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 June-July 2018

Our feature photo this month is of a bumblebee parked in a hollyhock bloom after sundown.   Like truckers on the interstate,  over the years I have seen bumblebees pulled over and settled in for the night in blossoms, on grape leaves, or other plants.

Let sleeping bees lie. This little bumblebee tucked into a hollyhock bloom for the night.

News from the farm

June’s fractured skies, cold mornings, lush green and colorful flowers have given way to hot, bone dry conditions in July, and an early fire season.  The frogs have long since ceased their songs of vernal pool days and are quiet, occasionally found hiding in a flower pot, or in the greenhouse; only the sound of a distant peacock rocks the night from somewhere over across the fields on another farm.

Early June’s rain-drenched roses.

And a daylily bloom, beaded with raindrops.

Spring was long and cool, although drier than normal for our area, her mood pensive and unresolved.  She chased Jack Frost about with cloudy nights, driving him away while fruit trees blossomed and set.  We will have pears again this year.

The multilevel skies of early June.

A wild rabbit inhabits the north border once again, and has become somewhat used to my presence.  At times, rabbit is bolder, wandering about the rose bed on the other side of the house.

Our north border resident, just below center. Click on any photo to enlarge.

Grass, now mostly golden brown to whitish-tan and punctuated by heat tolerant coast dandelions, hypochaeris radicata , crinkles and crushes underfoot.  I feel the changing of the seasons more acutely with every passing year.  A lifetime of noting the temperature, the skies, vegetation and wildlife, knowing what to expect and roughly when, yet each year is unique in its presentation, sometimes oscillating wildly about the normal of my experience.  Each passing year is more precious, not only for its annual abundance, but for its bright parade of memories, and for our own growth as individuals living upon this Earth.  All things are connected to all things.

Early June – old heirloom roses on the north border, with myrtle growing below, wild and carefree.

Early June – the first peony to bloom.

Watering becomes more critical to heat stressed plants that do not have deep root systems like mature grape vines, resulting in much spot watering, bucket brigades and soaker hose sessions.

A view up the row of table grapes from this afternoon.

And up a couple of rows in the pinot noir vineyard. Rick has been hard at work trimming and tying up canes. We had good fruit set this year.

In the cool of the evening, hummingbirds dart about the hollyhocks in the main garden, occasionally coming close in to observe us. The resident doe sometimes comes out to feed up near the house.  Sundown does not often disappoint, coloring whorls and flows of cirrus clouds in flaming orange-rose set against a fading light blue sky.

Dust devils, those carefree vortices spawned by heat and dry soil conditions, have been sighted already since wheat and grass seed appear to have been harvested early by several weeks.  They will soon turn summer’s brilliant blue skies to tan and grey, especially when soot and smoke from forest fires around the state add to the mixture of airborne particulate matter.

One evening, I found an old tattered honeybee of the field class, crawling along the ground. Young bees have a fuzzy thorax, the older ones go bald on the thorax, giving away their age. The typical life span of the field worker in season is only 6 weeks. She was found crawling at a good pace along the ground; a yellow jacket was hovering around, perhaps having caught her scent. I scooped up the old bee on a dandelion leaf, and put her in a shallow container with a few drops of water and some honey on a toothpick to help revive her.  She was gone an hour later, after darkness had fallen.  Most likely she crawled away, or was eaten by something.

I sit in my office, well fed and safe. Everywhere out there in nature, small dramas continually unfold. Someone is eaten, someone survives another day, someone dies or is born. The moon rises as it has for millions of years, watching the history of Man unfold, and endless cycles of life on this planet.

Sunset on July 24th, clouds over the hill to the south.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident feline correspondent and head of the local correspondents desk Mr. Nano is on vacation this month, sleeping off the summer heat.  He has assigned correspondent Miss Wynken of the Three Sisters to file a report in his absence.  After much thought, she has chosen a few excerpts from her daily logs for July, 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?”

Wednesday, July 4th:  I enjoyed the post sundown sky, mostly lavender-grey and cream colored splotchy cumulus type clouds, splattered across the dome above like paint thrown at a canvas. Summer is moving along at a fast clip; I note the daily changes in the land and in myself.

Thursday, July 5th:  The moon is approaching last last quarter, or waning half-moon, and rises late. She is a good companion, shining in the east window, golden and bright in the wee hours of the morning, still bright enough to illuminate the farm and its nighttime residents lurking about.

Tuesday, July 10th:  A cool and breezy 49 degrees morning here under clear skies. Cheery, fair weather cumulus soon made an appearance, dotting the azure blue above with stark white cotton ball forms.  From the window, I watched blueberry picking in progress in late morning, a moving meditation for the human among the curious and playful breezes, insects and birds, at times feeling the cool shadow of a passing cloud overhead.

The hummingbirds have been quite active, probing the sweet pea blooms along the north border. Occasionally one hovers in front of a window, where I am stationed. Curiosity satisfied, they return to their duties among the flowers.

Wednesday, July 11th:  The land has cooled down at this time; tendrils of night air bring in the scents of grasses, various forbs and dry earth. Another day comes to a close. Darkness does not descend upon us, rather it rises in the deepening band of purple-blue on the eastern horizon as the sun continues its westward run below the horizon, and the last glow fades. Stars make themselves known, the brighter ones a few at a time until blackness overtakes the dome, and vastness of space with its stellar community is revealed again.

Wednesday, July 18th: Sundown on July 18th was memorable, not so much in terms of color but in clarity of light. A clear night in progress here; the occasional breeze off the cooling land plays amid the chimes on the porch. Summer stridulators have replaced the chorus frogs of spring, changing the mood and tempo of the Nature’s nightly performance.

Friday, July 20th:  I awoke to a cool and clear 43 degrees at 6:30 this morning. A small band of clouds appeared around the south to southwest horizon not long afterward, which have now almost overtaken us. Morning light dims, but somehow still maintains the sharp, crystalline look of daybreak. A light breeze has sprung up, gently rocking the vegetation at close to ground level.  Another day begins.

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

Crossing contrails that have spread, and captured the last colors of the day in pink. Another day ends.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I continue to enjoy playing out again, especially as a terminal musician. Juggling music, family, farm, and outside work, which pays the bills which enables us to play music and keep the farm (and cats) going, has kept me more than occupied. June and July have not been any more conducive to finishing music projects at home than May, but I did make time to attend John Doan’s 11th annual harp guitar retreat, a much needed refreshing and energizing four days at the end of June.   Rick took excellent care of the cats while I was away, and he says they were very good boys and girls, mostly.  It sounds like the nine of them kept him quite busy, with little time for anything else.

The harp guitar is a both a beautiful and amazing sounding instrument;  I encourage readers to learn more about it, and the musicians that perform this kind of music.  Readers can visit John Doan’s official website here and see  videos of his concerts, presentations, and interviews.  He is a master of the 20 string harp guitar, Emmy-nominated performer, composer, public speaker, historian, instrument collector and university professor.

In July we were visited by our traveling musician friends Laurie Jennings and Dana Keller.  It is always a pleasure to hear them perform when they pass through our area.  Please check their tour schedule.  You may be able to catch them in California or Texas before they return to Florida at the end of October.   They are considering a tour of the United Kingdom.  Please don’t hesitate to contact them if you would like to see them in your area!  You can catch their videos here.

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. 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.

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

For Nia, my Turkish friend and fellow cat lover. These flowers are part of a living memorial for her cat Surya who passed away earlier.

We received news of a small, curly-haired black dog named Mowglee, a dear companion to a friend (she does spell his name this way, not like R.K.’s Jungle Book character Mowgli), has passed away unexpectedly. He was 14, and suffered a seizure or stroke. Somewhere in the greater Universe, he is running, pain-free and unencumbered by the infirmities of advanced age. He will be missed by all who loved him.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2018

Our feature photo this month is Marilyn, one of our reblooming irises.  The Marilyn Monroes of the flower world, irises dominate the gardens during the month of May with their eye-catching blooms.  Tucked in here and there about the farm, year after year they add grace and beauty to whatever spot they find themselves in. Readers may click on any photo to enlarge.

“Marilyn”, our featured iris for May 2018. In full display, she is reaching for the afternoon sun, her ruffles crisp, clean and elegant.

The appearance of iris blooms signals the month of May is on schedule and in progress.

Looking down the throat of one of our original irises given to us by friends long ago.

And more irises. I believe these were from a discount box of Dutch iris bulbs planted many years ago.

A small patch of wild yellow flag iris.

News from the farm

May has been a tentative month, still feeling the presence of Old Man Winter with cooler, although drier, weather patterns.  Many a morning has been cool and grey, dissolving into a patchwork of assorted clouds forms against the stark blue of late morning or afternoon.  The aerial  rivers of moisture that flow across the Pacific Northwest have yielded little precipitation this month in our area though, and some plants here are prematurely showing signs of water stress.

The wild and everchanging skies of late spring.

Deer have already begun to make themselves known, sampling the roses in the garden.  Rick noted deer damage in the back of the rows of table grapes, mostly in the Niagara and Delaware varieties; fresh green shoots were eaten back to the main cane in many places. They will regrow from other dormant buds, but this will set back fruit production in those ones that were eaten. At this time of year we spray deer repellent on the new growth, often initiated by the first attacks on the vines.  Our pinot vineyard is safely behind deer fencing.

There were two of them that evening. This one headed for the woods.

Peering out from the apple tree tunnel into the back lot, this deer was waiting for me to leave.

The back meadow, beyond the apple tunnel.

The progression of spring continues into its last phase as more irises enter their bloom time; the gardens have shifted from the golden yellows and whites of daffodils to the predominant late spring and summer shades of blue and purple. Dark purple columbines have been increasing their representation in the gardens every year since a few hitchhiking seeds arrived in a bag of rabbit manure a number of years ago, and settled in by the old garage.

Purple columbine by the old garage.

Cherry, plum and pear blossoms have fallen like snow, replaced by small, hard, green growing fruit.

Pears in progress!

Our vineyards are at the flowering stage, and we hope for an uneventful summer and a good grape harvest.   To grow and tend the grapes, and taste one’s own wine made from them, is to truly appreciate what goes into a bottle of wine.  It is no longer just a drink, but now a living thing.  It is the alchemy of air, sunlight and rain, the soil with all its minerals, nutrients and microbial life,  guided by caring and hardworking hands from vine to bottle.

One of our table grapes in flower. When this photo was taken, they were slightly ahead of the pinot in development.

Our head grape tender, also quite happy about the pepper plant starts I grew for him.

Rick enjoys cooking what we grow.

A clear and chilly 36 degrees greeted me at daybreak this morning before I headed across the valley to Corvallis.  Down by the waterfront, I was greeted by cold and windy conditions which were mitigated by an unusual and fascinatingly beautiful milky sky.  Clouds seem much more impressive when seen through polarized sunglasses;  there is an increased sense of depth and distinct boundaries not available to the normal eye. A thin light grey film of high ice crystal clouds covered the sky, providing the backdrop for lower level amoeboid altocumulus and cirrocumulus wandering though the double halo, created by refraction of light through ice crystal prisms. These wanderers passing through the inner circular of the halo took on a faint opalescence of their own.  Many bystanders took pictures.

The first daylily bloomed today; the only peony to bloom this year is opening its buds; the north border heirloom rose is beginning its short bloom cycle. The air is thick with the heavy, musk of the black locust tree in bloom.  As frenetic as this time of year can be, it is a good time to be alive and feel a part of all things.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, ever watchful.

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has called upon the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk for Correspondent Lucky’s report on the olive farm at The House of 40 Paws in May.  Without further ado, Mr. Lucky will present his findings.

Correspondent Lucky, from the Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk. Lucky is blind, but navigates the upper and lower bounds of his world on the olive farm with ease. He is an inspiration to all.

Spring on the olive farm has brought longer days and warmer weather which led to the Sicilian Olive Farm cats changing their napping accommodations. The preferred arrangement now is boxes and crates which give enough protection and ample space for piling as many cats as possible into one place.  The sunny terrace provides a good vantage point for observation. The mulberry tree, which so kindly gives morning shade, currently shelters a nest of magpies,  who are always scolding any cat that approaches too closely.

How many cats can fit in a box? Photo credit M.G.

More cats. Photo credit M.G.

There are two kinds of lavender currently blooming, Stokes or Italian Lavender followed by French Lavender. These plants are a haven for the bees and good hiding places for felines in need of a good surprise ambush to raise adrenaline levels.

Lavender and a view of the spectacular Sicilian countryside. Photo credit M.G.

Early in spring there was a bumper crop of Spinacciola or wild radish. One might consider it a weed but here it is appreciated both for its fragrance and the edible leaves. “Cooked saltate” means boiled first then drained and sautéed in olive oil with hot pepper and garlic; it is delicious!

