dvjournalTHE OWL... A Short Story...

The SkyHunters Program inspired Rob to add his short story, "The Owl" to the Deerhorn Journal. We hear the hoo-hoo-HOO of the Great Horned Owls, and the gargled screeches of the barn owls almost nightly. See if this story resonates with you, as it does with me.

Do you have a story, poem, or memory to share. Please send it on:



FALL IS HERE... & So are baby rattlesnakes


RattleSnake1YRNira Clark, our resident Deerhorn biologist, answers questions and provides some facts and advice on our local poplulation of rattlesnakes. Nira teaches biology at Southwestern College and specializes in snakes and reptiles. This is a timely article with good information on identification (lots of pictures, too!) Full Article

Note: Rob and I found this small rattler last year. We had never seen one with such dark, distict markings, but the head and tail were unmistakeable.


swapmeetthumbDV SWAPMEET



7:00 AM Saturday morning The guide balloons were aloft, the flags were flying, packed and laden pickups, trailers, and cars turned into the McKinley's driveway off Elena Lane--- site of the Old DV Lodge. It was a good, old-fashioned Swap-Meet-Deerhorn-Style: furniture, tools, liniments, t-shirts, secret seasonings, handcrafted gifts: the basic "what-all's" of backcountry sheds and barns.



The RFPD Chippers, Josh and Donald, have visited Deerhorn for several days during the last month or so. I signed up online last March... and just kept adding to my piles while waiting. Be patient: they are good guys who work hard. They are a two-man crew responsible for 720 square miles of brush piles! They tend to come without warnine, just following the Deerhorn signer-uppers. They'll return if they don't find you home. But it sure is wonderful to see them at the door with that machine of theirs. They deserve our thanks and appreciation-- maybe a glass of cold water too! Backcountry residents can sign up for this free service online:


SD Humane Society/SPCA Presentation

Animal Disaster Preparation/Evacuation

Click here to download the 6-page handout


Grand Opening of the Jamul Fire Station #36

Ariele Johannson and other neighbors represented Deerhorn Valley at the grand opening.


Article and Pictures

WILDFIRE PREP: SIX Things to Do Right Now...


1) Register your cellphone for reverse 911 calls

2) Register for Wildfire Alerts

3) Bookmark the Deerhorn Blog, Twitter, and Facebook links

4) Register your email for Antler Updates.

5) Download these two emergency booklets & watch the video: :

Ready, Set, Go! (PDF File)

Wildfire: Are You Prepared? (PDF File)

6) Order a (fire resistant) reflective address sign.

Download order form here.

Great Weather, Location, and Event!



What a marvelous presentation! The sun shone (but not too hot), the location, surrounded by our beautiful mountains, was perfect. More than 80 friends and neighbors delighted in this outdoor experience.

Nancy Conney, founder and presenter of SkyHunters, extends her sincere thanks on to everyone who attended Sunday.  She was so appreciative of the generous donations, the great questions, the obvious interest and caring for these magnificent birds, and the community spirit that was so evident. She was inspired by your turnout and the respect and interest shown in raptors, their rehabilitation, and preservation. She does NOT want to wait another 12 years to return!

Ed NOTE: It was wonderful to see so many old and new faces. Kudos to Nancy for being such a great presenter and our gratitude to Paul for entrusting us with his Red Barn for the venue.

skyhuntermountainsskyhunterskestrel skyhunterbarnowl


dhvwelcomesignSteve Schmidt, East County reporter for the U-T, came up to Deerhorn to pay a visit an and was so intrigued with our Welcome Sign that he posted the following article for Saturday's edition:

Who needs Twitter when you've got a chalkboard?



YellowJackTrapYELLOW JACKETS! Often called “meat bees” from their notorious invasion of your BBQ, are actually wasps, and yes, they eat meat . . . Cheese too. If you are outdoors and see one or two around, often pestering your dog at mealtime, there are hundreds nearby and it’s time to trap. They’ll barge in, scout your plate, find a tender corner on your steak or burger, nibble off a BB-sized chunk and take off with it… They’ll be back to join the ten that gathered while you watched, and – A WARNING – the one that sneaked down into your sugary soda and is waiting with a surprise!

