Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2017

Readers may click on any photo in this post to enlarge.  Our feature photo for July is of some resident paper wasps found nesting in one of the blueberry bushes this month. We are not sure if they are native paper wasps, or European paper wasps in the genus Polistes. The legs tend to dangle below them in flight.  Both types prey on insects.

Paper nest building wasps have built a home in a blueberry bush.

I almost put my hand in their nest by accident while berry picking.  Fortunately for me, these paper nest building wasps were relatively non-aggressive, only flying out to investigate who was disturbing them, returning to nest sitting once they were satisfied I was no serious threat.  Satisfied in turn that they were no serious threat to me, I have been picking that bush right up to the immediate vicinity of their nest since then, and have enjoyed observing them.  The paper nest, being situated where it is at the top of the blueberry bush, has no real protection from relentless sun, or the autumn rains when they come.   In this case, they have selected a doomed building site.  I will not disturb these industrious wasps that feed on other insects, and continue to work around them this season.  Unfortunately, their ground nesting relatives the yellow jackets in the genus Vespula or Dolichovespula, tend to be highly aggressive, swarming and stinging without what we humans feel is sufficient provocation; we usually have to eradicate at least one nest, generally found by accident during the season, only because they present a real physical danger.

News from the farm

Among the many visitors to the farm this month were the gray foxes.  Rick came out with binoculars early one evening, indicating he had seen four of them cavorting on a pile of grass clippings out back.  There were only two by the time I had a look, and I was fortunate enough to get a couple of quick photos before they disappeared. According to ODFW, there are three species of foxes in Oregon: the Common Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus, the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, and the Kit Fox, Vulpes velox.  Our visitors, as best as I can tell, were gray foxes.

A curious fellow wanting to know why I was interested in him. 3x telephoto is the maximum this old Sony camera can do.

He proceeded towards the woods, but stopped to have a look.

Same fox, doubled back for another look. Click on any photo in this blog to enlarge.

Having been spared continual excessive heat earlier this season, we have now entered the time of heat and seasonal drought here in western Oregon. As the chapter for this July comes to a close with temperatures in the mid 90s, August will make her debut with 100+ degree temperatures for several days.  The hillsides have appropriately transitioned from emerald green to a more seasonal dress of toasted gold as grass withers and goes dormant.  Deer will grow bolder, coming closer to the house, looking for any green shoots they can nip.  Every creature will be looking for shelter from the relentless heat, adequate food, and whatever source of water or moisture they can find.  I find myself becoming more of a crepuscular creature at this time of year, preferring to be active in early morning and late evening.  Tree, shrub, vine and plant life in general are not so fortunate.  Stoic beings rooted in place, they bear the sun’s searing heat in silence, waiting for rain, or a kindly drink from a watering can or soaker hose.

A golden gladiola in Elbert’s Garden at the end of the day. The garden bed this gladiola graces along the side of the greenhouse was planted for Elbert. It has grown to include others now as well. It is the gift of the living to those left behind, sometimes the only meaningful kind thing I can do. See https://phainopepla95.com/2016/04/19/post-1013-passing-of-a-friend/

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

There was some confusion among the correspondents this month as to whose report for July was being filed for publication, and was complicated by the photographer forgetting to pack a camera along on a recent trip to the northern California coast.  Mr. Nano has decided to file a quick report on an unusual skull found in a garden bed next to the garage.

Correspondent Nano

A small white object lying in the mulch amid withered daffodil leaves drew attention to itself.  It could not have been there long, yet did not seem to be too recent.  Mostly clean and still bone white, no other bones were found along beside it to aid in identification.  The cavity where the brain once resided and directed the body’s activities seemed relatively large, the upper jaw long and narrow with many sharp teeth.  Any information leading to the identification of the specimen would be greatly appreciated.

Alas poor Yorick, although I did not know him at all. Young possum, perhaps?

Yorick skull bottom view, showing teeth.

Top view of skull.

