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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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, 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

SBF-LateDecemberSkies

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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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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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2015

Our feature photo this month is of our only white rose, which was planted in memory of my own mother some years ago.  White flowers were always her favorite, although the white peony planted by side door of the house where my earliest memories go back to was her real treasure.  In the absence of a white peony to be found at the time, a white rose down at the local feed store and garden center caught my attention, and begged to be taken home to fill this role.  This particular rose struggled in several different locations, but has finally decided to thrive in the current placement in the rose bed near the house.  My mother would be pleased.  The rose rewarded us for our patience with many fine blooms this year.

News from the farm

The blazing heat of summer has finally left our little farm in the Cascade foot hills, and we have even had a little rain, as well as a light frost one morning.  Our days have mostly been warm, ranging from the 60s into the low 80s.  Herds of heavy blue-grey to stark white clouds wander through October’s blue skies on their way up and over the Cascade Range, drinking along route from the rivers of rising morning mists.  The silvery-grey mists of dawn transform to pink and gold, and finally to day-white, and float away as the temperature rises and the morning unfolds. The air has a slight nip, which can be felt as these behemoths pass overhead, temporarily blocking the golden warmth of the afternoon.  The moon is in the growing phase again, and I have been noting its familiar crescent form in the western sky in the evenings.  The combined silhouette of the dark zone and the bright crescent give the impression of a large eye, focused on and observing the greater universe.  I look forward to seeing this moon-eye at the beginning and end of every lunar cycle.

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The old female persimmon tree, festooned with many small fruits that are slowly turning orange. The make tree companion is almost bare of leaves at this time, and just visible in the right of the photograph.

Bees and birds got to the entire pinot vineyard before I was able to harvest, so this year’s experiments making wine and vinegar were a total failure.  The drought was hard on all creatures, and with little forage or water to be found, attention turned to any unprotected crops of interest, and sugary grapes were no exception.  Honeybees, and yellow jackets can get through bird netting, although I also found some enterprising youngster raccoons slipping in under netting at night!

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Most of the pinot vines have already dropped their leaves. The table grape leaves are still ranging in color from green though gold.

At this time, dandelions are mainly what the area honeybees bees can be found feeding upon, as well as any fallen apples with exposed flesh.

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Honeybee feeding on a Coast Dandelion, Hypochaeris radicata

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California poppies are still blooming, now that they have recovered from the summer heat.

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The same California poppy, photobombed by a passing honeybee, Apis mellifera.

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Honeybee feeding on a different type of dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, the Common Dandelion. Both kinds provide vital pollen and nectar for bees.

Rick has been busy converting this year’s tomato harvest, fortunately not coveted by birds and bees, into sauce which I am busy canning.  Hot peppers will be dried into long strings, and will heat up many a winter dish.  A mystery squash plant which came up from a volunteer turned out to be quite good, and many of its numerous golden hard-shell torpedo-shaped fruits are stored in racks for the winter.  It takes a meat cleaver and a mallet to cut open the shell of these golden delicacies, but baked at 350 with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil, they are quite good, and make their own baking dish/soup bowl for other ingredients which can be added to the cavity once the seeds are removed.

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The bounty of the garden.

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Rick preparing crushed tomatoes for canning. We will put away close to 70 quarts this season.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is Mr. Marcus, at 8 years old, the youngest of the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms.

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Mr. Marcus, enjoying time in the leather chair.

News of Jaws, the newest rough and tough gopher in town, has reached the boys, and they are not sure what to do about him!  Mr. Nano told Marcus he will keep watch out the back window, while Lucio said napping is a much better idea, and anyway, isn’t it someone else’s job? Marcus is not sure he is up for such a daunting task, catching a gopher who can tunnel down through hard-packed gravel!

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Lucio – getting comfortable is such hard work!

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Lucio – prefers to curl cup in his cushion rather than chase gophers.