GOOD NEWS… Dealing with yellow jackets is easy! The week before your BBQ, hang out wasp traps . . . Believe me, they work! In three to five days of diligent trapping the invaders will be on high only watching your party!

THE TRAP… Wasp traps, typically transparent, yellow, and (when baited) attract yellow jackets inside. After nibbling a chunk of the bait, they climb up the inside of a tall cone that diminishes to their body size. When they “exit” to go home, they find themselves imprisoned to their demise.

WARNING… Traps come with a little plastic ampoule of chemical “attractant.” Don’t use it! Yes it works, but evaporates overnight, and it is so vile and pungent that a drop touching your finger or kitchen counter will stink all day, and if you don’t wash your hands surgically, when you go to bed you’ll remain awake… and alone.

SOFT DOG FOOD! Buy a can of Costco’s Kirkland Lamb & Rice or Pedigree’s from Albertsons–– anything with a ‘meaty’ flavor, the softer and juicier, the better. I’ve tried a chunk of meat, but it spoils too quickly and the yellow jackets don’t like it. There’s no spoiled food at a BBQ. Dog food lasts about three days. All you need is a teaspoonful placed loosely in the round bait holder inside, then use the back of the spoon to smear some around the inside of the outer container near vent holes. Hang the trap in the open wind, higher than your dog can jump, and wait one hour. Yellow jackets respond quickly, and if you don’t have at least ten inside, the wind isn’t in your favor or the trap should be moved. One time I had a trap half full in two hours – at least 300.

RE-BAIT… Each wasp takes a little food before it enters the no-way-out room, so the trap needs to be re-baited every other day, or whenever there are no more live critters inside – which could also indicate that you got them all! I empty ours early in the morning when the trapped ones are dead, and before the morning rush. I pour them down a gopher hole – if I can find one – then wash the trap and replenish it.

Hint: Buy two traps and set them fifty feet apart. You may find one works well, the other, gimply. Move them to where they work and keep it up until the critters are gone. Expect a couple of half-full catches for two days, then diminishing for a few days, indicating you probably did them in.

Happy trapping. –RobD


SUNDAY 9/5/2010


A rollover accident on Honey Springs Road resulted in a brush fire that moved up the hill in that area of the old Honey Springs Ranch. The driver has apparently returned to extracate his care, and in towing it out, the car caught fire and spread to the dry grasses and brush. CalFire units responded, including Deerhorn Station #37. With air support the fire was contained at approximately 3:15 and limited to 20 acres. We are SO lucky we have equipment and crew at our Station over this weekend. In the photo, notice the lines of firefighters to the right and left of the burn area.

5:15 PM From Marcia Spurgeon: Honey Springs Road: Hi everyone, The fire was caused by a car accident and the car caught on fire. The fire quickly spread east with a good breeze. It crested the ridge just before the Honey Springs Ranch Barn. The fire department along with great and rapid air support suppressed the fire quickly. The Border Patrol and Sherriff were also very involved. Hopefully no one was injured in the accident or fire. I did get some pictures put I can't down load them at home. They are mopping up still but we are extremely thankful for our wonderful fire department. Also, thanks for reporting these important alerts.


Photo by Mark Payne (Thanks, Mark!) . MORE PHOTOS

More information/updates: &

You can follow SanDiegoCalFire at:


8/24/2010– The RFPD Chippers (not to be confused with Chippendales!) Josh and Donald arrived at our door early last Tuesday (9/24) morning. I signed up online last March... and just kept adding to my piles. They'll be here in Deerhorn for the next week or so, chipping those piles that have grown bigger and bigger. Be patient: they are good guys who work hard. They are a two-man crew responsible for 720 square miles of piles. They sure deserve our appreciation. Last year there were two crews plus the County FireSafe Chipping Program. Both disappeared with the other budget cuts. Sign up online for their next pass through Deerhorn:

Chipper1 Chipper3 Chipper2

Josh and Donald, our RFPD Chippers, made fast work of our four brushpiles.


