Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August, September & October 2019

Our feature photo for this autumn is sunrise on September 26th.  The waning crescent moon can be seen to the right, catching the growing light of morning. The rising mists take on dawn’s colors before coalescing and floating away over the Cascades as clouds.   Color and intensity change rapidly at the bookends of the day, requiring one to be aware of the impending transition, put aside other activities, and observe the Earth and sky at work.  I feel privileged to witness such beauty unfolding into a new day, or writing the final chapter of one.

Sunrise on September 26th. Click on any image in this post to enlarge.

Sunset on September 22nd. Such a warm coverlet of golden light upon the day’s clouds!

News from the farm

Our weather tended toward cooler and cloudier in late summer, and a bit wetter than recent years.   We were pleased not to see any days over the mid 90s, and the extra moisture helped with fire suppression and watering the gardens.   Rainbows abounded; sunrises and sunsets were more dramatic and colorful than usual due to the canvas of cloud cover.

A molten sky on September 5th.

Early August was still fairly dry, but cloudy, as can be seen in this photo of Rick watering the vines.  We had good grapes, but did not get the pinot noir netted in time.  Birds, wasps and we suspect foxes helped themselves.  Fox scat loaded with grape skins and seeds was noted along the gravel road, and the unmistakable growly bark of Mr. Grey Fox and family was heard off in the woods.  We counted four of them this year.   No wine was made this year – no wine grapes, and no spare time.

The grass was dormant, dry and brittle on August 6th.

Sunflower and attendant bee on August 1st. A feral flower that came up in the rose bed.

The same sunflower plant commiserating with a wet rose on August 10th.

Time passes all too quickly here on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Once again, another year has almost completed its cycle.   The garden beds, except for the ones containing cold-hardy kale, broccoli and brussels sprouts, have laid themselves to rest following numerous sub-freezing mornings.  We are grateful for the bounty of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.  Each year, Jack Frost, herald of Old Man Winter, paints a silvery shroud upon the land, smiting all but the most cold tolerant.   The rising sun slowly warms the glittering frozen, stoically rooted in place; by early afternoon the extent of the destruction is evident.  Dandelions, those cheerful, intrepid souls, still bloom, although much lower to the ground.  Small birds attack the globular seed heads; the breezes disperse the tiny parachutes, which sometimes lodge in spider webs.  After a windstorm, remnants of the webs, still carrying seeds, cling to their anchors, their builders dead or in hiding.

A fern growing among the vinca on the north border, turned to gold by frost.

Like spring and summer, autumn wears a cloak of many colors.  Although the reds and golds here seem muted compared to my native New England, western Oregon puts on a fine show, assisted this year by cooler temperatures and some summer rainfall.  Mostly we observe tired leaves wither into pale yellow and brown, and quietly slip away with the daylight hours.

A blueberry bush in full autumn color.

News from Canada!

Cynthia Reyes has published another excellent memoir, Twigs in my Hair, accompanied by lovely photographs from Hamlin Grange. The chapters are well-written, straight from her heart, the vivid descriptions leaving me with the feeling that I was there, too, seeing all through her words. Although I knew I would love this book based on her earlier memoirs, ” A Good Home” and “And Honest House”, I found myself particularly moved by her latest work, as she takes her readers through her early days and gardens in Jamaica, her first real teacher and mentor, Mr. Smith, to all the various gardeners she has come to know, learn from and share with over the years. Beginning with her accounting of her elderly mentor Mr. Smith, it became apparent that one’s relationships with others need to be tended just like our gardens, each person being different, with different needs. Lives are gardens, blossoming and fruiting if carefully tended. Love of gardening and love of life, even in the face of physical adversity in the form of a serious accident, are the ties that bind this work to the heart of not only any gardener, but to anyone with an interest in life.

Created with GIMP

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk of Salmon Brook Farms received the sad news back in September that Lucky, occasional guest columnist and distinguished member of the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk has died.  Lucky was recused from the streets by our friend M.G., who realized by his movements that he was blind. Lucky’s eyes were infected past the point of saving, requiring his eyes to be removed.  He adapted beautifully to life on the olive farm, even climbing trees.  On September 8th, his curiosity about the world outside the olive farm beckoned him to escape through a hole in the fence.  He was struck by an automobile. Correspondent Lucky will be remembered for his plucky can-do spirit, and knowledge of olive farm operations.    Mr. Nano, with the help of friends M.G. and J.P., will present the eulogy.

Correspondent Lucky, scouting for news in his beloved olive trees. Photo credit M.G.

When Lucky arrived on the olive farm in Sicily, he was a wild one, blind and injured, and trusted no one.  Time and patience eventually won over this tough marmalade street cat, and Lucky became overseer of the farm and his caring humans.  His communication style was unique, described as sounding much like a quacking duck.  When he needed to check his surroundings or go exploring, he would extend his paw like a cane, and wave it around until he touched something solid, or found empty space. Lucky also knew when to turn left on the walkway around the house because he could sense the changes in the passing air. 

Lucky holding court with fellow correspondents. Photo credit M.G.

In spite of his blindness, he could climb trees, climb up on rocks, tables and chairs. Always testing the boundaries, he learned how to push the window screens out and escape. Furniture had to be moved away from the windows, although this action did not deter him.  Lucky would sit under the window, staring up, and planning his next escape. His veterinarian called him Houdini. Lucky was also clairvoyant, appearing to know when a sewing project was being planned. He could found napping in the middle of the fabric or in front of the sewing machine.

Lucky hard at work. Photo credit M.G.

One of Lucky’s favorite spots was under the grape arbor that covered the driveway. With his head pointed up, he could listen for the birds and track them with a unique head bobbing movement. Among his favorite locations was up the spiral stair case up to the terrace, where there was a birds nest behind one of the lights. He was not able to reach it, but the chirping and comings and goings of the birds fascinated him for hours.

Olive trees in bloom. Photo credit M.G.

Lucky took his gardening and olive tending activities seriously. He would be in the fresh tilled or planted beds or up the olive trees making his supervisory rounds. Lucky touched many people during his life.  Friends who met him never forgot him and were fascinated by his ability to navigate blind. Correspondent Lucky will never be forgotten, and will always be loved.

Lucky on patrol in the olive farm garden. Photo credit M.G.

Lucky is survived by M.G. and J.P., and all the feline and canine residents of the olive farm.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Sicilian countryside as seen from the olive farm. Photo credit M.G.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who missed previous posts or are new to this blog, I will be posting on mostly seasonal basis now. Hopefully someday, I may be able to actually catch up on the many projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, as well as stay in touch with all of you. I will keep the performance schedule updated regularly.  New videos will follow as soon as I can get to it.

One of my favorite places on the coast!

Dorian Michael graciously invited me to play a couple of songs during one of his shows. Photo credit Rick Ross.

I bring three guitars along, the Martin, Guild, and my old Ventura. providing me with a larger palette from which to paint music. Photo credit Rick Ross.

If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.

The old Ventura 12 string I am playing here is no longer made. I have only come across one other one in all these years, and it was not made as well as this one. Photo credit Rick Ross.

For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017.   I am 16 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 am now almost sold out of CDs and must get to work on the new one.

