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

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2016

Our feature photo this month was a difficult choice, between our visit this month to California, the grandeur of Mt. Shasta, and the beauty of the farm under snow and ice.  I decided our own black locust tree in all its frozen, jeweled elegance was impressive enough, as we almost never see the tree with ice on it.

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An Apple in Winter – a solitary apple hanging on into December was coated in ice, providing an unusual seasonal ornament in the orchard.

As we come to the end of 2016, I would like to thank all of you who have stopped by our corner of the world, laughed and cried with us, offered their kind comments and “likes” or supported us in some fashion over the 3 1/2 years this blog has been up.  And welcome aboard, new readers!  The cats and crew of Salmon Brook Farms wishes that everyone have a healthy, happy, bright and prosperous New Year ahead.  If I may quote the final lines from Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be careful.  Strive to be happy.”

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Every season has its own beauty to behold.

News from the farm
December was an unusually cold, wet month on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Old Man Winter descended in the form of snow, sleet and freezing rain, breaking branches, toppling trees and disrupting power in the area.  His traveling companions, Wind and Storm, gave voice and form to his presence as he passed through the farm, touching all within reach with icy breath and freezing fingers.  For all the death and destruction left in his wake, in the morning there stood before us a glittering Ice Kingdom, a symbol of his strength and dominion over this time of year.  Tree, shrub and vine found themselves encapsulated, temporary prisoners of the storm.  Grass, still green but covered in ice, gave way with a crunch underfoot, leaving tell-tale impressions of our wandering about.  Below freezing temperatures prolonged the frozen scene until the 18th, when a short visit from the sun accompanied by rising temperatures resulted in sounds of dripping that could be heard everywhere, exposing the resilient, green winter grass of Oregon below.

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Rosebush leaves sporting miniature icicles.

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Blueberry bush coated in ice, caught in the camera’s flash in low lighting.

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A spider web, frozen in time. We observed a spider on the web several days later, after the thaw.

We took a short vacation to visit friends, entrusting cats and farm to our sitter and headed for California on the 19th in freezing rain. The cloud ceiling started lifting down towards the California border, and we stopped in Yreka for lunch at one of our favorite places, The Black Bear Diner.

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The only place you will see this sign!

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Bears inside the diner appropriately dressed for Christmas.

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A bear for little ones.

We arrived at our destination in time to see a most beautiful sunset.

On the way down we noted a strange apparition around Yreka in the form of a large metal dragon sculpture on the opposite side of I-5.  Farther down, we found Mount Shasta cloaked in cloud, bidding us to wait until our return trip, at which point both the mountain and Yreka Dragon would reveal themselves, in different ways.

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Mount Shasta, located at the southern end of the volcanically active Cascade Range. Thought to erupt roughly every 600 to 800 years. The last eruption was 200 – 300 years ago. https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mount_shasta/

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A closer view of the mountain.

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Mount Shasta as seen from the City of Mount Shasta.

The dragon was a bit more mysterious, preferring to be viewed through freezing mists.

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The famous Yreka dragon, created by Siskiyou artist Ralph Starritt. He is also known for the equally famous metal cow-calf pair which can also be seen from I-5. This photo was taken from the car window as we passed by.

Clouds and rain descended upon us again as we came up through the Willamette Valley, prompting the thought that this region could be known as “Land of the Long Grey Cloud”.  I feel certain that I am not the first one to entertain this thought.

The ice now gone, Rick has started pruning the vineyards.  We look forward to a good harvest this coming year, and perhaps some of our own wine made from our own pinot noir.

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We had some sun today, which Rick took advantage of to make some progress in the vineyard.

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Working the table grapes before moving on to the pinot noir vineyard.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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Correspondent Lucio engaging in favorite activity.

Since our Salmon Brook Farms feline correspondents are still spending the majority of their time in holiday hibernation with nothing new to report, Mr. Lucio has agreed to wake up long enough to introduce our readers to our new Foreign Feline Correspondents, Mr. NewDude and his brother Mr. YouTube of the Fratelli Mandorle, or Almond Brothers, who hail from a very beautiful olive farm in Sicily.

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Olive farm at the House of 36 Paws, Sicily.

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Correspondent YouTube (left) and Correspondent NewDude (right)

Ciao meow! I am NewDude, one of the Fratelli Mandorle, or Almond Brothers, as our fur resembles the burnished color of almond shells.

