchard, dappling the long grass and wildflowers below.  Tree, shrub and flower sway to the song of the Wind, as she skips down the mountains to the hills and valley below.  Her fleeting footsteps can been seen in the rippling grass at it shimmers in her path.  An old friend once described Wind as an entity with various emotions they had come to know quite well over the years.  Sometimes in a hurry, sometimes lingering, but always on the move, whispering her story to those who take the time to listen.  Today our visitor is feeling playful, lingering about the gardens and gently plucking her harp out on the porch.  Along with the music from the wind chimes, a curl of breeze finds its way through the window near where I am working, tugging at my elbow to come out and join the greater world outside.

Spring’s warm start has encouraged cherries and blueberries to ripen a little earlier than we normally would see.  Cooler, wet weather in May and part of June slowed growth somewhat, and we possibly have some mummy berry occurring in the blueberries due to cooler conditions after rapid growth in earlier warm weather.  We are sorting out hail damage on top of possible mummy berry, but still have an abundance of fruit.  I will be busy picking blueberries over the next few weeks as cherries have already peaked here.  Oregon State University has a very good article on mummy berry for interested readers.  See “Mummy berry could spook your blueberries” at the link below.

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/mummy-berry-could-spook-your-blueberries

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Photo taken in our blueberry patch this week. The starting gun has been fired, and the race with birds and other wildlife begins.

Grapes, depending on the variety, are between flowering and the small berry stage.  Our table grapes, many of them very old vines, are always ahead of the pinot noir.

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From my test block of pinot noir. Note the marine-grade polypropylene trellis rope. I am happy enough with it, so far, I will continue to use it for trellising instead of wire.

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From our main block of pinot noir.

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Early Muscat. We have a short test row of mixed Gewürztraminer and Early Muscat.

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The table grapes (Cascade pictured here) are always well ahead of the pinot.

Hazelnuts have well-defined nuts on them, still in the green stage.  We have roughly an acre of derelict hazelnuts, which is mainly wildlife habitat now.  We may collect these at some point.

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Hazelnuts! Mice collect these in the field. In the old house we nicknamed “The Mouse Hotel”, they stored them in the mud room in boots, shoes, and drawers. Anywhere they could find a spot.

Gophers are busy tunneling and leaving mounds, as gophers will do.  I collect the mounds for rooting grape vines and outdoor potting soil.  They in turn will filch my potatoes, considering it an even trade for disturbing the protective cap on their tunnel system.

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Classic gopher mound. Conveniently pulverized clay soil is collected for flower pots and rooting grape cuttings. They find my potato patch convenient shopping.

News from The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondents this month are our Three Sisters cats, Wynken, Blynken and Nod.   The girls have been quite busy keeping track of the comings and goings outside the windows, and especially love the view from their crow’s nest. The girls would like to report that there appear to be more hummingbirds this year, but fewer honeybees have been spotted.

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Lots of clover, very few bees this year.

The seasons pass by so quickly now, and the girls will be 3 years old in August.  They have proven to be difficult photographic subjects for the local paparazzo since they matured out of kittenhood, preferring to take control of the camera themselves!  The Flying Nod’s preferred tactics are landing on my shoulder from behind, and covering my eyes with her paws.  Fortunately, she is the lightest of the three.

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Nod, wondering what her sister Blynken is up to in the crow’s nest!

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Blynken, keeping a sharp lookout from above.

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Blynken, at another post, watching for hummingbirds.

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The lovely Wynken in a quiet, reflective moment. All the Sisters rocky-grey stripes up top have been turning white over time. Wynken still has the most pronounced markings.

Our Northeast Regional Correspondent Otis and his companion the lovely Izzy will be returning later this summer to give readers an update on his area and the activities Mr. Shrew.

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Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent will return later this summer! Photo credit C.M.