We wish our readers a pleasant day and evening ahead, wherever you may be.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

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 in summer.  The days disappear all too quickly, and Rick and I managed to get in a three day vacation to go down to Arcata, California to see Jennings & Keller in concert, with the help of Lyn, who took care of the cats and the farm while we were away.  I have no new videos for July as promised due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time.

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the  previous two videos.

The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on YouTube. Anyone wishing to see the entire track listing and stories behind the songs should visit my personal page under MUSIC in the menu at the top of this post. Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked. Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site. See https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross

In the meantime, in your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

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

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

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2017

Our  feature photo for March is of the only surviving Apple Blossom tulips planted many years ago.  Out of 100 bulbs planted, marauding gophers missed a few of them, for which we are grateful.  These are the only ones left.  Raindrops from an early morning shower still cling to recently emerged soft pink blooms, leaf and stem in this patch of semi-wild garden.  A daffodil in the background off to the right nods a pleasant good morning under grey skies.

Apple Blossom tulips. Click on any photo on this blog site to enlarge.

This morning’s rugged skies.

News from the farm

Spring has arrived on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, although she took the longer, less traveled road this year.  It seems that Old Man Winter was not quite ready to relinquish his hold in this realm; he has been taking his time moving along, even as the sun moves further north and the days rapidly grow longer.  Breezes moving about the farm still nip and claw; they have yet to realize he is leaving them behind.  Spring’s carriage found itself buffeted by cold rain and bogged down in muddy ruts; her heralds, on many days, awoke bewildered, covered in frost.  Yet as rumpled and disheveled as I have ever seen her, she has finally settled in; the land and all its creatures have been quick to respond to her gentle smile and warm caress.  Buds are swelling, and there are signs of her everywhere, from the colorful trumpets of daffodils and delicate goblets of crocuses with their bright orange stamens to the tiny red flowers of hazelnuts.  Windows open for a few hours on warmer days in March, allowing an exchange of clean, outside air.  At night, a chorus of frogs indicates all is well, at least in this corner of the world.

Bright faces of daffodils grace the farm.

Crocus, always a welcome sign of warmer days to come.

Tiny red female flowers of hazelnuts often start blooming in February. They were a bit delayed this year.

More hazelnut flowers, Lilliputian beauties.

The atmospheric rivers of moisture that flow through this region at this time of year are still swollen with heavy clouds.  The sun frantically bobs into view now and then amid stiff winds and a fractured sky, when many levels of cloud can be seen. Sometimes one can peer all the way up into the quiescent blue above the ripples and eddies, and wonder at the turbulence below.  The range of color from stark white through charcoal grey, along with the layered, textural appearance of these wandering, coalescing masses of water vapor and dust intrigue me.  These shape-shifters of the heavens often move along at a fast clip, frequently changing the lighting and the view outside my window. Each scene a snapshot in time to be cherished and remembered, solely for it is, and that I was present to witness it unfolding.

Although this photo is from January, I found it a most interesting view of our sky.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident correspondents Mr. Marcus, Mr. Lucio and Mr. Nano are off on assignment, and will file a report for April’s newsletter.  They are still debating as to which one of them will actually write it.

Resident correspondents Mr. Marcus (left), Mr. Lucio (center) and Mr. Nano (right). Mr. Nano has a nose for news, and has spotted something going on out there.

Correspondents Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio joining in on the investigation.

Correspondent Lucio is sure he will get Mr. Marcus or Mr. Nano to actually write the report, from his viewpoint, of course.

Miss. Willow, calico matriarch, is tired of winter and longs for sunnier days.

Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent Otis and the lovely Izzy will present news from the far eastern farmlands of Connecticut this month.  Without further ado, Miss Willow, our calico matriarch, would like to turn this section of the newsletter over to Mr Otis.

NORTHEAST OTIS REPORT
EARLY SPRING!!

It was March 14th when I started writing this report, and blizzard Eugene was raging outside the log cabin. Snow, sleet, rain, and wild winds was the mixed bag of weather Eugene was throwing at us.  Birds were braving the 23 mph winds to frantically consume as much birdseed as possible to keep their energy levels up.  The feeders had to be filled twice during the storm!  They certainly did not need to worry about me venturing out to intimidate them!  It is difficult for the birds to manage in these weather extremes, so I was happy to just watch them from the dining room window.

