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 March 2015

Our feature photo this month is of what a friend has tentatively identified for us as an Osoberry, also known as Wild Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformes), blooming on the north border of the farm.  It is among the first bloom and leaf out, and as one can see, is attractive to honeybees out foraging in our unusually warm winter weather.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oemleria

The bee is perched on top of the blooms in the top center, showing her backside to the viewer.  There aren’t many out at this time, but they will fly on a sunny day above 47 degrees.  I have seen them on the dandelions, whose cheery golden faces have been blooming all winter, although keeping a low profile in the cold.  It won’t be long before the plums and cherries bloom, followed by the apples, and the trees will sound like one gigantic bee with the drone of all the sisters at work.  Spring is not far off now, although we could still be (and have been in the past) surprised by by a freak snowstorm in March or April.

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Sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms on March 7, 2015. A frosty 32 degrees at sunrise with a high of 70 by afternoon.

 

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A frosty dawn, with mists settling in the low areas. The tops of fir trees to the south appear as a dark jagged line above the soft cloak of fog.

 

News from the farm

The eastern half of the country appears to have received the majority of our winter precipitation in the form of snow and freezing rain while we have been enjoying a warmer, and drier, than normal winter here in Oregon.   Mornings have been chilly, ranging anywhere from 25 to 32 degrees, but warming rapidly under clear skies into the mid 50s and 60s.  The last few days have been close to 70 degrees by afternoon, and the windows are open, letting fresh, cool air in.  Working outside, the sun feels wonderful on skin and hair, and the combination of sun’s warmth and the cold mountain air is quite restorative.  Icy-grey Old Man Winter continues his retreat back up into the refuge of the Cascades, giving way to the Golden Time of Spring.  In her footsteps follow all manner of green shoots, blooms and the chorusing of frogs, who have been singing nightly even when the thermometer has read in the 30s.  Everything has a season – a period to exist and be known – eventually disappearing into the sands of time.  In the peace of vineyard, orchard, field and garden, it is easy to travel the back roads of memory, stopping to visit places I have been.  I am sometimes surprised upon returning to a place how it influenced the path to here and now.  That too, will become past, to be revisited later on in life.  Time grants perspective to those who will look back.  I believe musician Kate Wolf said it best – there are no roads that do not bend.  Kate left this life all too early, but her music is still very much alive.  Please visit her site at:

http://www.katewolf.com

We are heading into spring with below normal precipitation and snow pack in the mountains, which does not bode well for this summer’s fire season.  High Country News recently published a very informative article titled “The Dust Detectives”,  how dust rising from the Taklamakan Desert in China interacts with atmospheric pollution and affects our weather out here in the west.  Highly recommended reading for all who are interested in the subject of climate change and extreme weather.

http://www.hcn.org/issues/46.22/the-dust-detectives

Our cat crew gets older right along with us.  Teachers, companions, mischievous elvish creatures they are, adding an irreplaceable dimension to our lives here.  They are family.  A few of our crew members are pictured here every month now.  The entire crew and their stories can be found on the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page.

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Lucio doing what he likes best – snoozing in comfort.

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Three Sisters member little Nod spying on outside activities. Her Paul Newman blue eye is quite striking. “You won’t believe what I just saw!”, she says.

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Three Sisters member Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual and sometimes gossip, giving little Nod an earful!

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Three Sisters member the lovely long-haired Wynken. The largest of the three girls. A thoughtful expression on her face.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We are back at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market again this month.  If you are in the area, please stop in on Saturdays between 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and support our farmers and artisans who provide our community fresh meats, eggs, cheeses, mushrooms, winter vegetables, baked goods, honey, crafts, etc. every week!  Please visit the market’s WordPress site at:

https://corvalliswintermarket.wordpress.com/

Setting up the home studio again is proceeding slowly among all the other activities going on, and a friend has donated some older equipment for experiments.   I enjoy playing with old technology and making it work.  Often works just as well as-state-of-the-art and is much less expensive.

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

https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2014

Our feature photo this month is the view from the farm facing the hills to the south.  The land everywhere is quite dry and withered at this time of year after a summer of record heat.

News from the farm:

September quietly arrived on dry winds that play in the tired, drooping leaves of water-stressed trees, coaxing music from these stoic giants who cannot flee from drought.  Nimble fingers of breezes, spawned from the warming land after a cool, clear night, play the wind chimes on the porch as if it were a harp.  The Wind tells a story of where it has been, and where it’s going, and will sometimes sit and talk for a while, as an old friend back east likes to say.  Nature provides a concert like no other for those who will listen!  As summer comes to a close here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, I can feel the nip of the approaching autumn creeping in the windows at night, tapping me on the back as I write.  I know old Jack Frost and his icy paintbrush can’t be far away now.  Clear dawns often give birth to silver mists in the low areas such as ours, metamorphosing into low clouds as the sun rises, and clearing by noon.  Wandering cumulus clouds snuffle about the crystal blue dome of sky these days, and the growing moon may play hide and seek among them in the night.  Summer’s heat is not quite done with us yet though, and temperatures in the 90s are predicted for this weekend.  It is quite dry, ignition dry, out there, and fire danger is still high.  The clay soil has baked as hard as a brick, and I am waiting for the rains to come again to move plants, and plant trees and bulbs.   The table grapes and pinot noir are ripening quickly in this heat.  So far the harvest looks like it will be a good one.

Table grapes safely ripening behind bird netting.  Safe from birds, but not yellow jackets or the clever paws of raccoons!

Table grapes safely ripening behind bird netting. Safe from birds, but not yellow jackets or the clever paws of raccoons!

Pinot noir grapes ripening behind the deer fencing.  Safe from deer, but not from birds or creatures that can get through the mesh of the fence.

Pinot noir grapes ripening behind the deer fencing. Safe from deer, but not from birds or creatures that can get through the mesh of the fence.

 

Wildlife of various kinds are looking for food, and water.  Stinklesby, our resident skunk (see our August newsletter), has been about causing mischief. Although I have not seen the little fellow in a while, I have smelled his presence, often under our window at night.  The acrid perfume emanating from these cute little creatures can rouse one from a sound sleep, and wake every feline in the house as well.  He managed to fire one off under old Seabisquit the Subaru recently, making a stinky ride downtown for me one morning.  On the way to town I recall an old saying I often heard growing up, something to the effect of children are best seen and not heard, and I laugh and note to myself that skunks are best seen and not smelled.  Stinklesby’s friend and cohort, Jane Doe (a female deer) , has been grazing closer and closer to the house under cover of darkness, nipping buds from the roses along with the clover and grass in areas where I have watered various gardens. I know she is waiting out there with knife and fork for the evening one of us forgets to shut the gate on the main garden and pinot noir vineyard.  The growing moon reveals Jane and other critters coming and going at night, if one happens to be up, and looks out the window in the wee hours.

 

Abby cat having a good sunbath in the kitchen window.

Abby cat having a good sunbath in the kitchen window.

Little Hope cat lounging by the refrigerator, source of all good things to eat.

Little Hope cat lounging by the refrigerator, source of all good things to eat.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

I am off doing work around the homestead until mid-winter, when Seabisquit the Subaru and I will be performing again.  The old car’s odometer has now passed 420,000 miles, and needs some work too!  Thanks to all who came to see me at the various farmers’ markets and venues over the spring and summer.  It is good to see old friends, and make new ones, one of the things I love best about playing music out and about.

In the meantime, our readers and followers in the U.K. should catch Dana and Susan Robinson while they are touring the U.K. this September through October 5th.  These two are really great musicians, as well as really good, good people.  New songs of rural America and old time mountain music!

http://www.robinsongs.com

If you are in the vicinity of Mohegan Lake, New York, another great musician and songwriter to catch is Donna Martin.  She will be at the Winery at St. George on September 24th.

http://www.donnamartin.com

And finally, one of my all time favorite musicians and songwriters, Bernice Lewis.  Her About page says it best.  Based out of Massachusetts, she does travel quite a bit.  Check her schedule for a venue near you!  My favorite quote from her website: “She has a forty-year old daily yoga practice, loves good coffee, and her religion is the Grand Canyon.”

http://www.bernicelewis.com

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And me? I’ve continued to expand and rearrange the sub-pages under music.  The full listing of songs on the CD, the stories behind why some were written, or chosen to cover, are now there.  Help yourself, and be sure to check out the sub pages for more information!

https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com/music/

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

Memorial garden for for a youngster who committed suicide after being bullied.  A reminder, each time I pass this barrel of reblooming daylilies, of the importance of being kind to others.  May her spirit find peace at last.

