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Foxtail Farm Blog

Not Quite There

Peter Berg

It has been a couple of months since my last posting and I am not quite open for business, as I have experienced a few setbacks in my efforts to get the B&B up and running.

Smoke plume behind our house - Railroad Fire

Smoke plume behind our house - Railroad Fire

First and foremost, has been the hot, dry summer and the number of fires in the area. Two times this summer Cheryl and I have been packed and ready to evacuate. The most recent was the Railroad fire that got to within 1-1/2 miles of our property. Focusing on where the fire is and isn’t becomes an obsession for me as I follow scanner reports, local news coverage, MODIS mapping, air-traffic radar, sheriffs department Nixle texts, and a local Facebook group that provides up to the minute reports from observers, scanners, and a variety of other sources. I tend to not focus on much else until the fire danger passes. At one point we had air tankers (including the 747 VLAT) right over our house making final approaches to dump retardant on the fire. For us it was the redneck air show – pull up a chair and grab a beer!

747 VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) on final approach to the fire.

747 VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) on final approach to the fire.

Redneck Air Show

Redneck Air Show

Second have been water issues, which I have repeatedly attempted to address. The county has strict limits on what can be considered drinking water for a B&B and with all the contaminants from the smoke and particulates getting into our storage tank, the exceptionally hot temperatures this summer, and our naturally hard water I have been hard pressed to get a passing test. This had led me to getting a water softener as well as a UV filter and a few other attachments to make the water safe. I expect this set-up to be installed next week. The water test has been the main obstacle and once that has been satisfied then county inspections can proceed.

We have had several guests this summer that have helped with food and environment testing along with making suggestions for improvements and I have booked the first two weekends in October for a couple of soft openings. The good news is we are expecting to have another wet winter that will again result in some spectacular waterfall activity in the park for the spring. This alone will increase attendance and for me, hopefully bookings. If you are planning on coming to Yosemite at all next year, look to late May and early June for your visit. That is when the waterfalls will be at peak. This year however the waterfalls were good through July and into August.

Colder weather came this week for a brief show before temperatures jump back to the 80’s for a bit. We had a storm yesterday that dropped about an inch of rain and left 6-8 inches of snow in the high sierras temporarily closing Tioga pass. The cooler temperatures allowed me to get back outside to work on improving the look of the property. This week I was inspired by what Rick and Cathy Middlested have done with their property.

Rick was and still is a customer of Clark Security and still does lock work in retirement. Rick rekeyed our locks for the B&B to allow individual rooms to be keyed differently and still have access through the main front door. Rick and Cathy have 15 acres and have transformed their property into what I can only describe as “park like” with all the brush removed (including the poison oak) and all the tree limbs trimmed up. It is beautiful and also fire safe. That inspiration and the cooler temperatures had me outside for a couple of days doing some cleanup that inevitably led to once again another outbreak of Poison Oak! Yes, I know what it looks like and I know what to do if exposed, you simply cannot clear brush without coming into contact with it. Arrgh!

We have had an incredible harvest year as every one of the 200+ plants we put in has produced. Our experience back in San Diego with plants always seemed to be mixed with the poor soil and water rationing but here in Mariposa everything grows! Along with our harvest, our chickens have been providing us with a ton of eggs. Trying to figure out what to do with a dozen eggs every two days has led to us having eggs for lunch and dinner as well as in between snacks. I am egged out! Good news, egg production will soon slow as the chickens begin to molt and their winter feathers come in. This at least will provide some meals without eggs on the menu.

Winter is coming, all the signs are there and it will bring welcome relief to the heat we experienced this summer and I for one cannot wait.

Winter Is Coming!

Winter Is Coming!