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Nano the Great White Hunter – remembers the days when he used to live outside and would catch, and eat, 5 or 6 gophers in a day when he was a wild feral cat. Been injured on the job. Came inside to be my guardian. Thinks we should call Mr. Bowie, The Great Grey Hunter to take care of Jaws. Mr. Bowie can be found at :https://hopedog.wordpress.com/

This is an area of driveway where I previously had to use a pickaxe  to dig a drainage trench, a testament to the power of these rodents.  A good nap in the old leather chair sounds much safer. Old Jaws has been tunneling around the old well house, making quite a mess of things.  Rick thought perhaps Odd Job might have been a better name for this particular rodent.  I have watched various cats hunt these pocket gophers, and have noted the successful captures occurred when the cat patiently watched the hole for hours.  One would eventually see the cat initiate a sudden vertical liftoff several feet off the ground, quickly coming down directly on the gopher which had just emerged from the hole.  The feline hunter must be careful not to miss the quarry upon landing.  A failed attempt can result in bodily injury when the gopher strikes back with sharp teeth that can easily cut through roots.  Gophers are a Force of Nature.

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It Came from The Gopher Hole – hideout of Jaws-Odd Job the Gopher. He means business!

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View of gopher hole from further away. Why this fellow tunneled through thick gravel when he wasn’t far from dirt is a mystery. Intimidation, perhaps?

Old Seabisquit the Subaru is waiting for some autumn maintenance from me, and may have something to say next month.  This Wednesday morning, Seabisquit and I take Willow, the Calico matriarch, down to the vet for a dentistry.

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Willow, Calico matriarch. Does not like the idea of an upcoming tooth extraction, although she understands it is necessary. She will have something to say about that!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
I have now finished up playing out for the season so I can rest up, refresh, recharge and get a few things done here on the farm that will take up a considerable amount of my time and energy.  Thank you to all who came to see me perform or took a minute to listen in 2015.  I will be resuming playing out again in January or February of 2016, and look forward to seeing you all again!  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

Sunrise-10112015

A beautiful sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms, a reminder every new day is a gift to cherish. Each day is unique, a new opportunity. Choose wisely.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2015

Our feature photo this month is of one of our red roses entertaining a couple of bee guests. The rose garden is finally recovering somewhat from the heat earlier this summer, and has decided to chance another round of blooms.

News from the farm

It is the season of Dust Devils, those carefree vortices spawned by heat and rising air, and fed by exposed fine, bare soil. The large grass seed farms and wheat producers have harvested their crops, and in many cases tilled and pulverized the soil with impressively large machines. The dusty soil of Oregon farmland spins slowly across the fields, spiraling upward in the heat of August, and the pale blue, milky sky takes on an additional tan hue. Smoke from forest fires, near and far, ride the winds through the valley and mix with the airborne dust. The air has a distinct burnt scent to it from time to time, and sunsets are more colorful and deeper in hue. A few passing storms have only barely wetted the surface, releasing the pungent aroma of baked earth and thirsty vegetation. It is late summer in the Willamette Valley.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_devil

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Last light of sunset on the farm.

I am looking forward to the end of summer and the return of the autumn rains on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. We have experienced all too many days over 90 degrees, on top of insufficient snow pack in the mountains and winter rain to see us through the normal dry season. Several wells in the area have already run dry. At roughly 800 feet, we are fortunate to be in a bowl of sorts, as opposed to up on the hills that encompass our farm, with a deep well and good water. We are still careful, and only spot water and drip irrigate enough to keep water-stressed trees, blueberries and gardens alive and producing. Grass is allowed to go dormant during the summer dry season, as we do not raise livestock requiring pasture here.

Veraison has begun in the table grapes and pinot noir, and Rick has begun netting. As you can see, the grass in the vineyard is dormant, and bleached to a light tan in the heat. Even yellow jackets, those pesky, stinging members of the genus Vespulaseem to be struggling a bit this year, and we have not seen the usual mobs of them on the plums, although I did spy a possum feeding in the plums one night after dark. Two bright silvery little eyes caught in the beams of the flashlight revealed a nighttime visitor to the farm, the one most likely leaving nibble marks on fruit that has dropped. Fallen fruit he will clean up for us, and is welcome to his share. Rick will climb the tree and harvest the rest, hopefully without to much interference from yellow jackets.

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View down the rows of netted table grapes. Veraison has started already!

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View of ripening table grapes.

Old Seabisquit the Subaru is closing in on 428,000 miles now. Still a dependable old workhorse and traveling companion, rarely grumbles about the next outing. Waves a fender and smiles on good days.

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Old Seabisquit the Subaru, closing in on 428,000 miles.