Photo credit C. M.

The month of March is such a tease!  March likes to toy with us, like a cat with a mouse (hate using this comparison!).  One breathes a sigh of relief at the end of February thinking at last spring is around the corner with the worse behind us and longer, warmer days ahead.  But, NO, that is rarely the case!!    It was just 60 degrees and sunny a week ago and then brutal cold and winds descended upon us for 3 days!  Some of the deciduous trees actually had the beginnings of buds on them and the ponies began shedding their winter coats over the last 2 weeks.  My mistress found a beautiful robin the other day…frozen.  It must have been blown into the side of the barn and stunned, never to awaken before the cold grasped it with its deadly hold.  She brought it up to UConn’s ornithology lab, so that its body might be used for science.

Since winter is not yet ready to relinquish its hold on Connecticut I find myself napping in warm places and will continue to do so until Spring finally usurps and wrestles control from Winter.  I have spent most of these winter days in my newly claimed cat bed.  The bed is really a dog bed.  It originally belonged to Rosie, but being in charge of household matters, I took it over.  It is comfortable and fits me perfectly and Rosie does not challenge me for it back.  Plus, my mistress has placed it next to the radiator so it gets very warm, which is something my old bones love.

Correspondent Otis has taken over Rosie’s bed, and has no intention of giving it up. Photo credit C. M.

We are all going stir crazy. Izzy has taken to exploring various spots in the cabin.  One of her favorite spots is sitting over the door to Master Rob’s bedroom.  She also has taken to jumping into waste paper baskets and peering out at us all.  It is kind of creepy…almost like she is planning some future attack.

The lovely Izzy engaged in espionage. Photo credit C. M.

Like me, Izzy has also found a new bed.  She has taken to napping in Sadie’s bed at the top of the stairs and refuses to give it up even when Sadie tries to push it over on her. The dogs, too, are finding this transition month challenging.  Their greatest excitement is in chasing the crows and squirrels from the feeders and barking incessantly at the turkeys that have started displaying their mating activities in the backyard.

The ponies spend their days rolling in the snow and sunbathing.  They, too, are bored and get excited when the 4-H kids come to groom them or dinnertime arrives.  Certainly the term ‘hay burners’ is an appropriate description for them in this weather since the heat generated in their hindgut during digestion is what keeps them warm in the colder temperatures.  They actually enjoy being out in cold and even though they had shelter from the blizzard, they still enjoyed playing out in the wild weather.

Snow collecting on equine residents. Photo credit C. M.

Waiting out the late winter weather. Photo credit C M.

Let’s hope that the next time I write it will be SUNNY and WARM in this part of the world!  Let’s hope I will be able to send you some pictures of Spring in full swing!  In the meantime, back to my napping and other relaxing activities!

Correspondent Otis, off-duty and warming up. Photo credit C. M.

– Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel finally has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video is posted!  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!

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

For Baz, Janet and TomO. Daffodils in Archie, Marion and Merle’s memorial garden.

Herman and Mr. Bowie’s cherry tree garden in memory of Herman’s mother, brother, sister, and cats Glippie and Mrs. Jones. Readers will see various memorial gardens throughout the year.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2017

Our feature photo is of a particularly beautiful sunset on January 3rd, and our resident black locust tree once again made a fine winter display.  The sky was on fire, and in the closer view below, appeared to be emanating from a neighbor’s conifer.  Click on any photo in these posts to enlarge.

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I almost rejected this photo for being too dark, but decided I liked the visual effect of the dark tree against the last rays of the sun on the cloud cover. Nature provides the most beautiful light shows on Earth.

News from the farm

January arrived on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, shivering under a thin covering of snow.  I have hope that this young and impressionable New Year will bring peace and reconciliation as it develops and matures.  The first chapter is already coming to a close, yet there is still hope. The rest of the story is yet to be written, the final chapter dependent on the actions of us all.  It rests in our collective hands and hearts.