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Eastern clouds over the farm catching afternoon sun on September 16th.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May, June & July 2019

Our feature photo this summer is of Queen Anne’s Lace. It was difficult to choose a favorite flower from the season’s parade of blooms, although at this time of year, this familiar wildflower with its lacy white umbrels can be seen practically everywhere along with the ubiquitous oxeye daisy.

The hardy yet delicate-looking Queen Anne’s Lace.

A neighboring field of oxeye daisy

News from the farm

With the month of May, came the time of irises and rhododendrons, heralds of summer.    Each year is unique in how the oscillating weather patterns play out over the season, affecting bloom time and growth.  The residual  coolness this year prolonged the time we enjoyed some of our garden residents, as well as the symphony of chorus frogs whose music graced the late spring nights.

We planted this beauty last spring.

A few of these irises were given to us by a friend. There are now many of them.

Daylilies followed, along with spearmint in spires of pale lavender, attracting clouds of bees and various insects.  Each passing year I watch the procession, never tiring of what nature sends us.

The color of summer, captured by a sun-dappled daylily growing beneath a crabapple tree.

The barrel of reblooming daylilies, hard at work.

The rains have since ceased.  Late summer is harsh as the daytime temperature rises, cracking open the hard clay earth.   Grass, a collection of hardy souls here in the Willamette Valley, goes dormant when not watered, taking on a whitish-tan hue, becoming brittle and cracking underfoot.   Our gardens and plantings need spot watering and heavy mulching to stay alive.  Some garden areas have gone feral while I have been occupied with other needs, needing no help from me,  just yet.

Feral California poppy and sweet pea amid a bed of untended irises.

The dark green, hungry-looking maw of a developing feral sunflower that came up amid the roses.

That sunflower now has many colorful heads and little visitors.

One of our red roses unfolding. The mulch is sawdust, and helps with needing to water less often.

It is the seasons of dust devils in our area, those carefree vortices spinning lazily across farmland, spawned in the late summer heat after grass seed and wheat farms have harvested their crops.  I noted my first one this year on July 23rd, while driving across the valley.  I find myself patiently waiting for autumn’s cornucopia, and the first rains.

For Pacific Paratrooper – Michael’s tree is now taller than me!

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk is back at work after recovering from a respiratory illness earlier this summer that affected most of the crew, passing cat to cat, taking several weeks to recover from it.   Mr. Nano, head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, will provide a short essay for May, June and July.

Spring tarried a while this year, long and cool, accompanied by the nightly sounds of chorus frogs as darkness set in.  She sent the rains, the moon bobbing along on her nocturnal cloudy seas, and the morning’s rain drenched flowers.

A clump of Dutch iris after a storm in May.

Our days grew longer as Old Sol approached his northernmost post, peering over the horizon, spilling golden light across a green land, sending the myriad drops of water on leaf and blade of grass into prismatic brilliance.   Those who have witnessed sunrise, seen the gold upon the green, the sparkle of a new day, know an ephemeral wealth far greater than any jewel cut by Man.  No day can be replicated, only appreciated in mind’s eye and felt in the soul.

Some cloud sport downward tails, appearing much like the trumpets of chanterelle mushrooms as seen looking up from the forest floor

I watched the glow one evening as  molten golden-white clouds took on the longer peach and rose colored rays post sundown. The grey fox was sighted out back, leaping and prancing with his long brushy tail streaming out behind.   Humans had only been walking through his area a few minutes earlier.

The longer rays light the clouds in a post sundown sky.

The tree swallows followed summer’s longer days, wheeling in the early evening sky, catching insects on the wing.  Grass grew long and coarse, a house finch sat on the overhead electrical wires and sang his heart out to no one in particular.  Goldfinches arrived, darting about the roses and out in main garden.  A mole came up out of one hole, and went down another, a great blue heron flew overhead, long legs out behind, wings like oars methodically rowing across the river of sky, out towards the lake.  Each species goes about life according to its own needs, in its own time and space, separate yet shared and connected, gears in the great clockwork of life.

Chive blooms from earlier this summer.

Now well past solstice, the days grow perceptibly shorter, and the transition of day into night seems different somehow, perhaps reminiscent of my own aging bones, knowing the road ahead is shorter than the road I have already traveled.  The same barn lights glow softly on neighboring hills as night’s deepening veil rises in the east, and the last rays disappear below the horizon, as they always have done.  Stars emerge, one by one, lighting the blackness of space, beacons for imagination.  Another day has come to a close.

A spectacular sundown from October, 2018.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who missed the spring post, I will be posting on mostly seasonal basis now. Hopefully someday, I may be able to actually catch up on the many projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, as well as stay in touch with all of you. I will keep the performance schedule updated regularly.

The westbound PIE sign as seen on May 7th on the way to the Oregon coast. This time there was no traffic behind us, and Rick was able to slow down the car while I took this shot out the window.

If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.

The source of PIE, further on down the road. We did not check the odometer.

I have been enjoying playing over on the Oregon coast regularly.  Rick has been an excellent driver, roadie and sound man.  I grow his tomato, eggplant and pepper starts, and make wine for him from our grapes in autumn.

View from a scenic area on Route 101. Filtered light played on a thrashing silver-grey sea, the wind cool and refreshing with the light tang of salt. The Pacific has her own spirit and mood compared to her sister, the Atlantic, scents and sounds particular to her.

We stopped here for a quick look around.

We will come back and hike the trail.

For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017.   I am 16 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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Safe travels to wherever your destination in life may lead you. This photo was taken from the plane on my way into LAX from Phoenix last year.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for February, March & April 2019

Our feature photo this spring is of a lively cluster of crabapple blossoms from April 25th.

One of my favorite trees. This one was grown from a 1 foot high start obtained from the National Arbor Day Foundation in 2004.

It is said that change is the one constant in life. My responsibilities and activities have been rapidly increasing over the last year, bringing more change to my own. I will be posting the Salmon Brook Farms blog less often now, so I may be able to actually catch up on farm, music and winemaking projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, work on the book that my dear friend, blogger and author Cynthia Reyes has been gently nudging me to write, as well as stay in touch with our readers and their own endeavors. The format will remain the same, but will now have a more seasonal focus. The feline correspondents may actually find time to compile their journal notes into real essays, at least that is what I have asked them to do. We thank all our readers who have stayed with us as the blog site enters its sixth year, and our lives evolve.  Life’s adventure here in Oregon continues.

News from the farm

After a relatively mild December and January, we experienced an unusual amount of snow for our area in late winter. The brown, dried skeletons of lemon balm stalks and seed heads caught the fine snow in small tufts, icy inflorescences that did not last the day of our first snowfall.

Dried stalks of lemon balm, February 2019.

Lured by increasing daylight and January’s relative warmth, irises and other early risers from the sleeping earth found themselves shivering in a frozen world. Green shoots, swelling buds and birdsong told of the coming spring, not far off, in spite of the cold and snow.

Green swords of iris making an entrance in February, only to find snow.

And of course, snow iris!

