Readers may click on any photo in this post to enlarge. Our feature photo for July is of some resident paper wasps found nesting in one of the blueberry bushes this month. We are not sure if they are native paper wasps, or European paper wasps in the genus Polistes. The legs tend to dangle below them in flight. Both types prey on insects.
I almost put my hand in their nest by accident while berry picking. Fortunately for me, these paper nest building wasps were relatively non-aggressive, only flying out to investigate who was disturbing them, returning to nest sitting once they were satisfied I was no serious threat. Satisfied in turn that they were no serious threat to me, I have been picking that bush right up to the immediate vicinity of their nest since then, and have enjoyed observing them. The paper nest, being situated where it is at the top of the blueberry bush, has no real protection from relentless sun, or the autumn rains when they come. In this case, they have selected a doomed building site. I will not disturb these industrious wasps that feed on other insects, and continue to work around them this season. Unfortunately, their ground nesting relatives the yellow jackets in the genus Vespula or Dolichovespula, tend to be highly aggressive, swarming and stinging without what we humans feel is sufficient provocation; we usually have to eradicate at least one nest, generally found by accident during the season, only because they present a real physical danger.
News from the farm
Among the many visitors to the farm this month were the gray foxes. Rick came out with binoculars early one evening, indicating he had seen four of them cavorting on a pile of grass clippings out back. There were only two by the time I had a look, and I was fortunate enough to get a couple of quick photos before they disappeared. According to ODFW, there are three species of foxes in Oregon: the Common Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus, the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, and the Kit Fox, Vulpes velox. Our visitors, as best as I can tell, were gray foxes.
Having been spared continual excessive heat earlier this season, we have now entered the time of heat and seasonal drought here in western Oregon. As the chapter for this July comes to a close with temperatures in the mid 90s, August will make her debut with 100+ degree temperatures for several days. The hillsides have appropriately transitioned from emerald green to a more seasonal dress of toasted gold as grass withers and goes dormant. Deer will grow bolder, coming closer to the house, looking for any green shoots they can nip. Every creature will be looking for shelter from the relentless heat, adequate food, and whatever source of water or moisture they can find. I find myself becoming more of a crepuscular creature at this time of year, preferring to be active in early morning and late evening. Tree, shrub, vine and plant life in general are not so fortunate. Stoic beings rooted in place, they bear the sun’s searing heat in silence, waiting for rain, or a kindly drink from a watering can or soaker hose.
News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms
There was some confusion among the correspondents this month as to whose report for July was being filed for publication, and was complicated by the photographer forgetting to pack a camera along on a recent trip to the northern California coast. Mr. Nano has decided to file a quick report on an unusual skull found in a garden bed next to the garage.
A small white object lying in the mulch amid withered daffodil leaves drew attention to itself. It could not have been there long, yet did not seem to be too recent. Mostly clean and still bone white, no other bones were found along beside it to aid in identification. The cavity where the brain once resided and directed the body’s activities seemed relatively large, the upper jaw long and narrow with many sharp teeth. Any information leading to the identification of the specimen would be greatly appreciated.
We wish our readers a pleasant day and evening ahead, wherever you may be.
– Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano
Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)
For those readers who are new or catching up, the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March. I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle. It has been an interesting ride, with more to come! I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the Keepsake CD, so that task is still in my work queue, which gets longer and harder to keep up with in summer. The days disappear all too quickly, and Rick and I managed to get in a three day vacation to go down to Arcata, California to see Jennings & Keller in concert, with the help of Lyn, who took care of the cats and the farm while we were away. I have no new videos for July as promised due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time.
For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.
The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on YouTube. Anyone wishing to see the entire track listing and stories behind the songs should visit my personal page under MUSIC in the menu at the top of this post. Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked. Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site. See https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross
In the meantime, in your area, wherever you may be, please do all you can to help keep your own local music alive. Go out and see someone you don’t know, host a house concert, download songs or buy CDs. Or even just stop for a minute to hear someone at a Farmers’ Market. Live, local musicians provide a wealth of talent most people will never hear about in this age of iPods, Internet and TV.
Bookings and home-grown produce:
Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms