Music and Farm, The Cycle of Life

Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for March 2017

Our  feature photo for March is of the only surviving Apple Blossom tulips planted many years ago.  Out of 100 bulbs planted, marauding gophers missed a few of them, for which we are grateful.  These are the only ones left.  Raindrops from an early morning shower still cling to recently emerged soft pink blooms, leaf and stem in this patch of semi-wild garden.  A daffodil in the background off to the right nods a pleasant good morning under grey skies.

Apple Blossom tulips. Click on any photo on this blog site to enlarge.

This morning’s rugged skies.

News from the farm

Spring has arrived on our little farm in the Cascade foothills, although she took the longer, less traveled road this year.  It seems that Old Man Winter was not quite ready to relinquish his hold in this realm; he has been taking his time moving along, even as the sun moves further north and the days rapidly grow longer.  Breezes moving about the farm still nip and claw; they have yet to realize he is leaving them behind.  Spring’s carriage found itself buffeted by cold rain and bogged down in muddy ruts; her heralds, on many days, awoke bewildered, covered in frost.  Yet as rumpled and disheveled as I have ever seen her, she has finally settled in; the land and all its creatures have been quick to respond to her gentle smile and warm caress.  Buds are swelling, and there are signs of her everywhere, from the colorful trumpets of daffodils and delicate goblets of crocuses with their bright orange stamens to the tiny red flowers of hazelnuts.  Windows open for a few hours on warmer days in March, allowing an exchange of clean, outside air.  At night, a chorus of frogs indicates all is well, at least in this corner of the world.

Bright faces of daffodils grace the farm.

Crocus, always a welcome sign of warmer days to come.

Tiny red female flowers of hazelnuts often start blooming in February. They were a bit delayed this year.

More hazelnut flowers, Lilliputian beauties.

The atmospheric rivers of moisture that flow through this region at this time of year are still swollen with heavy clouds.  The sun frantically bobs into view now and then amid stiff winds and a fractured sky, when many levels of cloud can be seen. Sometimes one can peer all the way up into the quiescent blue above the ripples and eddies, and wonder at the turbulence below.  The range of color from stark white through charcoal grey, along with the layered, textural appearance of these wandering, coalescing masses of water vapor and dust intrigue me.  These shape-shifters of the heavens often move along at a fast clip, frequently changing the lighting and the view outside my window. Each scene a snapshot in time to be cherished and remembered, solely for it is, and that I was present to witness it unfolding.

Although this photo is from January, I found it a most interesting view of our sky.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms

Resident correspondents Mr. Marcus, Mr. Lucio and Mr. Nano are off on assignment, and will file a report for April’s newsletter.  They are still debating as to which one of them will actually write it.

Resident correspondents Mr. Marcus (left), Mr. Lucio (center) and Mr. Nano (right). Mr. Nano has a nose for news, and has spotted something going on out there.

Correspondents Mr. Marcus and Mr. Lucio joining in on the investigation.

Correspondent Lucio is sure he will get Mr. Marcus or Mr. Nano to actually write the report, from his viewpoint, of course.

Miss. Willow, calico matriarch, is tired of winter and longs for sunnier days.

Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent Otis and the lovely Izzy will present news from the far eastern farmlands of Connecticut this month.  Without further ado, Miss Willow, our calico matriarch, would like to turn this section of the newsletter over to Mr Otis.


It was March 14th when I started writing this report, and blizzard Eugene was raging outside the log cabin. Snow, sleet, rain, and wild winds was the mixed bag of weather Eugene was throwing at us.  Birds were braving the 23 mph winds to frantically consume as much birdseed as possible to keep their energy levels up.  The feeders had to be filled twice during the storm!  They certainly did not need to worry about me venturing out to intimidate them!  It is difficult for the birds to manage in these weather extremes, so I was happy to just watch them from the dining room window.

Photo credit C. M.

The month of March is such a tease!  March likes to toy with us, like a cat with a mouse (hate using this comparison!).  One breathes a sigh of relief at the end of February thinking at last spring is around the corner with the worse behind us and longer, warmer days ahead.  But, NO, that is rarely the case!!    It was just 60 degrees and sunny a week ago and then brutal cold and winds descended upon us for 3 days!  Some of the deciduous trees actually had the beginnings of buds on them and the ponies began shedding their winter coats over the last 2 weeks.  My mistress found a beautiful robin the other day…frozen.  It must have been blown into the side of the barn and stunned, never to awaken before the cold grasped it with its deadly hold.  She brought it up to UConn’s ornithology lab, so that its body might be used for science.

