At Home at Salmon Brook Farms

Have you visited the blog for Salmon Brook Farms, home of Lavinia and Rick Ross?

Blog photo Lavinia and Rick story Daffodils

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick story Rick in Vineyard house in BGBlog Photo Lavinia and Rick Vineyard

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Rick preparing tomatoes for canning

They grow grapes, flowers, fruit, berries, vegetables and other produce.

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Story Rose

They love cats.

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Story Cats

Their Subaru, Seabisquit, has driven nearly 435, 000 miles.

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick story Seabisquit the Subaru

They are musicians who encourage their readers to support other local musicians.

Blog Photo Lavinia playing guitar

I follow their blog, primarily maintained by Lavinia, and email back and forth with her, but realized recently that I knew little about her as a musician and writer.

So I listened to her CD. Lavinia sings folk music and plays the guitar beautifully.   My husband and I played it repeatedly on a drive in the countryside.

“Where did your love of music come from?” I asked Lavinia later.

I grew up hearing everything, from the Appalachian mountain and assorted older folk music that my parents enjoyed to the current folk and rock & roll from the 60s and 70s that my brothers were listening to.  I would sit on the swings and sing & swing away when I was very young. 

Blog Photo Lavinia at age 5

I remember when I was about 5 or 6 years old trying to mimic the sound of the trumpet in “Trumpeter’s Prayer” by making air buzz through my teeth.  I can’t remember how to do that now.   I simply enjoy creating, and expressing it.  It is part of me. 

Lavinia has performed at various events, garnering recognition along the way.

My “lifetime achievement” award came from a young child.  When my first (and only, so far) CD came out, my old friend Margaret suggested that I send a copy to her friend Ruth, whom I had never met.  Ruth played it for her granddaughter who remarked, “That must be God’s mother singing!”   

Blog Photo Lavinia

 Margaret promptly reported that comment back to me, and I was stunned.  Children, especially the younger ones, are in general brutally honest.  To me, this child’s comment is the most meaningful endorsement I have ever received on my music, and will be difficult for anyone to top.

Rick and Lavinia, though coming from different musical genres, have also performed together. It’s helped their working relationship on their farm in Linn County, Oregon.

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick story Rick performing

Photo of Rick by Nat Kennedy, Connecticut

I  was exposed to the blues through listening to Rick, and had to learn to do a bit of that myself, as we often played for audiences who had come to hear him play blues and were not so interested in quiet folk music.   I had to stretch myself. 

As for the farm, like the music we have some things we work on together, but still maintain our own departments for which we are mainly responsible.There is still give and take, different points of view, and some bickering, but most importantly now, the shared vision of making our farm a beautiful, productive and peaceful place in our retirement years.

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Pinot Noir

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick tomatoes

And the cats?

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Story The Indoor crew

The cats are definitely characters in their own right, and are more like living with eccentric roommates than pets.   Friends for a short time, remembered for a lifetime.   Wise old souls and teachers, comforters in hard times, playful little elvish creatures who help us see the lighter side of life. 

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Story Miss Nod

They teach us how to be better people.  Their lives, and all the memories they leave behind after they depart, are all woven into the fabric of our own, becoming part of the legends and history of this place we call home.

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick story cats Marcus and Lucio

Four years ago, their home life changed drastically. Earlier than planned, they became caregivers to Rick’s mother.

A friend who took care of her elderly mother with Parkinson’s described her own experience as “the quicksand years”, and I understand now what she meant.  We rebuilt the house to accommodate Gladys, and had to move twice in one year. 

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Story Gladys' room

Although we loved Gladys very much, the experience stretched our coping ability with her, ourselves and each other to the limit of what we were capable of handling, even with help from Hospice in the last 3 months and additional caregivers coming in to help.  Physically and emotionally, it took a serious toll on my health, and I wanted little to do with anyone for some time after she died.  I needed peace, quiet and downtime from responsibility, which can be difficult for friends and relatives to comprehend. 

We are not the same people we were previous to caring for Gladys.  We survived the experience and I think have come out the better as individuals and as partners for it.

Lavinia’s blog is beautifully written.  So I ask: “I know you’re not performing at present, but are you writing?”

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick story old apple tree and tunnel

Although I am taking a break from performing, I am still playing music for myself, working on songs as well as working on a collection of essays, pictures drawn in words of things I remember from my life.  I am finding that reconnection to earlier parts of my life an enjoyable exploration.

Blog Photo Lavinia and Rick Story Rainbow over SBF

Writing is the thread that sews the remnants of life and soul together.   

Photos from Salmon Brook Farms Website.