My life here at the House of 36 Paws started about ten months ago. I arrived at the farm looking for work, skinny, infested with fleas, infections and begging for food. The humans kindly fed me and befriended me, but I soon found myself transported up and away to some sort of facility where medical procedures were performed.  I must say after my return trip in the transporter I went into hiding for a few days, but the lure of consistent kibbles and human caresses lured me back to this establishment. There is a large terrace here where I can bask in the sun, and plenty of covered spaces where I can keep warm. Being a nice, easy-going fellow, I am an amiable companion of the two house cats, Lulu and Lucky the Blind Kitty, who is now an honorary Almond Brother.

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Lucky, honorary Almond Brother. A box with a view!

Because the accommodations were so agreeable to my lifestyle, I insisted that my twin brother should abandon his peripatetic ways and come live here with me, in spite of the strange transporter activity and things that happen there in the medical facility. Brother YouTube has since joined the crew, and will write of his own adventures in our next report from Sicily.  Simon and Dexter have also taken up residence relatively recently, and keep things lively!

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NewDude and new arrival Dexter.

There are olive trees to climb here, gardens to play in, lavender and rosemary plants for shaded afternoon napping. I even made friends with the three resident dogs, Bob, Hilda and Little Girl.  I have found Bob to be the most affectionate. The food is outstanding, and I am healthy now and receive lots of attention. Life is good at the House of 36 Paws!

Olive harvest in a previous year

Olive harvest in a previous year.

Sadly, our humans did not harvest any olives for oil this year.  Our spring was very dry, and when it was time for the flowers to bloom and be pollinated, most of them died.   We had a total of possibly six trees sparsely populated with olives.  Correspondent YouTube and I only saw ten trees in the spring with olive flowers, which are tiny. Luckily the humans have enough oil to last until next year.

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

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

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I am looking forward to the new year, and stepping up the pace on current projects which are long overdue.  Someone kindly pointed out to me that 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.

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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For Angela1313 at Kimchee and Catnip, https://kimcheeandcatnip.wordpress.com/ who wished to see the entire painting itself. The painting was made by Rick’s father.

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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/

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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.

LaviniaBirdScout

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.

keepsake1

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.

Lavinia-1R-12212014

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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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2016

Our feature photo this month is of a busy, but obliging honeybee working the pear tree with her sisters on a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

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Any trees in bloom were full of hard-working pollinators today.

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The old Italian purple prune-type plum tree.

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Apple tree at “first pink”, the first blush of blooms to come.

The kaleidoscope spring skies of dark clouds, passing storms, warm golden sun and ephemeral rainbows have been providing spectacular daily shows this month on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The day presented us with a nippy 31 degrees this morning, as reported by the thermometer on the porch, and reached the mid 70s this afternoon.  Pollinators of all sorts were enjoying the warmth and sun, and the trees currently in bloom were alive with the pleasant drone of many beating wings.  My favorite time of day is early morning under clear skies, when the molten gold of the rising sun comes streaming over the eastern ridge down onto the emerald green grass of the farm below, setting the heavy dew afire in a sudden explosion of prismatic jeweled brilliance.  It is a time to be mentally, as well as physically present to absorb the promise of a new day.  Mind’s Eye records the scene in detail to be replayed in memory, and the joy of witnessing the transition from darkness to light is written upon the pages of the soul.  No two sunrises are the same.

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Storm clouds to the south over the shed.

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Some beautiful cirrus type with a faint cloud-bow towards the bottom.

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East view of an afternoon rainbow over Salmon Brook Farms.

News from the farm

It has been a month of moving many small projects forward as well as taking time to slow down and wander about the farm.  The nutria are still about, although they cannot get into the shed since the barricade went up.  The youngsters, Gidney, Cloyd and Yosemite Sam, have been sighted at different times and places about the farm, and have left tell-tale signs of their presence.

SignsofNutria

Nutria scat and cropped grass. Nutria at work. I stepped in plenty of it over the winter when the youngsters were up around the house.

A line of five California Redwood trees was planted up front along the south border.  These little fellows have been nurtured in pots for several years from roughly 4 inch high seedlings, and it was time to turn them loose.  They will grow tall and strong, and according to the tree farmer friends who gave us the seedlings several years ago, not uproot easily in storms.  They will provide a windbreak, shade for the front, and shelter for birds.  All were planted in the memory of someone we either knew or had heard about that passed on recently.  Sometimes a garden or planting is the one kind thing I am able to do for someone.