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Stay tuned for the adventures of Izzy and Mr. Shrew! Photo credit C.M.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I would like to start the news with what was a pleasant surprise for me.  I walked into the kitchen where the radio was on a few weeks back, and came across an NPR segment about the disappearance of human toll booth collectors in Florida, but not at one particular one, Card Sound Bridge.   At the end of the segment you will hear Laurie Jennings, a musician from Florida.  She had written a song called Toll Booth Romance.  This segment, recorded at a Florida PBS station, made it all the way to Oregon Public Broadcasting!  Have a listen to the segment at the link below.

http://wlrn.org/post/taking-toll-human-collectors-vanishing-not-card-sound-bridge

Laurie Jennings and Dana Keller will be performing on the west coast these next two months, including Oregon.  Please visit their website at

http://www.jenningsandkeller.com/

****

For those Johnny Cash fans and readers of Science News, the late Man in Black now has a tarantula named after him, Aphonopelma johnnycashi, the Johnny Cash tarantula.  See Science New March 5, 2016 for the full story!

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/meet-tarantula-black

****

Mr.Pluff

Teaching my pet rooster Mr. Pluff to sing. He was a gentle soul and family member.

I am making some progress, along with some setbacks, in terms of my own health.  It has been a long, slow process of recovering from caregiving, and it will have to run its course.

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I loved my brother’s boy scout uniform and used to call myself a “Bird Scout”.

I am still on hiatus from performing, but continuing to play and enjoy down time with my guitars while I continue to recuperate.   I learned how to make videos in late winter and do some rudimentary editing.  Technology continues to make leaps and bounds, allowing the small-time geek, tinkerer, and putterer like myself another means of expressing and sharing creativity.  Expect a surprise in months to come!  I won’t promise when, though.  I am savoring this time of few obligations to anyone except myself, the farm, and it inhabitants.

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First and only CD. Another one will be coming! The black cat is our dear departed Mr. Beaucastel, named for Chateau Beaucastel. http://www.beaucastel.com

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.

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Painting in the background was made by my late father-in-law.

Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

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

Thank you to all who have stopped by this site, offered their “likes”, comments and words of encouragement.  You are a wonderful community.

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Reblooming daylilies. Planted in memory of a girl named Lily who committed suicide after being bullied at school.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2016

Our feature photo this month is of one of the old rambling roses that grow on the north border of the farm.  This rose of unknown variety and its companion were planted long ago by those who have not graced this Earth in many a year.  The old wooden posts have rotted and fallen over, their rusty wires engulfed and held high in places by tall trees.  Vinca that were planted along this zone have grown into a thick mat through which a few stray daffodils struggle to emerge in late winter, and an ancient lilac bush peers in the dining room window.  The blooms are small now, but still fragrant.  Their time has come and gone already this year, and I wonder what it once looked like, this wild borderland.  Haven to birds, insects and small mammals, it will remain as is until the day finally comes when another family decides to leave their mark upon this land, and the border will be tamed once again.  I nod to our neighbor on the north side.  We are content with what is.

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Wild blackberry on the border provides nectar for bees and tasty fruits for us later in the season. Non-native blackberry is an invasive species we live with but keep contained. Blackberry provides a good portion of the main honey flow for beekeepers during the summer months in the Willamette Valley.

News from the farm

April’s warmer than normal weather was met with cooler, wetter weather in May.  The vines seem to have recovered from the frost in late March, and we are looking forward to a good season.  Tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and peppers, started in trays under lights in early March, are slowly making their way into the garden.  I trust the weather a bit more these days, although Mother Nature can surprise one late in the season.

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Rick working on one of his tomato beds. He is trying a new mulching fabric this year.

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Opening up the slit in the mulching fabric.

The new greenhouse has been populated with grape starts, miscellaneous cuttings and potting bench. I look forward to having the front porch back, although it has steadfastly served as a plant nursery for the last 3 years.  Rick and I wouldn’t mind eating out on the porch during this season of azure blue sky days and cool nights without being hemmed in by stacks of plant pots and garden tools.

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Tubular metal frame greenhouse on the cement pad Lyn and I poured. Grape cuttings now have a permanent place to develop.

