Meet the Feathered Pipe Ranch Family
The Feathered Pipe Ranch staff along with the Feathered Pipe Foundation Staff and Board really are one-of-a-kind in the world of retreat centers/non-profit organizations. A large proportion of our staff and board have a long history of intersecting with Feathered Pipe that dates to the earliest years of the Pipe’s rich 40-year history. Over and over again, Ranch guests offer effusive praise for the warmth, professionalism, and genuinely caring vibe of our staff – with some saying that their interaction with the staff offered some of the most treasured and memorable moments of their time here.
We surmise it has something to do with the fact that the Ranch has always attracted an uncommon kind of person with natural reverence for the land, instant affection for all who find their way to Feathered Pipe, and an instinct for gracious hospitality.
It’s a safe bet that when you come to Feathered Pipe, you’ll be as enchanted by the staff’s warm smiles and tender stewardship of every sacred inch of the Ranch as by the grandeur and beauty of this Rocky Mountain oasis. There are no strangers for long at the Ranch!
Tom Ryan – Long-time Ranch Caretaker
Tom’s introduction to the Ranch grew from a connection to Judith and Ike Lasater whose house he was house-sitting while they came to the first workshop which Judith was teaching. At that workshop India had decided to keep the Ranch and turn it into what it is today. Tom was offered a part time job doing some building and upon his arrival in August of ‘75 he started right in, not building, but instead falling back on a previous profession he cut hair for a number of women attending the first women’s workshop.
The “part time” job only lasted 33 years and during that time Tom built everything from bunkbeds to the dining room. First built was the bathhouse then the teachers cabin and the honeymoon cabin which was remodeled at least three times, built an addition to the lake cabin, remodeled the main kitchen three times, built the shop and turned the four car garage into a gift shop and three custom bedrooms. Over the years Tom was assisted in these projects by such notables as Chris Cappy, Doug Pollard, John Barningham, Paul Wilson, Dan Fritz, Josh Safronoff, Patrick Marsolek, Neil Egan, Mike Rudolf, Danny Prado, Craig Marpole and Tim Pool just to name a few.
In the meantime Tom added onto to Sky Farm, built an addition to VJ’s house, was the builder for the octagon house down the ranch road, and designed and built a home for his family on Old Hippie Lane. In September of ’80, on the front lawn of the ranch, Tom married Heidi Goldman, another member of the ranch staff, and here they raised two beautiful children Sean and Aimee.
Winter Safronoff – Ranch Manager
Winter came to the Feathered Pipe Ranch when she was 11 years old. She became the Feathered Pipe Ranch’s adoptive daughter when taken in by India Supera, Crystal Water, and Laughing Water. It wasn’t long before Winter was traveling the world with family and friends, discovering early on she had a natural love and affinity for foreign cultures. That’s just one of the many reasons that Winter can be found on many of Feathered Pipe’s international retreats. Winter co-leads service trips with the Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation (TCEF) – one of the service organizations that Feathered Pipe has midwifed since its inception. A woman of countless artistic and culinary talents, Winter divides her time between making handmade jewelry, wedding event planning and coordination, sewing, her work on TCEF’s board, and stained glass making.
Michael Rudolf – Kitchen Chef Extraordinaire
Mike Rudolf has been an integral and beloved member of the Feathered Pipe family for a dozen years. After graduating from Helena High School, he stepped into the role of true Montana Renaissance Man – apprenticing as a tattoo artist and even working as a mascot for a semi-professional baseball team. He stoked his longstanding passion for cooking and traveled around the globe studying with cooks and chefs of all styles. Luckily for us, he shares his passion, techniques, creativity, and lip-smacking flair for great taste in the Feathered Pipe kitchen. It’s no secret to repeat guests that the heart of the Ranch is in our kitchen and that our food is healthy, scrumptious, and prepared with great care. Mike and his staff prepare finger-licking fare, day in and day out – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – throughout the season.
Josh Safronoff – Ranch Caretaker
Josh’s intersection with the Feathered Pipe family and land dates back to his days as a four-year-old, when he first was brought up to the Ranch for annual gatherings for the summer Solstice. Not many years later as a young teenager, he found himself spending more time at Feathered Pipe and working as a dishwasher, soon spending every summer at the Rocky Mountain oasis.
As a bona fide member of the Feathered Pipe family (Winter Safronoff is his sister), Josh has a natural talent for understanding the daily flows, chores, joys, and rhythms of the Ranch. There is nothing Josh doesn’t know how to do at the Ranch – from organizing repairs and staff duties to making sure every guest is comfortable and has everything they might need. During the off-season, Josh lives in Missoula, Montana.
Mike Wells – Breakfast & Soup King
Long-time Ranch guests are familiar with and grateful for the gentle smile – and memorable breakfast and lunch fare prepared lovingly by Feathered Pipe breakfast and lunch chef extraordinaire, Mike Wells. Mike’s footsteps first graced the Ranch in 1986 after traveling with founder India Supera in 1985 on his first journey to India to meet with Sathya Sai Baba.
A Salt Lake City native, Mike launched his Feathered Pipe career tending to the landscape, but soon landed in the kitchen where his latent culinary skills began to shine and quickly became the stuff of legend. His specialties are his amazing soups!
When not at the ranch, Mike can be found at his mini “Animal Farm” where he cares for just about every kind of animal under the sun.