As winter wheat, vetch and fave beans planted in nearby fields mature, the countryside changes from shades of green to  yellow and gold. The wild red poppies that sprout amid the crops visually set the fields on fire.

View of the countryside overlooking the olive trees. Photo credit M.G.

Photo credit M.G.

Poppies abound! Photo credit M.G.

Among the olive trees in our field is a nitrogen fixing plant called Sulla which looks very similar to a red lupine.  The resident human farmers have tilled up our field to aerate the soil for the olive trees.  We feel fortunate to have a two acre sand box, quite suitable for a blind feline to take care of his personal needs, chase fellow correspondents and hide from human caregivers.  I am the primary inspector on this farm, periodically climbing the olive trees to check for buds.  I am pleased to report they are ready to bloom. We are hopeful that the rain will hold off until the bees can complete their work pollinating the entire grove.

Olive flowers. Photo credit M.G.

And more olive flowers. Photo credit M.G.

Correspondent Lucky, on the job. Photo credit M.G.

The other correspondents are not quite as adventurous. They express a preference for playing with laundry or having serious philosophical discussions on the terrace. 

Many a serious discussion has taken place here. Photo credit M.G.

The Sicilian Feline Correspondents Desk wishes all our readers a bountiful and beautiful summer season.

 – Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, reporting from the olive farm at the House of 40 Paws

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I continue to enjoy playing out again, especially as a terminal musician.  Juggling music, farm and outside work which pays the bills which enables us to play music and keep the farm (and cats) going has kept me more than occupied.  May has not been any more conducive to finishing projects at home than April, and I will make no excuses. Things will be done when they will be done. 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! 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.

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

Our roses by the house are now beginning to bloom. This particular one is hosting a spider enjoying a sunny afternoon in May.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2017

Our feature photo for this month is of a colony of what I believe is Usnea
longissima, or Methuselah’s Beard Lichen, growing on an apple tree along with some Parmelia sulcata, or Hammered Shield Lichen. They are quite common here, and can be seen hanging about on many trees around the farm.  When these lichens are swollen with rain in winter, distant heavily festooned deciduous trees appear to be clothed in light grey-green leaves, riding out winter alongside their dark green coniferous cousins.

Feature photo for December 2017, Methuselah’s Beard Lichen, growing on an apple tree along with some Parmelia sulcata, or Hammered Shield Lichen. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

News from the farm

The month of December passed quickly on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The days have been a highly variable mix of cloud, rain and sun, warm to numbingly cold days and many nights below freezing.

Land of the Long Grey Cloud, a southern view from the farm on Christmas day. Many winter mornings begin this way.

Or begin this way, dawn’s colors reflected on the underside of morning clouds.

Or perhaps in misty pastel colors.

Or rose-colored contrails.

Old Man Winter established himself here early on, but seems to be currently occupied with the eastern regions of the country as they experience extremely cold and harsh conditions.  By contrast, our weather here today in western Oregon was in the mid 50s, sunny and pleasant.  We will enjoy his forgetfulness, while we can.

Christmas morning.

Fresh late-season apples were still clinging to trees in the early part of December, including a neighboring tree that has grown branches over the fenceline and over the roof of our shed.

The last hold outs, for birds only now. They were quite tasty and crisp earlier in the month.

The larger, hungry birds have since worked their way down the tree, drilling holes and slashing fruit with their beaks.  They are welcome gleaners.  Everyone must eat.

Daffodils in warmer areas with good southern exposure have already shaken off their slumber and begun the journey back up to the world of light.  Many sport buds, which will remain tightly closed until mid to late January.

Daffodils coming up by the old garage amid purple columbine seedlings on Christmas day.

Wild garlic chives stand tall above winter’s green but slower growing grass.  Pocket gophers tunnel everywhere, mounds piled up and plugged above the entrances.  Life stirs below as well as above.  I note where the tunnels are, and will collect their leavings for the gardens and barrel planters.

Gopher mounds amid the wild garlic chives.

As the afternoon comes to a close, a gibbous moon hangs in the eastern sky, white and marbled, like quartz tumbled by the sea.  My mother called such treasures cast up by the waves moonstones, and I think of her when I see the moon, looming large over the horizon, ghostly pale against a fading blue sky.  Another year has passed;  I am another year older, acutely aware of my own time and its passage here.  Mercury vapor and high pressure sodium barn and utility pole lights will soon glow like blue-green and orange stars on the surrounding hills as the sun dips below the horizon, and last light fades.  The sky is mostly clear tonight, and will be down in the 20s by morning.  A visit from Jack Frost and his silver brush is expected to close out the year.

We are thankful for all that we have, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures at this time of year.

An important and timely message for the world from the producers of these cheery and colorful crocus bulbs.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano, ever watchful.

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has observed much from his window this month, and has once again sent the photographer out to investigate. Without further ado, Mr. Nano will present his findings.

The winter solstice has passed, and slowly, imperceptibly, the days are lengthening.  The foxes have continued to be sighted near the border of the hazelnut grove; their nightly vocalizations are muted by windows closed against the cold.  Out in the grove itself, life stirs.  A plump squirrel has taken up residence in the old ash tree, nest visible up high.   He will need to exercise caution when foraging below; many would find him a good source of much needed calories at this time of year.  In protected areas, the Lilliputian forests of ferns, mosses and lichens abound.

Ferns growing at the base of the old feral apple tree, one of the guardians of the tunnel to the back lot.

Mosses and lichens on a hazelnut tree.

Possible signs of nutria have been sighted in the form of small tunnels coming out of the underbrush leading to areas where the grass has been clipped short.  We have noted that the last set of nutria that lived here liked to “farm” an area, keeping a patch of grass clipped short to provide tender growth for their dining pleasure.  Fresh scat has not been found, however, or an actual nutria sighted this season.  The presence of foxes about may have left them more wary.

A young blacktail doe, probably one of this year’s fawns, wandered through the orchard, casually nibbling grass.  We found it surprising that they appear to urinate by squatting like a cat.  The photographer was too slow at getting the camera to catch this in progress.

Pruning of the vineyards has commenced, as it does each December, beginning in the table grapes, and ending in the pinot noir vineyard behind the deer fencing. 

Unpruned vine in the foreground. Vines pruned back to two canes in the row behind.

A venerable old table grape vine pruned back to two canes.

Cuttings have been made of the Glenora Black Seedless table grapes, and started in pots filled with gopher mound dirt.  The pots will remain in the drainage area for now to keep them wet until bud break.

Glenora Black Seedless cuttings potted up for the winter.

December has been sunnier and drier than the previous year, leaving many days to observe clouds forming in the blue rivers of moisture above.

A view from the back lot looking west.

Multilevel cloud formations, all floating at their point of buoyant density.

Friends of the farm have sent us identification and propagation challenges.  Anyone having experience propagating wild Columbia Lily from seed is encouraged to contact me.  Columbia Lily is a native lily with a tall stalk, orange tiger lily like flowers, and seed pods similar to Columbine.

This photo was sent by a friend in Cornelius who lives in a house previously owned by an avid gardener, who may be deceased at this time and unavailable for questions.  We believe this plant is in the mallow family.   A positive ID is requested.  Readers may click on the photo to enlarge.

A kind of mallow, perhaps?

Father Time continues his slow, steady tread into the coming year, taking us with him.  We see the changes in the land, and feel the changes in ourselves.  Everything is temporary, including ourselves.  Choose wisely, plant happiness wherever possible.  We wish all our readers a peaceful and bountiful year ahead.

Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nod, decided to have an eye to eye conversation with Rick regarding the vineyard.

Correspondent Blynken (left) and retired Correspondent Willow (right), warming themselves in the winter sun.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I am enjoying the winter hours of slower days, long cool nights, and more time to spend on music. I completely burned out in 2015 during the last year Rick’s mother was alive and with us, trying to work part-time, play music and provide round the clock care, resulting in my taking 2016 off entirely to recover my health. This has been a year of slowly regaining my sea legs as a performer.

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! Do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, now that the harvest season, and holiday season, has passed.

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

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

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

Bookings and home-grown produce:

Lavinia and Rick Ross
Salmon Brook Records / Salmon Brook Farms

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

A primrose in winter, photo taken 12/30/2017. This plant was being thrown away, and found sitting out by a dumpster, sad and dehydrated. It was rescued and planted out front here at the farm. It has rewarded us with blooms for years, even in winter.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2017

Our feature photo this month is of a colorful cluster of hawthorn berries sporting a tiny visitor, a 12 spotted cucumber beetle.  In past years, we rarely encountered any.  This year, we have seen quite a few of these little fellows, although we do not seem to have sustained any damage from their presence other than occasional photobombing.   One can click on any photo in this post to enlarge.

Our feature photo. The 12 spotted cucumber beetle, the yellow fellow with black spots on the right edge of this cluster of hawthorn berries, has been found in larger numbers on the farm this year.

News from the library – a special book by Cynthia Reyes for children of all ages

I do not consider myself to be a reviewer of books or music, feeling neither qualified nor inclined to critique someone else’s work.   I find enough technical problems with my own endeavors to keep me sufficiently occupied pursuing a lifetime of improvement.  A very special book, however, has caught my attention, not only because it is well-written and beautifully illustrated, but because it sends a simple yet powerful message of the need for tolerance.  That book is Myrtle the Purple Turtle, a children’s book written by Cynthia Reyes, blogger, author, and former journalist and executive producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The story of Myrtle was originally written as a bedtime story for Cynthia’s daughter Lauren, who had been bullied at school for bringing her favorite doll, a black Cabbage Patch doll named Quentin. Some of the children thought Quentin was “dirty” because of his color, and wouldn’t play with her if she brought him along. As a consequence, the four year old stopped bringing him to school, hoping to fit in better, although it hurt her very, very much. Eventually, her parents caught on, and Cynthia developed the story of Myrtle, a different sort of turtle, to help Lauren feel less alone. Myrtle attempts to change her appearance to make her more acceptable, but learns in the end that is our differences that make us special, and that we must love ourselves. A book for children of all ages, and dedicated to the child in all of us, I encourage readers to help spread the word about this very special turtle.   Donate a copy to your local library; give one to a child in need.  We are all Myrtle the Purple Turtle.

Myrtle is available on Amazon.com
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0620773421/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_t2_E4R1zbYDKVZ27

Cynthia Reyes
Myrtle the Purple Turtle
About

Lauren Reyes-Grange
Myrtle the Purple Turtle

When a little girl decided she wanted a black doll for Christmas
https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2015/12/19/when-a-little-girl-decided-she-wanted-a-black-doll-for-christmas.html

The Love Your Shell campaign
#LoveYourShell

A very moving review of Myrtle the Purple Turtle book by Andrea Stephenson
We are all Myrtle the Purple Turtle

News from the farm

October’s weather was relatively mild, with sufficient rain to return the grass to its winter seasonal lush emerald green.  Our chives have revived in the cooler, wetter conditions, while dandelions once again stand tall, proudly present their sunshine-yellow blooms to late season visiting bees.  Tiny leaflets of clover have started to appear everywhere, adding to the carpet of green below as the leaves of tree and shrub above turn shades of yellow and brown, quietly slipping away with the daylight hours.  Blueberry bushes are among the exceptions to the muted colors of autumn in this region, celebrating the end of their season in a blaze of scarlet, orange and gold.

A fiery blueberry bush against the green carpet of grass and clover below.

A blueberry bush on the lighter hued side.

The annual rutting season has arrived along with October’s bright blue skies and falling leaves.  Once again, roving male deer have started looking for small trees and shrubbery upon which to scrape the velvet from their antlers.  It is the one aspect of autumn which I dread, but I am also thankful that we have only had deer,  not elk, wander through this farm.  Our larger blueberry bushes suffered some damage a few nights ago.  Not having fencing up yet, I resorted to taking the old wire basket tomato cages and put them upside down, points up, near targeted bushes, in the hope of discouraging them.   Broken branches, lying like matchwood on the ground, were collected to make cuttings for rooting.  Our visitors also tested the line of young redwoods up front, requiring installation of emergency, makeshift barricades.  Nature’s children are always hungry, or creating mischief.

A sunflower in the main garden, early October. This particular one somehow started to grow with roots in the air as it emerged from its shell. I turned it around in its pot, coddled it, and transplanted it to the main garden when it was ready. This sunflower has rewarded us with a beautiful bloom and has attracted many bees.

The garden has worked hard and done well this season, resting now except for a few cool weather crops such as broccoli, celery and cabbage.  It is difficult to bid goodbye to each year’s plantings when autumn returns;  all have been nurtured from seed to garden bed, and are now returning to the earth which sustained them, as they sustained us.  All things are connected to all things.

Broccoli, variety “Green Goliath”, lived up to its name.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano, always watchful.

Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano has observed much from his window this month, and has once again sent the photographer out to investigate. Without further ado, Mr. Nano will present his findings, including the state of the current vintage and wine experiments.