Memorial garden for for a youngster who committed suicide after being bullied. A reminder, each time I pass this barrel of reblooming daylilies, of the importance of being kind to others. May her spirit find peace at last.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2014

Our feature photo this month is of our resident skunk.  As the summer heat has transformed the surrounding hills to golden brown and dried up watering holes and forage, the local wildlife, including a grey fox, has come in closer in search of food and water, sometimes watching us spot-water the main garden from the other side of the deer fence.   I noted one evening, after watering the plants on the porch, that this skunk was licking water from the leaves of flowers.  I put out a dish of water, well away from the porch, hoping it keeps this thirsty little one away from the house where he/she may be surprised by accident.   I took this photo, hiding in the first row of blueberries, as our striped visitor took a leisurely stroll down the row of table grapes.

News from the farm:

The days are growing perceptibly shorter now on our little farm in the Cascade foothills as we head towards autumn, which is really not that far off now.  It is the season of dry heat and parched land, where they clay soil bakes as hard as a brick in the August sun.  Even the  gophers prefer to dig their tunnels where watering has occurred, leading to some unfortunate uprooting of plants in the vicinity.  Seed crops are being harvested around the Willamette Valley, and the soil is being turned under and pulverized to fine dirt by impressively large machines that look like giant caterpillars crawling across the larger farms.  It is the season of dust devils, and tan to orange skies.  Smoke from distant forest fires, as well as dust and fine soil sent skyward from the agricultural sector, creates an alien world effect, and the sun bathes the farm in an strange orange glow at midday, and the growing moon in the evening.  Time, wind, and the rains, which will come later on, will clean the air.  It is a yearly cycle, and I have seen 10 of them now on this farm.  Like our vines, I have rooted here, and feel a deep connection with this place,  its seasons, and moods.

Afternoon alien orange glow, the result of smoke and dust on this particular day.

Afternoon alien orange glow, the result of smoke and dust on this particular day.

Unlike the grass, I cannot pass the time by going dormant in the heat.  We harvested 62 quarts of blueberries from our patch before birds and heat took over, with plums, grapes and apples yet to come in.    Rick noted that veraison, the first signs of ripening, have already occurred in some of the Cascade table grapes, but he has not seen it in our pinot noir wine grapes, not just yet.   Grape harvest will be most likely be earlier than usual this year, although one never knows what Mother Nature may throw one’s way!

YOUR grapes????  I thought these were MY grapes!!!!

YOUR grapes???? I thought these were MY grapes!!!!

Pollinators of all sorts have been active on the flowers and herbs we have planted all around.  Spearmint seems to be the most attractive, by far, to a wide variety of bees, moths, butterflies and flies.  On a hot day, brushing against these plants releases a cloud of minty perfume, as well as a cloud of assorted insects.

Spearmint in bloom.  Note the honeybee in the bottom right, and a larger moth-like insect on the center bloom.

Spearmint in bloom. Note the honeybee in the bottom right, and a larger moth-like insect on the center bloom.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

I am all done for the season, and will be taking a break from performing for the harvest season, as well as work on the new CD which has been in progress for some time, with no time to work on it.  Old Seabisquit the Subaru also needs some attention from me in the way of new plugs and wires, air and gas filters.  We’ll be back in the saddle later on this winter.  Check back now and then to see where we will be!

Just a reminder, the local Farmers’ Markets are still in full swing, and most feature a variety of music and dance along with  fresh produce, meats, cheeses and home-made goods.  Support your local growers and artisans.  Many wineries also feature music during the summer season.  Check your area listing for details!