We found ourselves wielding snow shovels when the biggest storm hit, bringing back distant memories of life in another time back in New England. Snow has a way of softening sight and sound, lulling one into a sense of peace and tranquility. Dark forms of conifers, frosted white, loomed tall amid the mists and falling snow, giving the appearance of a scene one might typically find on a Christmas card. Little to no traffic except for snow plows passed by on the main road that day; I could hear birds singing somewhere off to the south. Shrubs and blueberry bushes were heavily bent earthward under the weight while daffodils by the old garage stood tall and perky up against the building where snow did not accumulate. There is something peaceful about watching snow fall, if one does not have to travel anywhere. Distances shrink, boundaries are softened, sounds and colors muted in a womb-like enclosure of white, a death waiting for rebirth in a state of colorless tranquility.

The farm in snow. We don’t usually see this much, if any.

Many days the surrounding hills and southwest pass were completely hidden behind the soft veil of light silver-grey, tendrils of fog curling and writhing before me, examining my presence. I could feel the water droplets that comprised it settling on my face, each drop an individual entity. Many small streams from melting snow and rain flowed toward the low areas, rippling and sparkling in the late winter sunlight.

Early March brought many cold mornings in the low 20s. Looking up into the starry blackness one such morning at 5:20 AM, I could almost feel the heat escaping from everything, including myself, radiating out into space. On mornings like this I have a much greater appreciation of our position, third planet from the sun, orbiting in a habitable zone, and just how much the sun’s warmth makes our present life here possible.

Spring arrived, as always, amid a riot of rainbows, catkins, blooms and new life in all forms. I found several osoberry bushes in the back lot, one of the first bloomers.

An intense rainbow in the east. A sign of peace.

Osoberry, also known as Indian plum.

Osoberry and lichen.

The annual symphony of chorus frogs performed magnificently in the many late winter and vernal pools on this farm we call home. Tree swallows have also returned, gracefully swooping about the farm and perching on the wires. Out in the back lot, blue camas are flowering. Cold hardy dandelions have been showing their faces about the farm for some time, and forming seed heads.

What I believe is a camas in bloom in the back lot.

A Dandelion in Winter.

Forming seeds.

Broccoli, sheltered under mini-greenhouses in the garden all winter, have been providing nutritious greens and stalks. They have started flowering, along with last year’s kale.

Overwintered broccoli. Quite tasty!

Old Man Winter and his companion Jack Frost have been slow to leave, and still send us an occasional night below freezing, even though the daytime temperature may rise into the 60s and 70s. They are headed north, climbing higher into the mountains as the sun rises further north along the eastern horizon. The air still feels crisp and cold here under the warm, golden light, their cold breath lingering in the foothills and shaded areas of the farm as April comes to a close.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk is back at work after a brief hiatus. Mr. Nano, head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, has asked correspondent Miss Abby to file an essay about her observations from late winter through early spring, and about life in general as seen from the perspective of advanced years. Correspondent Abby has consulted her notes and has agreed to share the wisdom of her 17 years with readers. Without further ado, correspondent Miss Abby will present her essay.

Correspondent Abby, celebrating her 17th birthday this April.

I have reached a venerable age, having traveled around the sun and observed the changing of the seasons 17 times, although I still promptly greet all guests, and make them feel welcome in my home. I spend more time looking within, and dreaming, not only of what was, but where I am going in the years that are left to me.

Correspondent Abby, enjoying her shelf in the bookcase some years back.

With age comes that quiet realization one cannot jump as high, or as accurately as one did in their youth, and that to remain engaged in life, one must find other avenues of self-expression, while attempting to keep a positive demeanor as long as possible. The day will come, as it comes for all of us, when it is time to relinquish our past, with all the associated memories and emotions, and look forward into that bright abyss from which there is no return, following those before us. That is the nature of life and its cycles, as it plays out on this Earth, in this universe. There is no sadness, no regrets, only what is. Those to whom we mattered will remember, their memories of us evoked by some random sight, sound or scent, traveling on starlight, or distantly seen the moon’s soft, ghostly glow. We all walk among ghosts, including our own.

A sunset scene here from 2018.

Winter’s dark season has passed once again, barn lights on the distant hills glowing through the mists and snowfall like stars in hues of orange high pressure sodium and blue-green mercury vapor.   Lichens, swollen with winter rain, helped catch and retain the fine coating of snow; trees, especially apple and plum, stood frosted with an icing of the first snowfall of the season. Mornings often came in silver-grey, soft and quiet. Green grass in the wetter areas poked up through the covering, a juxtaposition of spring green and winter white. After sunrise, milky white mists would coalesce and rise, floating up the hills and skyward with the sun.

Winter view of the hills to the south of the farm.

Spring came slowly, stealthily to the farm, changing the face of sunrise and sunset. The white mists of dawn ran like a river of spilled milk along the base of the hills to the south; dark forms of trees rose up from the vapors, waiting for sunrise to give them color and substance. The time between first light and the first rays of emerging sun is a magical time, quickly changing its character and mood on the threshold of a new day. Crepuscular wildlife can be seen going about their business on the farm. In evening, the final rays of sun as it disappears below the horizon mark day’s end, and the transition into night.

Day’s end as last colors are caught by clouds to the east.

The sun has made good progress northward towards its position at solstice along the eastern horizon. High ice clouds and contrails catch the longer wavelengths of pink and rose; each partly cloudy morning makes a different yet equally spectacular entrance in form and hue. Once the transitional colors have passed, the blue dome above is marbled with stark white, that in itself a miracle of Nature. Down below, filtered sun streams across spring’s emerald green growth; heavily dewed grass scintillates from a myriad tiny prisms. The mornings are lighter now as old Sol moves northward along the eastern horizon. Come solstice, he will be rising behind the trees on a neighboring property and more difficult to spot peering just over the horizon.

One evening I watched as thickening contrails and filamentous cirrus clouds had not yet occluded an almost full moon in the eastern sky, a ghostly white orb marbled with grey, like quartz tumbled by the sea. A chorus of frogs was singing in the vernal pools as the sun dipped below the horizon, and night approached. Somewhere up there above the chorus of late winter frogs and cloud cover that night, the moon was sailing in the blackness of space, staring back at her companion, this marbled bright blue gem called Earth.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Abby, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Miss Hope and Mr. Nano, enjoying quality time.

Sisters Blynken and Wynken enjoying quality time.

Sisters Blynken and Nod enjoying quality time.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

February, March were a relatively quiet month musically, with construction projects (some more difficult and time consuming than initially thought) and family matters taking precedence. I will be blog posting less often now, so I may be able to actually catch up on many projects, including updating the pages associated with this blog, as well as stay in touch with all of you. I will keep the performance schedule updated regularly.

If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.

Live with the Martin, Guild and Ventura.

For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 16 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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Enjoy the time here on this unique, beautiful planet.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for January 2019

Our feature photo this month is of a particularly beautiful sunrise on January 1st, starting off the new year on a colorful note.

Our morning sky on January 1, 2019.

The waning crescent moon hung in the sky accompanied by a bright planet.

Readers may click on any image in this post to enlarge. The moon and one bright planet (to the lower left of the moon) hung amid the pink clouds and early blue. I believe the planet pictured to the lower left of the moon here is Venus.

The 2nd of January was no less delightful, making her debut in pink, peach and blue.  Dark branches of bare trees made a fine filigree set against an early sky.

Like waves reaching for the shore, the clouds this morning gave the appearance of rosy-peach colored white caps on morning blue seas.