August 21, 2010


elmontefireYesterday's outbreak of the El Monte Fire was a good example of how important it is to stay connected and share information.   We need multiple sources to go to; not all resources will get activated on any given incident. Yesterday there were organizations that stood tall in keeping us informed. And there were some we expected more fromwho just dropped the ball.


KUDOS and THANKS to these groups for keeping us informed:  

#1) EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE ( : Yesterday the first fire alert we received was by phone from friends on Mother Grundy.  At about 1:45 pm they had just received a alert via email.  Register for Wildfire Alerts (two were sent yesterday via email). Note & Credit: The picture at right is by Dennis Richardson via ECM and links to their website.

#2) LAKESIDE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT ( LFPD posted all day via Blogspot, Twitter, and Facebook.  Take a look at their page online.  What a service to their constituents!  These are measures that need little or no outside funding.  Our Rural Fire Protection District could (should) do the same.

#3) CALFIRENEWS ( California Fire News (not affiliated with CalFire) provided continual updates and information all day from both official and unofficial sources.

#4) READYSANDIEGO ( : This is from the SD Office of Emergency Services. They posted updates throughout the day.




Following this post CalFire Batallion Chief John Kremensky and Public Information Officer Nick Schuller reached out to meet with us on the communications issue. Both are committed to getting us the information we need in a timely manner and will work together with us to provide the knd information sources we needto access in an emergency. "Social media" is evolving rapidly, and we need to identify the best practices for its use during emergencies. I know Chief Kremensky, specifically, is committed to the welfare of residents in the backcountry. With his assistance and our involvement, Deerhorn Valley will stay better connected and informed. You might want to bookmark these sitse:




Towers, Traffic, Noise Impacts to Honey Springs and Deerhorn Valley Roads

towertehachipi2The US Forset Service has given the OK to SDG&E Powerlink route through 19 miles of the Cleveland Forest, north and east of Deerhorn Valley.

More than 400 average daily trips (ADT) along Honey Springs Rd and Deerhorn Valley Roads are projected for haulage of materials. Tower materials will be hauled via Honey Springs Rd from Lyons Valley Rd, up DeerhornValley Rd and grade, to Manzanita Way, and then to the assembly area just east of the existing substation.

If the project survives legal challenges, how will it impact Deerhorn Valley? Along with a detailed map of the exact locations of towers and staging areas, we include the traffic and noise impacts to Honey Springs Rd, Deerhorn Valley Rd, and Manzanita Way from the final report. This is a project that has permanent impacts on Deerhorn Valley and our neighbors.

NEW: Detailed map of Deerhorn Valley area from SDG&E Report:


firecrewAll-Out Response to Deerhorn Wildfire

MONDAY, JULY 19, 2010

July 19, 2010 The first warning for residents came with the wail of our yellow fire engine as it headed up Deerhorn Valley Road just before 11:00 am on Monday (7/19) morning. 

Volunteer Firefighters Lars Sandvig and Derek LaFrontiere from Deerhorn Station #37 were first on the scene.  They quickly established command and began fire-surpression tactics.  Battalion Chief  John Kremensky and other fire command personnel praised their professional response and outstanding effort.

Soon a full arsenal of equipment and manpower arrived: two Sheriff helicopters and a fire attack helicopter; two air tankers, and one air tactical to coordinate the air response; eight fire engines, two water pumpers, and the Battalion Chief unit.  It was a multi-agency response from San Diego Rural Deerhorn Station #37, CalFire, US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife, as well as volunteer firefighters from Campo.

More photos from Michelle &As anyone who witnessed the response to the fire can verify: it was immediate and overwhelming.  The fire was contained at 5.6 acres.  The property itself was vacant (the former house lost in the Harris Fire).  Two fire investigators will probe the cause, which is undetermined at this point.  Work had been done at the site during the last few days, but no one was there at the time the first unit responded.

