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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

December 26th, 27th, and 28th

The weather in Nevada is extremely odd this year. All right, to be honest the weather out in the Black Rock Desert is profoundly odd year round, with unpredictable highs and lows, sudden winds, unexpected freezing rains in August, mile-long dust storms, and localized high winds that can reach astounding velocities. Additionally, the northern portion of the state is comprised of alternating deserts and mountains that produce various “microclimates,” particularly in smaller valleys located 4,000 plus feet above sea-level. The ecological stereotype of freezing mountains towering above burning deserts is only party true. Right now there are also burning mountains towering above freezing deserts.

It was oddly warm out at Midian Ranch the day after Christmas – far warmer, in fact, than it was in the Bay Area during the holiday weekend. Nighttime temperatures reached down only into the forties with almost no wind factor worth mentioning. The following day was quite similar: light rain with fairly warm winds blowing down out of the admittedly snow-covered Granites. It was very strange, especially when I was awoken at 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday by the single most ferocious windstorm I have ever experienced out in the desert. Which is saying something.

Anyhow, it was an eventful three days. I built two sets of five feet tall steps for the office building. I also constructed, mounted, and installed a new solar skid for the upper portion of the property, brining the amount of peak solar amperage up to about 190 watts. This means that the amount of amperage my regulator can handle should top out with the addition of a third and final 50 watt panel. I am mounting an additional two panels on the roof of the lower property generator shed to charge up the battery bank I am constructing down there. We already have two small gasoline generators (one for each end of the property) but I am hoping to add a large diesel generator at some point in the next two years as well. When it is all complete, the ranch should be swimming in power.

Laden down with small Christmas gifts, I visited with various neighbors on Tuesday including Ron and Dahlia (The Dog Ranch), The Jacksons (Jackson Ranch), and Sylvia (The F Ranch). I enjoyed visiting with everyone, although at about 9:30 while at the F Ranch we were called on by Sheriff Bloom. He was out looking for three hunters who had gone missing earlier in the day. Wanting to help, I went searching for them myself in the box canyons behind Sylvia’s place. Although I covered a good amount of territory considering my limited abilities and area knowledge, I found no solid sign of them. Also, my radio couldn’t reach the ranch from the eight or so miles back I traveled, so by 1:00 p.m. I had to turn around and come back empty handed or risk inspiring my own search party.

It’s big, black, and empty up there in the Granite Mountains late at night. I certainly hope that the Sheriff and his rescue team turned up something, although as of today I am not certain whether this tale had a happy ending or a tragic one.

Friday, December 16, 2005

December 3rd, 4th, and 5th

It’s amazing how comfortable you can be off grid with a little preparation. The wind howled, the thermometer dropped down toward the single digits, and yet Chris Karma and I sat warm as clams in a stewpot inside of the propane heated ranch house. Actually, it got so warm that at one point we had to turn the thermostat down. I’m not certain how well the central heating will perform if it is run off of the battery bank for months at a time, but at least for brief periods of time it performs extremely well. I’m hoping that with the additional 12,000 amp hours of battery pour I’m going to add in the next few months will go a long way toward making winter long central heating a reality, though.

Chris and I basically spent three days lugging 178-pound deep cycle batteries around. We lifted them with wenches, we hauled them on the back of the new quad, and we loaded them into the beds of pickup trucks. When all was said and done we had moved literally a pallet of the damn things from the Dog Ranch to Midian, with one bank of six at the top and the remainder still at the bottom. Until recently I was pretty certain that most of them were junk and that we were doing all this work simply to salvage a half dozen of the best from the rest, but a quick conversation with my former neighbor Kevin Brittner and a trip to the Fiamm website has convinced me that all of them are salvageable with proper charging. I’m extremely optimistic that I will be able to power both the upper and lower portions of the property using them until about 2010.

We also emptied out my workshop in preparation for receiving a massive load of books from the Consolidated warehouse in Berkeley; a move I hope is temporary, as I wish to hold Hero Game’s books entirely in my warehouse. Still, it’s probably going to require a purchase of industrial shelving and a shipping container before the entire set up is ready for Tina to conduct day-to-day business from the Ranch.

There’s an awful of work to do before Midian can even begin to reach the state I need it to be in, but with the help of my wife and my friends we are slowly moving it in that direction. God bless you and merry Christmas!