Of Special Note to Readers

I am not someone who offers reviews of books, art or music, being neither qualified nor having the time, energy or interest to do so. I am an observer and recorder of life as it wanders through this farm, brushing against my own in some way I find meaningful to share with others once every month, sometimes two, and I am very grateful to all who have stopped by to view the reflections of it in the still waters of my words and photographs. Artists, musicians, photographers and writers are among the regular visitors here on this blog site, and I cherish all of you, not only for your individual creativity, but for whom you are as people. That said, there are times when someone’s work comes to my attention, not only for the quality of the individual work, but for something I find inexpressible, something I find of far greater value to society than the sum of its parts.

Author Cynthia Reyes, and her then 4 year old daughter Lauren, and Cabbage Patch doll Quentin.

Cynthia Reyes, a former journalist, producer-director and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, turned to blogging and writing after a serious car accident derailed her career. I thoroughly enjoyed her first two books, A Good Home and An Honest House, both memoirs, but it was Myrtle the Purple Turtle, a children’s book of all things, that spoke to my heart. The story was written to comfort her four year old daughter Lauren, who had been bullied at school for bringing a black Cabbage Patch doll named Quentin. The other children told her they would not play with her if she brought the black doll along, because they thought it was dirty. Over a period of weeks, the family worked on improving the story until all were happy with it, and many years later, in 2017, it finally became a published children’s book. Myrtle the Purple Turtle tells the tale of her initial heartbreak at learning she is different, and being bullied for that, but in the end comes to respect herself for who she is, with the help of her friends. In my enthusiasm for the message behind this book, I gave a copy to our local library for the children’s section, sent a copy to Operation Respect, and also sent one to Scott Simon at NPR. I would love to hear Scott interview Cynthia and Lauren someday!

Cynthia, her daughter Lauren, and students.

I was pleased to learn that Cynthia and her daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange have jointly written a sequel to Myrtle the Purple Turtle titled Myrtle’s Game, which expands upon the lesson of acceptance to include working and playing together in spite of our differences. The illustrations by Jo Robinson in both books are beautifully done; the colors vibrant and rich, the animals expressive. My hope is that there will be a entire series of Myrtle books to encourage young people to grow up leading more tolerant, happier lives. It is unfortunate that books like Myrtle the Purple Turtle and Myrtle’s Game did not exist back in my childhood days. They should be required reading in the classroom. I believe Myrtle is a great educational tool for teaching the Golden Rule.   For all of us who share this one Earth, it is really the only one we need to remember.

News from the farm

The dark month of December has come and gone, a time of death and rebirth, the cold earth sleeping yet quietly incubating life for the coming spring.  The first shoots of January’s daffodils were emerging in December, even as our old Willow cat took her last breath, joining the ranks of the sleeping.  Come spring, her daffodils will bloom, and I will see her peering out from behind the golden cups, calling me to play.  She loved the sun and its golden warmth.

Willow in younger years.

Trees also come and go here. These old friends do not have the option of moving themselves out of harm’s way.   These stoic individuals, rooted in place, must endure weather, pests and the whims of mankind.  We lost our big black locust tree to construction equipment’s needs, but still have a smaller one which had grown from the roots of another locust lost in a windstorm back in 2006.  I will remember the fragrant, creamy blossoms, and bees attracted to the heady scent and promise of nectar.  The tree service company was requested to give the firewood to a family in need.

Creamy white locust blooms from 2017. I will miss this tree.

The black locust tree after an ice storm in 2016, covered in icy jewels and sparkled like diamonds in he sun.

Other trees and some gardens were impacted by construction projects and equipment, and will need serious repair.   A large redbud tree up front was lost as the result of a car going off the road and crashing through the tree, snapping it off at the base.  These trees are beautiful, but seem to have brittle wood.    I will not plant another one of these ornamental trees up front, although perhaps in the back if my cuttings from this fallen beauty manage to root.  I had watched it grow over the last 15 years, having planted it and its smaller partner tree back in 2004 from roughly 1 foot high starts obtained from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  The smaller partner tree also suffered some minimal damage, and we will see how it fares this summer.

I will miss this tree. We still have the smaller of the two redbuds left.

The old black tartarian cherry tree still graces the back lot, minus some limbs and a few side roots.   The garden there is intact, but has a gravel road running right past it now, and that bed will require attention and reworking very soon.

The cherry tree garden will be much closer to the cherry tree on the front side, as a gravel road runs right past it now. We avoided having to have this tree cut down. The garden will have more of a horseshoe shape to it this year.

The days are noticeably longer now, although clouds and mists hold the winter’s chill; I must keep moving to stay warm out there. Daylilies have emerged, and are already several inches high.   Some have divided beyond their original borders and will need moving to spots where I feel their summer beauty and protective nature would help some of the apple trees.   I am acutely aware of the passage of time, and nature’s gathering surge; it is time to attend the gardens, trees and vines.    She will not wait for me, and says I am already a bit late; catching up will be difficult.  I give her a nod, and tell her I will do my best.  Rick has already begun work in the vineyards.

Daylily bed from 2017.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

The Feline Correspondents Desk was closed during December in honor and remembrance of fellow correspondent Willow.   Mr. Nano , head of the Resident Feline Correspondent’s Desk, has asked correspondent Miss Blynken, to file a brief report of her observations from January, even though the farm photographer was unavailable to help her.  Miss Blynken has consulted her notes and has agreed to share some of her entries that she feels may be noteworthy to readers, and hopes her words will suffice for lack of photos.  Without further ado, correspondent Miss Blynken will present her report.

Correspondent Miss Blynken, facing the camera. She is pictured here with her sister and fellow correspondent, Miss Wynken.

January 1, 2019

Dawn arrived, colorful and cold at 24 degrees. The undersides of clouds reflected the rose colors from the longer rays from the sun, still well below the horizon. A single planet and the crescent moon hung in a Maxfield Parrish blue sky. Even a minute or two makes a difference at the bookends of the day, the colors quickly taking on the shorter, brighter wavelengths of peach, cream and finally stark white. Our sky soon populated with clouds, leaving winter grey and filtered sunlight until the herd moved on up the valley, leaving mostly ice crystal cirrus, some formed by spreading early morning contrails. Every drop still clinging to tree, shrub, rosebush and blade of grass scintillates in the angled light, a good omen for the year.

January 4, 2019

A variably partly cloudy day reaching the low 50s, clouds just as soft looking as the air felt mild and springlike. Filaments of cirrus, high level ice clouds, marbled the blue above the breaks in river of moisture headed northeast.

I can see some stars overhead, but barn lights on the distant hills reveal a growing fog at ground level as the temperature falls.

January 5, 2019

A variably cloudy day with some periods of sun, peaking in the higher 40s. A freak wind squall came through this evening. I could see stars through patches of cloud and driving rain. A few strategic plastic cross member supports gave way, destroying the small greenhouse on the porch. Most of the strawberries and the tray of garlic starts survived. There will be a lot of work tomorrow cleaning up the area, and seeing what else gave way in the night.

January 12, 2019

A frosty 26 degrees under mostly clear skies this morning, warming into the high 40s. Everywhere daffodils and more ambitious winter shoots are poking above the soil, lured by the increasing daylight and relatively mild weather. By the old garage, daffodils will bloom soon in this protected space.