The response lasted more than 6 hours, with the final mop up completed at 5:00 pm Monday afternoon.  Fire fighters from the Deerhorn Station kept a close eye over the following 24 hours to make sure all hotspots remained safely out.

Every resident here is so very grateful for the rapid and massive response today.  Many, many thanks to the firefighters, pilots, and tactical coordinators who kept this fire contained and under control.

- A big thanks to Chief John Kremensky for sharing these details so promptly.

PS--The remodeling work on our Fire Station moving along.  Air conditioning was installed just prior to this week’s hot and humid weather, no doubt greatly appreciated by our fire fighters manning the station. It's good to have them rested and read to roll. Thanks, guys!



LOCAL WEATHER FORECASTS: Summer finally arrived around mid July. We recorded temps in the mid-90's, but it was the humidity that was so uncomfortable. When the thunderstorms appeared, it was a nice treat to have more than just the usual dry lightning. There's something wonderful about the smell of a summer rain. Sharon H. wrote to ask for the most accurate weather information, especially forecasting. I use the National Weather Service site, since they are the ones that issue the alerts and advisories. I put in the location/altitude at Deerhorn Flats (2585 ft.) and have the link bookmarked. You might want to copy/paste the full address:

DOWNED TREES ON HONEY SPRINGS & DEERHORN VALLEY RD.: On Friday at about 6:00 PM we sent out an email alert to The Antler list about the downed tree blocking Honey Springs Road. Anne E phoned to say that it was blocking all of one lane and part of the other. Coral T came upon it just after it had fallen and the limbs were still shaking. She called 911 and then notified a Border Patrol unit so they could assist until our firefighters from Station #37 and CHP arrived. Hopefully you got notice and could avoid Honey Springs or were able to safely go around it. (CHP didn't get on scene until 6:40, but other agencies responded.) Did anyone get a picture or have more information to share? Email us:

ON SUNDAY (7/18) Chief Kremensky reported that Station #37 responded to another downed tree. This one fell on Deerhorn Valley Rd. approximately 1,000 feet east of Honey Springs Rd.

squirrelGROUND SQUIRRELS: Are you as invaded as we are? The Harris Fires greatly reduced our natural predator population, and the ground squirrels are having a ball... at the expense of foundations, oaks, woodpiles, and other cozy place. Rob and I are having good luck with live-trapping (then euthanization per the law). There are other choices... I'll share some Best Management Practices from UC Davis and our own experiences with live-trapping. What is working for you? Any tips? Let us know and we'll publish it in the Around DV section.

NO MAILBOX-- JUST A PO BOX? If you don't have a mailbox at your residence, then we can't send you THE ANTLER or other community information by mail. In an effort to make sure we're getting The Antler to as many residents as possible, we mailed the Summer Antler first-class to every address in Deerhorn Valley, Bratton Valley, Sunrise, etc. If you'd like to get mailers in your PO Box, we'll need to know what it is. (duh) You can sign up online, and we'll add you to our mailing list.


I've gotten behind on updating the website. Summer is the time for family visits, grandkids, and all that cleanup. We're hearing a lot of weed-whacking these days and have plenty to do ourselves as we continue to get ready for fire season... again. If you missed the Ready, Set, Go Presentation that Chief Kremesky gave last month, we have posted two pamphlets we found mosthelpful: check the left column below (IT'S WILDFIRE SEASON) for links to download them. Time to get your evacuation lists and boxes updated and in a handy location.

Bee Swarms : We are still in the swarm season for bees, and quite a few calls and emails have come in from DV'ers who are concerned or would like them to find another place to call "home." Rob and I are now out of equipment (boxes and frames) and have referred folks to CraigsList. There are several beekeepers who will collect easy-to-gather (hanging) swarms, and others who can deal with more difficult situations (like bees in walls). The swarms we hived this spring were all very docile, but officials warn that most of our wild bees are now hybrid (africanized). Take reasonable care when approaching a new swarm, but don't panic simply because bees are in the air. Bees are responsible for every third bite of food you take, and are critical to our food supply. Before the 2007 fires, Deerhorn was home to numerous bee colonies (both wild and domestic). Following this year's rains and blooms they are returning in significant numbers throughout San Diego County. Continued with photos...HoneyPic

