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.

My Photo
Location: Gerlach, Nevada, United States

Monday, February 20, 2006

February 11th, 12th, and 13th

Unlike the last misadventure plagued trip, this one went oustandingly well. Tom of Tom’s Manufactured Housing Services managed to remount the office building before Tina, Snap, and I even got out to the ranch. He's lowered it a foot or so to cut down on wind resistance, added more jack stands, and used a bunch of those “giant screw” fasteners to hold it to the ground. Although this was all a little expensive, I am more than satisfied with the results, which are certainly better than anything I could have managed on my own.

Tina and I heated up the house Saturday night using the wood burning stove that we’ve set up. This pleased me a great deal, as we have been entirely reliant on propane for home heating until now. Wood will not only be less expensive (ok, it’s usually free) but has a more “natural” desert esthetic to it as well. Tina also has plans to put up more tile-and-wonderboard panels around the stove for extra protection, but it probably isn’t as necessary for safety reasons as I thought it would be. The walls around the stove don’t seem to be getting dangerously hot or anything like that.

I installed the new solar charge controller I picked up from West Marine in Berkeley. Although it was a bit complex compared to my old controller, it seems to work quite well. Next trip I’m going to install a second, more heavy-duty controller so that I can get the three 50 Watt panels I’ve got set up wired into the power system as well. With any luck we should barely need to run the generator by late spring.

I also buried a bunch of the wiring that runs between the ranch house, the generator shed, and the office building, primarily for appearance sake. With this done, the two of us embarked upon the long overdue process of radically repairing the property’s plumbing. We emptied out the fetid contents of the old water storage contents (which smelled quite foul), dug a three foot trench all the way around it, then pulled the tank out of the ground using the ATV (along with a rather considerable amount of elbow grease). With that done, I replaced the old, chaotic, and leaky plumbing with new, properly sealed pipes, then buried the entire thing two feet down to protect it from freezing. I am hopeful that this improved plumbing will lead to improved water pressure, which in turn leads to an improved desert lifestyle for everyone concerned!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

February 4th, 5th, and 6th

This was not, overall, a particularly good trip. On my way out to meet my father at Incline Village, a stray bit of malicious gravel cracked my windscreen. Infuriated, I proceeded to curse, fume, and generally ponder dark and wicked thoughts with such an intensity that an hour later I didn’t notice that I’d run out of gas. Fortunately, I was on the eastern side of I-80 heading downhill and managed to coast in neutral for ten miles at a speed of about 50mph, gliding into the gas station at Donner Summit with an asthmatic gasp of vapor still haunting my tank. Donner Summit. How I hate that little pimple of a town. When I die I expect to be forced to spend a thousand years there in a sort of Californian purgatory before being judged and sent to my final reward. This marks my sixth misadventure associated with that misbegotten place. I know it well: the rundown, Swiss chalet-theme hotel run by obvious amphetamine addicts, the overpriced restaurant staffed by desperate young women, the service station mechanic with a lazy eye.

Anyhow, I met my father for dinner at the Incline Hilton, which was actually quite nice. That was definitely the high point of the weekend. From there I drove out to the ranch. Which was a mess. The mother-of-all-windstorms had come through a week before, ripping the lower property’s generator shed completely off of its mounting bolts and flinging it across the materials yard. It bent my shiny new flagpole. It had also lifted the office off of its piers - an effort that required pulling several five-foot mooring stakes out of the ground - and flung it three feet downhill. All of my carefully built skirting, assembled over two separate three-day visits, was shattered into so much kindling. Everything that wasn’t tied down at Midian had been hurled twenty feet in a random direction. Simply put, I found myself in rancher hell.

So, as best I could, I fixed things. I fastened the generator shed back to its slap with six news redhead bolts. I cleaned up what was left of my carefully (dare I say lovingly) assembled skirting, or what I shall now think of as firewood. With as much cleanup as I could manage completed, I set about the ten-hour task of rewiring the entire battery bank. This was exhausting in that it involved moving roughly 2800 pounds of batteries around. If was frustrating in that it required me to spend six hours organizing hundreds of feet of wiring. It was rewarding in that the entire bank is now ordered, expandable, and considerably easier to understand. It also doesn’t look like a bomb went off in the battery shed anymore, which has an esthetic value that transcends mere functionality.

Chris Karma was out at Dog Ranch working for Ron when I got over there the next morning. He seemed in good spirits, having recently expanded his personal armory to include a Marlin lever-action .357 Magnum rifle, a Springfield M1A .308 sniper rifle, and a custom AR-15 chambered for .556 with a TOS Predator Upper receiver. The later is the most interesting of the bunch, a frightening looking firearm that puts the “black” in black rifle. It’s festooned with handles, flashlights, and holographic sights of every conceivable description like some kind of assault weapon Swiss pocketknife. Barbara Boxer would probably keel over from apoplexy at the mere sight of the thing.

I also managed to get hold of Tom, the modular home moving guy. He was transporting an office unit similar to mine (only a lot nicer) to Dog Ranch…. practically the only place in the entire Black Rock Desert harder to find than Midian Ranch. Tom wasn’t in a very good mood when I found him, lost and fixing a flat tire on State Route 34. He’s agreed to come back out to Midian and fix the damage the storm wrought. For a price, naturally.