 

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our feline correspondent this month is Mr. Lucio, official spokescat for the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms. They are outnumbered by the six girl cats, and the boys felt they had to spin off their own division of The Cats of Salmon Brook Farms in order to get work done. We are still not sure exactly what work they are doing, but Mr. Lucio would like to acquaint our readers with the boys. The girls will have their turn later.

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Lucio T. Ross, official spokescat for the Boys of Salmon Brook Farm, wondering why I have disturbed his nap time for a photo.

The Boys Of Salmon Brook Farm

Early days of the Boys of Salmon Brook Farms, actively watching for gophers out the east window. The house is our old doublewide, dubbed the “Glorified Mouse Hotel”. Left to right: Lucio, Nano, Marcus

Boys of SBF

Current day Boys of Salmon Brook Farms, older and more settled in the new house. Engaged in the serious business of napping and loafing. Why bother watching for gophers when a good group nap is in progress?

Lucio was out “home shopping” back in 2006, and decided three square meals and a soft bed at our house fit his requirements, even if he did have to live with a couple of Abyssinians who didn’t understand his wild west view of life.  Along came Mr. Marcus and sibling Hope back in 2008, and he happily took on the role of Big Uncle Lucio. I happened to catch Mr. Lucio in mid lick. and little Marcus looks pleased to have an older mentor who will groom him and guide him through life.

Way back when Marcus was a kitten...

Way back when Marcus was a kitten…

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Mr. Marcus, sidekick of Big Uncle Lucio , as an adult, now 8 years old. Wondering why I am disturbing an all-important nap.

Mr. Nano joined the group back in 2010 when he moved inside. We are not exactly sure where that scrawny, starving, snow-white waif came from (that is why he was called Nano), but from the start he was like a third twin to Marcus and Hope, and his good-naturedness allowed him to accommodate Mr. Lucio’s rough play.

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Mr. Nano, hard at work. Note that the antennae are paying close attention to what I am doing behind him.

And finally, Mr. Lucio would like us to pause for a moment of silence to remember the Cats Emeritus: Old Klaatu, Mr. Austin, and Mr. Beaucastel, the black cat on the cover of my CD.  These beloved old souls may have passed on, but will live forever in our hearts and memories. The story of Old Klaatu initiated this blog back in June of 2013 as a tribute to this very special cat and his all too short time with us.

Old Klaatu on his barrel dining station

Old Klaatu on his barrel dining station

Mr. Austin

Mr. Austin

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Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I had an enjoyable evening playing outside at PanezaNellie Breadstick Shoppe up in Sublimity, Oregon this past Friday evening.  If you are in the area, please stop in and help support this venue which is a very, very good supporter of the performing arts.  The food is great and these are some of the nicest people you will ever meet!

I will be taking a break from performing for a few months after my last show of the season, which will be at the Corvallis Saturday Farmers’ Market on September 5th. I will hopefully wrap up, or at least make some progress, on projects that have been moving at a snail’s pace, including the YouTube site. I look forward to resuming performances in January of 2016. Stay tuned!

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

My early days of non-conformity, age 5, captured by my mother. Wearing big brother’s boyscout uniform and knapsack, and quite proud of it! I started a new branch of scouting, calling myself a “Bird Scout”. We did not live near other children during my earliest years, so unfettered by peer-pressure, the limits of my imagination at that age knew no bounds. The stars were mine!

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Lavinia as a “Bird Scout”, age 5, wearing big brother’s boyscout uniform and knapsack. Quite proud to have started a new line of scouting! Snapshot in time captured by my mother. Those were the days….

 

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2015

Our feature photo this month is of a blossoming forest of chives, beloved by human and bee alike.

News from the farm

Our unusually warm March weather turned cool again in April, although no surprise snowstorms troubled us here in our part of the Cascade foothills. Fruit trees and blueberry bushes bloomed and set fruit early, and it looks like we may have another season when blueberries, cherries, plums, pears and apples come in closely on the heels of one another.

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Developing blueberries in progress as well as blossoms.

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Developing cherries.

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Most of the blooms have finished, and tiny developing apples are in progress.