A clear calm, and cold evening in progress. It is already down in the 30s. An old friend, the constellation Orion, is overhead. I can pick out a few others.

January 15, 2019

Barely 32 this morning before 7:00 AM. The sky has been mostly overcast, with a few breaks to the south-southwest which seem to be filling in. The sun is attempting to burn a hole through the cloud cover in the southeast, and appears as a bright glowing orb behind sintered glass.

January 16, 2019

Barely 32 degrees under mostly cloudy skies at dawn. The sun rose about 5 minutes ago amid a clearing sky of passing smudges of cloud, spreading contrails and bright filamentous flows of cirrus. It is still, and peaceful.

The clearing skies of early morning did not last long, and our sun soon became a bright light behind a sintered glass disc before disappearing entirely behind a thickening cloud cover and light rain. Another raw day in the lower 40s.

January 17, 2019

A balmier 43 degrees this morning under mostly cloudy skies. The air felt as soft as a fuzzy cat’s tail. There were enough breaks in the clouds to allow the longer, redder rays to catch on the undersides of clouds. Sunrise was mantled in lavender and gold, quite pleasing to behold.

PM PST: Our high was somewhere in the mid 40s, with some morning sun, soon returning to silver-grey followed by charcoal grey, heavy skies and light rain. A stiff, biting wind from the south-south west made it feel colder than it was. The sun made a brief appearance again at sundown.

January 18, 2019

A chilly 34 degrees under generally overcast skies. Any hint of clearing has vanished in the east as the thickening clouds in the southwest slowly advance up the pass. The grey has a hint of blue steel to it today, making it feel colder than it is. The sun weakly shines through the veil of thinner cover in the southeast, as if a light source behind sintered glass. The winds are absent at ground level. Everything waits.

January 20, 2019

Mists have been wandering through the farm this morning, with a very light wind from the west at ground level. The neighboring properties where vegetation has been grazed down to nothing are rutted and flooded, the sort of mild winter conditions nutria would enjoy, but I haven’t seen them, or any sign of them, in a long time.

January 26, 2019

The first glimmers of eastern light at 6:37 AM are visible. A clear sky dawn graced with stars, planets and a bright half-moon overhead, the night’s citizens retreating as the light grows and spreads, chasing them westward. Barn lights on the distant hills glow softly in shades of blue-green and pale orange. I love the transitional times of the day, the time between the dark and the light. It is a cold one out there at 29 degrees on the porch thermometer. I can smell fireplaces burning, and some burning plastic amid the woodsmoke from folks burning things they should not be burning.

The mists thicken and rise, obliterating the hills except for the dark forms of trees higher up the slope, and the barn lights in shadow further down still glowing like beacons. The white icy sheen on the grass will disappear quickly once the sun has risen and temperatures rise. Our local forecast is for clouds and mid 50s. It remains to be seen what the day will actually bring.

January 27, 2019

35 degrees and a thick ground fog out there in the morning darkness. It must be clear above it all, as I can see the veiled, waning moon overhead.

A cold, damp day in the mid 40s in spite of some good filtered sun. The morning mists never quite cleared, and a mist roller crept down from the mountains to the east by afternoon, the cold breath of the mountains on a slow moving ground breeze that was palpable in its moisture content.

We are fully encased in palpable fog this evening, and I watched it writhe in the beam of a flashlight. On nights like these, fog feels like a living thing that could ingest one, and not leave a trace. It is already down in the 30s, and will be quite cold by morning.

January 30, 2019

A silver crayon morning at 28 degrees, is what Jack Frost’s handiwork looks like, cold and glittering lines upon this first page in morning’s sketchbook. Our skies are mostly clear except for thin, high clouds and contrails in the east, which are reflecting the peach colors emanating from below the horizon at this time. Even the thickening mists at ground level are taking on color as they form and rise. All is still, and frost covered, but will thaw as the sun climbs. Sunrise, as we see it here from the view of the geologic bowl in which this farm sits, is now at 8:05 AM, and old Sol is slowly working his way north along the horizon. At Equinox, sunrise will shine directly in the east window.

 

More sunrise clouds from January 2nd.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

– Resident Feline Correspondent Blynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Miss Blynken (in back) with her sister Miss Wynken (long haired cat in front), gathering news.


Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

January has been a relatively quiet month musically, with construction projects (some more difficult and time consuming than initially thought) and family matters taking precedence.

If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.

For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 15 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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

September, 2018 sundown. Nature puts on a colorful show for those who will take the time to watch. No two are alike.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October-November 2018

Our feature photo this month is of a particularly interesting sunset cloudscape from November 27th.  I was captivated by the sense of depth, texture and mood presented on this particular evening.

Sunset clouds on November 27th.

Each day is unique, quietly revealing ephemeral treasures to those who take the time to look for them.

Heart of blue amid stormy skies.

Sunset in pink.

The transition into night is a time for reflection as the day comes to an end; the purple veil in the east rises earlier and earlier as the season progresses. Our November moon is waning, just past last quarter, rising later each evening.  She is a beacon for all who wander about in the darkness, observing the heavens.  We will not see her tonight due to heavy cloud cover and rain.

Night draws closer as the sun drops further below the horizon.

Early morning is a beautiful, contemplative time of day; silver-grey mists form and rise, taking the sunrise colors of pink and gold, and finally stark white when the sun has climbed well above the horizon. They will quickly drift away as cloud.

Early morning mists.

Morning contrails.

News from the farm

It is the time of year when the farm may stand enshrouded in heavy fog all day, with no sign, no hint of the blue river above the soft, quiet coverlet of mist and low cloud. Occasional pockets of cold air moving at ground level brush against my face and arms as they wander across the farm, like the touch of passing ghosts, sentient and otherworldly.

A doe and her offspring grazing along the row of table grapes back in October. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

The months of October and November marched on through the farm in the yearly parade of seasonal produce, changing colors, turbulent skies, windstorms, falling leaves and deer in search of greenery.  Jack Frost, herald of Old Man Winter, has come by on clear nights with his silver brush, leaving a trail of both scintillating sunlit morning beauty and destruction in his wake. The persimmon tree, and some types of apples, welcome his return with sweeter fruit after a good frosting.

Lovage growing in a half barrel sports a light covering of frost. The lovage clump did not appreciate Jack Frost’s visit.

Our beautiful old persimmon tree, festooned with fruit and colorful leaves.

Apples on a frosty morning.

Most leaves except for the marcescent have fallen, and have been raked up and placed in garden beds to help build the soil. The last roses of the season have bloomed; I lost a dear relative to extreme old age; the eldest of our cats now lives on borrowed time, the endless cycle of life of which all of us are a part.  We all have our time. It has been a bitter-sweet season, and when darkness falls, I find myself thinking of a Maori evening prayer I learned from a friend in New Zealand.  Safe and warm inside, the Christmas cactus enters its bloom cycle again. Outside, a lone red rosebud which never opened remains tightly folded against the cold.

Ross were still vibrant and blooming in late October.

Rosé wine from our own pinot noir is still cold stabilizing on the lees; samples were taken for evaluation today.  I processed and fermented two batches of our best pinot noir grapes, selected and harvested  by Rick,  within a week of each other.   Epernay 2 yeast (Red Star Cotes des Blanc) was used for its characteristics, as was done the previous year.  Rick found both samples acceptable, they will be bottled soon.