Deerhorn's Award-Winning Honey : We entered this year's honey in the Home-Harvested Honey Competition at the Fair. In a blind tasting by three judges, our Deerhorn Valley 2010 Early Spring Honey (we've named it Fire & Rain) claimed 2nd place., with almost perfect scores from 2 of the 3 judges (98/100). Deerhorn Valley has a long history of producing exceptional honeys, most of which have been marketed to Europe in recent years. Looks like it's on the way in reclaiming some of it's earlier fame.

Do you know any other DV'ers who entered contests at this year's Fair? We'd love to know what was entered and celebrate your efforts! Email us:

Rob is busy with his camera again: "A Beautiful June Morning Stroll..." We are so lucky to live here.

MONDAY, MAY 24, 2010


More rain this week, and my thermometer showed a low of 35 degrees last night. Hard to believe it's almost June! We have had a lot of calls about bee swarms... from Jamul, Dulzura, Deerhorn, Lyons, and points beyond. May and June are swarming months as the bees begin building up their numbers to take advantage of the blooms and nectar flow. While our own hives have produced just one swarm (which we hived from the nearest oak), there are swarms throughout the valleys.

There are a couple of things to know about swarms. First of all, they are usually very calm, in spite of their numbers, which can reach 30-50,000. They'll often hang in a tree looking like a football and making a lot of buzzing noise. From there the bee-scouts will go out and look for a more permanent place for their colony. If the swarm lands within a ladder's distance from the ground, they are usually easy to collect in a hive, and can bring $150 or more with the hivebox and frames included. (By the way, Rob and I will often give them away to new beekeepers.)

The healthier our local honeybee population is, the less impact we will experience from Africanized bees. Africanized bees are aggressive and swarm easily and frequently. A neighbor in the Spices found a swarm in his gate box that was aggressive, and although I have not heard of any here in Deerhorn, they are definitely in SD County.

The best(only) control we have for Africanized bees is a healthy population of domestic honeybees. Over the last three years, a third of US honeybee colonies have disappeared EACH YEAR due to a mysterious event labeled "Colony Collapse Disorder." The cause is still unknown, but becoming of enormous concern since bees are responsible for 30% of all the foods we eat, and the economy of many states and locals, including the California Central Valley.

MONDAY, MAY 10, 2010

Did you ever see an average year... so beautiful?

With our rain last week we are now approaching 20 inches (July-June.! With the past years of drought, it's sobering to realize this is just an average year. Rob and I moved to Deerhorn in 1984-- the year after some 50 inches had fallen. We thought that fording the stream at the bottom of Deerhorn Valley Road would be a lifelong activity. We had a few more 40-inch years1993, 1998, and 2005, with quite a few dry ones in between. Alex Campbell lived in the house at the upper end of Mother Grundy and DV Road. His well was marginal (and that's being kind), and so in summer he'd make his weekly rounds and collect water from neighbors with deeper, better-producing wells. It was always a time to sit and talk about wells, weather, septic systems, and leach lines. Truly a world apart from the city life we left in San Diego.

2010 truly has to be the most beautiful Spring we've ever seen. So many wildflower "fire-followers" have sprung to life in the ashy soil now bathed with sunlight. It is truly bittersweet -- remembering how many neighbors lost so much, yet seeing life return to our hills and valleys. I am struggling to identify the new wildflowers I see (or am I just noticing them for the first time?) With some help from more knowledgeable friends (thank you, Jan & Don Maxted!), I plan to add a special section to the website for wildflowers and native plants. And I'll pull from Rob's catalogue of bird photos and enlist his help in assembling a section for our amazing bird varieties.

In the meantime... Rob's last collage features these feathered residents and travelers...

L-R: Western bluebird ~ Hooded oriole ~ Black phoebe (flycatcher) ~ Redtail hawk ~ Evening grossbeak


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