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Valley People (January 26, 2022)


OK Folks! We got the thief on Camera so keep your eyes out for this vehicle. White Ford Explorer. Dent on drivers side front fender. Wrap-around back windows. Not giving up. Do not want this kind of activity in our valley. Thank you for all your support. — Kira Brennan

BOONVILLE seemed deserted Sunday afternoon last week, prior to this Saturday’s glorious beat down of the Packers. Even through traffic was light on 128 when I popped outside to look at half time of the Niners thrilling victory over the Dallas Cowboys, anecdotal confirmation that when the Niners are on, Mendo is watching. And last Saturday as the Niners iced Green Bay in Green Bay? Not a soul stirred in Boonville between the hours of 5pm-10pm.

SHERIFF KENDALL has squelched a prevalent rumor that a serial killer is active in Mendocino County. The Sheriff said the recent deaths of two young Ukiah women are not related. The Sheriff did not say but could have said that the serial killer people think is loose is indeed loose, and easily identified as the ruthless people selling it — fentanyl.

FROM SCHOOL SUPE SIMSON: "Dear Anderson Valley Community, I have been subbing at the high school and I am concerned about post-break vape use on campus. We had two vape busts this week, and we have set the expectation that this is intolerable. Contact me please, if you know your student is a user and needs intervention help. These devices are often mixed with other substances and can cause signs such as rage and excessive sleepiness. This is impacting a very few students, but again, it will not be tolerated and law enforcement action will result. Please have a proactive talk with your student(s) and reach out on my cell for assistance. IT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.”

I REMEMBER the guy as a toddler, then a bright-eyed contemporary of my children at the Anderson Valley Elementary School. The guy has always been a ubiquitous local fixture of no regular employment or address, but on last Thursday’s frigid morning there he was shivering, teeth chattering, huddled near Mosswood jabbering to himself, homeless,  kept alive by the few kind souls who remember him before his long, sad fall. A cautionary tale. The vapers at the high school today could learn from him.

THE GOLDEN HORDE marches on. “Just sold by Sotheby's. Providing both buyer and seller representation (sic) for the modern masterpiece in the hills of Anderson Valley located on 160 plus pristine acres for a sales price of $4,100,000.” This “masterpiece” is an uncomfortable-looking mostly glass job that could pass as a dentist's complex. 

OLD TIMERS and not-so-old timers will recall that you could have bought Boonville whole for $4 mil, maybe $3 mil prior to 1975.


Petit Teton Farm Report - December 2021 

The rains have taken a break and spring has come to the valley. It is a false spring we’re sure, but the plants and animals don’t remember prior years and are doing their spring thing - roses flowering, seeds sprouting, birds flirting, ducks boffing, chickens laying. There will be general shock when the next frost hits...we know it’s coming. We’re not as sure about the next rains though. At near 27 inches we aren’t half way to “normal” yet. There’s a word for you… NORMAL! Sorry, normal doesn’t exist and never has. It’s time to accept change and prepare for what will be (and has been already for several years) a certainly uncertain ready to bail or hide and do without.

At least the rains have been enough to nearly fill our new 1.5 million gallon pond. It’s up the hill from the farm on a mostly flat clay soil grassland area of the 501 property. The pond was constructed up against a hill so the clay from the digging is now the berm that holds in the water on half of it. The closest trees are at a great distance so we’ve determined that this will be our meeting and shelter area when the fire comes. 

On the rise above the pond will be a water tank filled from it and hoses for spraying. We could even jump in the pond. In the middle of the night recently it came to me that exiting it would be a challenge since the sides are steep, clay is slippery, and the fill line is several feet down. I dreamed of a rope ladder affixed to T-posts set in the berm which we will start constructing soon.

Our escape options are limited when it comes to a valley fire. The road through is very narrow, twisting, and long with only two lanes going either south 20 miles to Cloverdale and a freeway or west 33 miles to the coast Highway 1. 

There are a lot of people living both in the valley and in the surrounding hills. The farm is located on the sunny, open rangeland north side of the road and the trees are not the redwoods and tan oaks of the forest opposite. On the property are many seasonal creeks that run down the mountains and under Hwy 128 to Rancheria Creek. They are banked by bands of oaks, madrone, toyon, pepperwood and buckeye. There are few actual “woods”.