The nights have continued to grow longer since the equinox, allowing more viewing time from the windows under clear skies when the moon is in the brightest part of its phase.  The foxes have continued to leave scat around the farm, although they have been quieter about their comings and goings.  Our visiting pack of coyotes has not been heard again since last month, their lyrical chorus eerily beautiful yet frightening to felines.  Sunrise brings all the beauty and promise of a new day.

Sunrise on October 15th. The dark, lacy silhouettes of trees, mists and fleeting colors set upon morning’s early blue canvas of sky are always worth getting up early to see. Sunrise arrives late enough at this time of year that these scenes are much easier to catch.

A few interesting shoots were found growing out of a  hawthorn stump.  The young tree broke off in a windstorm last year, effectively becoming a coppice stool.  Some of these new shoots had leaves with no pigment.   Development will be followed.

Hawthorn stump sporting some shoots with no leaf pigment.

Our wasps in the blueberry bush remained with us for a while in early October, but have since disappeared.

The wasps remained at the site of their old nest long after the paper nest mysteriously disappeared.

The good weather held early in the month, and the onslaught of grape-eating birds and wasps had not descended yet.  A decision was made to run another crush from the pinot vineyard with grapes that were now up to 22 brix.    Four trays of the ripest pinot noir were selected and harvested, crushed by hand, and fermentation with Epernay II started in a 16 qt stainless steel stockpot, as was done in the previous run.   Fewer earwigs, and no stinkbugs or ladybugs were encountered in this run. 

Hand-crushing pinot noir grapes, and checking for earwigs and other non-grape entities . Primitive methods, but the results were worth the effort. Photo credit Rick Ross.

Another light pinot rosé was created from this fermentation, coming in at 12% alcohol with riper grapes.  The wine is still cold stabilizing on the lees at this time.

The first fermentation experiment has since been racked off into bottles, and stored in the refrigerator.  There has been no fining, filtering or sulfiting of this wine, so it is being stored cold. 

The lees, or sludge comprised of dead yeast cells and other solids that settled to the bottom during cold stabilization. Finished wine was ladled off into jars. Any remaining lees will settle there over time, and wine decanted.

Finished wine from left to right. The wines in bottle at the right were taken near the bottom of the pot, and the lees will have to settle again before decanting off the wine.

Rick, our Quality Control man, comparing the results of the second fermentation (left glass) with the first fermentation (right glass) as he has lunch. Both have passed inspection.

The rest of the fruit from under the insect netting was harvested yesterday, and is being held for a third experiment.

It is hard to smile while searching for earwigs. Photo credit Rick Ross.

Like all the residents and wild creatures of this farm, I hear the approaching winter in the wind as it rustles the dying leaves, and in the gentle staccato  of rain on the metal roof.  One can feel it in the nip in the air on a sunny day, especially when the sun slips behind a wandering cumulus.  Another year is soon ending, and I and my fellow correspondents are a year older.  We hear the slow, steady tread of  Father Time, and feel the changes.

Correspondent Willow has retired from filing reports, and prefers to spend her days napping on her bed by the kitchen window. We are not quite sure of her age, but think she is over 20 years old now. She was found in our yard, almost dead, a little over 5 years ago. She recovered, and has been with us ever since.

We wish our readers a pleasant evening ahead.  May everyone have a warm place to sleep, and plenty of good food.

Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you, Mr. Nano!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I will be returning to the Spokane Fall Folk Festival this November after being away for a number of years due to elder care duties. See our post In Loving Memory, December 2015. I took 2016 off from performing to recover my health and recharge, and I am looking forward to seeing friends old and new.

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 all the seasonal outside work.   I have no new videos yet due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, now that the harvest season has passed.

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

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

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

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

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

The rapidly changing colors and sky of sunrise and sunset offer a spectacular show to those willing to take the time. Admission is free.

 

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2017

Our feature photo for September, 2017 is of a gladiola that came up in the cherry tree garden planted for our Belgian friend Herman to remember his mother, brother, sister and cats Glippe and Mrs. Jones.   The old cherry tree, a black tartarian, produced buckets of delicious soft, dark fruit in early summer.  This garden was full of cheery daffodils this spring, and irises and daylilies later on before the real heat was upon us.  I particularly loved this late season swath of color against the grey, lenticeled bark of the tree.  The green swords provided visual relief to the dormant grasses beyond, burned and dried under summer’s relentless sun to a tan-white, crunching underfoot.

Herman’s cherry tree garden. Herman and my favorite British Shorthair cat, Mr. Bowie, can be found at https://hopedog.wordpress.com/

With many days in the 90s and 100s and little to no rain, this summer has been a particularly brutal one for keeping plantings alive while conserving water, and our well pump, as much as possible. Rooted in place, trees and garden residents wait patiently during the dry season for the return of rain in autumn.

News from the farm

Early September found us still engulfed in heat and drought amid the dragon’s breath of heavy smoke from forest fires around the region, with no rain in sight.  Late summer is a difficult seasonal period to work through; air quality tends to be poor; eyes itch and burn and the lungs feel congested.  Endless spot-watering and resuscitation of plantings wear one down as much as the heat and smoke.

The evening of September 3, 2017, southeastern view. We heard much of our smoke this year was from the Sisters, Brookings and Cascade Locks fires, which sent considerable smoke down the valley.

The morning of September 4, 2017, eastern view.

As the nights grow longer, Autumn finally arrives, cloaked in morning mists which form, settle in, then rise with the sun, eventually becoming part of the wandering herds of clouds passing through during the day. Dawn’s quickly changing colors and veiled scenes are among Nature’s finest displays of her art. In the geologic bowl where this farm resides, silver-grey mists condense and stratify as the light grows, showing only the jagged peaks of conifers on the surrounding hills. The first rays of sunlight are an alchemist’s dream, turning silver into gold; I quietly observe the transformation in awe. As the sun continues to climb, colors fade; the now bright white veil thins and rises, revealing the land below.   Another day begins.

This particular scene is from November 2013, but shows a lovely golden mist in progress.

The season continues to unfold.  Heavier, brooding clouds are seen more frequently; the first rain brings the welcome odor of petrichor.  It is only enough precipitation to settle the dust and clear residual smoke, but not enough to quench the thirst of the land for water.    Clouds, each floating at their point of buoyant density, give a textural feeling of depth to the wild sky, revealing dark caverns, canyons and sinkholes.

The eastern sky on September18th.

Sunrises show promise of saturated dawn colors and colorful cloud formations as equinox approaches.  A few fractures in the cloud cover after sundown glow like rose-colored embers of the dying day.

Sunset, eastern view, on September 17th. The last long rays of sun reflected off of clouds to the east. I don’t take many sundown photos from a western view until winter, when the sun sets far enough south that I can avoid power lines and utility poles in the photos.

The days come and go along with the moon and the equinox.  The pleasant staccato of rain on the metal roof signals a more significant storm in progress.  Multiple passing storms drench the farm with life-giving moisture and warm sun, followed by rainbows.   An EF0 tornado touched down early one morning in a town not far from here, severely damaging one dairy. Fortunately, none of the cows were harmed, not being in the barn at the time.  The pleasant staccato took on the sound of machine gun fire as the winds and rain from this storm reached us.  We suffered no damage here, but were reminded we are continually at the mercy of Nature.  There will be good years, and bad.

The cycle continues. The moon returns, a beautiful half moon up there hanging pale gold above the trees on clearer nights.   In the west, clouds form like curds out of the moisture laden air.  Food from our own garden is on the table, and it is warm inside.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano, ever watchful.

Correspondent Nano has observed much from his window this month, and has sent the photographer out to investigate. Without further ado, Mr. Nano will present his findings, including the state of the current vintage.

As the days grow shorter,  the sounds, scents and scenes of late summer and early autumn catch my attention.  The symphony of late season stridulators perform as the afternoon fades, the temperature drops and the night comes into its own.  In the distance, the unusual growly barking of the grey foxes can be heard.  The foxes, of which there were five at last count,  have been observed eating grapes from the vineyard, and leaving scat filled with grape pips about the farm.

Non-netted table grapes showing fox, bird, wasp and bee damage. Stripped clean!

Resident grey fox, photo taken earlier this summer. They are now eating grapes along with wasps, bees and birds, although few larger birds have been seen this year except for quail.

A chorus of coyotes began to crescendo under the window in the early hours one morning.    Eerie yet beautiful, these songs also strike fear into the heart of any sensible feline.

California quail with their musical liquid calls have returned to the farm, but curiously, we have seen very few larger birds such as jays, starlings, robins and flickers.  These species usually begin the raids on the vineyard and orchard.

The changing weather affected two other species we have been watching.  The paper wasps that built their nest in the blueberry bush lost their nest after a wind and rainstorm.  Survivors have continued to remain at the old nest site, huddling and possibly feeding on shriveling blueberries.  Readers may review their story on our previous posts for July and August.

The wasps as of this morning. There has been no nest for some weeks now,although they remain at the site.

The garden spider continued to remain in her hunting hideout amid the cornstalks for some time, taking shelter under corn leaves during storms.  She was not found this morning.

Our resident Argiope aurantia, on September 18th. A tiny fly was caught in her web, left and above her leg.

The garden is still producing;  some plants winding down, some in full swing.

Last of the summer beans. This variety of stringbean is called Black Creaseback. The mature beans inside the pods are black. The seeds were kindly sent to us by a friend back east. The plants are shutting down now, although there are still some flowers and some developing beans.

On September 23rd, the decision was made to start a 4 gallon test batch of wine, as the non-netted grapes were showing signs of predation.  Four trays of the ripest pinot noir were selected and harvested, crushed by hand, and fermentation with Epernay II started in a 16 qt stainless steel stockpot, as was done the previous year.  The brix level was roughly 18% as they were not fully ripe.  The vintners hope for a light pinot rosé from this run, which was named “Wigadoon” for all the resident earwigs that were evicted before and during processing.  Numerous ladybugs and stink bugs were also removed.   These are normal residents found in grapes, and another reason why the vintner likes to hand process.  Another test will take place in early October, when the grapes should be a bit riper, weather permitting.

Pinot noir, reading for crushing.

Four trays hand processes enough juice for about 4 gallons.

Resident Feline Correspondent Nano, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you, Mr. Nano!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I will be returning to the Spokane Fall Folk Festival this November after being away for a number of years due to elder care duties. See our post In Loving Memory, December 2015. I took 2016 off from performing to recover my health and recharge, and I am looking forward to seeing friends old and new.

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. I have no new videos this summer due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, once the harvest season has passed.

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

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

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

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

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

A cheerful sunflower growing in front of the well house, wishing readers a pleasant evening. Deer had initially bitten off the center bud. This flower grew from a side shoot which formed after the terminal bud was ingested. Perseverance in the face of roaming cervids is an admirable trait.

 

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2017

Readers may click on any photo in this post to enlarge.  Our feature photo this month is of what we believe is a fine specimen of the orb weaver spider clan,  Argiope aurantia, commonly found hanging about gardens throughout North America.

A most comely garden resident, on duty and ever vigilant for the next meal. Interested readers can find more information at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argiope_aurantia

With luck, someday this autumn I may catch her tending her web, freshly festooned with the night’s dew. It has been too hot and dry lately to see these arachnid silk Brigadoons.  Damp, sunlit mornings can sometimes reveal an entire dazzling city of webs, which fades into invisibility in the heat of the day.

News from the farm

August brings day after day of heat and drought; temperatures in the 90s and 100s are common, with few interludes of coolness.  Large farms, such as grass seed growers, have harvested their crops, tilled and pulverized the soil with impressively large machines.  Dust devils, heat-spawned vortices known by different names around the world and thought to be the spirits of the dead in some cultures, spin lazily across the broad, barren farmlands, carrying the fertile soil of Oregon skyward until the bright blue above is stained with a tan haze.   Smoke from forest fires around the region contributes a grey hue to the canvas; the sun and moon rise in bloody orange colors against a murky, alien sky.

Early morning on August 22nd.

And the morning of August 28th. Fortunately, most of the smoke from fires has cleared at this time.

Stratified smoke and morning mists on August 22nd.

As occurs with most things in life, beauty and goodness come packaged along with assorted trials tribulations; August was no exception.  We were fortunate to have clear conditions on the day of the eclipse, and were in the path of totality.   Witness to the changing light and temperature, the emergence of stars mid morning accompanied by the blazing wedding ring in the heavens, we count ourselves among the blessed to have attended this once in a lifetime event.

The smoky pall that periodically engulfed us, and was driven aways by the winds during the month, did serve to mitigate temperatures slightly.  The roses, which ceased blooming during the earlier summer heat, have reawakened.  A close inspection of the blooms often reveals a visitor, in this instance, a 12 Spot Cucumber Beetle.  Although we normally do not see many of these beetles here, there appear to be more of them about this year.

