Mountain Home Ranch Resort
A Place for Gathering Since 1913
Echoes From the Mountain March 2014

Upcoming Events

March 7 – 11
Steven Forrest Astrology
Sold Out


March 14 – 16
Painting From the Wild Heart
Couples Retreat
Still Some Openings



March 21 – 23
Maclane 90th Birthday Celebration
B&B rooms available



March 27 – 28
Every 15 Minutes
Sonoma Valley High
Sold Out



March 29


 Dorothy Brientenstein
Celebraton of Life



March 29 – 31

Dangerous Curves


B&B rooms availabe



 When you are planning your next gathering, or know someone who is, please think of us. We appreciate you helping us continue for the next 100 years.









The Weather

Rain, glorious rain. Strange how half the country is having the worst snow and ice ever and we are in the middle of one of the worst droughts ever. But February was one of the wettest on record YAY!!! So we celebrate – the lake is almost full. A couple more storms and it should be going over the spillway. We have had good storms as late as the end of May, so bring it on. At least here on the west coast, everyone I know is celebrating these last few storms. And while we do the bulk of our watering from our lake, which is now in good shape for the season, we need the water table in the land replenished to keep our creek running late into the season. So we are looking forward to a late rain this year!!!

Booking Now On-Line!
For the past 18 years, we have booked rooms essentially the same way that Grandpa and Grandma booked them 101 years ago: Paper and pencil notations on a calendar. As our business has expanded, this has meant more and more time on the phone for us. Particularly since we have been named the top place to stay in the wine country by “Lonely Planet”, a very popular travel guide overseas, we receive phone calls in the middle of the night from guests in other time zones. As of this month, everyone can check availability and book rooms on our web site 24/7! Try it out.


The Buddha has said that all suffering comes from attachment. With the death of so many of our beloved animals to whom we are so attached, we have suffered. That does not mean we should not become attached, for a broken heart is an open heart. One of the e-mail adages that circulated recently said that one loses part of one’s heart when one loses a pet, and our pets give us part of their heart while they are alive. If we are lucky, soon our hearts are all of the hearts of our pets, and we become like them and learn to live unconditionally. But still, it hurts when they go

Passage Home
By Forrest Pasky


when she died
we turned the mirrors
to face to walls
it was so her spirit
would not be caught
in the reflection
of a mirror
impeding her passage
from this world
to the next


going home



February was a month full of life’s happenings. My mom had to have surgery to remove part of her foot and is now convalescing/healing in a nursing home. A dear friend lost her battle with cancer, while a nephew struggles with his. The biggest most challenging part was losing our beloved Comara, the day before Valentine’s Day. So instead of celebrating our love, we reminisced on the love of our beloved horse. She was always the favorite of all the guests, getting renamed by the numerous guest kids – Snowball, Princess.,,,, Deep breathing has become a big part of our daily routine to help deal with the stress. Communing and standing in awe of the beauty that surrounds us. Being grateful for those around us that have been so supportive while we walk through all of this. While we grieve, we continue to deepen our commitment to this land and a vision for a sanctuary where people can heal from their challenges and/or celebrate life. It is with deep love that we say good bye to our sweet Comara. You will be dearly missed and never forgotten for all you gave to us and this land.  

Suzanne & John



Comara’s Silhouette
April 10, 1990 – February 13, 2013
We were blessed with 15 years of love she gave to us and we to her. When she first came to us, she was close to 200 pounds under weight, so after a long fattening up process, the first ride out she did two pirouettes that I managed to stay on. She was a highly trained Arabian that got culled from her herd because she had a slightly turned out front leg that rendered her useless in the show ring and too great a risk for their breeding program. So with a lot of TLC and acupressure she became our amazing girl. She was the first horseback rides for all of our God Children, always so careful with the precious cargo on her back. After a few years we bred her. We had a baby shower and 40 of our friends came bearing gifts. We played traditional baby shower games and when we all went out to give her some of the treats people brought; we were in awe to see the baby kick. Then came Sprite. Comara was an amazing mother, an easy birth and perfect daughter, perfect confirmation. Sprite is the spitting image of her grandfather, Comara’s dad, down to the one white sock, a snip on the nose and a star. Dad was an international grand champion show horse and it shows in Sprite. Comara was a wonderful stable mate to Thor, our Mustang, Monty our Mule, and all of the rest of the menagerie. Saying good bye – It was an amazing process, filled with lots of tears. Comara apparently said her goodbyes to her herd and walked as far away as she could get. When we tried to bring her back, she refused, something she never did. In the wild the infirm leave the herd so they do not bring in predators. So we waited with her until the vet could put her out of her suffering. That slightly turned out leg, over the years, became very arthritic, bowed and painful. The pain medication she was on for the past year, was not working very well any more. She made it very clear she was ready to go. She now rests with lots of white flowers and two flowering white trees one Magnolia and one Tulip. A reminder of her incredible beauty. Of the herd, Thor has taken it the hardest, with us. We sit with him and talk to him. It is getting easier as the days turn into weeks, but is still very painful. Thank you Comara, for your many years of service and friendship, Much love Mom and Dad.