 

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64 Comments

Filed under A Good Home, Couples Farming, Musicians

64 responses to “At Home at Salmon Brook Farms

  1. Lavinia’s blog is lovely. I am so pleased you featured her here. The ‘Quicksand Years’ is a perfect expression. We love our parents, we are glad to have them still with us, but the care-giving is an extraordinarily complex undertaking. I am sending lots of rest and calm to Lavinia.

  2. When I first read this, I thought you meant had readers literally been to SBF! But now I’ve visited virtually and it looks beautiful. A dream many of us have, but only few manage to realise, so well done to Rick and Lavinia.

    And caring. Ay! It’s very, very draining. My parents did it and said they never wanted me to. However those were the words of healthy middle-aged people, not those of failing 70+-year-olds. If we can help our parents enjoy their last months/years with family rather than in a sterile home with strangers, then I think we should try. Although accepting it won’t be easy.

    • I knew that some people would think that, and I meant to make a slight change and forgot! How I remember anything at all is a mystery. Well said about caring for aging parents.

    • Thank you for visiting the farm! I agree that if it is at all possible to help our elders enjoy their last years at home, we should try. A support structure of family, friends and social services is critical, though, and can be difficult to assemble. Often times one doesn’t know exactly what they need until they are deep into the process, and by then they are drowning.

  3. Folk music and lots of cats–my kind of world! Thanks for the tip about Lavinia’s blog, Cynthia!

  4. Thank you for introducing us to Rick and Lavinia, Cynthia. They sound like wonderful people. I’m stunned that their Subaru, Seabisquit, has nearly 435, 000 miles. They should do a commercial for Subaru!

  5. What a strong woman (and hubby), and how beautifully she shares her life. Couldn’t agree more on the writing and, of course, the cats. 🙂

  6. Thank you for visiting and the very kind comments! We enjoy our life out here in the beautiful Pacific northwest. Thank you!

  7. Thanks for this post and the introduction to Lavinia’s blog. What wonderful music and what a lovely home she and her husband have made.

  8. You had me at the cats :).

  9. I can’t believe the mileage on the Subaru. I thought my car at 75K was a high mileage lol!

  10. Thanks for telling us about Rick and Lavinia and their farm. I’ll be checking out her blog.

  11. A beautiful post, Cynthia and Lavinia. I love the final quote: “Writing is the thread that sews the remnants of life and soul together.” Wonderful.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  12. It was great to meet Lavinia, dear Cynthia… I love the excerpts concerning cats… I have two, and could not agree more with that…. amazing creatures, they are… I hope you are having a very nice summer over there. Sending you all my best wishes!. Aquileana 😀

  13. This is such a wonderful visit and interview! Two of my most favourite bloggers wrapped up in one lovely parcel!

  14. Hello Clare! Thank you for visiting and the lovely comment! Always good to see you stop by. 🙂

  15. I so enjoyed reading this .. Thank you so much

  16. What wonderful sounding people. The phrase ‘the quicksand years’ is so apt, it will stay with me.

  17. Such a lovely looking place! I enjoyed the photos and interview very much. The cats are gorgeous, especially the one who has my name. 🙂

  18. Love this post and as someone else who is in the quicksand years, 10 so far, I wish you peace. I loved the cats too especially the look of utter bliss on the face of the ginger one who is half grooming, half using as a pillow the tortoishell (I think you guys call it calico?) cat on a windowsill.

    • Thank you for visiting! My heart goes out to you, who are in your own caregiving situation, and also wish you peace.

      Marcus, the ginger cat, and Lucio, the tortie-tabby, are best buddies. Marcus bonded to Lucio when he was a kitten, and follows him everywhere now. Lucio makes a nice pillow with all that fur. 🙂

  19. Pingback: Rick and Lavinia Ross Farm & Music Newsletter for July 2016 | Salmon Brook Farms

  20. Susan

    Thank you for this interview with Lavinia. I’ve learned things here that I did not know and might otherwise not have known. I really enjoyed reading your interview.

  21. A lovely interview, Cynthia. You could not have chosen a more charming subject. Hugs all around.

  22. One thing I really love about blogging is that it reinforces my belief that there’s far more good hearted people in the world than not. I recognized that in Lavinia and Rick from my first visit to Salmon Brook Farm. I gravitate to their love and caring stewardship of the land, their love for music, animals and people. I feel really blessed to have stumbled by Salmon Brook. This is a super special community I think. Boomdee

    • Hi Boomdee, thanks for stopping by and visiting Cynthia’s interview post about the farm. 🙂

      This is a very special, caring community of people we belong to. I learned of Cynthia’s blog site through Gallivanta, and am very grateful to have come to know this remarkable author through her books “A Good Home” and “An Honest House” in addition to her posts.

  23. I’ve followed Lavinia’s blog for a while and always admired her writing and chosen lifestyle. I got to ‘know her’ better through your posting though – a lovely insightful, honest piece.

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