A rose with a visitor, a 12 Spot Cucumber Beetle. Interested readers can find more information at http://horticulture.oregonstate.edu/content/western-spotted-cucumber-beetle

A 12 Spot Cucumber Beetle visiting a Rose of Sharon bloom at sundown.

I have been observing the progress of our resident paper wasps nesting in a blueberry bush.  These fascinating and relatively docile wasps were featured on last month’s post, which can be found in the archives at   https://salmonbrookfarms.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/rick-and-lavinia-ross-farm-music-newsletter-for-july-2017/  Click on any photo on this site to enlarge.

Our paper wasps featured in our July 2017 newsletter. Photo taken July 16th.

This photo was taken August 8th. One can see that chambers have been capped off and brood is developing. The wreath of blueberries around their nest is shriveling.

The same paper wasp nest on August 29th. Young have hatched. They have survived the worst of the summer heat and drought. The blueberry wreath continues to shrivel, and the bush itself is showing signs of late summer heat stress.

Other visitors have come through, including skunks, much more pleasant seen than smelled, to the mischievous ones, some leaving paw prints on the patio and damaged bird netting from attempted grape filching. Raccoons are the prime suspects, breaking clips and ripping holes in bird netting.  They have hit our farm before, and will again. They too, enjoy the season’s bounty of fruits and vegetables.

Muddy footprints left behind after a night of overturning flower pots and general mayhem on the porch. Raccoon or skunk? The odor of skunk was very strong in the general area when the tracks were noted.

Visitors from past years consenting to be photographed included skunks and nutria.  Stinklesby, was a resident skunk for one summer.

“YOUR grapes? I thought these were MY grapes!!!!” Stinklesby was a resident for one summer, but met an untimely demise in the road.

“Visiting” nutria from late 2015 though spring 2016. They pulled the white tags out of the pots of grape starts. Yosemite Sam posing for the camera.

Rick and I have been hard at work, tending vines and gardens. Spot watering plantings to conserve water becomes a labor-intensive undertaking at this time of year, when temperatures soar into the 90s and 100s, and little to no rain falls.  The heavy, clay soil bakes brick-hard and fissures like wounds in the earth. Even gophers do not enjoy tunneling, preferring to dig in areas that were just watered.  Once verdant fields wither under relentless heat and summer sun, turning brown, then progressing into light tan to almost white, crumpled skeletons of vegetation; the grass crunches underfoot in the annual cycle of growth, drought and dormancy.

Rick, spot watering in one of the tomato beds.

Rick working the table grapes.

Cascade table grapes behind bird netting.

A test row of Early Muscat and Gewurztraminer wine grapes under insect netting we are trying out. Hopefully this will help keep out wasps and bees, who also like the sugary, moisture laden fruit.

Rick working in the main block of pinot noir. We will be selecting two of the best rows to test out insect netting.

 

Ripening pinot noir on Salmon Brook Farms.

Several rows of of the best of our pinot noir will go under insect netting soon. We will be attempting to make a test batch of wine from our own pinot noir this season using Epernay II yeast.  Last year, the birds, bees and wasps managed to clean us out, and I was left with  Cascade table grapes for testing, with promising results.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano, ever watchful.

Mr. Nano at the Salmon Brook Farms Feline Correspondents Desk received the sad news this month of the passing of Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent Otis.  Mr. Nano, with the help of Otis’ family, has written a eulogy.

Mr. Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent, has passed away peacefully at his home in Connecticut. He will be missed by all. Photo credit C.M.

There comes a time when the body is too worn and tired to continue, and the spirit longs for freedom from it.  Mr. Otis passed away peacefully at home on August 22, 2017 after a long battle with old age and kidney disease.  A true journalist, he worked right up until the end, investigating everything that happened on his farm.  No news escaped his keen vision and nose, and he often listened in on conversations in the garage, no matter what the weather, whenever there was a gathering of men over beer and assorted snacks.  He is survived by his companions Izzy, Rosie and Sadie, and his humans Rob & Carolyn. 

We celebrate Otis’ life and legacy.  He is now a part of the history and legends of the farm he called home, woven into the tapestry of the lives of all those who loved him.   Friends for a short time, but remembered for a lifetime.  We are all made of stardust, and to the stars we all ultimately return.  The memories of those who have left us travel on starlight, to be heard on the wind as it whispers in the pines, and seen in the moon’s soft ghostly glow.

Otis, collecting news at a gathering of family and friends in February, 2016.

Otis, basking by the wood stove.

The Northeast Regional Feline Correspondents Desk HQ, February 2016.

Otis has taken over the dog bed. Photo credit C.M.

Otis, keeping an eye out for news from the hayloft. Photo credit C.M.

Otis, after a hard day of work. Photo credit R.M.

Otis curled up in his basket by the wood stove. Photo credit C.M.

Otis relaxing his his basket.

Otis relaxing on his porch. Photo credit C.M.

Mr. Otis’ family also sent the following for the readers of this newsletter.

“For the rest of my life I will search for moments full of you.”
-Anonymous

“May you have safe travels over Rainbow’s Bridge, Otis, and may you be greeted by all the other Hope Valley loves that have crossed it before you. We will miss you dearly, but we know you are in a better place. So, until we meet again, much love and peace to you, dear friend. “

Goodbye Otis, my friend, my colleague.

– Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent, reporting for Salmon Brook Farms

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I will be returning to the Spokane Fall Folk Festival this November after being away for a number of years due to elder care duties. See our post In Loving Memory, December 2015.  I took 2016 off from performing to recover my health and recharge, and I am looking forward to seeing friends old and new.

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.  I have no new videos this summer due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time, once the harvest season has passed.

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

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

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

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

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

An April sunrise, spring being one of my favorite times to catch sunrise. The position on the hill where the sun rises over the farm, and the morning cloud conditions offer some beautifully saturated colors and skyscapes. The promise of a new day, a new page upon which to write the story of our lives.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2017

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

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

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

News from the farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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

Correspondent Nano

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

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

Yorick skull bottom view, showing teeth.

Top view of skull.

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

– Resident Feline Correspondent Mr. Nano

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who are new or catching up, the Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel now has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video was posted at the end of March. I am 14 years older and a good bit more grey since my first and only CD was released back in 2003, but still in the saddle. It has been an interesting ride, with more to come! I have received a request for a video of “Believe in Tomorrow” from the Keepsake CD, so that task is still in my work queue, which gets longer and harder to keep up with in summer.  The days disappear all too quickly, and Rick and I managed to get in a three day vacation to go down to Arcata, California to see Jennings & Keller in concert, with the help of Lyn, who took care of the cats and the farm while we were away.  I have no new videos for July as promised due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing from time to time.

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

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

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

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

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

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for June 2017

Readers may click on any photo in this post to enlarge.  Our feature photo for June is one of our fine roses that came into bloom this month. Originally planted by the previous owner, this one and its many friends survived being dug up and replanted when the house was rebuilt 5 years ago.  I am forever grateful to the help we received from our friend Lyn in digging up all these thorny beauties and boxing them up until they could be replanted.

This lightly scented beauty begins life a creamy pink, and turns almost white as the blooms age.

Tough girls, they survived hot weather in pots and cardboard boxes covered with a minimal amount of dirt and infrequent watering.  Only one of the group has died back over the years, leaving just the rootstock to regrow and bloom.  The surviving rootstock we believe is an example of one called Dr. Huey.

Dr. Huey, I presume. The photo is from a previous year when the graft (pinkish bloom upper right) was still living and blooming. The Dr. Huey rootstock has taken over with masses of red blooms.

Tim & Laurie Price have some lovely photos of their Dr. Huey and other photos from the Corrales Rose Society annual Dr. Huey tours on their site.

http://photos.tandlphotos.com/blog/2016/5/third-annual-corrales-rose-society-dr-huey-tour

Susan B. Graham is a rose photography judge and avid gardener.  Please visit her sites as well for many outstanding photos, including the famous Dr. Huey rose.

http://susanbgraham.com/blog/

http://swdesertgardening.com/category/roses/dr-huey/

News from the farm

Sundown here at Salmon Brook Farms, view to the southeast.

The troubled weather that came riding in with Spring is transitioning peacefully as Summer asserts her time and place on our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Our first of the month arrived in a shroud of light drizzle and temperatures in the mid 50s, and ended that evening in the 70s watching the molten colors of sunset from a nearby mountain top, deep in conversation with friends.  June has come and gone quickly, mostly filled with snapshots in time of things I have seen, to be replayed in mind’s eye at later times.  I was struck by a quotation I recently saw on Baz & Janet’s Xplore site.  Avid travelers and explorers from Australia, they were visiting Merlin’s Cave, Tintatgel, Cornwall.

The Wisdom of Merlin…

“Spend time not pondering what you see, but why you see it…”

The blooms of the black locust scented the air in early June, attracting bees and admiring humans.

The creamy white, heavily scented blooms of the black locust tree have come and gone along with the irises, succeeded by other species now heavily in bloom. Roses wave and dance, colorful skirts swirling on the breeze, while the orange trumpets of daylilies continue to make a joyful nose of color, accompanied by the butterfly bush which has now joined the symphony.

Make a joyful noise! A bed of orange daylily trumpets at sundown last night. The purple butterfly bush in the background has joined in celebration.

A colorful dancer, she can be seen whirling and waving at the sky on breezy days.

A contemplative member of the garden who has seen several locations, and is much happier now. Planted in memory of my own mother, variety John Paul.

I recall one clear blue, cloudless sky morning earlier in the month; the waning crescent moon was still overhead, white and marbled with light grey like quartz tumbled by the sea. There was little to no traffic on the road, being an early Sunday morning.  It was pleasantly quiet; the land was still and the wind chimes silent.

A few days in the 90s caught my attention. The wind was continually restless and warm, and contained much energy; I could see cumulus piling up over the Cascades. The sky continued to marble with thin, high cirrus clouds, later on boiling with heavy, rolling clouds and widening chasms where one could see to upper levels and bright filtered light. That night, flashes of light over the mountains glowed on the underside of clouds as a storm brewed to the southeast.

Some of June’s many colorful clouds. An eastern view at sunset as the last rays of the sun reflected off the bottom of our aerial wanderers as they crossed over the Cascades.

A few morning cumulus and altocumulus reflected the peach and rose colors of dawn, and at least two clouds were presenting themselves as a colorful example of virga, rain observed to fall from a cloud and evaporate well above the ground.

Clouds in shades of lavender, white hot peach and rose painted in bold strokes against a deepening blue. A pleasant breeze came up after sundown that evening as the land cooled off. Movement over by the back north border head caught my eye. A brushy-tailed grey fox came down from the neighbor’s field across our back lot and into our patch of woods; a handsome little fellow in search of food. I recall Rick saying he had seen a fox a few nights prior to my sighting, but he indicated he had seen a red fox. I saw the grey fox on the border of the hazelnut grove another evening; he watched me intently as I closed the gate and shut off the water. I was probably within 100 feet of him.

Sundown, northwest view.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Mr. Nano has been occupied with important duties this month, so he has assigned Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio the task of filing the June report. The farm photographer was sent out to provide documentation on activities they have seen.

Mr. Nano has been very busy this month.

Without further ado, Mr. Nano presents Resident Feline Correspondents Marcus and Lucio, and their report for June, 2017.

 

Mr. Marcus (left), Mr. Lucio (right). Time to wake up and get to work!

We have observed the transition in the weather from cool and wet to drier and sunnier.  The mornings are still deliciously cool and pleasant, and often accompanied by the missives of small birds outside the office window as they cling to strong-stemmed plants and eat the seeds from neighboring dandelions. We have noted with alarm the distinct drop off in the number of bees, especially honeybees, this spring, which we attribute to wetter and cooler than usual weather.  Although there is much clover growing amid the grassy areas, few honeybees have been sighted feeding on it.

The vineyards and garden are now receiving much attention as the season progresses.   Tomatoes, corn, peppers and a few eggplants starts have already gone in, soon to be followed by squash, cucumbers, red cabbage and broccoli this weekend.

Rick carefully tending a pepper plant start.

Placing a cage around the pepper plant to support it as it grows.

The table grapes and pinot noir produced many flowering clusters, and barring hail or other calamities, should produce a good crop, and perhaps some good wine, this autumn.

Cascade table grapes in progress!

Pinot noir wine grapes in progress!

Flowers continue to bloom in succession, both domestic and wild, presenting a visual feast from any window.  The heirloom roses on the north border provide a riot of color in June.  They bloom but once a season, unlike our other roses.

The Shogun tiger lily collection, safely growing in a barrel planter away from tunneling gophers.

Colorful purple spires of the butterfly bush at sundown, growing crescent of the moon just off to the right.

Wildflowers in the meadow. Perhaps Clare from “A Suffolk Lane” would know what they are?

Heirloom roses on the north border, growing wild and carefree.

Cherries are now coming into season, along with blueberries, native trailing blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, providing delicious, healthy deserts.