Wet and rather sticky at 32 degrees, new-fallen snow created rhythmic sounds of compression underfoot as I moved about.  Birds actively scratched about for seed in the early morning light, coming and going with purpose.  The morning cloud cover was not uniform, sporting some thin areas with blue behind them.  More dark grey wanderers from the south and west soon joined the parade, filling in the voids.  Somewhere above, the sun was shining, although we never saw it that day.  Daffodils, which had grown and formed buds back in December and threatened to bloom at Christmas, had chosen to remain in stasis, defiantly waiting out Old Man Winter.

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Daybreak on January 1st. The farm in snow.

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Blueberry bush still sporting some ice under the snow on January 1st.

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Daffodils in snow on January 1st.

Between December and January, we experienced a prolonged cold, allowing snow and ice to linger for a while.  Another storm on the 7th transformed the farm into a monochrome snow globe as large, heavy flakes descended from a low, uniformly silver-grey sky.  For a short time, we lived inside yet another frozen kingdom, designed and built by the reigning monarch of the season, but not meant to endure.  The enchantment only exists now in mind’s eye and stored aural history, and to a lesser extent, in digital format.

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A monochrome snow globe. Early morning light.

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Our patient resident black locust tree posing for the photographer.

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East view of the January 7th snow globe.

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Taken through the window. The quail were quite wary of me holding anything in my hands, even though I was inside. Left to right: Towhee, California Quail and what I believe is a Junco on the right. Snowstorm on January 7th.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our brother and sister resident feline correspondents Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope agreed to file a report, with the help of the farm’s photographer and chief gopher hole inspector.  This sharp-eyed pair will be 10 years old this summer, and have come to know well the farm’s seasonal rhythms through their constant peering out of windows, accompanied by copious note-taking, over the years.  Without further ado, we present Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope, Resident Feline Correspondents of Salmon Brook Farms.

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Resident Feline Correspondents Mr. Marcus (left) and Miss Hope (right), lounging in their basket this morning.

January is normally a season of rest here on Salmon Brook Farms, a time to watch birds, sleep, read and reflect on the past year as well as the new one underway. Seed catalogs are of particular interest, and are carefully scanned for favorite old varieties as well as new ones to be tested this year in the garden.  The order was placed and arrived promptly.  With the exception of the wrong variety of corn being sent, all was in order, and the company will now send the correct corn variety known as “Top Hat”.

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Moss and lichens weathering out the winter out back near the apple tunnel.

Life quietly waited in every corner of the farm as the days grew perceptibly longer.  Lichen, moss, dandelion, daffodil, wild garlic chives, small shoots and creatures large and small grew bolder as the days passed and snow and ice retreated. 

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Winter dandelion keeping a low profile. They will bloom here and there in protected places about the farm all winter.

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Moss growing on the north side of an apple tree.

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The first daffodil bud opened January 29th.

Our photographer’s excursion to the back lot revealed evidence of creatures that regularly pass through or live somewhere in the wild areas of the farm: gophers, deer, feral cats and nutria.  Gophers have been particularly active now that the ground has thawed, and one animal has chosen to leave his own mark on top of the gopher hole.  We suspect that the resident of the gopher hole met with foul play.  Deer are always lurking about, leaving plenty of droppings of their own, a telltale sign they have been feeding out back.  Surprisingly, it appears at least one nutria has amazingly survived the prolonged cold, as evidenced by the presence of their characteristic scat.

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A typical gopher mound. Activity has increased with the lengthening days and softer ground.

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Another creature, perhaps a feral cat, has left their calling card on a gopher mound. The resident gopher was possibly the victim of foul play. Or perhaps the presence of soft, crumbled dirt was attractive to whomever left their scat.

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Evidence of surviving nutria.

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The deer have also been grazing out back, leaving evidence of their presence.

Many sunrises have come and gone here on the farm during our time.  We find each one unique, each noteworthy in it own way.

