If I had to describe Northern Nevada in a single word right now, it would probably be "frozen." More than five feet of pure white snow fell onto the Reno area during the weekend, covering everything at Midian Ranch with a gleaming ivory blanket. Consequently, accomplishing anything outdoors was more difficult than normal during New Years. The impulse to run skipping through the snowdrifts rather than pound nails into boards was incredibly strong, especially since Snap the Dog seemed to be enjoying it. But, sadly, resist I did.
I put together another set of stairs, this time for behind the ranch house. I’ve been building them using pairs those sturdy $14 "starter" cutouts you can buy from Home Depot. Now every doorway in the "uptown" portion of the property has it own stairs, which is a small but a convenient thing that makes the buildings feel more permanent and less haphazard. I also fixed the exhaust pipe which I rigged up to communicate fumes from the house’s generator to the outside world (it had rattled loose recently). While I’m on the subject of generators, I would like to recommend the Porter and Cable BSI550-W 5500 Watt Generator to any homesteader interested in buying an inexpensive, do-it-all unit for their property. Its 10 HP engine cranks out more than enough power to run practically any power tool, home appliance, or electronic device imaginable. It’s fuel efficient (7 gallons will run the unit for 13 hours at half usage), low maintenance, and sturdy. Although it’s a little loud for my taste at $600, the price tag can’t be beat.
I also ran around the property fixing broken pipes. The winter cold has caused a lot of the joint seals on my PVC pipes to crack, so I resealed every joint using some PVC primer and epoxy. Then I wrapped all of the exposed pipes in what the local’s amusing refer to as "donkey dick"; brown colored insulation which comes in tubes. It’s specifically designed for plumbing applications. I also patched up a burst copper pipe with a special epoxy wrap which is supposed to shrink tightly when exposed to water, sealing up the break. It seems to have worked fairly well, although how well it survives the Valley’s breathtaking cold remains to be seen.
Boondo, Laura, Jack the Dog, and Tsunami the Dog came out to visit us this trip; which was quite fortunate as we needed their four wheel drive truck to pull our poor little Mazda pickup out of the snowbank that had grown up around it over the course of an evening. Jack is getting a little old in the tooth (aren’t we all?) but Snap and Tsunami had what appeared to be an almost orgasmic time leaping through mounds of freshly fallen snow. The seven of us went for a hike into the neighboring property, a sweet little rectangle of forty acres which has some actual trees and a pond on it (desert luxury!). Boondo and Laura are really enthusiastic about acquiring the property, and Tina and I are likewise enthusiastic about them making the purchase as quickly as they can manage it. I trust Boondo, not only in the sense of his being honorable but also because he’s self sufficient enough to hack it out there. Having another Bay Area-based hobby survivalist next door would open up all sorts of marvelous transportation and resource possibilities for us, possibly for Kevin and his family over at Dog Ranch as well.
After our visitors departed Tina and I set to work laying click together wooden flooring down in the ranch house (see above). The difference it makes is nothing sort of miraculous. If we keep this up it’s going to get so livable that I’ll have to get the hell out of San Francisco sooner rather than later.