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Plant starts in the small porch greenhouse, hardening off and waiting to go in the garden.

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Unplanned blueberry cutting experiment. These are from broken branches made by rutting male deer last fall. They look promising!

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The two “Autumn Bliss” everbearing raspberry plants that survived. Barrel life seems to agree with them, and they are much easier to maintain this way.

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Half-barrels used for strawberries and now being switched over to raspberries. Strawberries will be moved to a new system. This year, the barrels will house tomatoes, peppers and eggplant while other beds are being worked on.

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Pinot noir in our main vineyard block. Recovered from frost damage and doing well.

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The pinot vines in my test block with rope trellis has recovered from earlier frost damage and are doing well.

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Early Muscat. We are sure of this one as it produced fruit last year. The vine is in a short test row consisting of a mix of Gewürztraminer and Early Muscat.

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For Tim and Laurie Price at “Off Center and Not Even” https://photoofthedayetc.wordpress.com/ Grafted rose rootstock that has taken off on its own. Rootstock variety Dr. Huey perhaps? The graft is the pinkish rose in the upper right.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms are enjoying the late spring weather, and are too busy lazying about on various cushioned window sills to post a report this month.  Our Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent Otis, who hails from the distant eastern lands of Connecticut, has agreed to fill in for the crew this month, and update readers on weather and events in his area.  Otis first made an appearance with his companion the lovely Izzy back in our February 2016 post.

“It seems that after a very brief, but cold spring, Connecticut has been plunged into summer!  The temperatures by the end of May ranged from high 80’s to low 90’s!  Everything is suddenly green, which is a welcome contrast to the stark winter scenery.  Thankfully, we did not have a lot of snow this year, but what we did had just made me miserable.

The snow blower has been removed from the tractor and replaced with the belly mower, which makes me very happy since I live in fear of being sucked up by the blower and spit into a snow pile somewhere along the driveway.   The pasture has already been cut for the first time this year and the humans just put the first cutting of hay into the barn tonight.  Peas, lettuce, swiss chard, kale, tomatoes, parsley, eggplant, basil, and leeks have been planted in the vegetable garden and the strawberries and blueberries are already flowering.   I must admit that I love basking in the sun on the stone wall while my humans busy themselves with farm work.

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Otis surveying his farm property and enjoying a bit of New England sunshine. Photo credit C.M.

The trees have just started to bloom starting with the beautiful magnolia tree and followed by the dogwood.  Iris flowers began opening this week soon to be replaced by the peonies come early June.  Izzy likes sitting on the stone wall behind the peony greens in hopes of capturing Mr. Shrew.

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The lovely Izzy watches for Mr. Shrew. Photo credit C.M.

She has been very amenable to holding peace talks with him, but refuses to make any promises.

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Peace talks do not appear to have gone well… Photo credit C.M.

Thankfully, my mistress finally put cushions back on the porch furniture so that I can spend some quality nap time on my favorite wicker couch!!  From my couch I can enjoy a feline view of my kingdom…when I am not snoozing that is!

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Otis enjoying a good nap. Photo credit C.M.

Cheers for now…on to summer!!  – Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent

Thank you, Otis, for a splendid report!

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I am making some progress with health issues, although it has been a long, slow process of recovering from caregiving.

I am still on hiatus from performing, but continuing to play and enjoy down time with my guitars while I continue to recuperate.   I learned how to make videos in late winter and do some rudimentary editing.  Technology continues to make leaps and bounds, allowing the small-time geek, tinkerer, and putterer like myself another means of expressing and sharing creativity.  Expect a surprise in months to come!  I won’t promise when, though.  I am savoring this time of few obligations to anyone except myself, the farm, and it inhabitants.

Lavinia-1R-12212014

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

Thank you to all who have stopped by this site, offered their “likes”, comments and words of encouragement.  You are a wonderful community.

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A bright blue, late spring day punctuated by wandering cumulus heading towards the Cascades.

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