Non-native blackberry in bloom will provide much needed nectar for bees, good eating later on for us. Wild blackberry provides the main honey flow in June for the Willamette Valley. There are far more of these about the farm than the native trailing blackberry which has ripe fruit now. We keep it in check as best we can. These plants can throw 20 foot, very thorny canes.

The black tartarian cherries, soft and very sweet, will become inky purple when ripe. There are also bing cherries here, as well as many wild cherries about.

A favorite image from back in the old house. our own roses and fruit. Wine is from Sauternes.

We would like to end this report with Michael’s Tree.  Planted in honor of GP Cox’s son Michael, USMC.  GP runs the site Pacific Paratrooper, dedicated to Pacific War era information.

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/memorial-day-2017/

Michael’s tree at sundown. This redwood will grow tall and strong, providing shade and shelter. It will outlive us. It has already put on much new growth this spring.

Birds overseeing the photography at sundown. We believe these are the ones that were nesting in the eves of the old garage.

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

– Resident Feline Correspondents Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio

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.  I have no new videos for June due to all the activity here, but do keep an eye on more content appearing in July.

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

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

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

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

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

Sundown here at Salmon Brook Farms. I often think of the last lines of Desiderata. When my father died, he left all his children a copy of Desiderata, which I value above all else. “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.” Having survived many battles in the Pacific during WWII, including Peleliu, he understood far better than any of us what this actually means. I regret that he did not find true peace until the end of his life.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for May 2017

Our feature photo for May is of the line of apple trees near the house, earlier this month when they were all sporting a profusion of blooms.  This particular day opened with an assortment of cumulus, cirrus and altocumulus clouds painted in textured strokes of white mixed with the pastel colors of dawn on a canvas of early morning blue.  The scene continually shifted as the day progressed on into evening: thin, high cirrus clouds, towering cumulus, developing stratus and distant nascent nimbus.  The scent of earth and new vegetation clung to moisture-laden air moisture as flashes of lightning appeared to the southeast of us over the Cascades, followed by the low roll of thunder. Although no storms passed directly overhead, the quiet stillness gave one the feeling that the evening was waiting for something.

Feature photo for May 2017. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge for detail.

News from the farm

The month of May arrived, cold and wet, at our little farm in the Cascade foothills. Pacific chorus frogs provided nightly music, the annual symphony to accompany life continuing in all it cycles.  The days grew steadily longer, punctuated with sunshine and dry days, even as the temperature fluctuated. Seeds that had been started earlier in the season under plant lights and on heating mats in the old garage grew steadily, and most of them have now graduated to life in the greenhouse on the porch, hardening off before continuing the next phase of their life in the main garden. The apple trees were particularly showy, adorned with more pink and white blossoms that I can remember. I recall a poem by Robert Frost“Good-bye and Keep Cold”. Perhaps the long, cold winter has been good for them, and we will be rewarded with a good harvest.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44265

Crab apple tree covered in blooms.

Developing plum.

The brightly colored trumpets of daffodils slowly gave way to the deeper and quieter colors of irises. Roses and daylilies are now assuming their strategic position as color guards in the garden, standing tall above ox eye daisy, dandelion and buttercup growing wild in the yard.  The roses still show signs of black spot fungus from the cool wet spring; later blooms will be more exuberant, ruffled skirts flaring wide like flamenco dancers.

These many irises of this type are all descendants of a few given to us by friends. Hardy souls with a light, sweet, musky scent, I manage to divide and move some around every year, expanding their territory.

The first daylilies of the season

Clear mornings bring a creamsicle colored eastern sky as well as the deep lavender and rose colors of receding darkness in the west.  Mists begin to rise and coalesce, and either drift away up over the mountains, or very quickly spread like spilled milk into an overcast sky for most of the morning. Sun breaking through the cover stirs up a good breeze that sails us into the afternoon, and the daytime temperature may reach into the 80s on some days.

Blooming chives add color and seasoning to the kitchen garden outside the door.

Work in the garden can continue after dinner during these longer days. I feel the air temperature drop as the sun sinks further behind the hills to the west, which has now taken on the hues of early morning.  I stop and observe the color change unfold above as the night progresses. The growing moon with its thin, bright crescent and illuminated silhouette, appears like a giant eye trained on the greater universe, set against the Maxfield Parrish colors of last light. All is as it should be at this time, a moment to record in mind’s eye, a memory to cherish.

Table grapes in progress.

Pinot noir in the test block on rope trellis.

Pinot noir in the main block on conventional wire trellis.

We have a short row of a mix of Early Muscat and Gewürztraminer. So far, all vines are doing well and progressing nicely.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our resident feline correspondents are busy this month working diligently on their assignments, although in their case, it is often difficult to distinguish working from loafing.  Correspondent Nano has contacted the Sicilian feline correspondents regarding a story they have been working on this spring, the story of Lucky, and how he came to live at the olive farm there.

Correspondent Nano, always watchful.

Before turning this section of the newsletter over to Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, Mr. Nano would like to introduce readers to editor, author, teacher and musician Lorraine Anderson.  Lorraine can be found at Earth & Eros, http://earth-and-eros.blogspot.com/   Lorraine updates Earth & Eros twice a year at the solstices, and can also be found at http://www.ecoeditoronline.com/

Without further ado, Mr. Nano presents Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, who has filed the report for May.

A view of the Sicilian countryside. Photo credit MG/JP.

There are times when sheer luck and circumstance save the less fortunate of us from an untimely demise.  My own astute and compassionate human rescuer spied me stumbling about on the streets of our little town here in Sicily. My odd behavior having caught her attention, she observed me as I repeatedly fell off the sidewalk into the street, noting that I was hugging the curb as a reference point.  This determined angel, whom I was unable to see or appreciate, swiftly came to me and lifted me up, saving me from certain death. I was so frightened, however, that I scratched and clawed her, trying to escape. Fortunately for me, she had an iron grip as well as compassionate heart.  I found myself incarcerated, although I later learned that I had been rescued and instated on their farm as Lucky, Prince of la Casa delle 36 Zampe, as the House of 36 Paws is known in Italian.  And Lucky me, I have not one, but two doting humans!

Lucky in younger days. Photo credit MG/JP.

After several trips to a medical facility and two surgeries to remove my eyes that had been damaged beyond repair, I am now free of chronic eye infections. The kind veterinarian, now known to me as my Auntie Rita, took very good care of me as I learned to adjust. It has been more than four years now, and I am quite acclimated to my indoor and outdoor surroundings; I have even climbed trees!  Lulu, my house-mate and fellow correspondent, is the most attentive and playful of my fellow feline companions, and is an expert at the game of Cat Rolling, a game where Lulu rushes me and makes me roll over. I am aware there are at least four or five other feline correspondents living outside on this farm, and I have a hard time keeping them straight.

Little Lulu as a new refugee at the House of 36 Paws. Photo credit MG/JP.

My duties as the Prince of the House are many. My most important function is napping in one of my many favorite spots, followed by making demands of my humans as only a cat of my ranking can do.  Keeping Bob, Hilda and Little Girl, the three big dogs, properly respectful of me requires more energy, resulting in additional napping. Little Girl and Hilda have learned to give me a wide berth; Bob, however, knows that he must greet me quickly then retreat before I give him the royal greeting, a stiff nose-biff.   In my spare time, I oversee tending of the olive trees and the garden, investigating the many fascinating sounds and odors outside.  The bees are having a go at the second batch of blooming lavender, among other things. The olive trees are loaded with blossoms this year and we hope nothing goes wrong before the fruit is set. A bad rainstorm would really impede the pollination.

Lucky investigating an olive tree! Photo credit MG/JP.

Although I am blind, my hearing is highly acute; the many sounds of the farm, including birds as they call and flit through the trees and lizards and small mammals as they rustle in the grass, paint a detailed acoustic image of my world.

Lucky, hard at work investigating the garden. Photo credit MG/JP.

My fellow correspondents take me on short excursions through the fence to land they tell me is owned by a neighboring human. My own people watch over me as best they can.  I am, however, very good at hiding from them. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear their plaintive cries of “Lucky, Lucky where are you?”  I have a very good life and I am indeed Lucky in both name and happy circumstance.

I would like to close my report by introducing readers to our friend and house musician Patrizia Capizzi.  She is a dear friend, talented musician and animal lover. Readers can find her at https://www.youtube.com/user/MyBlueBossa

– Sicilian Feline Correspondent Lucky, reporting from the House of 36 Paws.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

Readers, please do take a moment to visit Patricia Capizzi’s site listed above.

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 will be in my work queue.   Having just come through Memorial Day weekend, I opted to post a video of “Remembered Goodbyes”, which is also on the original CD.  The CD version of this instrumental also features Jim Lamontagne on fretless bass.

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

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

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

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

The month of May brought many storms, and many rainbows. This particular rainbow lasted a good 30 minutes.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for April 2017

Our feature photo for April is of a honeybee coming in for a landing on an airstrip of crabapple blossoms.

Our feature photo for April 2017. Click on any photo in this post to enlarge for detail. The bee is just to the left and above center.

Her baskets will soon be loaded with delicious, nutritious pollen, like her sister shown in the photos below.  The crabapple trees in the front gardens were alive with the sound of these industrious little sisters; the lighting and breezes were cooperative in capturing their beauty.  Nothing says spring quite like bees happily sipping nectar and gathering pollen on a soft, blue sky day marbled with cirrus clouds.  “Gather ye pollen while ye may” the sisters say, with acknowledgement to poet Robert Herrick, and to any other bees who may have expressed similar thoughts on such a fine day.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46546

The bee in the center has loaded pollen baskets.

Same bee, but I loved photographing her, as she was one of my more cooperative subjects. Here she is again in a side view.

News from the farm

The skies of April 7th were the theater for this year’s epic battle between Old Man Winter and Spring as Warrior Princess.  We were awakened around 5:45 AM by strong winds ringing the alarm in the chimes, a call to stations; by 7:30 AM we had lost power and phone service.  A double rainbow appearing in the west against a dark, heavy sky indicated more was coming our direction.

Double rainbow in the west as the storm approaches.

Many rounds of high winds and heavy rain were fired throughout the day, lifting the neighbor’s tarp-covered metal frame shed from two doors down and smashing it up against the fence next door.  Their chicken coop, still under construction, took a direct hit; I watched as the tar paper on the roof was ripped off and blew away.  Considerable damage from falling trees, loss of services and some loss of life occurred in this unusual storm for April in western Oregon. We were fortunate not to have sustained any damage here on the farm other than downed limbs; the greenhouses held to their anchors, although the contents were found dumped on the floor.  By the end of the day, Spring emerged victorious, as she always does, leaving a Rainbow of Peace in the eastern sky.

A rainbow in the east at day’s end. A storm of this magnitude is unusual for April in Oregon.

She was quite shaken, though, by this unexpected intrusion into her time and place, and has shown restraint in unleashing all the green growing things in her care, unlike the previous April.  Yet life is driven by the growing light levels as much as warmth, and will not be denied access to the world for long; leaf buds and blossoms have opened, leaving the farm soft, green and full of color.

Sun-dappled vinca blooming along the north border.

The cherry tree garden in bloom. This grand old Black Tartarian cherry tree produces a soft, dark and very sweet, flavorful cherry.

Ladybugs are out and about on the farm. This one has found a pleasant sunning spot on a lemon balm leaf.

Chive blossoms preparing to open.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Correspondent Nano volunteered to cover the April report, and has provided an interesting ghostly selfie of him watching over the farm.   Not much escapes Correspondent Nano’s sharp eyes!

Correspondent Nano, hard at work keeping an eye and an ear tuned on the farm and all its residents.

This April, he sent the resident photographer on assignment to investigate particular areas of interest and bring back photographic proof for his report.

Without further ado, we present Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent of Salmon Brook Farms.

The days have been steadily growing longer and brighter as the season progresses.  Sunrise and sunsets have been been particularly colorful, although the photographer must be available and prepared to catch them in the rapidly changing light that occurs at the beginning and end of the day.

Sunrise on April 2, 2017

Pruning of the vineyards was completed in March, and bud break has finally occurred. These tender buds are now at the mercy of spring frosts, especially multiple spring frosts which can kill secondary bud development.

Bud break in the table grapes.

Although more typical of weather patterns over a decade ago, the unusually cool, wet spring has not only delayed the time of fruit tree blossoming in comparison with recent years, but also appears to have extended the bloom time of daffodils.  The scent of so many different blossoms can be intoxicating on days when it is sufficiently warm enough to open the windows.

The ancient lilac on the northern border.

Daffodil “Thalia”, I think. There are also “Mt. Hood”daffodils planted in that space.

I have since forgotten which variety this one is, but it is a particularly long bloomer.

The fig tree, started several years ago from a cutting provided by our friend Lyn, has grown tall, and finally had to be planted outside. It appears to have survived the winter in its sunny, sheltered location, and has produced new growth.