It is 80 degrees and sunny today on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, with a light breeze playing the windchimes. The stark white mares’ tails of cirrus clouds have started forming in a bright blue sky this afternoon, signaling an incoming front and the return of rain on Monday. We had some beautiful wandering cloud woolies a few days ago, contentedly grazing on pastures of moist air on their way up and over the Cascades, while the neighbors’ cows contentedly grazed on fresh spring grass below.

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Cows are laying down and enjoying fresh grass while woolly wanderers head out over the Cascades to the east.

The tables grapes were slightly less reticent during bud break than the pinot noir, but all are sending forth new canes now and we have not lost that many over the winter to cold and tunneling gophers. We keep extra vines on hand, started from our own cuttings, to replace any damaged plants in spring. The little devils have eaten all but two tulips (also known as “gopher candy”) planted about. Those were rescued and placed in a barrel planter. They seem to find daffodils, lilies and irises distasteful, so the garden beds are full of these types of flowers.

PinotVineyard-05052015

Pinot noir – woke up a bit later than the table grapes, but sporting new shoots.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our cat crew of 9 is doing well, and aging well right along with the rest of us here. Although I have quietly asked the Universe please not to send me any more waifs needing my care and attention for at least 10 years, I don’t know what I would do without these furry fellow travelers and mischief makers. Our animals give us more than we can possibly give them back, and I am grateful for the opportunity to leave this corner of the world better than I found it.

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Little Hope cat, sister of Marcus cat. Becoming a real ham as she ages. The “twins” will be 8 this year.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I was pleasantly surprised earlier this year to be asked by artists Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios if I would be willing to tape a segment for McMinnville Community Media television on my music. With the exception of the occasional folk festival, I am normally background music in what is often a noisy setting of something else going on, so this was a real treat for me, and a chance to tell the stories behind some of the songs. On May 2nd, Old Seabisqut the Subaru and I made the trip to McMinnville with my three trusty road guitars. Mike, Liz and the staff at MCM taped the show, and it aired this past Tuesday May 5th. They did a fantastic job of creating this segment, and I am very grateful to them. Mike and Liz do many such art projects, and have a great sense of community spirit. Please visit their website at www.meadowlakestudios.blogspot.com and be sure to visit McMinnville Community Media at http://www.mcm11.org/

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studio and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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May 5th show. Photos taken from the video with the Linux VLC snapshot function. All photo credits Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

Music is an important part of my life here on the farm, and I have set up a YouTube channel for future “Tiny Farm Concerts” that will showcase original and traditional songs and stories. It is a new form of media for me, so please bear with me while I learn it.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAjYb_euiUZ5CFOjzWmiZWQ

Music is both a release and a spiritual lifter, having sustained me during hardship as well as easier times. It provided a focus for recovering from cancer 5 years ago, and sustains my spirit while I continue to care for a soon-to-be 94 year old, here in our home. Love is not always easy, and caring for one’s elders is a full time job. The years march on with a slow, steady tread, and the effects upon body and mind are not always kind. She has organic brain syndrome, and the road has been long, and hard on all. As her daughter-in-law and primary caregiver, I will journey with her to the Gate, making sure this one is safe, well-cared for, and as peaceful, happy and healthy as I can manage. When we arrive, Mom will look back one last time, and we will hug and say goodbye to each other. I will return to my own life, my own journey, and she will cross over, fading from sight, but never from mind. One of my favorite lines is from the movie “Broken Trail”. “From the sweet grass to the packing house, we are all just travelers between the two eternities.”

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It has been said by many that gardens link us from the physical to the spiritual. These new plantings are dedicated to the memory of Archie and Marion, beloved relatives of Australian bloggers Baz and Janet (www.thelandy.com) I love their motto – “…there are no ordinary moments; no ordinary people; no ordinary lives…”

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

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2014

Our feature photo this month was taken out towards the south-southeast corner of the farm.  Although technically still late autumn by the calendar, it is a typical western Oregon winter day here, in the low 40s, overcast with silver-grey mists in the surrounding hills, and periodic rain.  The jagged dark green line of firs to the south is softened and smoothed under Lady Fog’s palette knife as she quietly moves about, obliterating some landmarks and partially veiling others.

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Morning eastern view of the farm.

