Backyard Orchard News
Looking for love...or a fast-food snack...or a little sun... A male flameskimmer dragonfly,...
A male flameskimmer dragonfly, Libellula saturata, perches on a bamboo stake in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The flameskimmer's wings shimmer in the morning light. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Congrats to Jessica Gillung for a well-deserved honor! Gillung, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell...
As a graduate student at UC Davis, Jessica Gillung participated in many outreach programs with the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bugs from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, grabbed the interest of fairgoers at the 144th...
Entomologist Jeff Smith (left) shows insect displays from the Bohart Museum of Entomology to fairgoers last Saturday at the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologists Alex Dedon (left) and Jeff Smith of UC Davis engage with Carolyn Jones of Dixon, who served as chair of the 2019 Sacramento Orchid Show. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Forensic entomologist Alex Dedmon, a doctoral student at UC Davis, responds to a question from a fairgoer Saturday at the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This fairgoer checked out the specimens of carpenter bees, honey bees, leafcutting bees and sweat bees from the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
An insect display on Hymenotpera (bees and wasps) drew the interest of this fairgoer at the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Specimens from the order Coleoptera (beetles) fascinated many fairgoers at the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Camouflaged insects include stick insects that look like leaves. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Butterfly specimens from the order Lepitoptera (butterflies and moths) brightened the Bohart Museum of Entomology display at the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Floriculture Building at the Dixon May Fair was more than flowers--it included specimens of pollinators and other insects from the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"You can learn a lot from these displays," a fairgoer at the 144th annual Dixon May Fair...
Dixon 4-H'er Ryan Anenson of the Tremont 4-H Club created this award-winning educational display, "None of Your Beeswax" for the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Dixon 4-H'er Madeline Giron sketched this color pencil drawing of a bee, on display in the Youth Building (Denverton Hall) at the Dixon May Fair. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This photo by Markus Taliaferro of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club shows a honey bee sipping nectar.
Just add pollinators! Katelyn Nipper of Fairfield created this innovative illustration of brightly color flowers and crayons.
Airbnb experiences are a relatively new program to Airbnb guests. People from around the world are offering tours, classes, shows and more to people wanting to “experience” new things on their travels. In California, hosts are offering horseback riding, cooking lessons, farm tours, and art lessons to name a few. Hosts get their own page on Airbnb and set their calendar to offer experiences. Airbnb handles payment processing, customer service, and up to $1 million insurance. There are a few things like rock climbing and scuba diving that the insurance doesn't cover so make sure you read the fine print.
A host can choose to participate in the traditional Airbnb program hosting overnight guests, trying out the new experiences program, or both on their small farm or ranch. When starting either program, I suggest that you aim for clean, comfy, and simple. Advertise what you can reasonably accommodate and guests can always ask you questions and you can always offer more if the opportunity arises. I find that guests like to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed. I have a full time job off the ranch so I offer a clean, comfortable private bedroom and bathroom and have snacks, bottled water, coffee and tea available for guests. I have a collection of hiking maps, restaurant menus, area maps, and local suggestions that guests can look through when they arrive. The space is self-sufficient in case guests arrive when I am at work, so they can immediately make themselves at home.
Over the last couple of years I have raised chickens and quail, raised a steer, cut firewood, and entered into a rangeland restoration project involving cutting down juniper for essential oils. I grow a good sized garden and have canned, dried, and frozen a lot of local produce. Airbnb guests have had the opportunity to ask questions, see new things, and even participate in the regular activities at my homestead. Airbnb guests have helped to bucket feed my 1000 pound steer, weed the garden, and even split firewood just for the experience. When I am able to offer these experiences to guests, I receive really favorably reviews and have often been a “super host” which is a rating based on number of guests and favorable reviews.
One of the reasons my Airbnb has been so successful is that I am one of the only places in my area that allows pets. I have a dog myself and I have found that more and more people traveling these days are looking to travel with their pets. Not only allowing pets but providing dog dishes, pet treats, and dog friendly hikes nearby has also given me an edge. I also try to make accommodations for kids and small families traveling. Although my space is not very large, it is comfortable for a couple traveling with a small child or two. This flexibility targets some of the fastest growing traveling populations. I encourage you to find your hosting niche - do you offer an amazing view, can guests pick fresh fruits and veggies from your garden, or do you offer a rural escape from the city?
I set my price about the average of room rates in Modoc County, $60 per night. The room was full roughly six months out of the year last year, which was plenty of business for me. If I wanted to work harder I probably could have, but Airbnb generated a net income of about $6000 in 2018. In more populated areas where lodging rates and guest interest is higher, I would predict larger income generation. Make sure to check and see if local lodging taxes apply in your area; Airbnb can help you find this out. In Modoc County there are no additional taxes.
Although Airbnb makes it easy, I still had some adjusting to do in sharing my house with complete strangers. The way my house is set up, there is a private entrance into a mudroom that leads to a private bathroom and bedroom for guests. Even though this is a private area of the house, it is still attached to the main house and the kitchen and living room are shared spaces. For my peace of mind and safety I do not use the automatic booking option on Airbnb. Automatic booking was not an option when I started and I feel more comfortable renting to people who are willing to write a short note or story about who they are and why they are visiting. I have denied requests for staying if someone writes a one word message or uses poor language. Using this system, I have had very few guests over the past four years that I would not invite back and I have never had a situation where I felt unsafe.
One of the things I get asked about really often is liability insurance and policy coverage through Airbnb. Although I have never had to file a claim (and hope I never have to) Airbnb has a pretty robust insurance policy of a million dollars for hosts. I choose to add extra insurance costing $12/month on my home owners' policy and feel comfortable with the coverage. There is also a million dollar policy on Airbnb experiences that covers almost everything you might want to do with guests. Even if you never thought of taking people into your home, Airbnb experiences might be a great way to offer tours of your property, take people on a favorite hike or teach them a new trade or craft.
Airbnb has provided many benefits for my homestead over the past four years from making new friends, educating the public and generating income. If you have ever thought about becoming a host for overnight guests or the new experiences program, I suggest you give it a try. Finding your hosting niche and telling your story will help you get more guests while also bringing interest to your property and community.