The fig tree lives to see spring outdoors!

As April comes to a close, we wish our readers a pleasant month ahead, good food and the warmth of family and friends.

– Mr. Nano, Resident Feline Correspondent reporting from Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you Mr. Nano!

Correspondent Nano, off-duty and relaxing as only a cat can.

Postcards and Letters

We received a beautiful postcard from our blogger friend Doug and his cats Andy and Dougy over “Weggieboy’s blog – surviving retirement with two cats”.  Doug is an inspiration; I admire his fortitude and cheerful wit in the face of adversity. He has a disease called  Wegener’s granulomatosis – now called GPA– that attacks the small and medium-sized blood vessels in the body, hence the “Weggieboy” part of the name of his blog. His Persian cat brothers Andy (named after the patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew) and Dougy (named after Doug himself; Douglas is about as Scottish as you can get) provide plenty of material for a daily blog about life with his two feline companions, my two favorite Persian brothers.  Readers can visit Doug and cats Andy and Dougy at https://phainopepla95.com

Willow enjoying the card from Doug!

“Turn it over and let me read it!” she says.

A wonderful postcard!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

For those readers who may have missed our post last month, 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 will be in my work queue.  April has been busy month on many fronts, and I expect to be catching up on this project in May.

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

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

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

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

Sunrise over Salmon Brook Farms on April 22. There is only one Earth upon which we all go about our separate lives. Treat her kindly.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for February 2017

We indulged in a short trip this month to visit family.  Our February feature photo of Mount Hood was taken through the airplane window as our plane approached Portland International Airport.  Mount Hood, an active stratovolcano, is the highest peak in Oregon at 11,249 feet, and the 4th highest peak in the Cascade Range.  The honor of highest peak in the Cascades goes to Mount Rainier up in Washington at 14,410 feet.  Mount Hood last erupted in 1865, and has been quiescent since then, for which we are grateful.  For more information on Mount Hood, please visit the U.S. Geological Survey and Wikipedia links below.

https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mount_hood/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hood

mthoodfromplane2017

Mount Hood as seen from our plane on the way back in to Portland International Airport. As with any photo on this blog site, click to enlarge. You won’t find any gremlins on the wing, I promise you!

The Multnomah tribe knew this mountain by the name Wy’east.  Please visit the links below for more information on the history of the Multnomah people.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multnomah_people
https://www.pdx.edu/magazine/news/chasing-the-multnomah-myth

A Special Thank You

I would like to take a moment to thank the many wonderful people I have come to know through this blog since it began in 2013. They come from many different countries and walks of life, each with his or her own unique view of the world.  As in the non-electronic world, some people will touch your life more closely than others.  Nia Sunset, feline photographer and author of several blogs including “A Cup of Tea With This Crazy Nia”, “Photography Of Nia” and “IsTAnbuLY”, takes readers inside her Turkish homeland and introduces them to her history, culture and the many things of great beauty to be found there.  Many of those items are hand-made by Nia herself, and I was the grateful recipient of some of her handiwork recently, which I will share with readers in the photo below.  Those of you who craft, knit, crochet or weave will appreciate her talent.  Thank you, Nia, for being a part of our world!

News from the farm

Old Man Winter has still been lurking about on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Although he and his companions Wind and Storm have not dealt us truly bad weather this season, his continual presence has grown wearisome to all who reside here.  The days have steadily grown longer since solstice, triggering daffodil, iris and crocus to awaken and send forth shoots and buds from the dark, cold earth below.  The cheery faces of dandelion and ox-eye daisy can be found keeping a low but watchful profile amid the green grass, while the new leaves of lemon balm hug the soil in the garden beds.  I, too, am feeling restless now, still enjoying the dark slumber of the season, yet anxious for the return of Spring with all her colorful, frantic activity.  Winter will eventually give way to her, grudgingly, as he always does, and he will find his own way down the road to the southern hemisphere.

sbf-snowirises1

Snow irises emerging through clumps of low profile lemon balm.

sbf-snowirises2

Same irises after sleet and snow on February 27th.

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Patiently waiting for spring and bud break. Rick has finished pruning the table grapes pictured here, and has moved on to working in the pinot noir vineyard.

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A bashful ox-eye daisy in February.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Our Resident Feline Correspondent this month is our own Mr. Lucio, who would like readers to know about his superior grooming services before he gives his report on the photographers excursions about the farm.  His associate, correspondent Marcus, was willing to provide a demonstration.  Mr. Lucio will be 12 years old this summer, and his sharp-eyed observations out the window and continual commentary have been invaluable to our understanding of what goes on here at the farm.  Without further ado, we present Mr. Lucio, Resident Feline Correspondent of Salmon Brook Farms.

lucio-marcus-1-02272017

Grooming commences with the chin.

lucio-marcus-2-02272017

Includes the ears.

lucio-marcus-3-02272017

And the face.

lucio-marcus-4-02272017

Not quite done yet.

lucio-marcus-5-02272017

All clean and sparkling! A satisfied customer.

And now, his report for February.

Days are still relatively short at this time of year, even though the increase in light is quite noticeable as the calendar moves forward.  It is the wet season, with mostly cloudy to overcast days and grey, misty pall, contributing to the feeling of winter’s dark cocoon in which we slumber through our days as much as possible.  Pruning of the vines, which commenced in December, is still underway at a leisurely pace; it has been completed in the table grapes, and has now moved on to the pinot noir vineyard.  Old vines wait patiently for bud break, having been pared down to two canes from the previous year.  From the many buds along these two canes, new shoots will grow, giving rise to leafy canopy, flowers and finally fruit, if spring frosts do not cause too much damage.

tablegrape-02252017

An ancient Cascade table grape, waiting for spring. These vines were planted by the previous owner’s parents.

The birds have come through the worst of the winter, and have started preparations for spring themselves.

sbf-robin-02252017

The photographer stalked this plump male American robin (Turdus migratorius), and finally got within range. The bird cast an annoyed look down below before taking off for more private surroundings. As with any of these photos, click to enlarge.

Cold tolerant flowers can be found in more protected places, while lichens and mushrooms cling to their supports.

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Primroses in the front garden bed, snuggled up against a small log for protection.

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This grouping of what I believe are turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) on the east side of an old hazelnut tree seem stained a bit green with what looks like algae.

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Interesting fungal growth on the trunk of a hazelnut tree where a limb has ripped off in past years.

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A patch of crocus planted out in the hazelnut grove many years ago. They have miraculously escaped the attention of the gophers, and have come back every year, purple gems among the grass in the wild area of the farm.

Life is everywhere engaged in its various cycles, living, breathing, returning to earth, even as the winter darkness still reigns in our part of the world.

As the our new day unfolds, we wish our readers a pleasant last day of February, good food and the warmth of family and friends.

– Mr. Lucio, Resident Feline Correspondent reporting from Salmon Brook Farms

Thank you Mr. Lucio!

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page

GuildJumbo

Three views of the Guild 12-string guitar, one of several guitars I used on my CD, “Keepsake”. The back and sides are flamed maple.

The new year is already flying by!  I am still working on projects which are long overdue.  Until I can post some of that work, The Orchard, our distributor, has placed some of our music from the Keepsake CD on YouTube.  Anyone wishing to see the entire track listing and stories behind the songs should visit my personal page under MUSIC in the menu at the top of this post.   Depending on what country you live in, the music placed on YouTube by The Orchard may be blocked.  Readers can also access some songs from the CD via the old IUMA archive site.  See https://archive.org/details/iuma-lavinia_ross

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

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

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

sbf-sunrise-02142017

Early morning on the farm on Valentine’s Day. The colors change quickly! Wishing all of you pleasant days ahead. Be kind to one another. We are all neighbors on this one Earth.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for December 2016

Our feature photo this month was a difficult choice, between our visit this month to California, the grandeur of Mt. Shasta, and the beauty of the farm under snow and ice.  I decided our own black locust tree in all its frozen, jeweled elegance was impressive enough, as we almost never see the tree with ice on it.

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An Apple in Winter – a solitary apple hanging on into December was coated in ice, providing an unusual seasonal ornament in the orchard.

As we come to the end of 2016, I would like to thank all of you who have stopped by our corner of the world, laughed and cried with us, offered their kind comments and “likes” or supported us in some fashion over the 3 1/2 years this blog has been up.  And welcome aboard, new readers!  The cats and crew of Salmon Brook Farms wishes that everyone have a healthy, happy, bright and prosperous New Year ahead.  If I may quote the final lines from Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be careful.  Strive to be happy.”

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Every season has its own beauty to behold.

News from the farm
December was an unusually cold, wet month on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Old Man Winter descended in the form of snow, sleet and freezing rain, breaking branches, toppling trees and disrupting power in the area.  His traveling companions, Wind and Storm, gave voice and form to his presence as he passed through the farm, touching all within reach with icy breath and freezing fingers.  For all the death and destruction left in his wake, in the morning there stood before us a glittering Ice Kingdom, a symbol of his strength and dominion over this time of year.  Tree, shrub and vine found themselves encapsulated, temporary prisoners of the storm.  Grass, still green but covered in ice, gave way with a crunch underfoot, leaving tell-tale impressions of our wandering about.  Below freezing temperatures prolonged the frozen scene until the 18th, when a short visit from the sun accompanied by rising temperatures resulted in sounds of dripping that could be heard everywhere, exposing the resilient, green winter grass of Oregon below.

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Rosebush leaves sporting miniature icicles.

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Blueberry bush coated in ice, caught in the camera’s flash in low lighting.

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A spider web, frozen in time. We observed a spider on the web several days later, after the thaw.

We took a short vacation to visit friends, entrusting cats and farm to our sitter and headed for California on the 19th in freezing rain. The cloud ceiling started lifting down towards the California border, and we stopped in Yreka for lunch at one of our favorite places, The Black Bear Diner.

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The only place you will see this sign!

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Bears inside the diner appropriately dressed for Christmas.

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A bear for little ones.

We arrived at our destination in time to see a most beautiful sunset.

On the way down we noted a strange apparition around Yreka in the form of a large metal dragon sculpture on the opposite side of I-5.  Farther down, we found Mount Shasta cloaked in cloud, bidding us to wait until our return trip, at which point both the mountain and Yreka Dragon would reveal themselves, in different ways.

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Mount Shasta, located at the southern end of the volcanically active Cascade Range. Thought to erupt roughly every 600 to 800 years. The last eruption was 200 – 300 years ago. https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mount_shasta/

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A closer view of the mountain.

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Mount Shasta as seen from the City of Mount Shasta.

The dragon was a bit more mysterious, preferring to be viewed through freezing mists.

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The famous Yreka dragon, created by Siskiyou artist Ralph Starritt. He is also known for the equally famous metal cow-calf pair which can also be seen from I-5. This photo was taken from the car window as we passed by.

Clouds and rain descended upon us again as we came up through the Willamette Valley, prompting the thought that this region could be known as “Land of the Long Grey Cloud”.  I feel certain that I am not the first one to entertain this thought.

The ice now gone, Rick has started pruning the vineyards.  We look forward to a good harvest this coming year, and perhaps some of our own wine made from our own pinot noir.

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We had some sun today, which Rick took advantage of to make some progress in the vineyard.

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Working the table grapes before moving on to the pinot noir vineyard.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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Correspondent Lucio engaging in favorite activity.

Since our Salmon Brook Farms feline correspondents are still spending the majority of their time in holiday hibernation with nothing new to report, Mr. Lucio has agreed to wake up long enough to introduce our readers to our new Foreign Feline Correspondents, Mr. NewDude and his brother Mr. YouTube of the Fratelli Mandorle, or Almond Brothers, who hail from a very beautiful olive farm in Sicily.

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Olive farm at the House of 36 Paws, Sicily.

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Correspondent YouTube (left) and Correspondent NewDude (right)

Ciao meow! I am NewDude, one of the Fratelli Mandorle, or Almond Brothers, as our fur resembles the burnished color of almond shells.

My life here at the House of 36 Paws started about ten months ago. I arrived at the farm looking for work, skinny, infested with fleas, infections and begging for food. The humans kindly fed me and befriended me, but I soon found myself transported up and away to some sort of facility where medical procedures were performed.  I must say after my return trip in the transporter I went into hiding for a few days, but the lure of consistent kibbles and human caresses lured me back to this establishment. There is a large terrace here where I can bask in the sun, and plenty of covered spaces where I can keep warm. Being a nice, easy-going fellow, I am an amiable companion of the two house cats, Lulu and Lucky the Blind Kitty, who is now an honorary Almond Brother.

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Lucky, honorary Almond Brother. A box with a view!

Because the accommodations were so agreeable to my lifestyle, I insisted that my twin brother should abandon his peripatetic ways and come live here with me, in spite of the strange transporter activity and things that happen there in the medical facility. Brother YouTube has since joined the crew, and will write of his own adventures in our next report from Sicily.  Simon and Dexter have also taken up residence relatively recently, and keep things lively!