News from the farm

The daylight hours are very short now as winter solstice draws near, and most outside activity now is a mixture of preparing some areas for winter sleep, and prepping others for spring.  Our little farm in the Cascade foothills did not escape the recent Polar Vortex, and we saw temperatures down in the high teens and low 20s in mid November.  Trees and plants were caught unaware of the coming change, and leaves withered and browned on tree and vine before the normal process of abscission and hardening off was completed.  There will be some damage.  Just how much, we won’t know until bud break in spring.

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Redwood seedlings getting a protected start on life.

California Redwood seedlings, graciously provided by tree farmer friends, are still coming along nicely in pots, and eventually will make a nice windbreak on the southwest end of the farm, as well as some much needed summer shade in that area.  I’m told once they are planted and take off, they will grow at least a foot a year, and do not blow down easily in windstorms.

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Old Seabisquit

Old Seabisquit the Subaru is still with us, and has passed the 422,000 mile mark.  Old cars are like old friends.  We’ve been through a lot together over the years, and we are comfortable with each other.  Still scrappy, but now feeling our age.  A few dents here and there.  Someday the old Seabisquit won’t be here anymore, and I will miss that car!

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Seabisquit the Subaru – 1993 Subaru Impreza LS Wagon – original engine and transmission!

Various animal friends have also come and gone over the years.  Life’s eternal cycle, punctuated by changes.  Yet it is the animals who wander through our lives, I find most intriguing.  Friends for a short time, remembered for a lifetime.  Wise old souls and teachers, comforters in hard times, playful little elvish creatures who help us see the lighter side of life.  They teach us how to be better people.  Their lives, and all the memories they leave behind after they depart, are all woven into the fabric of our own, becoming part of the legends and history of this place we call home.

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Marcus (front) and sister Hope (rear) Still with us. We’ve had them since kittenhood, now 7 years old. Marcus, Hope and companions Abby, Lucio, Nano, Willow, Wynken, Blynken and Nod reside here on the farm with us, ranging in age from 1 to 18.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

You will see me list, from time to time, an upcoming show or product release of some other musician.  I like to give space when I can to help other performers.  In the spirit of Kate Wolf, I do believe there is room for everybody, and the more people who cover songs and create music, the better off this world will be.  Tom Rush appealed to his fan base to help spread the word about his upcoming show at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts on 12/28, so if you’re within driving distance of Boston, please do go hear this national treasure!  If you can’t make it to the live performance (or even if you do), please check out his just released DVD Tom Rush: No Regrets – it’s great!  I bought the DVD as a gift for my husband Rick, who learned guitar in part from listening to Tom Rush albums in his youth.  One might say that in some ways, Tom Rush is part of Rick’s musical genome, and owes much to him.  I fully expected this documentary DVD covering 50 years of Tom Rush and his music to be great, but it exceeded all expectations, and I learned quite a bit about Tom Rush the human being.  I have a lot of respect and admiration for this person, even more so that I know more about him now.  Please do support Tom!  And those DVDs make great holiday gifts.  🙂   Please visit his website, check out the schedule for a venue near you, and visit the online store.

http://www.tomrush.com

http://www.katewolf.com

As for me, I’ll be kicking off my winter season at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market in January on the 17th, followed by my favorite coffee house Cornerstone Coffee up in McMinnville on January 31st.  Always glad to see you!

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

Pink Mists 11102013

November 2013 sunrise over Salmon Brook Farm. Early morning lighting and pink mists, easily one of my favorite photos of the farm in her many moods and colors.

The world is a difficult place to understand. Sometimes I think it is not to be understood so much as its rivers and channels need to be navigated with grace around the natural hazards along the way. It is inevitable we will hit snags and rocks on the journey.  Yet there is so much beauty, in the water itself and on the banks, to behold until the time comes our boats enter the mouth of the river, and on into the sea to the Grey Havens beyond. – Lavinia Ross

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2014

Our feature photo this month is of two Black-tailed deer fawns which were born out back earlier this year, and have made themselves comfortable here on the farm.  I had to take the photo out the east window in order to catch them lounging.  Their mama Jane Doe (see our September 2014 posting) unfortunately taught them to eat the roses and unprotected plants up by the house.  I put up netting, to which the deer mounted a counterinsurgency against the rebel farmers, ripping the netting and attacking peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.  So much for keeping a few plants near the house within easy reach!  I was then reminded of why we switched from the easy-to-install 7ft high net fencing, to the much more expensive 8ft metal fencing that is not so easy to install, for the main garden/pinot vineyard.