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Sunrise January 27th.

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Sunrise January 27, view a bit further south. The jagged line of conifers make an interesting silhouette against the dawn sky.

As the day closes, we wish our readers a pleasant evening, warm blankets, good food and company.

– Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope, Resident Feline Correspondents reporting from Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you Mr. Marcus and Miss Hope!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page

Lavinia-1R-12212014

The new year is already flying by!  I am still working on projects which are long overdue.  Until I can post some of that work, 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

locustsunrise-01272017

I would like to mention fellow musician, author and editor Lorraine Anderson, who posts twice a year at the solstices. Please visit Lorraine at https://earth-and-eros.blogspot.com/

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for June 2016

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

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Daylily peering out from behind a post.

News from the farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From our main block of pinot noir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

News from The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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

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Lots of clover, very few bees this year.

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

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

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Blynken, keeping a sharp lookout from above.

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Blynken, at another post, watching for hummingbirds.

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

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

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

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

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

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

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

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

http://www.jenningsandkeller.com/

****

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

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

****

Mr.Pluff

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, in your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.

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

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

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

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

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

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2016

Our feature photo this month is a view of one of our crab apple trees exhibiting a profusion of white blooms against a marbled spring sky.  Planted as small rooted sticks obtained from the Arbor Day Foundation back in 2004, this tree and its companion have grown tall over the years.  Different varieties with different growth habits, one is pink and one is white, and bloom at different times.

News from the Farm

We continue to see signs of the nutria youngsters (see our January 2016 post) out back, but not near the house now.  They appear to have moved on as more spring forage has become available and the temperature has risen, but we continue to keep the shed barricaded just in case one of them misses the good old days of occupying the outbuilding.  Although I do miss observing the little fellows and was thankful for that time, I am quite pleased to have the shed back again, and to not be continually stepping in nutria scat.

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Nutria youngsters. Feature photo from our January 2016 post.

Various creatures have passed through this farm, or have stayed a while before moving on.  Some, like gophers, never leave.  There will always be gophers.  Many a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has been filched by gophers, happily counting the coins down in their burrows along with my potatoes.

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Rainbow over the farm from earlier this year. Beautiful intense colors. I’ve never found a pot of gold, not once. I can hear the gophers laughing down in their burrows.

The days are steadily growing longer on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Spring arrived a bit early this year, sending forth shoot and bloom during the time Old Man Winter was still lurking in the shadows with his companion Jack Frost.  Old Jack waits for a clear night sky to paint the canvas of green landscape in silver. Ice crystals brushed across the land under the cover of darkness and low temperatures will deliquesce in the morning’s golden warmth.  I stand in awe of the brief moment of jeweled fire ignited by the sun.  Jack’s work is both beautiful and deadly.  The destruction of tender new life makes itself quite apparent by noon.  We will be set back somewhat, but barring another such visit, the plants will recover.

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My test pinot vineyard. Most everything behind the deer fence was frost damaged to a degree, including all the pinot noir. For Annie at Animal Couriers – the marine-grade polypropylene rope in place of trellis wire. Test in progress!

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Another view of the pinot vines and test trellis rope. Note leaf curl from frost.

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Jack Frost nipped the potatoes as well.

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The onions did not seem to mind!

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The table grapes near the first line of orchard, outside the fence, had some protection from the trees and did not exhibit damage.

With the help of our friend Lyn, a total of 51 x 60 lbs bags of cement was mixed and poured by hand for the new greenhouse which will house grape cuttings and larger starts.

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Cement work done and frame is up! Tied down to cinder blocks to keep the wind from taking it away for now.

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Another view of the cement work and footings.

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Temporary greenhouse on the porch for tomato and tender plant starts. I cover it with a second tarp at night for now.

Everywhere around the farm there are signs of spring.   A natural tunnel formed by an apple tree, fallen over but still living, provides a path from one area of the farm to another.  One of two old giant feral apples between the front and back lots.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

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Apple tunnel, looking east into the back lot.

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Same apple tunnel looking west out towards the vineyard. Best blossoms were on this side.

