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, March 25, 2008

If it doesn’t sting you when you touch it, it’s grass

The last month has been extremely eventful in a positive and productive way. Although winter has yet to drag her frigid cloak entirely from the land things have become markedly more pleasant, hovering in the 40’s and 50’s the vast majority of the time. The trees have begun to bud, the vegetable plants we have started indoors have begun to sprout, and we have started the process of buying more trees for the spring. The FFA (Future Farmers of America) has offered to come out and plant a grove of 20 fruit trees behind the house next month, and we were more than happy to agree to it. With any luck the new trees will pollinate the existing apple and peach tree I planted a couple of years ago, but you should never get your hopes up out here. The wind is so sometimes so severe in the spring that it literally pulls the flowers off of things, preventing them from fruiting.

Ah, well. If it was easy to live out here everyone would be here, right?

I rented a skid steer and did some major work on the place. I cleared a pad for Tina’s long promised personal building (which is here and set up, but more on that later), spread gravel around the warehouses, cleared a family graveyard, and forklifted (Is that a word?) all sorts of annoying and heavy items down into our boneyard where they are now mercifully out of sight. Then I attached an auger to the front of the skidsteer and began sinking fence posts. I put posts around the graveyard, posts around our front yard, and posts at each spot I intend to put a gate. I put posts around where I’m planting our garden and posts where I’m building a greenhouse. For good measure I put some posts in other places too. Basically, I put posts anywhere I ever thought I might need a post.

You would think that using a powerful auger with real leverage would be easier than it is. But there’s a reason why this part of Nevada isn’t farmed extensively. There’s a solid foot of rock about two feet below the surface, probably left over from when this was part of an inland sea. It’s harder than hell to punch through, even with a couple of tons of weight and some respectable modern hydraulics behind you. More than a few times I had to shrug and say to myself “Well, this post is only going to be buried two feet down.” It was that or go rent a jackhammer, and I don’t think I care that much.

As I mentioned before Tina’s personal Modular Office Space came in, and it’s a nice one: 400 square feet, plenty of windows, and in very good shape. We’re planning on putting video games, an air hockey table, and movie theater into it after she finishes putting down the floor she wants. Tina went out and bought some very attractive red and black tiles to put down to achieve exactly the effect she wants; sort of a checkerboard look. It should turn out very nicely when it’s finished.

I’ve been working on putting in a front yard as well. It’s kind of challenging because we are attempting to use grass seed rather than sod, but it’s slowly coming around. Tina put a bunch in before the winter, and we rotor-tilled a whole bunch of seed in a few weeks ago, but it’s going to take a lot of work. I’m watering it daily, and next week I’m going to systematically drip feet the yard, but it may take another year before we get it right. The grass is coming up strong in some places but not coming in at all in others, so my plan is to transplant as much native grass as possible into the sections that don’t seem to be working while also encouraging the grass seed to grow. I’m also none too picky about what I consider “grass.” If it’s green, low to the ground, and doesn’t sting you when you touch it, it’s grass.