Rick, hard at work evaluating the new rosé wine with food.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano, ever watchful.

Mr. Nano contacted the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk for this month’s report, as old Willow is seriously under the weather and receiving much attention. Her kidneys are failing, and she is currently on subcutaneous fluids. For readers familiar with the BBC/ PBS series Poldark, Mr Nano is of the opinion Willow would have made a most fitting old Aunt Agatha Poldark, as played by Caroline Blakiston. One a  geriatric feline, the other a fictional human, both are beloved to those who understand and appreciate their unique spirits.

Willow in earlier times, reading a card from her friends Doug (human), Dougy (cat) and Andy(cat). Willow is not well these days.

Without further ado, Sicilian feline correspondent Lucky and his fellow correspondents from the olive farm present their findings on life in the Sicilian countryside. Readers may note from previous posts that Lucky is blind, and although his acute hearing, exceptional navigational abilities and sense of olfaction are invaluable to his reports, his fellow correspondents have provided all the visual descriptions. Olive farmers and photographers  M. and J. have kindly provided the photos of their farm in Sicily used in Lucky’s report.

Autumn on the Olive Farm in the Sicilian Countryside

Autumn arrived, bringing more rain than is seen in a normal year for our region. Between August and October, almost a year’s worth of rain fell, making tilling the ground and harvesting olives extremely difficult. Fortunately, we did not have to harvest olives this year. The previous year, a bountiful harvest gave us enough oil to last two years, allowing one time enjoy reading and strolling through garden and olive grove.

Although Lucky is now blind, he understands the value of reading. Photo credit M.G.

While making my daily rounds, I happened upon a visitor lurking in the lavender, an Acherontia atropos, more commonly known as a subspecies of the Death’s head hawkmoth. As an adult it is commonly identified by the vaguely skull-shaped pattern adorning the thorax.

A hawk moth caterpillar. Photo credit M.G.

Due to unusual weather, a prickly pear plant with a flower, opuntus fica-indica, was found near others bearing their fall fruit. 

Prickly pear cactus in flower. Photo credit M.G.

 

Prickly pear with fruit. Photo credit M.G.

The array of autumn colors was stunning. Fiery pyracantha presented its bright orange berries while the Lantana burst with red flowers.

Pyracantha. Photo credit M.G.

Lantana. Photo credit M.G.

Fall irises and golden oxalis were nestled in along the path while wild mushrooms were discovered scattered throughout the field, much to my delight.

Iris. Photo credit M.G.

Oxalis. Photo credit M.G.

As always, we wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

 –  Lucky, Sicilan Feline Correspondent, reporting for the House of Many Paws

Correspondent Lucky, at home in Sicily.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I was privileged to be accepted into the Spokane Fall Folk Festival again this year. Once again, we saddled up a trusty vehicle and made the trip up over the Cascades, through eastern Oregon and on to Spokane in eastern Washington.  We stopped to eat at the Black Bear Diner, our favorite breakfast place.

The Black Bear Diner in Madras, Oregon. The bear is still driving the truck.

I was pleased to have a good set, superb sound engineers and an appreciative audience. It was all I could have asked for at the festival.

A blurry photo as the flash was unfortunately off, and the hand of the photographer unsteady as my own. Photos of all the performers can be found on the festival’s site.

If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.

For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 15 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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos. There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Cherish the days. They pass all too quickly.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2018

Our feature photo this month is of an orb weaver spider found inhabiting the northwest border of the farm.  Although not as large or colorful as the resident orb weaver from 2017,  I was quite taken with the intricate design on this one.

Our 2018 resident orb weaver, sporting some striking markings.

Rather camera shy, she fled into the arbor vitae and this photo was the best one I was able to take of her.  A very brief rain and wind squall took down her web.  We hope she was safely ensconced in the arbor vitae until she can rebuild.

On the other hand, our 2017 orb weaver in the garden was quite willing to be photographed from many angles, and was featured in our August 2017 post, where she is presenting her best pose.

Our orb weaver from 2017, a bit larger and more colorful.

News from the farm

The month of September has passed, along with summer’s intensive heat.  Even on an aberrant late September day in the low 90s, the sun coming in at a much lower angle is much more pleasant in mid afternoon.  Although still fairly dry, rain has come in small amounts in the form of misting rain or brief squalls.  Not enough precipitation has fallen to soak the hard, sun-baked clay soil, only just enough to wet flower, leaf and stem, with promises of more to come.

After a brief storm, roses were beaded and heavy with raindrops.

The leaves seem more intensively colorful this year, showing a bit more orange and gold among the usual paler yellows and crumpled browns.  Perhaps it is all my perception, wishing this year’s work on all fronts to be completed as soon as possible, so I may rest, dormant until spring might awaken me in all its floral abundance and sense of wonder at the annual renewal of life.  Dormancy is never an option here, though; life only slows down, temporarily.   Yet I would hold onto this transitional time of year, savor all its sights, scents and sounds.  The unique sense of clarity in autumn’s low angled light,  the touch of warm sunshine and cooler air on the skin, the colorful cloudscapes at the bookends of the day are all unique to the transitional seasons here, although autumn wields a special magic all her own in this season of falling leaves and bounty from garden, orchard and vineyard.

Developing apple in progress!

Cascade table grapes behind bird netting. They are providing good eating!

Suffolk Red table grapes behind bird netting. Ready to harvest any time now.

A good supply of plums have been dried and stashed away for the winter months. There are days when I feel much in common with some of the little fellows in the order Rodentia during the late summer and autumn months of food preservation and storage.  In the old doublewide “farmhouse” that stood on the same site as our present home, wild mice bunking in for the winter would bring in hazelnuts and store them in my boots, which were kept in the back extension. For good reasons, we nicknamed that house “The Mouse Hotel”.  At night, stray hazelnuts energetically rolled down the inner walls, sounding much like bowling balls fired down an alley, the final crash at the bottom reminiscent of a multiple pin strike.  I sometimes wondered if the mice up in the ceiling were gleefully squeaking, “Strike!”  Perhaps the old house should have been named “Murine Lanes”.  Fortunately there are no signs of mice in the new home, now 6 years old, and the youngest cats, now 5 years old, are content to be the lead investigators regarding any anomalous noises.

The Boys of Salmon Brook Farms, Mr. Lucio (left), Mr. Nano (center) and Mr. Marcus (right), keeping vigil in the old house. That house did have bigger windows, which they enjoyed very much. The only cat from that time period to ever catch a house mouse was Abby, who has been blind in one eye since before we acquired her. Nothing escaped her one good eye. She will be 17 years old next spring.

Our pinot noir grapes are almost ready to press for wine now, and other tasks will wait while grapes are harvested, crushed and the grape must (juice) inoculated with Epernay II yeast.   Our goal is to make a rosé wine as good or better than our 2017 vintage.

A small number of pinot noir grapes from our 2017 harvest, enough to squeeze juice to fill a 16 qt sock pot for inoculation.

2017 harvest and crush – all done by hand for small test batches.