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Old apple trees leaning towards each other like old friends conversing over the fence. Planted by the original owner, long passed away now. What stories they could tell!

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The other fallen apple giant. Still living and producing fruit, as well as shelter for birds and wildlife.

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Redbud tree, another small tree purchased from the Arbor Day Foundation in 2004. It has grown tall!

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These irises fill the air with sweet musky perfume. See our previous post for more on this garden, and others.

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Dutch iris and purple columbines. The columbine seeds came in one year with a load of rabbit manure.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is little Miss Nod, also known as Sister Bertrille, or The Flying Nod, as she likes to take a flying leap and land on my shoulder, which she says is a much better vantage point for viewing.  Needless to say, I wear heavy vest when she wants to go for a ride.  Miss Nod is the smallest of our Three Sisters cats, and one of the Girls of Salmon Brook Farms.

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Miss Nod, preparing her report.

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Miss Nod, wondering if she can jump over the camera and land on my shoulder.

Her sisters Miss Wynken and Miss Blynken declined to be photographed this month, but indicated they will be taking turns sending in the feline news report later this year.  Photos of the trio can be seen on the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page, and throughout the archives starting with our February 2014 post, although Nod has requested an early family portrait including her mother Silvie and brother Tio Pepe for this post.  I have also included a few others, with Miss Nod’s approval.

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Last full family portrait in 2014 with Mrs. Silvie and all four of her children. There are several suspects in the neighborhood for Mr. Silvie… Mrs. Silvie and her kittens arrived on our farm in 2013. We suspect there is a hidden sign out there directing homeless felines, as well as nutria, to our doors.

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Miss Blynken would like brother Mr. Tio Pepe to hold still for the photo.

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Mrs. Silvie and her son Mr. Tio Pepe have gone to live with a friend.

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The early days. These youngsters will be three years old in August.

Miss Nod would like our readers to know that Mr. Lucio was unsuccessful at booking a flight to Tahiti, and has come through his dentistry with flying colors, although he is now missing one premolar.  Mr. Lucio declined to comment for this post, and grudgingly provided a couple of photos for today.

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Mr. Lucio, still a bit sleepy this morning…

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Mr. Lucio, starting his day with a good cleaning. He has some pretty furry feet, which he is displaying in this photo.

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 while I continue to work through some health issues and rest up.   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.

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.  I will leave you with an old Irish blessing.  I do not know the origin of these words, but they are beautiful.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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One of the many rainbows over Salmon Brook Farms.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for February 2016

We will shift our attention this month from the furry (and toothy) denizens of the farm, to the rapid growth and flowering of plant life in late winter here in the Cascade foothills.   Our feature photo for the end of February is of our south-facing front garden where the daffodils are currently in full swing.  A slightly nippy but playful breeze was tossing these golden trumpets about while the sun darted in and out of the passing herd of galloping pendulous dark grey to stark white  clouds.  A perfect late winter day to see what is happening overhead and underfoot, the two theaters from which all life and the coming seasons spring.

News from the farm

February has mostly been a slow and easier month for us here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  We took a short vacation back east to visit friends and family, many of whom we had not seen since pulling up roots and moving west.  The eastern woodlands and stone wall encompassed countryside has its own unique beauty which will forever reside in our hearts, but coming home to Oregon’s emerald green, late winter grass underfoot and snow-capped mountains far above, I was reminded of why we planted ourselves here.  It is always good to review where one is from, as well as assess where one is going.  As much as we love old New England, we call Oregon home, and have set deep roots.

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Daylilies are coming up around the apple trees, and help prevent weed-whacking and mower damage, as well as provide beauty and havens for beneficial insects.

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One of the front garden beds in late winter. Facing south, it gets plenty of warm sun to encourage early growth.

Rick is still diligently working away at pruning the vineyards, and I have trellis wire repairs to make in my own test block of pinot noir.  The pocket gophers are happily tunneling away again, and I take the freshly pulverized soil from the top of their mounds to fill plant pots to start new cuttings.  As much as possible, we work with or around the various wild creatures that inhabit this farm with us, using exclusion methods where possible if a conflict is noted.

