The Desert Light November/December 2018 - Page 12

The OX Ranch By: Bob Killen ( Last week in the early evening, I could hear the hooves of Ghost Riders in the Sky and the snorts of red-eyed cows stomping in the feedlot pens of the OX Ranch. As the sun disappeared over the western horizon the night sky took center stage with a canopy of glittering stars and working alongside one of my volunteers, Ted Rigoni, we marveled at the pure darkness of night and yet in that inky blackness our giant windmill was still throwing a crisp silhouette against an ever- increasing Milky Way. Of course, I fantasized the red-eyed cows but for our volunteers and me it seemed so real because we are living the OX Ranch and Mojave experience while making significant progress on the OX Restoration Project. For those of you who are helping with this project as donors and volunteers, thank you, and this must seem like the longest “flip this house” ever undertaken in modern times, but like many restoration projects, one never knows for sure what you need until you tear into the facility. Unlike ‘house flips’ on reality TV, this is a major project in one of the most remote and scenic desert locations of southwest America. The remoteness means that we must be self-sufficient for utilities and safety. To that end, we are doing significant work outside of the facility that will provide water consistently when you turn the tap, power at the flip of a switch and fire sprinkler safety. As I write this article, National Park Service Contractors are installing a 300-yard utility trench from well pump to the storage pressure tank at the house. Once complete the pressure switches at the storage tank will automatically call for water whenever the storage pressure drops below a certain level. This means that anytime we use water in the house we will have a consistent flow as if we were on a city water supply. Our current solar system works well, but we are doing an upgrade during the last two weeks of November. New, more efficient solar panels are being added to the current structure, and we are upgrading the battery storage system as well. These changes will provide 7/24 power to the house and outside workshop areas with the use of a standby generator system except for those heavy overcast days. Additional automatic standby features will turn on (and off) the standby generator when conditions require this service. This change improves our environmental footprint and reduces our propane costs. 12 THE DESERT LIGHT | Nov/Dec 2018