Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2015

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

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


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



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


News from the farm

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

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

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


Lucio doing what he likes best – snoozing in comfort.


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


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


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

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

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

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

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

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

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.


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.


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.

Seabisquit Subaru-12042014

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!


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.


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.

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

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