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Rick working the table grapes in late winter.

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Rick hard at work, catching up on pruning. Note the apple tree in the background that is leaning on the trellis support. High winds and rain-soaked ground caused the tree to give way earlier. It has been cut back once in an attempt to save it, but it continues to lean.

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Pocket gophers hard at work among the vines. Their diggings will be collected for potting soil for cuttings. The heavy clay soil retains moisture, and is good for starting new vines and assorted cuttings.

Our visiting nutria youngsters were encouraged to vacate the tool shed, and I have barricaded it against future re-colonization efforts.  The shed looks as if the youngsters hosted a fraternity party in there during their brief stay, and I have quite the cleanup job ahead this spring.

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Yosemite Sam checking out the shed. Yosemite Sam, Gidney and Cloyd colonized the shed for a brief time, but have since been encouraged to take the party elsewhere.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

We have a guest feline correspondent this month.  The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms contacted Northeast Regional Correspondent Otis for his report on the weather in New England this winter.

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Otis at the dinner party, catching up on all the latest news.

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Otis enjoying his warm, cozy basket by the wood stove.

Otis would like our readers to know that Connecticut is having a milder winter this year, but it is still cold enough that he prefers his padded basket bed by the wood stove, venturing out only to do business as necessary.

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The lovely Izzie! Enjoys her naps on a plush bed.

Otis and his companion the lovely Izzie were in general pleased with our visit, and ordered up some mood snow (as his human office assistant described it) on our last day there, just so we could enjoy viewing their woods quietly settling in under a fresh, white blanket at dusk, and reflect upon earlier times.

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Early evening in late winter in Connecticut. The hushed beauty of falling snow, and the warmth of friends and family.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I am feeling more rested now, and will soon start turning my attention towards my own music again, along with this season’s plant starts for the garden.  I am still on hiatus, so in the meantime, please do check out the following musician:

Donna Martin – for those of you on the east coast, Donna is one of my favorites.  She will be performing on March 20, 2016  from 4-6pm at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery, One Spring Street, Chester CT, http://www.Nilssonstudio.com    Please visit Donna’s site at http://donnamartin.com  Her CD Big Country is available at cdbaby.com, Amazon.com or at http://www.donnamartin.com

For those of you more interested in reading, please consider purchasing a copy of our friend and fellow musician Lorraine Anderson’s latest book, Earth & Eros: A Celebration in Words and Photographs
http://www.amazon.com/Earth-Eros-Celebration-Words-Photographs/dp/1940468280

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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Heralds of spring and new life emerging everywhere, colorful daffodil blooms trumpet the end of winter, swaying gently in the wind to the comings and goings of insect life.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2016

Our feature photo this month is of a local trio of nutria.  I caught some good pictures of the nutria youngsters bathing and wrestling in a drainage ditch we call Lake Roger, after the workman who installed the drain pipes back in 2004.  The ditch is dry in summer, but the nutria are having a good time in it now that it is in full flow with the winter rains.

The sticks in pots are cuttings of some Glenora Black Seedless table grape vines, taken from one of our own vines planted long ago.  All of them were labeled, but it looks as if the nutria have removed a few labels.  They probably took a bite to see if they were edible, and tossed them aside when the discovered they were not.

News from the farm
It has been a relatively quiet and wet winter here, with more than enough rain to pull at least western Oregon out of drought status.  We have so much water now, the gophers, including Jaws, have abandoned their holes on the downward slope of the farm, and fresh diggings are visible up along the north fence.  Old gopher holes can spout water like mini artesian wells.  In fact it has been so wet, nutria have moved in from somewhere.  Our nighttime visitor I stumbled across back in November apparently has friends and relatives, which have provided some interesting observations of these non-native but now naturalized rodents from South America that enjoy almost worldwide distribution.  Australia and Antarctica have managed to escape the invasion, according to the USGS map.

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Nutria grazing out by Lake Roger, the drainage ditch.