MichaelsRedwoodTree

This particular tree is for Michael, son of G.P Cox, Pacific Paratrooper. G.P.’s site contains a wealth of WWII history and stories. https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/

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Cherry tree garden in memory of Herman’s mother and brother, cats Glippie and Mrs. Jones. Readers encouraged to follow the adventures of Herman and world-famous cat Mr. Bowie, both of whom hail from Belgium, at https://hopedog.wordpress.com/

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An early spring view of the memorial garden for Australian friends Janet and Baz. In memory of loved ones Archie and Marion. Readers are encouraged to follow the adventures Baz, Janet and TomO in the Australian Outback at http://thelandy.com/

Although I cannot claim pouring cement was restful, it was good to see that project finally get underway. Four years ago, two old cement pads of differing heights and jagged edges from the old house were moved down by the main garden and placed together as a foundation of sorts to place a greenhouse upon.  Mixed by hand, 60 to 120 lbs at a time in the old wheel barrow, the roughly 12 x 12 foot pad finally took form recently.  Chicken wire will be laid down now for reinforcement, and another 20 bags still to be poured. Tomorrow’s task, now that better weather is here.  I am no master cement worker, though this should work well enough to set the greenhouse frame up later.

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First layer of cement – underlying pads are joined and it is now a square, more or less!

Cement-2

New grape cuttings, as well as rescue blueberry cuttings have either been potted up already, or are waiting for me to collect more gopher diggings so I can pot them up.  Some are stored in Lake Roger, the drainage ditch, staying hydrated and wet, waiting for the greenhouse above to finally go up.  I have not devoted any time to grafting experiments with the old Bing cherry tree or plums yet.  I am probably running out of time for that this year.

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A mix of muscat and gewurztraminer wine grape cuttings waiting in Lake Roger.

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Blueberry cuttings. I had not intended to try to make these, but a rutting male deer made shrapnel out of many of our blueberry bushes last fall. A ready made experiment, I kept these in the garage all winter. One, at least, is showing green (far right). A few have viable looking buds.

Blueberry-cuttings

More blueberry cuttings that have been sitting in long grass all winter. Found them when I went to trim grass in the blueberry patch. They are waiting for pots for good clay soil that holds water. I have had good luck rooting many things this way.

Seabisquit the Subaru finally got new plugs and wires!  I waited a bit longer than originally anticipated to get this done, and upon checking my records, found that the NGK Iridium IXs had 157,664 miles on them, quite a bit longer than recommended by the manufacturer.  One can see in the photo below that the gap is quite large and the plugs well-worn.  Surprisingly the car ran quite well.  Old Seabisquit was quite pleased that I finally got around to changing them.  It is still fairly easy on this car, with only one plug requiring removal of the windshield washer tank so I could get at it.  Old Seabisquit has now passed 431,326 miles, and I have promised my trusty steed that I will give him a good cleaning once we have hauled the last 20 bags of cement tomorrow.

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Old Iridium IX spark plugs removed. Stayed in a bit longer than anticipated, but Old Seabisquit ran pretty well in spite of it. They had 157, 664 miles on them.

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Current mileage on Old Seabisquit. Can’t keep a good car down….

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The author’s cave. Functions as stall for old Seabisquit, workshop and plant start nursery, as well as warm place for over-flow house plants.

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News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is Mr. Marcus, enjoying his favorite perch on back of the couch.  He would like readers to know that the cat crew very much appreciates the change in the weather, and the opportunity to sit in front of an open window, as brief as it is at this time of year.

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Mr. Marcus, this month’s feline correspondent. One of the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms.

Marcus says his sister Hope is particularly fond on chewing on the Venetian blind cords, although she has not yet learned how to work them to get viewing access.  Marcus also reports that Miss Willow, the old calico matriarch, is doing much better now on the kidney tonic recommended to her by our Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent Otis (see our February 2016 post).

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Miss Hope, sister of Mr. Marcus. One of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms.

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Old Willow, calico matriarch. A Force of Nature and one of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms.

All the crew is doing well at this time, although Mr. Lucio will be going in for his dentistry towards the end of April.  He confided to Mr. Marcus that would prefer to send the Doc a postcard from Tahiti, but realizes he does not know where Tahiti is, let alone how to get there.

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Mr. Lucio, cleaning Mr. Marcus. He really wants the window seat, and is preparing to get Mr. Marcus to move.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I am still on hiatus from performing, but continuing to play and enjoy down time with my guitars.   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.

