Midian Ranch Blog

This is the web log for Midian Ranch, an isolated homestead in rural Nevada. It is owned by Jason and Tina Walters, whom are also its regular posters. This blog is exclusively for the enlightenment and edification of our friends, family, and colleagues.

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Location: Gerlach, Nevada, United States

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

As Close To Heaven As I Can Reach Posted by Hello

Friends Indeed. Posted by Hello

Weekend of April 8th, 2005

Out on the desert things never go as planned, even when you’ve prepared exceptionally carefully for them. Actually, especially when you’ve prepared exceptionally carefully for them. After a grueling midnight “death ride” from San Francisco to Midian fueled by two cups of coffee, five energy drinks, and an unbending determination to beat the rising sun, we collapsed into our bed in the ranch house at 6 AM. Well, Tina collapsed; I sort of vibrated around in semi-hallucinogenic caffeine daze until Tom (of Tom’s Mobile Home Transportation) and his assistant/buddy showed up with our brand new 400 sq foot GE Modular Office space! All right, it’s not actually new (a new unit costs 30 grand) but it’s new to us and represents a vast expansion of our usable living space out at Midian.

The only problem was that the space I had cleared out using the tractor wasn’t big enough to allow Tom to properly use his special, highly modified mobile home moving rig without heading off into the salt brush, where he was certain he would acquire a flat tire, a punctured air hose, or some other fatal semi-truck malady. So the four of us had to clear out a new space quickly using shovels, a couple of sawzaws, and a lot of elbow grease. In the end he deftly maneuvered the god awful unwieldy thing into perfection position. Tom and his buddy were good guys, and we shot-the-shit for a while after the work got done. He used to be a cop in South San Francisco way back in the day before moving out to the Silver State and, naturally, had a couple of amusing tales to tell. After a couple of cold ones they headed back toward Gerlach, presumably to eat at Bruno’s (yes, I tried to feed them.)

I got a lot of useful things done this trip. The olive trees are still alive, though some of them are doing better than others. I put up a new solar panel and added another battery to our bank, which is charging up more and more quickly as the sunny, windy summer grows nearer. With some help from Tina I pulled the carburetor off of the tractor and checked the spark plugs, which were not in terribly good shape. I hope to have it running next trip out. We moved the generator/welding trailer over to the area that I have designated the “vehicle storage area,” which took a lot of unexpected doing, as the thing weighs a ton (probably literally). I’m hoping that Kevin will lend me a bobcat next trip so that I can finish it and the “materials storage area” respectively. That should help me to organize things “downtown” at lot more effectively.

Tina, Snap, and I took several morning walks up to the hill I affectionately refer to as “Walters’ Wart,” which is notable mainly for the large amounts of bone white petrified coral that can be found there. I imagine it is left over from when Midian used to be covered by Lake Lohantan, a vast inland sea that covered most of Northern Nevada and Utah about ten thousand years ago. I imagine it is this ancient body of water that first drew the ancestors of the modern Paiute Indians to the area. In any case, the first morning I went up the hill armed with my shotgun and, after hiking around, asked myself the all important question “Why am I bothering to haul this damn thing around?” The next morning we found some dinner-plate sized mountain lion tracks, which pretty effectively answered the question.

It pays to be prepared out on the playa.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Weekend of March 26th and 27th

Well, the olive trees are still alive. Naturally they show all the symptoms of shock from being transplanted (wilting, loss of leaves, and so forth) but that is to be expected. I laid out a complete drip feed system to make sure that everything (true olive trees, Russian olive trees, and the surviving poplar hybrids) gets constantly watered. In most environments the plants would simply drown from over-watering, but the desert’s soil is incredibly sandy and correspondingly unable to retain water for long periods of time. The only possible wrinkle would be a blockage in the drip feed lines, but you can’t plan for everything.

Tina hooked up the propane stove then successfully cooked a meal using it. It’s a full range with four burners, an oven, and broiler; basically, all the comforts of home. Unfortunately it’s also leaking a little propane so we had to shut if off after using it. I think the two of us will be able to locate and seal off the leak next trip. Otherwise we’re going to have to call in an expert, which is something I would rather avoid.

I managed to repair most of the freezing damage to the ranch house’s plumbing by yanking out the water heater and repairing or replacing most of the lines that connect it to the house. Ultimately, though, the house’s big plumbing problem remains the same: clogs. I can’t seem to filter Barker Spring’s water without sacrificing 90% of our water pressure, but if I don’t filter it the pipes get filled with dirt. I’m not sure how to combat this problem in the short run but its increasingly obvious that eventually I’m going to have to build a real water tower behind the ranch house.

In closing, the Spring has been particularly beautiful in the Blackrock Desert this year. Rainfall was inordinately heavy during the winter, causing the High Sierras to bloom in a manner that I have never before witnessed in this most lovely corner of the world. The Hualapai Valley looks more like rural Ireland than rural Nevada, its usually barren rolling hills and sprawling pastures covered by a carpet of brightest green grass that has drawn the mustang, pronghorn, and deer down early from their mountain haunts. Now trapped here in my tiny city office, I can only long for its open, windswept spaces, cool mountain breezes, and solitude.