Build it and the Rains Will Come.
With this year’s drought, the lake level was very low, so we took advantage of this and poured concrete pilings to anchor a dock – something we have always wanted at the lake. When we poured the concrete, the tops of the pilings, which are even with the high water mark for the lake, were seven feet above the water level. The rain started while we were finishing the final pour, and now the water is only a foot below the top. Swimming and boating on the lake will be much easier and less muddy this summer and bey
Mountain Home Ranch Resort
A Place for Gathering Since 1913
Echoes From the Mountain January  2014

Upcoming Events


BayNVC Leadership Training

January 4 – 11

Sold out



Pathways Institute

January 11 – 18

B & B rooms available



Painting from the Wild Heart

January 18 – 24

B & B rooms available



California Forest Soils Council

January 24 – 26

B & B rooms available



Jewish Youth Group

January 31 – February 2

B & B rooms available



When you are planning your next gathering, or know someone who is, please think of us. We appreciate you helping us continue for the next 100 years.














Our Animal Friends

As you read this we are sitting on a beach in Hawaii enjoying a little break and finally celebrating the turning of half a century that my Twin sister and I did last August. The sad part was revising the feeding list for our menagerie for the staff that are tending them while we are gone. We lost two four legged friend is past year. Willy the Billy and more recently Barney, our large wether (male sheep) who was struggling with kidney failure. We tried both western and eastern medicine practices, but sadly were not able to turn it around. It is always so hard to lose a loved one, especially one we have bottled fed since he was 5 days old, but sadly it is a part of the cycle of life. He is feeling better now and will help the Almond tree we planted over him, grow big and strong. We were fortunate to find a female sheep at the local animal shelter, who got to meet Barney before he left us, and is now good buds with Betty, Barney’s sister. Wishing you and yours good health.


This is the statement that we lived with when we first took over running the Ranch. When you come to the Ranch, it is posted on the front of the lodge.





“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”


Patrick Overton













We Want Your Feed Back


To help us into the next 100 years, we would like your input.


Three simple questions:

How do you feel when you come to the Ranch?

What make us unique?

What needs to be improved?


We look forward to hearing from you!




How’s the Weather Up There?

We often are asked questions like:  “What is the weather like in December [or February, or May]?”   We no longer know what to say.  So far, this year is shaping up to be the driest year since records have been recorded.  Last year we had heavy rains in November and December.  By the middle of December last year, the lake was going over the spillway – completely full.  Now it is over six feet below capacity.  The groups this past month thoroughly enjoyed the warm dry weather, but we worry about the effect on our native plants and animals.  Normally by now the canyon trails are literally crawling with our cute little newts, enjoying the return of wet weather to lay their eggs and we would go to sleep to the serenades of a thousand mating frogs.  Mother Nature is resilient, and we are confident that she will outlast the things we humans do to mess with her, but still we worry.

New Year!

What an amazing Centennial Year. The highlights of the year: an open house in April, our family reunion in July, and a family wedding in September. The best part is a renewed commitment to welcoming in the next 100 years. Our family has been through so much in 100 years: two world wars, a great depression, catastrophic forest fires, house fires, births, deaths, life at its’ fullest, and still we come through it all and say, ‘let’s do it again’. The beauty is we know what we are made of: perseverance, commitment, strength on charactor and most importantly love. A love for one another and this land that we have been so richly blessed with. We know we can do this and with your continued support, we look forward to what the next 100 years will bring.