DeerFawns-ShadowsLight-09272014

News from the farm:
Old Jack Frost has not arrived, just yet, on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. We have had a little rain now, not enough to green field and hillside, but welcome all the same.  Wandering clouds that come through at this time of year have put on weight, like bears that have fattened up at stream and river on salmon for the winter.  The fluffy, white fair-weather cumulus and cirrus mares’ tails we saw all summer have been replaced by dark, blue-grey muscle-bound behemoths that sometimes drop rain in patches, or melt across the sky and drizzle for a day or two.  The steady, heavy rains will come later, and the hard-packed clay soil will soften enough to dig again.

I normally look forward to our yearly visit from golden-haired Summer, and her gracious bounty of fruits and vegetables.  She scorched us this past season, however, bringing record heat and drought, priming conditions for intense fires.  She seems to have softened her view lately, sending us mornings that have not dropped below 40, and daytime temperatures mostly in the 70s or low 80s.  The sun is at an angle from the south these days, and the warmth feels good, appreciated my plant and animal alike.  Old Jack is waiting though, and if I am not quick enough installing our low-tech season-extending technology in the garden (plastic sheeting over PVC pipe hoops), I will awake some morning to find the garden frozen in a silvery death-mask, which will wilt and darken in the heat of day. At roughly 800 feet in the Cascade foothills, we are also in a bowl, and we are subject to ponding of cold air. I beg Summer to stay with us, for just a little while longer.  Fortunately, grapes and apples are capable of withstanding a light frost, and I am grateful for as much hang-time on vine and tree as possible.  They are our last real crops of the season, and we are fortunate enough to have a steady customer for table grapes this year.

Our pinot vineyard, which was not under bird netting, did not fare as well as our table grapes, which were protected.  We lost much of the crop to birds and bees within what seemed like just a few days.  I threw netting up over a few remaining sections of intact grapes in Rick’s vineyard in addition to my own two “test” rows, and will press these soon. I had been hoping for a little more hang-time, and I am not sure I will get it.  This year will be a low-tech, low-budget experiment, a “getting the feet wet”, in winemaking.  I am not expecting miracles….

Pinot vines - grapes stripped mostly by birds

Pinot vines – grapes stripped mostly by birds

Pinot noir grapes.  Honeybees as well as yellow jackets love the sugary juice.  Like cattle, honeybees need forage and water.  Both in short supply this time of year.

Pinot noir grapes. Honeybees as well as yellow jackets love the sugary juice. Like cattle, honeybees need forage and water. Both in short supply this time of year.

On the feline front, our cats continue to grow older along with us.  Furry friends and teachers, little elvish creatures, they are all part of the legends and stories of this place we call home.  See the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm page for the whole cast of characters.

The Three Sisters, left to right - Nod, Blynken and Wynken, investigating fresh catnip from the garden.

The Three Sisters, left to right – Nod, Blynken and Wynken, investigating fresh catnip from the garden.

 

Way back when Marcus was a kitten...

Way back when Marcus was a kitten…

And now...7 years later.  Marcus all grown up and washing his old friend Lucio.

And now…7 years later. Marcus all grown up and washing his old friend Lucio.

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

My taking a break from performing this fall turned out to be somewhat fortuitous.  The vitreous detachment I experienced in August progressed into a torn retina in September, and I underwent laser surgery a couple of weeks ago.  It’s hard not to lift, or carry much weight while this eye heals, living on a place like this, and I’ve had to learn to work smarter, not harder.  Some projects involving digging or pouring cement will have to postponed. Since Rick retired from music, I am a one-woman show these days, traveling with two 12-strings, a 6-string, and a full sound system, which is old, meaning heavy.  I hope to be back in the saddle with old Seabisquit by mid-winter.  In the meantime, I’m working on getting the recording studio moved over to Linux, working some new recordings, and I may just stick them up on the net for all to enjoy.  The sub-pages under music are always a work in progress.  The full listing of songs on the old CD, the stories behind why some were written, or chosen to cover, are now there.  Help yourself!

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

Don't wait for the sun to set to tell those you love how much you love them.  Consider every day with those you love a gift.

Don’t wait for the sun to set to tell those you love how much you love them. Consider every day with those you love a gift.

