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

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Tina with Icecream delivered by Schwans Posted by Picasa

Jason planting new tree Posted by Picasa

The Midian Graveyard (plus new tree) Posted by Picasa

April 6th,7th,8th, and 9th

Once again we had another productive trip. Straight after work on Wednesday night, Tina and I booked out of San Francisco, making it to Chris Karma’s place in Reno at about 12:30 AM. After seven hours of sleep, we had a minimal but pleasant breakfast with everybody’s favorite gun nut before heading out to the property to meet a shipment of books for the warehouse. Along the way we stopped at the Wright Outdoor Center to purchase some trees. The staff, selection, and reasonable prices at Wright favorably impressed both of us. We ended up buying two aspens, an apple, a pear, and a birch tree. These were all healthy, good-sized specimens ranging from between five and eight feet in height with extensive, bucket contained root structures. Our experience in previous years suggests that planting saplings with minimal root structures at Midian Ranch is almost totally futile; perhaps four out of fifty saplings without bucket grown roots have survived from our previous plantings.

To be honest, we had such a good time looking at trees at Wright that we missed the truck driver! We ended up chasing him the highway down as he exited Gerlach. Fortunately, he had the good sense to simply unload the pallet of Asian Bestiary, Volume II’s out front of our property, so there was no harm done. After assuring the HERO S.F. office that we had indeed taken position of the shipment, Tina and I began repackaging and labeling the book for shipment to various distributors. We also organized Tina’s office at the top of the property. This included setting up a printer so that labels can be filled out, placing a UPS order via our new wireless Internet connection, and erecting shelving on which open hero books can be stored for smaller, non-distributor shipments.

The next day we handed the entire shipment off to UPS, marking the first time that we’ve been able to directly conduct HERO’s business from Midian Ranch. Based on this experiment, I am now completely certain that Tina’s job can be successfully moved out into the desert. I am also certain that entire shipping and receiving part of the company can be more efficiently run from there, as they will be consolidated into a single facility that is better suited for that sort of enterprise than the HERO office at Haight and Market can, by definition, be. Friday was, in short, an important (if understated) day in the history of HERO Games.

In other ranch news, Tina and I also planted all five of our trees. This undoubtedly sounds unexciting to those of you who have never lived in the high desert; but believe me, it is. Ritches out in the Hualapai Flat are measured not in gold, but in trees and water. Like miners struggling to extract gold flakes out of a river, the Walters family has valiantly attempted to grow a few more trees around our desert homestead every year. I have high hopes for this particular batch, all of who belong to subspecies that supposedly flourish in the Great Basin ecological zone. Additionally, all five trees have the sort of wonderful, fully developed root structures that are vital to the success of any vegetation transplanted into a windy location with sandy soil.

For this year’s planting we are attempting to use an ancient agricultural technique I learned from reading Jarred Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. The Anasazi Indians used to cover the base of their plants with rocks to help prevent soil erosion and water evaporation. In previous years, I attempted to place a layer of mulch over the base of each plant; but it inevitably blew always over the course of a few months. This time around we made a “campfire” circle of stones around the base of each tree, then covered the interior of each circle with a thick layer of gravel. Hopefully this will have the same effect as mulch, with the added bonus that it won’t go anywhere.

We planted one of the aspen trees next to the graveyard in commemoration of our old family friend Ian Reid, who passed away last year. I haven’t put a base around it yet. Hopefully, we will be able to gather up enough quartz, jade, and onyx to give its “campfire” circle a more reverent appearance (by Black Rock Desert standards, anyhow). We’re also planning on creating a memorial plaque for Ian that will match the cemetery’s existing gravestones, although we are not entirely certain how old Mr. Dubbie created them. I’m guessing he used a dremel to carve the wording, and then filled them with a thin layer of bone white plaster. The effect is unique, rustic, and a bit startling when placed in the context of the desert.

In other news, we awoke Friday morning to a strange visitor: the Schwan’s Fine Frozen Foods deliveryman! While our friends over at the Dog Ranch had mentioned his existence, I’d previously considered the Schwan’s Man to be the Black Rock Desert equivalent of Santa Claus. So, I was surprised as a kid on Christmas morning when I wandered out to find Tina buying a container of rocky road ice cream from him.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

March 25th, 26th, and 27th

As much as I would like to bitch about this winter that seems to be lasting forever, in all honesty it never really began. I mean, it was March before I ever had to put chains on my truck: a record, really. So, I suppose I shouldn’t complain that we spent the entirety of Saturday the 25th driving between Richmond and Gerlach. I also shouldn’t complain that we were stuck at a standstill in the Sierras for so long that I finished the last 100 pages of Orson Scott Card’s Shadow Puppets and Tina watched four episodes of Firefly on her portable DVD Player before we accelerated up to 30 MPH.

I shouldn’t complain. But I just did.

On Sunday I finished skirting the office trailer. If you read my previous posts from a few months back, you will find that this is my second attempt at this unglamorous, yet necessary, project. The windy Desert Plains so beloved by Rob Halford reduced my first effort to so much scrap tossed ingloriously onto (or, more accurately, into) the trash heap of history. This next effort will hopefully prove more robust, and therefore successful, than the first. I also built a new door for the water heater cubbyhole and repaired the left side of the ranch house, which had suffered some wind damage.

On Monday the satellite Internet guy paid us a visit. He was not only a punctual and amusing fellow, but he installed a wireless network as well as our link. It reaches around the radius of the entire homestead. I hope the augment this setup by using the existing antennas and wireless bridge we already have to create a focused link between the upper and lower property, allowing anyone in the warehouse to jump on the net. This will probably have to wait a few months but I am pretty sure I can set it up quickly, given the time to do so.