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NewDude and new arrival Dexter.

There are olive trees to climb here, gardens to play in, lavender and rosemary plants for shaded afternoon napping. I even made friends with the three resident dogs, Bob, Hilda and Little Girl.  I have found Bob to be the most affectionate. The food is outstanding, and I am healthy now and receive lots of attention. Life is good at the House of 36 Paws!

Olive harvest in a previous year

Olive harvest in a previous year.

Sadly, our humans did not harvest any olives for oil this year.  Our spring was very dry, and when it was time for the flowers to bloom and be pollinated, most of them died.   We had a total of possibly six trees sparsely populated with olives.  Correspondent YouTube and I only saw ten trees in the spring with olive flowers, which are tiny. Luckily the humans have enough oil to last until next year.

 – NewDude, Sicilian Feline Correspondent, reporting from the House of 36 Paws

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

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I am looking forward to the new year, and stepping up the pace on current projects which are long overdue.  Someone kindly pointed out to me that 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.

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

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

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

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For Angela1313 at Kimchee and Catnip, https://kimcheeandcatnip.wordpress.com/ who wished to see the entire painting itself. The painting was made by Rick’s father.

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for November 2016

Our feature photo this month is a of a cluster of wild blackberries that bloomed late and were attempting to ripen in the latter part of November. Any cane fruit found at this time of year has little to no flavor, and little to no hope of fully ripening.  They did provide a colorful centerpiece amid the ambient tans and browns of autumn in this photo.

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The apple tunnel a week earlier in November.

The apple tunnel, that magical gateway to the wild area of the farm, still has some very tasty apples hanging from it, although a few less now since this photo was taken on November 22nd.  Formed by an old feral apple tree that fell over but did not die, this old tree is one of my favorite denizens of the back lot.

News from the farm

Another day retreats into the shadows on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  The high pressure sodium and mercury vapor lights on the barns and utility poles of neighboring farms are already glowing softly in shades of orange and greenish-yellow, colored stars on the hillsides as the light fades, and the still air of early evening has taken on a pronounced chill.  After days of rain, mists and damp, the sun’s warmth and soft, low-angled light prevailed today.  Only a few cirrus clouds are present to witness daylight’s end.  In the southwest sky, a single, bright star appears on the celestial canvas of Maxfield Parrish colors.  I stand in awe of the Universe, and in unity with all its creations.

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Sunrise on November 26th. Sunrise and sunset, the bookends of the day, are my favorite times.

 

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A different sunset I was more successful capturing on camera. The sun appeared briefly though an opening in the clouds long enough to generate a rainbow in the east in the next photo. My favorite black locust tree, the same one seen on our “About ” page, adds a lacy dimension on the backdrop of multi-layered storm clouds.

 

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The fleeting rainbow in the east at sunset.

For those readers interested in following up on our winemaking experiments from last month, I cautiously ventured into the refrigerator where the stock pot of nascent wine had been cold stabilizing and sedimenting.  I ladled a sample into a glass, and was quite surprised to find that although light-bodied, as expected from late in the season Cascade table grapes, the wine actually had some character to it, a fruity nose reminiscent of golden apple and was perfectly healthy!  Being a resourceful and thrifty soul without standard winemaking equipment, I ladled the remaining liquid into jars and returned them to the refrigerator to finish sedimenting.  The brown goo left in the bottom of the stock pot consists of sedimented grape solids (grape lees) and sedimented dead yeast (yeast lees), which was promptly composted.  Rick was served a glass after dinner tonight, for proper evaluation purposes.  Our test wine, at roughly 10% alcohol fermented dry, was against all odds dubbed a successful “Cascade Kabinett”.

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October’s Cascade table grapes were used for winemaking experiments. Quail, Inc and other avian as well as hymenopteran friends happily ate our pinot noir, which was not netted.

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The clearest wine is in the half-gallon jars on the right. They will continue to sediment in the refrigerator until ready to rack off again. Jar #1 is headed for immediate consumption.

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Grape and yeast sediment headed for the compost pile.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

The Three Sisters filed a report last month, and left this month’s report to our other correspondents Miss Abby (Eleanor of Aquitaine), Mr. Lucio, Mr. Marcus, Miss Hope, Mr. Nano and Willow, Calico Matriarch.  Unfortunately, all our remaining correspondents listed above were found sleeping on the job, with nothing new to contribute this month.

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Correspondent Abby, who prefers the title Eleanor of Aquitaine, catching a nap. She said it must be Mr. Lucio’s turn to file a report.

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Correspondent Lucio, who says he thought Mr. Marcus was filing this month.

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Correspondent Marcus, blissfully asleep. Now who would want to disturb him? We turned to Miss Hope.

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Correspondent Hope looking warily at the camera. Surely I must be mistaken? Ask Mr. Nano. He may have seen something out the window worth reporting.

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Correspondent Nano, looking groggily at the camera. Would prefer to go back to sleep. Ask Willow, Calico Matriarch. She’s always watching the neighbors.

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Correspondent Willow, not even bothering to look at the camera. Call Otis!

Fortunately our Northeast Regional Correspondent had a report ready and waiting, so without further delay, we present Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent, and his report on late autumn in Connecticut.

The dreariness of November has settled upon us here in Connecticut. It is a transition month along with March where Mother Nature is caught between trying to decide if she should bestow upon us rain or snow, sun or clouds, warm temperatures or cold ones. It is a fickle month and one that I am not too fond of! December is closing in quickly and will hopefully be more consistent weather-wise, although last year it reached over 60 degrees on Christmas Day!

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A November snow in Connecticut. Photo credit C. M.

I spend much of my time now settled happily in my basket by the woodstove or snuggled into the sheepskin throw on the window seat.

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Mr. Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent. Photo credit C. M.

On days where the temperatures are mild I will leave my creature comforts and venture outside to the “man cave” to watch golf with my master or up to the barn to lurk between the hay bales for rodent activity, of which, sadly, there is little due to the “Reign of Izzy”.

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Mr. Otis in his loft. Nothing escapes his attention! Photo credit C.M.

The ponies now look like woolly mammoths with their winter coats. They are arctic animals, so they love it when temperatures drop! They frolic and play, leaping in the air and rearing up, spinning and galloping through the pastures. They are bug-free and the heat of summer is long gone and so they are the happiest in these cooler months! I make sure to stay clear of their flying hooves, so I never enter their playground!

The vegetable garden has been put to bed with the picking of the last of the kale and the trimming back of the blackberry canes. The flower gardens are awaiting frozen ground before their perennials can be cut back and mulched. All the fragile houseplants have been brought inside to the sun room where they will spend the cold months basking in the weak winter sun. Speaking of sun, I am now looking forward to the Winter Solstice. It is my favorite winter event since I know the days will become longer and longer once we are past December 21st. Come February I will relocate my naps to the sun room couch and happily soak in the sun’s warmth there. I am definitely a solar kitty!!

My master has yet to put the snow blower on the tractor. I think he is afraid that if he does we will not have any snow this winter. I wish he would just put it on! No matter whether it snows or not, humans and animals all agree that the best place is by the woodstove. Sadie and Rosie always insist on front row seats

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Sadie and Rosie enjoying some heat from the woodstove. Photo credit C.M.

and Izzy stretches herself out on her back to capture as much heat from the stove as possible.

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The lovely Izzy! Photo credit C. M.

Even my master will stretch out in front of the stove with us making it quite a challenge for my mistress to get by without stepping on body parts!

Well, I hear my master making the fire now, so I think I will curl up in my fireside basket and warm my old bones. Stay warm all and may your winter months be peaceful and restful.  All my best to each and every one of you.

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Mr. Otis, wishing all readers a pleasant evening. Photo credit C. M.

– Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent.

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We have come through our surgery that was scheduled for this month, and I look forward to December to focus on moving forward with my projects.  It has been a difficult year health-wise, but I can say things are looking up now.

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Album cover photo credit Sharon Mayock.

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Photo credit Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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Photo credit Rick 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.

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I believe these might be Turkey Tail mushrooms I found growing amid moss on a hazelnut limb. Beauty is everywhere, from the shaggy carpets of mosses and lichens to the vast blackness of the heavens above. It is there for those who seek it with an open heart and open mind.

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

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

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for October 2016

Our feature photo this month is a colorful autumn view through the south row of table grapes.  The grass in the background has turned a lovely emerald green, as it always does at this time of year when the rains begin again.  Although we do not experience the vibrant colors of New England here except for where ornamentals and other non-native species are planted, our grapes, blueberries and hawthorns provide some red and orange hues to the predominantly green, yellow and browns of the season.

News from the farm

The days have grown noticeably shorter on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  As Autumn wearily trudges on towards Winter, her traveling companion Wind has grown restless.  Sometimes playful, sometimes angry, but always on the move now, driving the herds of wandering dark clouds before her, leaving a cold, fragmented sky in their wake.  She shakes tree, shrub and vine, demanding them to release spent leaves and overripe fruit.  Come January, she will call like a Banshee in the night, and I will wake and listen for a while, the sound of her wailing striking some momentary primordial feeling of dread.  Her siblings Storm and Mist visit much more frequently.  Mist is a shadowy figure, stealthily creeping in at times when the afternoon sun is warm and the air is still.  The breath of the mountains slides down into the bowl in which this farm sits, and I feel the cold dampness on my neck.  I turn to face this amorphous stark white entity, who soon envelopes me and all my surroundings.  I find myself ingested.  At night, her fingers curl and probe under the lights, attempting to find a way into the warmth beyond the door which shuts her out.  Waiting for me to leave the safety of the house, she knows I will eventually have to come outside for various reasons.  She will meet me on her own terms in this dark time of year.

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October sunrise in progress over Salmon Brook Farms.

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These intrepid little dandelions still bloom at this time of year.

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A nasturtium plant snuggled up against the garage provides color as well.

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The persimmon tree lost many leaves during the last storm.

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Falling rain at sunset, Nature’s fine filigree of black locust tree against the sky.

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And a rainbow to the east at sunset. Storm leaves a present for those who take time to observe.

Rick was busy rolling up netting today where all the grapes have been harvested.  We had a good year in the vineyards except for where quail and other birds robbed us clean in sections that were not netted.

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Rick, busy collecting netting this morning. Those are pruning shears at his side, for those who might be wondering.

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We still have table grapes!

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And a fine patch of kale, liking the cooler wet weather.

Earlier this month I had Rick collect four trays of Cascade table grapes for me to experiment with, as out Pinot Noir vineyard had been stripped clean by Quail, Inc.  Sorted and crushed by hand, I decided they might at least make a good vinegar, as I had done back in 2014 when the vineyard was also stripped clean.   Feeling adventurous, I decided to add a packet of Red Star Epernay II yeast that had been in the back of the refrigerator since last fall.  I wasn’t sure if the yeast would still function, so I decided to find out!  The stock pot was happily bubbling away within a couple of days, and the juice fermented dry to about 10% alcohol, based on the starting sugar content measured in the initial grape must (freshly pressed juice) and post fermentation juice.  Cascade grapes on their own don’t make great wine, but they are sometimes used for blending.  The “wine” is sitting sur lie in the refrigerator, before I rack it off and decide what to do with this experiment.

For more information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lees_(fermentation)

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4 trays of Cascade grapes ready for crushing!

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First load in the “press”.

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A makeshift press. Any good colander will do!

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Grape pomace – skins, stems and seeds ready for composting.

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Grape must, or juice ready for fermenting. The wild yeasts present 2 years ago were not sufficient to go the distance, and so we had great pinot noir vinegar that year when acetobacter took over.

And then there are those unpleasant events that occur.  We woke to find a large buck had expired out in the back yard.  The ODFW was called, and they indicated there was nothing to be done unless the animal had died of gunshot wounds, in which case they notify the State Police.  Rick and I rolled the buck over and could not find any signs of bullet wounds, so we dragged the poor fellow out of the way.  A shallow pit was dug, and I covered him with dirt and sod as best I could.  He will return to the earth from whence he came.

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John Doe, a handsome buck, expired out back from unknown causes. Not what one wants to find in their yard. Most likely cause according to ODFW was internal injuries from and encounter with other males during the rutting season. It is possible he was hit by a car, showed no external damage, and managed to wander back this far before falling.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Miss Wynken of The Three Sisters wanted to file a report this month for the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms, as she had plenty to say.

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Miss Wynken files her report.

Miss Wynken would like readers to know she is well again, having stopped eating on us.   She was treated for a possible urinary tract infection, but we suspect the real culprit or at least an additional problem was her catching a front claw in something and ripping it out.  She received antibiotics, special food and lots of TLC.  The nail is growing back in nicely, she is eating and playing with toys again.

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The lovely Wynken, all recovered.