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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

*******

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 June 2014

I’ve added a couple of new pages to the blog for those who are interested – The Cats of Salmon Brook Farm, and  Seabisqut the Subaru, my old Impreza hatchback with over 418,000 miles and still has the original engine and transmission.  The old Seabisquit and  I have traveled many a mile together.

News from the farm:
Summer will soon officially be here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, but is already in full swing for us.  Roses and daylilies are in full bloom, adding splashes of bright color to the emerald green everywhere.  The honeybees have moved on from the fruit trees and blueberry bushes, and are now working the clover and blackberry.  On warm days, the carpet of white clover blooms is a wall of sound, and can appear to be moving.

A bee's clover field of dreams.

A bee’s clover field of dreams.

Like a bee, Rick has frantically been buzzing about and working the vineyard, keeping exuberant grape vines under control and focused on their purpose.  The fruit looks like small clusters of green berries at this time.  Veraison, or the first blush of ripening, is yet to come.  The farm originally came with two long rows of table grapes, mainly Cascade, with some Concord, Delaware and Niagra.  These provide good eating for us, as well as grapes for the local market.  Unfortunately, birds, raccoons, yellow jackets and honeybees also love the succulent fruit of the vine.  Yellow jackets are able to get through the bird netting, and puncture holes in the grapes to imbibe the sweet juice.  Honeybees will also feed at these puncture sites, especially when conditions are very dry and the only flowering plants in any quantity are the Coast Dandelion (Hypochaeris radicata) and the Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).   Although yellow jackets will prey on honeybees, the two species will feed side by side on fruit in an apparent truce at the watering hole.

Developing table grapes

Developing table grapes

Rick and I planted our 120 vine pinot noir vineyard together, comprised of mainly Pommard, 777 and Wadenswill on a mix of Riparia Gloire, 44-53 and 3309 rootstock.  As our subterranean friends the Gophers have chomped through and taken out individual vines, we have replaced them with cheaper own-rooted cuttings we grew ourselves.  Hopefully we will not experience an infestation of the aphid-like Phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae) which almost destroyed the great vineyards of France (and most of the Vitus vinifera vineyards of the world) before the introduction of resistant rootstock.  Being in relative isolation here, we have been lucky, so far.

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r302300811.html

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

Rick working the pinot noir vineyard within the deer fencing.

Rick working the pinot noir vineyard within the deer fencing.

Our geographic location also plays a hand in how the year’s fruit production fares.  At roughly 800 feet, our farm is nestled in a bowl, and experiences a “ponding” of cold air which affects not only the vineyard, but also our fruit trees.   During the seasonal transitions, Old Jack Frost can smite both flower in spring, and ripening fruit in early fall with his icy paintbrush.

At some point, we hope this vineyard will  produce good fruit that we will turn into our own wine.  For the interim, we grow and learn how to work with our environment and its cast of characters.

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

I’m continuing 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!

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

Both beautiful and functional, daylilies planted around the base of our fruit trees help protect trunks from mower and weedwacker damage.

Both beautiful and functional, daylilies planted around the base of our fruit trees help protect trunks from mower and weedwacker damage.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2014

News from the farm:

Spring, although not officially here, has come to our little farm the Cascade foothills.  The surrounding hills and towns are fast becoming a pastel pink and white tapestry of blooming trees, punctuated by eruptions of brightly colored daffodils in the the deep-green, rapidly growing grass below.  Our unusual winter drought ended, and the ground is saturated with water, squelching underfoot, soaking my shoes on the way to the mailbox.  Rain has settled into large beads on leaf and stem, and lichen covered trees appear to be in full leaf from a distance.  Life has been slowly awakening with the longer days since late December, accelerating as the vernal equinox approaches.  The Daffodils began their ascent to the world above in late December, in spite of the harsh weather.  Bud break in the vineyard will come in April, when we will see the full extent of any winter freeze damage.  Our pear, plum and cherry trees will open their sweetly scented blooms here within the next month, followed by the apple trees in early May.  Standing under the trees in good bee-flying weather, one can hear the sisters work the blooms, their hypnotic buzzing is a sign all is right, at least in one small corner of the world.  Pocket Gophers, those little root-eating rascals of the Chisel Tooth Tribe, dig their tunnels through the heavy clay soil more easily now, piling up dirt at their burrow entrance which I will take.  Gopher dirt is nicely granulated and pulverized, and great for filling low spots or for porch planters.  They work hard at avoiding being eaten by the various predators out there, and can be formidable prey.  The neighborhood felines have discovered the safest way to catch one is to watch a hole for hours until a gopher emerges.  The cat then springs several feet in the air and comes straight down on top of the gopher.  If the cat misses, or tries to catch one on the run, a fight may ensue, with the gopher leaping at the cat’s face with incisors that can cut a grape vine root like pruning shears.  The more agile, experienced cat usually wins, although I have witnessed feline retreats, discretion being the better part of valor.  The cycle of life continues.  Another year unfolds, and we are another year older.