Over lunch, which is shared by everyone working on any given day, nine of whom live on the farm, we have had many discussions about which way to go when the fire comes and have debated all scenarios...where the fire started, wind direction, and numbers of families evacuating. Choices are limited to either the main road or the two mostly dirt roads branching off 128 that climb southwest through dense woods and over the mountains to the coast. We speculated that the roads would be clogged with panicked residents and the inevitable breakdowns. In the past, conclusions have been various and unsatisfactory, but now that the pond is functional consensus reigns that it’s probably the safest choice. Meantime, we’ve been clearing all the slash and brush from under any trees close to all buildings. The place is taking on the look of a park.

Have a happy spring and be well.

— Nikki Auschnitt and Steve Krieg

LAUREN’S AT THE BUCKHORN re-opened last week, with their popular menu every day and their Olga’s Monday evening Mexican and Fish Taco specials from 5pm to 9pm. Their liquor license is still pending, but you can order beer and wine and all their other favorites.

FREE FOOD PHILO (formerly known as Love to Table) is distributing meals in town to those who could use some extra love in the form of food. We cook nourishing meals using produce from our farm and others, and would love to offer you a warm lunch on Monday Jan 24. If you could use a home cooked meal, or have a friend in mind who would, please message, call or text Arline Bloom (415) 308-3575, who will head up distribution in town.

This week’s menu: Panini with Turkey, Cheese and Maitake Mushroom, Cabbage and carrot slaw; Pumpkin Cookies 

Thank you for letting us be of service.

For more information on Free Food Philo / Love to Table, check out: 


Thanks to everyone who purchased Warriors raffle tickets. The winning ticket was drawn by a senior at the Senior Lunch on Tuesday.  The winner’s name will appear here next week.

HEATER FIRE IN PHILO: Anderson Valley Fire was called out to a structure fire late Thursday afternoon (January 13), possibly extinguished, in Philo near Lemon's Market. Units were redirected while enroute to Blattner Road. The fire had been put out upon arrival and the occupant was having trouble shutting down an active gas leak from their propane tank. The fire was discovered when the resident went outside after he had smelled gas, as he made his way to the backyard he heard a fire ignite inside the wall mount gas heater. The fire was contained to the heat unit on the exterior of the house. Fire personnel disconnected the gas and shut down the fuel. (AV Fire Chief Andres Avila)

IT WAS a late summer in 1971 on a ranch south of Boonville. The property is now a gay resort, a huge irony considering that when we leased it on the assumption that urban delinquents would somehow be less delinquent far from the street lights, their criminal impulses cooled out by the rustic calm beneath the redwoods, it was owned by a rigid Christian who only approved of us because we paid our rent on time.  

TO OCCUPY the delinquents, and also to exhaust them so they'd sleep at night rather than assault each other and hitchhike into Boonville to get hippies to buy them dope or alcohol, we’d take them on night hikes up in the hills. We'd spotlight whatever creatures were about, not with a view to shooting them as I learned rural men often did to fatten their protein larder for the winter, but simply to look at them. Most of the delinquents had never seen a wild thing outside their social circles, and one kid, raised in San Francisco, had never seen the Golden Gate Bridge before he crossed it, headed north for Boonville. Although the delinquents had committed serious felonies and would go on to adult prisons, at the time we, my comrades and I, were still naive enough to think that that grim progression was not inevitable. 

AT THE TIME there weren't electronic amusements to occupy the budding criminals, and we couldn't get television reception where we were so we were the entertainment, and night hikes were consensus entertainment. We all enjoyed them. They were still just kids in some ways, not entirely the doomed junior criminals the courts said they were. 

I REMEMBER two episodes from those excursions. The first on a full moon night when a full moon rose over the east hills, Domingo Ramirez — two terms in Pelican Bay's “secure housing unit” as an adult — suddenly screamed, “Jesu Cristo, what's that!?” An Oakland street kid who'd never seen the moon, although his arrest record established he was often outside at night, he was seeing his first moon.

THE SECOND occurred on another night when a toad appeared on the path in front of us. As one, all six “troubled youth,” instinctively, and jostling each other for firsts, jumped forward to stomp the creature, laughing about it for minutes afterwards. 

AND THAT right there, citizens, is the diff between the criminal mentality and our criminal mentalities. It wouldn't occur to us to stomp frogs but you could say that we approve, at least tacitly, the social arrangements that create the frog stompers.

RENTAL WANTED: Locally employed, mature writer seeking quiet, private parking place in Anderson Valley for 30-foot 2018 self-contained trailer to work on artistic projects. Please consider renting me a little slice of your “North 40.” I can pay a little cash, or am willing to negotiate trade for legitimate services. Call Katherine at 707 272-3301. Please leave a message. 

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