Since winter is not yet ready to relinquish its hold on Connecticut I find myself napping in warm places and will continue to do so until Spring finally usurps and wrestles control from Winter.  I have spent most of these winter days in my newly claimed cat bed.  The bed is really a dog bed.  It originally belonged to Rosie, but being in charge of household matters, I took it over.  It is comfortable and fits me perfectly and Rosie does not challenge me for it back.  Plus, my mistress has placed it next to the radiator so it gets very warm, which is something my old bones love.

Correspondent Otis has taken over Rosie’s bed, and has no intention of giving it up. Photo credit C. M.

We are all going stir crazy. Izzy has taken to exploring various spots in the cabin.  One of her favorite spots is sitting over the door to Master Rob’s bedroom.  She also has taken to jumping into waste paper baskets and peering out at us all.  It is kind of creepy…almost like she is planning some future attack.

The lovely Izzy engaged in espionage. Photo credit C. M.

Like me, Izzy has also found a new bed.  She has taken to napping in Sadie’s bed at the top of the stairs and refuses to give it up even when Sadie tries to push it over on her. The dogs, too, are finding this transition month challenging.  Their greatest excitement is in chasing the crows and squirrels from the feeders and barking incessantly at the turkeys that have started displaying their mating activities in the backyard.

The ponies spend their days rolling in the snow and sunbathing.  They, too, are bored and get excited when the 4-H kids come to groom them or dinnertime arrives.  Certainly the term ‘hay burners’ is an appropriate description for them in this weather since the heat generated in their hindgut during digestion is what keeps them warm in the colder temperatures.  They actually enjoy being out in cold and even though they had shelter from the blizzard, they still enjoyed playing out in the wild weather.

Snow collecting on equine residents. Photo credit C. M.

Waiting out the late winter weather. Photo credit C M.

Let’s hope that the next time I write it will be SUNNY and WARM in this part of the world!  Let’s hope I will be able to send you some pictures of Spring in full swing!  In the meantime, back to my napping and other relaxing activities!

Correspondent Otis, off-duty and warming up. Photo credit C. M.

– Otis, Northeast Regional Feline Correspondent

Music news (schedule posted on the Performance Schedule page)

The Salmon Brook Farms YouTube channel finally has content, and our first Tiny Farm Concerts one song music video is posted!  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!

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

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

For Baz, Janet and TomO. Daffodils in Archie, Marion and Merle’s memorial garden.

Herman and Mr. Bowie’s cherry tree garden in memory of Herman’s mother, brother, sister, and cats Glippie and Mrs. Jones. Readers will see various memorial gardens throughout the year.

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.


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.

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.


Snow irises emerging through clumps of low profile lemon balm.


Same irises after sleet and snow on February 27th.


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.


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.


Grooming commences with the chin.


Includes the ears.


And the face.


Not quite done yet.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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


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

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


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.

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.

an apple in winter

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.”


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.


Rosebush leaves sporting miniature icicles.


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


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.


The only place you will see this sign!


Bears inside the diner appropriately dressed for Christmas.


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.


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.


A closer view of the mountain.


Mount Shasta as seen from the City of Mount Shasta.

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


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.


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


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

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms


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.


Olive farm at the House of 36 Paws, Sicily.


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.


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!


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)


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


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

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.


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.


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



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.



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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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!


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.


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”.


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


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.


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.


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.


Album cover photo credit Sharon Mayock.


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


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.


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

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.


October sunrise in progress over Salmon Brook Farms.


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


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


The persimmon tree lost many leaves during the last storm.


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


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.


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


We still have table grapes!


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


4 trays of Cascade grapes ready for crushing!


First load in the “press”.


A makeshift press. Any good colander will do!


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


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.


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.


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.


The lovely Wynken, all recovered.


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


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.


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.


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


Album photo credit Sharon Mayock


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.


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

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


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.


Strands of cirrus clouds marbled the sky today.


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.


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.


I see a lot of applesauce in our future.

News from the Cats of Salmon Brook Farms


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.


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.


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


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.

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.


Crater Lake Bed & Breakfast – a wonderful place to stay and hosts international visitors

Crater Lake links for the adventurous traveler

Geologic history of the region

From the pull down menu on this page, one can take a peek at what is going on with other volcanoes.

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.


On the way into the park.


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


Another view of the lake from the rim.


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.


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.


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

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.



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.


Table grapes, variety Cascade, developing nice color now.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!!


-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!


The Jennings and Keller concert started in early evening.


And went on into the night.

Please visit Laurie and Dana’s website at


And as for me?


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.


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


And a special note of thanks to Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene at Teagan’s Books for featuring us in her blog post 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!