A few links to government websites are listed below for the interested reader.
http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?speciesid=1089
http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/special/nutria/namerica.htm

Worldwide distribution:
http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/special/nutria/

The Nutria Chronicles: The well-mustachioed, biggest and boldest of the nutria youngsters, now named “Yosemite Sam”, left the bath to challenge me, but backed down and ran for the shed, soon followed by another one.

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Nutria high-tailing it from the bath….

A relative suggested they look a bit like the moon-men from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, so the names Gidney and Cloyd were given to the other two, and seem to suit them well.  Viewer discretion is advised due to the political content of this children’s cartoon I found on YouTube, but those unfamiliar with the characters will see where the names come from.

One can see where they have dragged an old fallen apple into the shed on some other occasion.  Snacking in a safe place!

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Yosemite Sam strikes a pose for the camera in the storage shed.

On another day, the nutria youngsters managed to pull ALL the plastic label tags out of the grape vine cuttings.  I managed to find all the tags, and get them back into the pots.  I decided to move the pots up onto the porch on top of a barrel, as the nutria appeared to be staging some sort of protest to the presence of potted cuttings in their personal swimming hole, “Lake Roger”.  I saw Yosemite Sam and crew members Gidney and Cloyd later this afternoon, grazing and frolicking by the shed.  They have a strange custom of what looks like “kissing”, at least that what it looks like from the human perspective.  They greet each other by standing on hind legs, and like two people, “kiss” each other on each cheek, and then engage in some sort of muzzle to muzzle activity before resuming feeding.  They also wrestle,  and engage in something that looks like a form of Klignon head-butting.  Sometimes Yosemite Sam just sits and stares at the house from the shed.  We do wonder what on earth is he thinking about.

These youngsters and their insatiable appetites will probably move on (we hope) and return to their riverbank homes once we start moving into the dry season and Lake Roger and the low areas dry up to hard clay.  Prior to last November, we had only seen one large adult nutria in the last 12 years here on the farm.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is Mr. Nano, the Great White Hunter, who says nutria, also known as coypus, are wild creatures that cats with any sense should leave alone.  He much prefers monitoring these fellows through the window, and napping is preferable to that.

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Mr. Nano, the Great White Hunter

Nano also reports that Abby cat, who will be 14 this coming April, had her dentistry this past week and done quite well.  Her blood work is good and she is holding her weight. She still thinks she is the Alpha cat, and quite in control.  Eleanor of Aquitaine might have been a better name for this one.

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Abby (Eleanor of Aquitaine) Abyssinian

Old Willow still misses Rick’s mother, her elderly human companion who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last month, and is adapting to life without her as best she can. She is very quiet these days and prefers to keep to her bed, although she still eats well.  We hope the arrival of spring and more sunny days will instill new energy in this old Calico matriarch.

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Old Willow still misses her elder human companion. She is learning to purr again.

Lucio, Marcus, Hope, Wynken, Blynken and Nod kitties are also doing well, and remind readers of their own page listed in the menu on blog site.  Cats and humans are aging right along with the royal port in the wine cellar, and are collectively pleased when morning comes and all have awakened on the correct side of the ground.  Clouds and rain and welcomed along with sunshine, and somewhere around the world, a rainbow graces the sky.  Often here!  Another day begins.

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Rainbow over the east end of Salmon Brook Farms. It was still raining lightly when I snapped the photo, and I think I also caught a raindrop on the right, forgetting to turn off the flash in my haste to catch the ephemeral beauty gracing the late afternoon sky.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
I am still on hiatus, and will return when I feel sufficiently rested and renewed.   This may take a while….

Old Seabisquit the Subaru, my trusty gigging companion, has passed 430,00 miles!

In the meantime, please – wherever you are – help keep your own local music scene alive by going out to see live performers, of any genre you prefer.

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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Cloud canyons in late December, southwest view over the neighbor’s house. A day of heavy rains, and beautiful fractured cloudscapes towards evening. With the winter rains come the promise of spring, and new life.

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