Rick, our Quality Control person, personally testing two different batches at lunch last year.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident feline correspondent and head of the local correspondents desk Mr. Nano has agreed to let correspondent Miss Nod present September’s report.   She has been gathering news from the various window stations, and keeping a journal, from which she would like to share a few selected entries, which she feels would give readers the sense of wonder she experiences here.  The farm photographer agreed to assist her.  Without further ado, Miss Nod will present her report.

Feline correspondent Miss Nod, conducting an eye to eye interview.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

 It was a beautiful late summer evening, passing all too quickly, as they all do. It was a bit warmer today, which enlivened the stridulators’ evening symphony. A light veil of thin clouds gathered in the west, catching the last glimmer of deepening rose on their undersides, was noted past sundown. The last bit of light disappeared from view around 8:30 PM, the sun headed ever westward. Somewhere in the world, dawn is always breaking.

Sunrise on the farm, September 17, 2018.

Friday, September 7, 2018

In the predawn hours, I noted the constellation Orion near the horizon in east. Towards sunrise, the silhouette of the waning crescent moon hung low in the eastern sky, as the first rays from below the horizon lit up the underside of morning clouds, a beautiful scene to hold in mind’s eye.

A variety of cloud forms noted today, from long, sweeping cirrus mares’ tails to cirrocumulus and altocumulus along with a lower trail of smoky, dusty pall that crept in on September 6th.

A beautiful sundown tonight.   One must be quick with the camera at the bookends of the day, when lighting changes rapidly. Nature waits for no one.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

56 degrees and mostly overcast at daybreak, with a narrow blue rift in the bank of clouds to the south. I watched the doe and fawn for a while this morning, grazing out at the edge of the hazelnut grove. The fawn was running high speed circles and figure 8s for the sheer joy of it, the strong legs and spirited heart of youth at work on a cool morning. The doe would join her offspring now and then, but only racing a few strides before returning to foraging. Mother had her own priorities.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Clouds crept in overnight, allowing a warmer morning today at 55 degrees. A light misting rain fell at daybreak. Not enough to soak the ground, just enough to caress the earth and tired vegetation with promises of more to come later. The ceiling soon fractured into heavy cumulus clouds. The cumulus grew fat and woolly during the day, feeding on the aerial river of moisture coming up the Willamette Valley. Stark white to pendulous and grey, these wanderers headed north, sometimes straying over the Cascade foothills to the east.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A cool, relatively cloudless evening in progress, with a growing, thin crescent moon above, a clear silhouette of the dark side present forming the illusion of an eye trained out into the greater Universe. The temperature is already in the low 50s and dropping. It will be cold in the morning unless a new blanket of clouds buffers the fields and garden from the night’s chill.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

41 degrees before sunrise under mostly clear skies, which are now filling in quickly. The rapidly changing cloud forms are fascinating to watch, especially at the bookends of the day when light levels change rapidly. A few cirrus here and there become long rows of cirrocumulus, looking like corduroy patterns in the sky.

Sundown on the 17th of September. The photographer missed the sunrise clouds on September 15th.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Down in the low 40s this morning at sunrise under mostly clear skies. The season of thick morning mists that stratify, curl and wind among the hills is here. Eventually they rise along with the climbing sun, and drift away over the mountains.

The mists of dawn on September 17th. Soon they will rise and drift away as cloud.

A mostly clear evening in progress, with a waxing gibbous moon overhead shining down upon the nightly stridulators still singing out the end of summer.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I watched a most beautiful end of day present itself, complete with the rising purple veil of night in the east, a golden gibbous moon overhead, and the fading glow of the sun to the west, which had just gone below the horizon. The summer stridulators are still performing nightly in this fine transitional weather.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

It is 58 degrees at 9:19 PM under a fractured night sky, and a gibbous golden moon peering out from behind the galleons sailing by.

Shadows and light from earlier in the day on September 22nd.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Young ladybugs were found in the greenhouse, under a strawberry leaf, sitting among the remnants of the egg cases. The nymphs had metamorphosed into tiny adults. They had been feeding off of aphids, some still visible on the underside of the leaf along the mid rib.

Click on photo to enlarge. The photographer returned the ladybugs to the greenhouse after documentation.

Sunday, September 23, 2018 – Autumnal Equinox

45 degrees and mostly cloudy at daybreak, the official first day of the fall season. A daily pattern can be seen now of mists that stratify and rise with the sun, coalescing into ragged clouds that wander away to the north or east over the Cascades. We soon had an autumnal blue sky with patches of cloud, and light breezes stirring about the farm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A chilly 37 degrees under clear skies before sunrise. The purple veil of night rolled away to the west, accompanied by the bright, full moon majestically set upon it. Mists stratify and wind around the hills, thick in the low areas, but soon rising and drifting away. I particularly enjoy these times when night is caught running westward while the brightening new day draws near the eastern horizon. One leaving, one arriving, different colors and moods.

A closer view of sundown on September 17th.

A warmer, summer-like day, rising into the low 80, with a few scant cirrus clouds. The sun is still quite warm, although not so intense. I have been watching its progress south along the eastern ridge at sunrise, and south along the far hills at sunset. A mostly clear night in progress. A deer took off down the driveway after dark.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

It was not quite 44 degrees under clear skies just before sunrise. A waning gibbous moon hangs higher and higher in the western sky each morning, an apparent retrograde movement of the orbiting body to the observer. Mostly clear skies and as warm as a summer day at 87 today, although the sun was not as intense, being at a lower angle at this time of year. The air has a slight nip to it by sundown, even after a warm day. A time to observe pink contrails forming in the western sky, and the rapidly changing colors of any clouds present as the sun continues to sink below the horizon. They eventually fade to lavender, then grey, as night overtakes them.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A brief thunderstorm dropped 5 minutes of rain, cooling things off and making creating one of the most beautiful and colorful cloudscapes towards sundown.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to all wherever their destination in life may lead them.

-Resident Feline Correspondent Nod, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Wishing our readers safe travels to wherever their destination in life may lead them.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

A couple of musicians I know from the Corvallis Folklore Society, Kurt Smith and Dick Thies, performing at the Corvallis Wednesday Market on September 26th.

Kurt Smith and Dick Thies at the Corvallis Wednesday Farmers Market on September 26, 2018. A thoroughly enjoyable show, and great sign on Kurt’s wagon.

September was a relatively quiet one musically, as most of my time was involved in projects here and working extra time.  I am looking forward to October!

If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.

For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 15 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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.  There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Our butterfly bush revived and went through a second bloom after the weather became cooler.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2018

Our feature photo  for August is of a resident crab spider that has ambushed an unwary visitor to this lovely rose.   I have often found these spiders inhabiting floral truck stops in the gardens, waylaying assorted pollinators that have come seeking refreshment, and sometimes a place to spend the night, amid the beautiful but potentially deadly blooms.

An unwary visitor has been captured by this flower’s resident crab sider.

News from the farm

The air has been hazy with dust from agriculture, and smoke from field burning and distant fires.  There is little to no rain, and what seems like endless days in the 90s.   Rooted in place, trees, shrubs and other plant life stoically wait out the dry season, the only indication of their stress noted in their dry, drooping leaves.    We spot water the most needy, conserving water and well pump.

We have four young pinot meunier vines that were given to us. They came from a heritage block up around Newberg, Oregon. A place has been found in the vineyard to grow these youngsters who will require water until they are established.