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

Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual.  Wonders what I'm up to with that camera!

Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual. Wonders what I’m up to with that camera!

Marcus and Lucio, looking quite comfy.

Marcus and Lucio, looking quite comfy.

 

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2014

I’ve added a new page for Farm to Table Events to the blog for those who are interested in what is happening in our area, or perhaps are for looking for ideas for how to promote their own farm.

News from the farm:

The full heat of high summer has arrived on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The surrounding hills are taking on the golden brown color of toast, and the earth is beginning to cry for water as the hard clay soil shrinks and cracks.  June’s luscious cherries have just about played out, and our blueberries are now ripening at a mad dash.  We are managing to stay one step ahead of the birds this year, so there are plenty of these sweet blue gems to sell and barter, as well as for home consumption.  Blueberries are available just about everywhere here now, and you may catch a glimpse of the famous Ima Blueberry at your local Market or agricultural festival.  Intrepid women (I have not come across any Blueberry Bobs yet) brave the summer’s high temperatures and don hot, huge and rotund blueberry costumes, promoting Oregon blueberries across the state.  Visit the Oregon Blueberry Commission web site for all things blueberry, and where Ima will appear next!  There are a lot of good photos of Ima out there!

http://www.oregonblueberry.com/ima.html

View down the rows of blueberry bushes.  The hills are beginning to turn golden brown now that were are out of the rainy season.

View down the rows of blueberry bushes. The hills are beginning to turn golden brown now that were are out of the rainy season.

The long, hot but generally dry days are balanced by short, but deliciously cool nights at this time of year.  The temperature can swing from a low of 40 or 50 at daybreak, to a high in the 90s or low 100s during the day.  Gardens take off in the heat.  Tomato, eggplant and pepper starts that were idling in June suddenly put on height and girth, squash and other assorted curcubits throw out long vines that grow so fast they look as if they could snag the ankle of a farmer tarrying too long in one place.  Everything grows and ripens in its season, and the living is good, if not a bit overly busy!  Rick has been occupied keeping shoot growth in check in the vineyard, as the little bunches of green unripe grape berries put on weight.  Mother Nature has fired the starting gun, and it is a race now with time, weather, wildlife and human energy until the last crop comes in this fall.

View down the table grapes.

View down the table grapes.

The Pinot Vineyard.  Young vines have been planted in some spots to replace winter kill and gopher damaged vines.

The Pinot Vineyard. Young vines have been planted in some spots to replace winter kill and gopher damaged vines.

New!  Please visit the new page for Farm to Table Events on this blog site.  Producers and growers team up with chefs, restaurants and wineries to educate the public as to how and where their food is raised, as well as promote locally grown and locally prepared food.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):

I will be performing again at Cornerstone Coffee in McMinnville, Oregon on Friday July 25th.  Cornerstone does much to support local music, and I encourage visitors to stop in and enjoy the food and drink, even when there isn’t music playing.  Help support venues who give their support to the Performing Arts!

The weekend of July 25th is also International Pinot Noir Celebration weekend in McMinnville.  This 3 day event attracts people from around the globe who come to enjoy Pinot noir and northwest cuisine.  There will be good food, wine and music all around McMinnville that weekend!

http://www.ipnc.org/

For the Science and Sci Fi buff readers of this blog, I must mention McMinnville is also home to an annual UFO festival in May.  In May of 1950, a UFO was photographed there over the Trent Farm.  The story appeared in the June 26, 1950 issue of Life magazine.  Read the article below, look at the photos, and judge for yourself!  ‘Nuff said!

http://www.ufoevidence.org/photographs/section/topphotos/photo301.htm

Just a reminder, the local Farmers’ Markets are in full swing now, and most feature a variety of music and dance along with  fresh produce, meats, cheeses and home-made goods.  Support your local growers and artisans.  Many wineries also feature music during the summer season.  Check your area listing for details!

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

Marcus (left) and Nano the Great White Hunter enjoying a leisurely morning of lounging and viewing the table grapes.

Marcus (left) and Nano the Great White Hunter enjoying a leisurely morning of lounging and viewing the table grapes.

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