East coast, internationally touring folk musicians Dana and Susan Robinson will have a new CD, “The Angel’s Share”, coming out before too long.  To hear either one of them alone is a real treat, but together, their voices and instruments intertwine and soar.  I have heard them at Marks Ridge Winery on a summer evening, the music drifting over the mountains.  For our  readers in the U.K., check their schedule periodically.  Not to be missed for those who love this style of music.  Their road essays are also enjoyable reading.
http://www.robinsongs.com/road-essays

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

SBF-Tunnel

A natural tunnel into the back lot formed by an old feral apple tree that had fallen over but continued to grow. There will be blooms on it before too long now. The farm has many hidden places, and I am enjoying taking the time to rediscover them.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November 2015

Our feature photo this month is of recent nighttime visitor to the farm.  On Sunday the 15th,  I went out after dark to investigate the activities of a Black-tailed deer buck grazing on fallen fruit under an apple tree near the shed.   The buck, who was probably the same one who demolished 10 blueberry bushes in the process of scraping his antlers on them a week earlier,  trotted off as I neared the tree, but there came a pig-like grunting and snuffling from somewhere very close by.  Startled and feeling like an encounter with whatever it was could have a bad ending, I looked around, but could see nothing, and the grunting creature sounded very displeased by my presence.  A small greyish creature at ground level appeared out of nowhere, and charged at my leg. I quickly high-tailed it, and got the flashlight and camera, hoping to at least identify my would-be assailant.  Although not the best photo, it was good enough to check the mug shot online and confirm my suspicions. Our visitor appears to be a nutria, a young one, from what I can tell.  In the almost 12 years we have been here, we have only seen one other come through the farm, a large adult traveling through during daylight hours. Nutria are known to intimidate small dogs, and can pack quite a serious bite if cornered.  These beaver-like rodents are not native to the United States, but have become naturalized in many areas, and can be very destructive.  The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website has more information for those who are interested.

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/nutria.asp

News from the farm

Water, water everywhere now, while the Pacific Northwest is getting pummeled with heavy rain and strong winds.  Jaws and fellow gophers have curtailed activities, and perhaps moved to higher ground as their burrows flood and sometimes spout water like mini artesian wells.  The weather can, and does, change frequently during the day, a kaleidoscope of cloud and sun, shadows and light. A fast running river of clouds passed overhead on Tuesday, a turbulent grey on grey I could see through the depths of to higher, brighter clouds and occasional blue.   I watched the tall, massive ash trees in the wooded corner bend and sway in the wind, marveling at the strength and flexibility of these rooted giants, and the force of the wind moving them in wild dance.  My thoughts drifted to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents, and I wondered if these thrashing venerable trees would somehow walk out of their section of woods.  Higher elevations have already seen some snow, and the forecast is for temperatures in the 20s here by the end of next week.  I will need to finish closing down the gardens for the season, and insulating exposed water lines.

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Storm’s edge – an earlier set of storms blowing through the area.

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A break in the storm towards sundown.

Night settles in.  At roughly 800 feet, the farm lies in a bowl of sorts in the Cascade foothills.  Cold air ponds in this depression, and thickening mists slowly obliterate the surrounding hills until all that is visible are the cold, dripping tendrils that writhe and curl under the lights.  Somewhere up above the clouds the moon is growing again.  It can be very difficult to observe the lunar cycles and night sky during the winter months here.  Old Man Winter is on the way now, and all in his path will bend to his will.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Willow, the old Calico matriarch, came through her recent dentistry with flying colors, and wants readers to know she is still a force to be reckoned with in the house, and is back to keeping Rick’s mother company.

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Willow – also a Force of Nature.

The crew does not have much to report this month, and has decided napping is a much better plan than battling gophers and nutria.  Mr. Lucio is a master at looking like he is working hard at being comfortable.

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Mr. Lucio, hard at work.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We are taking a brief hiatus until next year, working on personal projects and elder care, which consumes much time and energy.  Keep checking the schedule.  We will surface again in 2016!  Old Seabisquit the Subaru , my faithful gigging traveling companion, got a much needed oil change and air filter from me, and is patiently waiting for me to pop in a new gas filter, spark plugs and wires.  Not to mention a good cleaning….

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

SundownSBF

The sun sets more to the southwest these days, and beamed a pleasant goodnight over the neighbor’s roof on that particular evening after a day of many passing storms.

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