August is the primary month to view dust devils, those carefree vortices seen spinning lazily across farmland after grass seed, wheat and straw have been harvested in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  Impressively large machines harvest, plow and pulverize the soil, sending the dust of Oregon swirling up into the atmosphere until early summer’s azure blue has taken on tones of tan and grey.   The clarity of light noted earlier this summer is now gone, and will not return for some time.  As this month of heat and dust comes to a close, we are grateful for this year’s bounty of fruit and vegetables, and anxiously wait for the grape harvest and this year’s wine.

Pinot noir before covering with insect netting. It is a heavy yellow jacket year here.

Insect netting was quite effective last year, and worth the investment.

We have a short row of Early Muscat and Gewürztraminer. The grapes shown here are Early Muscat.

It is cooling down sooner in the evenings now as the last light fades and the stellar community reveals itself, as a symphony of stridulators performs in the growing darkness.  The rising veil of night in the east comes earlier;  the calendar shows we are only about three weeks now from autumnal equinox.

Sunset on the 29th of August.

The same sunset, a short time later.

A week earlier, I saw one of our grey foxes one evening when I was finishing up watering the garden. A sleek healthy fox had flushed a dove, and was chasing it down past the garden where I stood not 50 feet away. The fox was not quick enough, and the bird escaped the jaws of death yet another day. Looking longingly after a lost meal, our fox sat down, unaware of my presence, turning to look at me only when I called to him. He moved only when I went out the gate, disappearing back into the woodland, long brushy tail streaming out behind.

We have been enjoying eating fresh plums and apples right off the trees these days, as well as blackberries, raspberries and tomatoes.  We are grateful for all that we have, and consider ourselves very lucky to be here on this farm.  Life is good.

Raspberries, variety “Amity”.

Raspberries, variety “Autumn Bliss”.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident feline correspondent and head of the local correspondents desk Mr. Nano is still on vacation this month, sleeping off the summer heat and enjoying the breezes coming in the window.  Miss Wynken of the Three Sisters will file another report in his absence.  She has chosen a few excerpts from her daily logs for August, 2018. Without further ado, Miss Wynken will present her report.

Correspondent Miss Wynken gathering news from one of her many window stations.

Correspondent Miss Wynken contemplating her report. “What do I tell our readers?”

Saturday, August 4, 2018: A breeze sprung up in mid morning, and a front appears to be coming in from the south. A long swath of altocumulus and cirrus, a clear zone, and then another band of interesting development, including some kind of cumulus convection cell that grew in the shape of chanterelle mushrooms. Flared tubes with delicately gilled throats, rising up and capping off in a frilled top, were a reminder that mushroom season will be here again in a few months.  I see these unusual cloud forms from time to time. The waning moon in last quarter, white with faint grey marbling like sea-tumbled quartz, was sailing west on an intensely blue river of sky between the swaths of frontal cloud.

Sunday, August 12, 2018: 52 and mostly cloudy at daybreak, which opened up soon enough into mostly clear skies,a pleasant breeze and a high somewhere in the low to mid 80s. I watched a squirrel come barreling down the driveway, followed closely by a blue jay who was pecking the squirrel’s behind. The windows stayed open until the late afternoon sun heated the house up; the arrival of dinner guests who had been traveling in a hot car were pleased to come into a cool place. It was a day busy end to end with small things.  By post-sundown, a patch of hazy clouds to the southwest had grown, and more had flocculated in the direction of the setting sun. A partly clear night in progress here as another day has slipped though my paws like sand.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018:  A pleasant 52 degrees under hazy skies at daybreak. It was extremely hazy but not humid today. I did not smell smoke today or this evening, yet it looks smoky; the dark forms of conifers on the surrounding hills appear as if through a veil.  I am becoming used to heat in the 90s, perhaps because the daylight hours are shrinking and the heat does not build for quite as long.

Another orange-red sundown this evening. It is still near 80 out there at this time as another day comes to a close, and the stridulating insects of late summer play their symphonies out there as the daylight fades and the cooler realm of night rises up from the east.

Thursday August 16, 2018:  Small birds perched sideways on lemon balm stalks collected seed. I noted a brief interaction between a goldfinch and a hummingbird, the surprised goldfinch getting out of the way of the hummingbird.

A summer night in progress, complete with August’s nightly symphony of insects, signaling September is not far off. A waxing orange-red crescent moon sails across a smoky sea. Even the bright planets appear reddish, and far fewer stars are visible through the haze.

Tuesday August 21, 2018:  Another orange sunrise, hazy morning down in the low 50s, rising into the mid 90s by mid afternoon. A warm breeze blew most of today, with a pensive, wandering feel to it; its path revealed in the rustling of leaves, shrubs and dry grass . Everything is so dry, waiting for rain that will be a while in coming.

Saturday August 25, 2018: A variable cloudy day, rising into the mid 70s by afternoon. The feeling is more autumn-like out there, and it is easy to envision first frost within a month. The bright orange, golds and reds of New England do not grace the hills here. Tired, drought-stricken leaves slowly turn a faded yellow and brown, quietly slipping away with the daylight hours. The rains and winds will come, stripping the remaining leaves off the branches.

Sunday August 26, 2018:  The earth is damp this morning; dew covered webs of ground nesting spiders cover the yard in a silver gossamer patchwork. A light breeze gently ripples through trees and vegetation, a whispered prayer for rain.

Monday August 27, 2018:  I awoke just after 7:00 AM to overcast conditions. A relatively warm 57 degrees; all was wetted down from a very light rain sometime during the night, not enough to really do much good except keep down the dust and bring an arachnid Brigadoon into view. A rain-drenched city of spider webs, particularly the ground spider webs that resemble tiny faerie trampolines, was now visible. Eventually they will all fade from view in the heat of the day, concealed until the next damp window of visibility.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead, and safe travels to all wherever their destination in life may lead them.

-Resident Feline Correspondent Wynken, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Bright sunset clouds on August 29th. Nature’s most beautiful skyscapes, and wildlife, can be seen at the bookends of the day.

 

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

On our way over to a show in Yachats, on the westbound side of Route 34 we passed a small wooden sign with red letters which read, “PIE 3.14 miles”.  Unfortunately, there was no good place to stop on that side of the narrow road, which winds its way through a sparsely populated section of the Coast Range, and take a photo.  We did pass a real pie shop out in the wilds further down, and figured there must be a sign somewhere on the eastbound side about 3 miles down.  Sure enough, we did see one, managed to turn around without getting ourselves killed, and got the photo below.  Some mischievous soul had added  “.1427” after the “3”.   My brother the mathematician informed me that the sign was incorrect, and that the decimal expansion of pi is approximately 3.14159265.

There really was a pie shop down the road, although we are not sure of the exact mileage. Click on photo to enlarge.

If you are in the area and wish to see me play live, please visit the Performance Schedule page in the ring menu at the top of this post.

For those readers who are new or catching up, do visit the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel. Our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March, 2017. I am 15 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!

For those who have missed previous posts and wish to view the channel content, here are links to the previous two videos.  There will be more videos when I can get back to this project.

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.

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.

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms
http://home.earthlink.net/~redwine5
https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com

Developing blackberries, variety “Black Magic”. The changing of the seasons and so many good, healthful things to eat make the end of summer and early autumn my favorite time of year.

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