Our feature photo this month is of a colorful cluster of hawthorn berries sporting a tiny visitor, a 12 spotted cucumber beetle. In past years, we rarely encountered any. This year, we have seen quite a few of these little fellows, although we do not seem to have sustained any damage from their presence other than occasional photobombing. One can click on any photo in this post to enlarge.
News from the library – a special book by Cynthia Reyes for children of all ages
I do not consider myself to be a reviewer of books or music, feeling neither qualified nor inclined to critique someone else’s work. I find enough technical problems with my own endeavors to keep me sufficiently occupied pursuing a lifetime of improvement. A very special book, however, has caught my attention, not only because it is well-written and beautifully illustrated, but because it sends a simple yet powerful message of the need for tolerance. That book is Myrtle the Purple Turtle, a children’s book written by Cynthia Reyes, blogger, author, and former journalist and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The story of Myrtle was originally written as a bedtime story for Cynthia’s daughter Lauren, who had been bullied at school for bringing her favorite doll, a black Cabbage Patch doll named Quentin. Some of the children thought Quentin was “dirty” because of his color, and wouldn’t play with her if she brought him along. As a consequence, the four year old stopped bringing him to school, hoping to fit in better, although it hurt her very, very much. Eventually, her parents caught on, and Cynthia developed the story of Myrtle, a different sort of turtle, to help Lauren feel less alone. Myrtle attempts to change her appearance to make her more acceptable, but learns in the end that is our differences that make us special, and that we must love ourselves. A book for children of all ages, and dedicated to the child in all of us, I encourage readers to help spread the word about this very special turtle. Donate a copy to your local library; give one to a child in need. We are all Myrtle the Purple Turtle.
Myrtle is available on Amazon.com
Myrtle the Purple Turtle
When a little girl decided she wanted a black doll for Christmas
The Love Your Shell campaign
A very moving review of Myrtle the Purple Turtle book by Andrea Stephenson
We are all Myrtle the Purple Turtle
News from the farm
October’s weather was relatively mild, with sufficient rain to return the grass to its winter seasonal lush emerald green. Our chives have revived in the cooler, wetter conditions, while dandelions once again stand tall, proudly present their sunshine-yellow blooms to late season visiting bees. Tiny leaflets of clover have started to appear everywhere, adding to the carpet of green below as the leaves of tree and shrub above turn shades of yellow and brown, quietly slipping away with the daylight hours. Blueberry bushes are among the exceptions to the muted colors of autumn in this region, celebrating the end of their season in a blaze of scarlet, orange and gold.
The annual rutting season has arrived along with October’s bright blue skies and falling leaves. Once again, roving male deer have started looking for small trees and shrubbery upon which to scrape the velvet from their antlers. It is the one aspect of autumn which I dread, but I am also thankful that we have only had deer, not elk, wander through this farm. Our larger blueberry bushes suffered some damage a few nights ago. Not having fencing up yet, I resorted to taking the old wire basket tomato cages and put them upside down, points up, near targeted bushes, in the hope of discouraging them. Broken branches, lying like matchwood on the ground, were collected to make cuttings for rooting. Our visitors also tested the line of young redwoods up front, requiring installation of emergency, makeshift barricades. Nature’s children are always hungry, or creating mischief.
The garden has worked hard and done well this season, resting now except for a few cool weather crops such as broccoli, celery and cabbage. It is difficult to bid goodbye to each year’s plantings when autumn returns; all have been nurtured from seed to garden bed, and are now returning to the earth which sustained them, as they sustained us. All things are connected to all things.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
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, including the state of the current vintage and wine experiments.
The nights have continued to grow longer since the equinox, allowing more viewing time from the windows under clear skies when the moon is in the brightest part of its phase. The foxes have continued to leave scat around the farm, although they have been quieter about their comings and goings. Our visiting pack of coyotes has not been heard again since last month, their lyrical chorus eerily beautiful yet frightening to felines. Sunrise brings all the beauty and promise of a new day.
A few interesting shoots were found growing out of a hawthorn stump. The young tree broke off in a windstorm last year, effectively becoming a coppice stool. Some of these new shoots had leaves with no pigment. Development will be followed.
Our wasps in the blueberry bush remained with us for a while in early October, but have since disappeared.
The good weather held early in the month, and the onslaught of grape-eating birds and wasps had not descended yet. A decision was made to run another crush from the pinot vineyard with grapes that were now up to 22 brix. Four trays of the ripest pinot noir were selected and harvested, crushed by hand, and fermentation with Epernay II started in a 16 qt stainless steel stockpot, as was done in the previous run. Fewer earwigs, and no stinkbugs or ladybugs were encountered in this run.
Another light pinot rosé was created from this fermentation, coming in at 12% alcohol with riper grapes. The wine is still cold stabilizing on the lees at this time.
The first fermentation experiment has since been racked off into bottles, and stored in the refrigerator. There has been no fining, filtering or sulfiting of this wine, so it is being stored cold.
The rest of the fruit from under the insect netting was harvested yesterday, and is being held for a third experiment.
Like all the residents and wild creatures of this farm, I hear the approaching winter in the wind as it rustles the dying leaves, and in the gentle staccato of rain on the metal roof. One can feel it in the nip in the air on a sunny day, especially when the sun slips behind a wandering cumulus. Another year is soon ending, and I and my fellow correspondents are a year older. We hear the slow, steady tread of Father Time, and feel the changes.
We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead. May everyone have a warm place to sleep, and plenty of good food.
Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms
Thank you, Mr. Nano!
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
I will be returning to the Spokane Fall Folk Festival this November after being away for a number of years due to elder care duties. See our post In Loving Memory, December 2015. I took 2016 off from performing to recover my health and recharge, and I am looking forward to seeing friends old and new.
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 is still in my work queue, which gets longer and harder to keep up with all the seasonal outside work. I have no new videos yet due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, now that the harvest 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.