Much Love

Suzanne & John

Centennial Moment 

The more things change the more they stay the same


Seventeen years ago, George was trying valiantly to keep the Ranch going as a restaurant and inn, even after losing his wife Joey to cancer and battling illness himself. With such challenges the upkeep of the Ranch was not a high priority. The Ranch was having financial problems and the infrastructure was falling into disrepair. John and Suzanne were living on the property but working professional jobs. On the weekends they hiked the land, reopening some of the old trails and doing what they could to help with maintenance, pools being an easy target, since John spent his childhood working on them. Then one October morning they were awakened to a fire on the ridge of the canyon facing their home. With 65+ MPH wind gusts a tree came into a power pole and started a fire. Fortunately the winds were blowing away from the Ranch, but still made them pause at 2:00AM. They evacuated the few animals they had at the time. What was important ‘stuff’ wise fit into the trunk of the car. What was really important was saving the land. So the first phone call was to friends that would take the animals, and the parents of their baby god son that was with them that night. The next phone call was to a neighbor with a large dozer who was asked to come put in a fire trail down in the canyon. At 4:00 AM a dozer with head lights was making its way up the canyon and a phone tree had been established with friends that were ready and willing to come up and help fight the fire. This was their wake up call.

That winter the family had some hard decisions to make. Who could take over running the Ranch or were things to be sold off? John and Suzanne, along with one other family group put together business proposals and in December the family voted to allow John and Suzanne the opportunity to make a go of the Ranch. So quitting two professional jobs, they took deep breaths and jumped in with a new vision: supplant the bed-and-breakfast model with one that featured group retreats. They converted the old “kids bar” and the original Mountain Volunteer Fire House into two meeting rooms with the hope that “if you build it, they will come.” And come they did. Just take a look at this month’s calendar – a month that traditionally the Ranch stayed empty. New roofs were needed on virtually all of the buildings. John’s job was to fall through, a la “Tim the Tool Man” thereby finding the dry rot. Thankfully we enjoyed the help of Steve Hall, a master carpenter and Suzanne’s step-dad, who filled the role of “Jack-of-all-trades” formerly performed by Duane Sands, John’s step-dad. Over 500 hundred gallons of paint have been applied everywhere. The cabin names were changed from things like “Alcatraz” and “City Hall” to the qualities of our vision: “Peace”, “Love”, “Beauty” and the like. The orchards, once so prevalent at the Ranch were slowly replanted and are now literally “bearing fruit”. The bar and restaurant were closed, but the tradition of serving wholesome, home cooking to the guests staying here remained. The vision included continuing the Ranch tradition of serving youth. For years, the Ranch was home to foster teens – both official and unofficial. We now donate or reduce rates for youth programs for foster children, church youth groups, school groups and several times a year the “Every 15 Minute” drunk driving awareness programs at most of the Napa and Sonoma County high schools. They are proud to have received a certificate signed by Arun Ghandi, the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, recognizing their efforts towards peace and making he area a better place to live. They were honored to sit and talk with him and hear his stories of growing up with his grandfather. The vision also includes animals, and now feeding carrots to the cows and other Ranch animals is a large part of the Ranch experience. They are dedicated to preserving the land, not only for the future generations of humans, but as a habitat for the animals who are increasingly being fenced out of the countryside around us.


Our commitment to this land.


The permacultural practices we brought to this land 7 years ago are starting to show the benefits. Wheel barrel loads of fruit from the trees, no major bug infestations and the berms with put in we noticed this summer are keeping the water ways flowing late into the season. A little bit of a challenge for both the family reunion and wedding, but some last minute ditching and laying down of straw took care of that. We are seeing more bird and a more diverse variety of them, happily fluttering around, eating the insects and fertilizing as they go. It feels good to know that every day we do things for this land, to keep it happy and healthy.

Thank You     Thank You     Thank You    Thank You
Thank you for your continued support. It is because of you that we are here starting our next 100 years.
Your kind words on TripAdvisor continue to make us one of the top choices for the Napa Valley/Calistoga/Wine Country. Keep them coming! If you have any photos, please add them they are making a difference!!!
Write a review we need your support:
Contact Info
Suzanne Pasky Fouts


2014 Special

2014 Special. Anyone driving up in a hybrid, electric or bio-diesel vehicle will get $20.00 off their total bill. Thank you for your commitment to our mother earth.

Offer Expires: December 31, 2014
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Mountain Home Ranch | 3400 Mountain Home Ranch Rd. | Calistoga | CA | 94515