Welcome to
PO Box 339, Lower Lake, CA 95457

Mel and Don are building their off-grid ranch home on 160 acres of agricultural preserve owned by Mel and Tim that they bought together from the A. Austin Amerine Retreat Center, a spiritual retreat center in the making. Mel and Don's home will be the new defacto AAARC HQ. On their wilderness ranch land roam deer, CA brown bears, and sometimes mountain lions, bobcats and wild pigs. Red tailed hawks, ravens, native wood peckers, wild turkeys, two species of doves, and many other kinds of birds are sighted frequently. Tim and Matt grow wine grapes and olive trees. Mel and Don plan to raise honey bees and make honey wine. Don has already planted more than 3000 deer resistant flower bulbs and over 100 lbs of clover and wild flower seeds to feed the bees in coming years.

Queen Bee Ranch Slide Shows

Photos copyright by Don Ross and QueenBeeRanch.com.
Limited use granted with copyright notice as worded above and email QueenBeeRanch --at-- classes.bz

2007 -- In the Begining

House Foundation -- In the summer of 2007, we carved out our ranch house pad on the side of a hill in our Blue Oak woodland and situated the foundation so that Mount Saint Helena, the tallest mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area, is in the center of our view.

Our panelized house arrived in October on two trucks, panels bundled onto pallets, and then transported down our 2.2 miles of graveled Chimney Rock Rd on a smaller truck to our home site.

House Raising Party -- pt 1 -- Friends and family gather to help us put together the kit home.

House Raising Party -- pt 2 -- Friends and family gather to help Don and Mel (left) put together the kit home.

House Raising -- pt 3 -- For weeks and months, friends continued to help us put together the kit home on weekends as they were able.

2008 -- Rising Out of the Dust and Mud

Winter Storm Damage -- Jan 2008 -- With more than four inches of rain in two days, water and mud flowed....

"Rolling the Trusses" -- February to March -- In between storms, friends and family gathered to help us lift the trusses onto the walls and roll them into place on the roof, then lifted domino style into position. If that sounds fun, it was nothing compared to the thousands of metal pieces that needed to be hammered by hand to hold the walls and roof together.

Sheathing the Roof -- April to May 2008 -- Trimming the eaves of the house seem to take forever with the detail work, but once done, the sheets sheath the roof quickly and fairly easily.

Goddess Pond -- April to May 2008 -- Nature shrines dedicated to Kwan Yin, Tara Buddha, Shichimen the Dragon Goddess, Mother Mary, Venus de Milo, Betsy Ross, and a garden angel. Statuary donated by Don Ross and the Rev Elder Debbie Martin. Visit our Queer Spirituality article at GaySonoma.com on Birthing Goddess Pond.

Building a Tipi and Sweat Lodge -- May 2008 -- The Amerine Retreat Center prepares for Memorial Weekend by building a Sweat Lodge while Denise Soza and Marlene Padilla volunteer to build a lodgepole tipi for us to rent. AAARC's first campground is thus now on Mel's land.

Queen Bee Ranch is "off-grid."
This means we are not connected to society by wires or pipes.

Radiant heat Pex tubing is installed throughout the house to keep it warm and cozy in the winter. The radiant heat will be powered by a propane boiler and solar electricity. Also includes pics of the final pour for the cement slab over the Pex tubing.

The septic tank is next to the house and the leach field is in the field below the house.

Water trenches and pipes: Bruce St. Cyr did all of our earth moving work. Great guy and great work. If you need an earth mover in Lake County, for large or small jobs call Bruce at (707) 489-1439.

After the delivery truck dropped our water tanks on the side of our dirt road in the rain sometime before, Bruce figured out how to get the large tanks up on the hill, way above the house, so that our water supply will be gravity fed with plenty of water pressure.

Slide show of construction workers laying the foundation for the small building behind the garage where we will house the batteries and propane winter back up generator for our solar powered electrical system.

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