GopherMoundsPinot Noir

Old age, barring illness or accident, is the last and most difficult challenge we will ever face in our lives.  How well we ascend that mountain depends on many factors – our genetics, our personalities, relationships forged with family, friends and our community throughout our lives.  We are all like books in progress, some chapters already written, the ending still unfolding.  Perhaps it will be a complete surprise.  The focus on what is important shifts like desert sand with age and circumstance, marking our season in time.  The clock now runs forwards, and backwards.  Days seem to pass with increasing rapidity, while we note from year to year the things that are harder and require more effort to do.  Eventually, should we journey long enough, comes the inevitable return to the cradle and inability to care for ourselves.  There is no descent from this mountain, only the door to Eternity at the peak.  What will we want our legacy to be?  Will we leave the World a better place than we found it?

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

The spring season is coming.   I’ll be saddling up, and loading up, old Seabisquit the Subaru and heading off to play music at the local Farmers’ Markets again.  The old Impreza is closing in on 417,000 miles!  Come on out for fresh vegetables, nuts, eggs, meats, artisan cheeses, baked good and hand-made goods from local sheep, llamas and alpacas!  See the Farmers’ Markets and Sustainability page on this blog site for links to the local markets.

I’ll also be at Fireworks in Corvallis the first Saturday of every month.  This venue has done a lot to support local musicians.  Good food and friendly atmosphere!  Eat here often, even when there isn’t any music playing.  Help support a good supporter of local music.

Please visit the performance schedule page at salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

NEW: Never know what will show up on the web on a search!  An archive of the old IUMA musicians’ site seems to have some of my music up, at least for now.  You can have a free listen there.

https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross

Also found a couple of YouTube’s for our own Rick Ross, the Bluesman, Wine Educator and Farmer at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWMtgJE01tA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znFNe3xgGZ4

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep 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

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2014

News from the farm:
Western Oregon received a rude awakening from Old Man Winter in late November and early December.   He rode in on dark, well-muscled clouds that snorted snow and howled like wolves.  Anything that could find shelter did so.  The usually intrepid little Dandelions who bloom most of the winter here were sent scurrying back to their roots for cover, and our little farm in the Cascade foothills saw single digit temperatures and a lingering covering of fine, crystalline snow after the storms passed through.   Although the extreme cold snap has passed on now, I have yet to see one of these cheery golden faces pop up in the fields and vineyard.  Daffodils, however, went about their business undeterred, remaining in defiant stasis at a few inches high while Winter stampeded and raged about them.  Now 6 to 7″ tall, many are sporting buds, and seem quite pleased about it.

Temperatures have now warmed back into the 40s, feeling quite toasty compared to earlier this season.   Old Man Winter has returned to his usual moody and soggy self, and we are grateful for the return of the rainy season.  It has been a drier than normal fall and winter here, with drought predicted for this summer.  I have heard an occasional frog or two, including one that had taken refuge in the old garage.   Farm residents underfoot are slowly poking heads above their shelters, enjoying the relative warmth and rain.  Rick encountered a large salamander wandering about the front steps last night.  A check on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife amphibians page points to our visitor most likely being a Northwestern Salamander (aptly named!).  When not encountering the occasional wandering Nutria or other wildlife, Rick has been occupied pruning the grapevines, one of the early annual chores here on the farm.

NotPrunedPruned

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page):
Rick has mostly retired from playing out these days, so it is just me saddling up, and loading up, old Seabisquit the Subaru (just passed 415,000 miles!), and preforming fairly locally.   Please visit the performance schedule page at salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

In your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep 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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