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Miss Nod, also known as “Sister Bertrille” or “The Flying Nod”. She is the most talkative and most adventurous of the Three Sisters.

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Miss Blynken, the Quiet Intellectual. Studies people.

Miss Wynken would also like readers to know old Willow, the Calico Matriarch is doing well, and is still enjoying her window seat.  She is up there in age, although we are not sure exactly how old she is.

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Miss Willow, Calico Matriarch. She is somewhere in the vicinity of 20 years old, we think. Only she knows for sure.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

I am looking forward to the dark time of winter as a time of creativity, and getting fully back on my feet.  Stay tuned!  A few more tests and some surgery to get out of the way now.

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Photo credit Mike and Liz Santone of Meadowlake Studios and McMinnville Community Media TV.

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Album photo credit Sharon Mayock

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Photo credit Rick 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.

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One of the last roses of autumn to survive all the recent rain. A sweet reminder of summer, and a promise of good things to come.

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

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

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Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for September 2016

Our feature photo this month is of one of our red roses from the garden in front of the house.  Sunlight coming in at low angle caught the backside of swirling red petals, detailing the ruffled skirt of this cheerful, flamboyant blossom.  Depending on the weather, we may have blooms into late October or early November, a final farewell to this year’s growing season.

News from the farm

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The Apple Tunnel, formed when a very old and very tall apple tree fell over long ago, but did not die. The tunnel entrance is facing west in this photo looking back toward vineyards and house. On this side of the tunnel is the wild area of the farm, including an acre of hazelnuts.

Autumn has settled in on our little farm in the Cascade foothills.  Her arrival, unlike that of her maiden sister Spring, comes without the fanfare of golden trumpets and bright colors bursting forth from winter rain-damp soil and emerald green fields to meet her.  No, Autumn is a slow, stealthy traveler, preferring to keep her own counsel as she stalks the farm.  She is first seen out of the corner of one’s eye, cloaked in dessicated shades of yellow and brown, in the dry grass underfoot and stark white cirrus clouds overhead, foreshadowing much-needed rain.  The land and all its rooted and mobile inhabitants begin a slow shift towards the inevitable as they become aware of her growing presence.  Garden, orchard and vineyard race to ripen the fruits of their summer-long labor, and wildlife wait to feast on whatever they can before what all creatures know as the Hard Time sets in.  Jack Frost will not be far behind now, his icy brush painting the way for Old Man Winter.  It is the time of transition.

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Strands of cirrus clouds marbled the sky today.

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A sunset photo from last week. The depth and color of the clouds is beautiful to behold.

Plums have been dried and put away for the winter, and we are canning as many tomatoes as we have time for, since there are so many! The table grapes have done exceptionally well this year, and are providing us with copious fresh fruit. Since grapes can tolerate a light frost, we leave them on the vine until we are ready to pick.

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Ripe Cascade table grapes, fortunately protected by netting.

Our pinot noir which was not bird-netted was completely stripped clean by quail.  I had postponed harvesting the pinot since there was a lot of uneven ripening this year.  This proved to be a mistake.  The quail, not seen all summer long, launched a stealth attack on the vineyard, where there were many grapes hanging from the vines only a few days before.  Caught red-footed among the vines, they ran quite a ways before they achieved lift-off.  No wine this year, but I will make some vinegar from the Cascade table grapes of which there are plenty, and are covered with netting.

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I see a lot of applesauce in our future.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

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Abby “Eleanor of Aquitaine”. Holding court in her personal bookcase.

Our feline correspondent this month is our own Miss Abby, who would prefer to be known as Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Miss Abby would like readers to know she will be 15 years old next April, but has not let age slow her down!  Well, not much anyway.  She is sleeping in later these days, and enjoying that.  As one of the dominant female cats of the household, she feels it is her duty to keep the younger cats in line, especially Mr. Lucio whom she feels is always out of line, even when he is doing nothing.  They have established a truce during the nighttime hours so that all may sleep, mostly.

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Lucio, Alpha male, 11 years old. Has learned, mostly, that Abby is one of the Alpha females and commands respect.

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The end of all the medical testing this year is in sight, and I made a good bit of progress.  After what I hope will only be minor surgery later this fall, I should be back in the saddle.  I have put the studio back together again, and barring any unforeseen problems, will have something going soon, including some videos. I am looking forward to the dark time of winter as a time of creativity.

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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.

keepsake1

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

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

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The white rose of remembrance in our garden. Planted in memory of my own mother, and shown here for all who are remembering someone today. May you find peace.

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Music and Farm

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for August 2016

Since we live in the volcanically active Cascade Range, Rick and I decided to take a short vacation to Crater Lake National Park to celebrate our anniversary this month, now that we are able to travel a bit.  We stayed in a beautiful little bed & breakfast in the Fort Klamath area just outside the park.

Our feature photo this month is a view of Crater Lake, a caldera lake created roughly 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted here in southern Oregon.  The feeling one gets upon viewing this magnificent, pristine lake for the first time is indescribable.  It is the deepest lake in the United States, and the 10th deepest lake in the world.  According to the National Park Service, is considered to be the cleanest and clearest large body of water in the world.

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Crater Lake Bed & Breakfast – a wonderful place to stay and hosts international visitors
http://www.craterlakebandb.com/

Crater Lake links for the adventurous traveler
https://www.nps.gov/CRLA/planyourvisit/index.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crater_Lake

Geologic history of the region
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Mazama
https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs092-02/

From the pull down menu on this page, one can take a peek at what is going on with other volcanoes.
https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/crater_lake/crater_lake_geo_hist_133.html

Our camera is on the old side, and apparently memory sticks are not readily available for it in stores anymore.  With only enough storage for approximately 9 photos, we tried to be careful what we kept.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

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On the way into the park.

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Such a beautiful blue reflecting pool! Wizard Island is a cinder cone that emerged after Mount Mazama blew.

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Another view of the lake from the rim.

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It is along way down from the rim. Those trees are full height, which should give the viewer some perspective.

News from the farm

August brought the expected yearly blast furnace of high temperatures and no rainfall.  Dust Devils and other earthly sprites of the dry times relish the heat.  It is their time.   Once emerald green and lush from winter’s rains, grass has withered, curled and baked to a light tan in its dormant phase, and crunches underfoot like dry leaves.  Our days typically begin in the mid 40s to low 50s, soaring into the 80s, 90s, or 100s by afternoon.  We are visited by the Wind in her various moods as the land warms and entices her, though she leaves no footprints now in the dormant grass.  Her passing is noted in the rustling of weary, yellowing leaves that are slowly slipping away with the daylight hours, and in the waving of the Queen Anne’s Lace.  They too, are curling their spent umbrels inward, waving their newly formed goblets in Wind’s wake as if in supplication for cooler, wetter times.  Won’t she leave the thirsty gardens a little moisture, they implore?  She whispers it won’t be too long now, all life must have patience.

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The neighbors’ Number 0003 came over to the fence to pay a visit.

We are enjoying the abundance of produce, even as we wait for cooler weather and shorter days to slowly settle in.  Picking, pickling, drying on top of much spot watering are priorities now.

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We have no shortage of pickles and fresh cucumbers! I grow the starts and tend the plants. Rick is our resident pickle-meister who makes all the good pickles. The variety is a dual-purpose heirloom called Edmonson. We purchased seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange http://www.southernexposure.com/edmonson-pickling-cucumber-2-g-p-134.html

The growing season has been a strange one, presenting a few conundrums along the way.  For those readers who have been following along regarding our troubles in the vineyard, we have the answer from the Extension Service to last month’s puzzler.

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Analysis from the Extension Service

“If it is what I think it is, it basically is a result of some sort of mechanical damage that occurred to the berry skin that was not enough to damage the whole berry and allowed the rest of the berry to grow and expand while the damaged area remained restricted. This results in the “pushed out seed” phenomenon. I get this inquiry almost every year, and it usually is on a small percentage of berries throughout the vineyard (not on all berries within a given cluster). This year, it seems to be associated with some sleet or small hail damage at the right stage post fruit set. I know there were some sleet storms in mid late June that went through the valley, and this could be to blame.”

We had two hail storms pass through on the same day during that time frame, and the damage to our vineyard was not extensive.  We have a good harvest of grapes on the way, with table grapes being well ahead of the pinot noir, as usual.

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Table grapes, variety Cascade, developing nice color now.

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Pinot noir, behind the table grapes in ripening.

Our new Moonglow pear tree, which was severely pruned by the neighbor’s horse earlier this summer, has survived with a little help from a generous amount of horse manure and lots of water.  It is even attempting to bloom again.  I am always amazed at the tenacity of life.

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New leaves and new blooms! Note the two new white blossoms on the right, down below the lowest fork. This tree may survive yet.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Old Willow would like readers to know that some days, she just likes the comfort of a nice paper bag.  She thinks everyone should have one, for those times when the world is pressing in, and one needs to shut it out.

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Willow enjoying her bag. She is somewhere in the vicinity of 20 years old, although we don’t really know how old she is for certain.

Without further ado, the feline matriarch of Salmon Brook Farms would like to turn the news over to Mr. Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent.   For those who may not be familiar with Mr. Otis and his companion the lovely Izzy, these two talented cats hail from the far away eastern lands of Connecticut, and with the able assistance of their human staff R & C, file a report from time to time to let readers know what is going on in their area.

OTIS REPORT: SUMMERTIME!!

It has mostly been a hot, humid, oppressive summer here in the Northeast. I spend my days languishing either on the porch’s wicker couch or snoozing on the window seat under the ceiling fan.

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Mr. Otis at rest after a hard day of work.

The weather has been similar to that found in the deep South and I now understand why Southerners move so slowly. August brought quite a few afternoon thunderstorms with soaking rains, which left the earth a steamy, soggy landscape only to be parched again by the heat of the next day.

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The lovely Izzy taking time to nap in the summer sunshine.

The flower and vegetable gardens also felt the harshness of the heat displaying wilted leaves as the sun reached its zenith and were then rejuvenated again by the passing afternoon storms. Tomatoes, kale, peppers, rhubarb, Swiss chard, black berries, blueberries, strawberries and lettuce did well. However, the peas, eggplant, basil, dill and leeks had a hard time of it because of the early heat. Flowers were lovely this year except for the hydrangea that never bloomed because of the cold snap we had this spring. The black-eyed susan is my favorite flower and it seemed to thrive in the heat along with the plethora of weeds that cropped up everywhere!

All the critters of Hope Valley have spent the summer moving to a slower rhythm, too. The horses spend their morning in the field, but are back in the barn as the temperature rises and the bugs become more active. Rosie, that annoying terrorist, even lounges on the other window seat under the ceiling fan, much to my dislike.

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Rosie enjoying a window view.

Sadie and Izzy seem to be the only ones loving the current climate and one can always find them nosing about the farm on some adventure. They often sit together on the front lawn or share moments with Mr. Shrew and his family or the chipmunk gang.

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Sadie and Izzy keeping an eye on activities in the garden wall.

There was a handsome juvenile bald eagle hunting the meadows one weekend. I kept myself safely on the porch as I watched him carry away 4 rabbits over 2 days. He was quite clever and persistent in making his dinner plans and I marveled at how efficient he was. I must say, I was just as good in my youth, too!

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Bald eagle catches a rabbit in the meadow.

Well, enough said. I need to find my water dish and then my window seat. My mistress will not let me outside after 5:00 now that the shadows are growing longer and the coyotes have been roaming about. I don’t mind though…I love my snooze time! Enjoy the rest of your summer and here’s to hoping for cooler, dryer fall weather!! I do love autumn!!

Cheers!!

-Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent

Music News (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

We enjoyed seeing our friends Laurie Jennings and Dana Keller again up at Marks Ridge Winery in August.   We had a wonderful evening listening to some really wonderful folk musicians!

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The Jennings and Keller concert started in early evening.

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And went on into the night.

Please visit Laurie and Dana’s website at  http://www.jenningsandkeller.com/

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And as for me?

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I am still working through various medical issues and still on hiatus from performing, but continuing to play and enjoy down time with my guitars while I continue to recuperate.   I will know more by next month, and hopefully have a better idea of when I will be fully back on my feet. At the moment I take life one day at a time.   I learned how to make videos in late winter and do some rudimentary editing.  Technology continues to make leaps and bounds, allowing the small-time geek, tinkerer, and putterer like myself another means of expressing and sharing creativity.  Expect a surprise in months to come!  I won’t promise when, though.  I am savoring this time of few obligations to anyone except myself, the farm, and it inhabitants.

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

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

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

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And a special note of thanks to Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene at Teagan’s Books for featuring us in her blog post https://teagansbooks.com/2016/08/06/guitar-mancer-episode-19-head-on/ I am always deeply touched when someone reads, enjoys, and comes away with something positive from our Salmon Brook Farms blog posts, and feels they are worth mentioning to others. Please stop by her site. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have! Thank you, Teagan!

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