It’s a jungle out there.
Pulled in the driveway around 5:30 pm with mowing on my mind. It’s a beautiful day to be outside—upper 70s and sunny. I parked the truck, opened up the pole barn, and fired up the mower. I thought it might be smart to try to mulch instead of using the side discharge chute, so I made a very quick and basic mulch plug out of a small board and a bunch of duct tape. This bogged down the deck almost immediately, and the idea was quickly abandoned.
The grass is thigh-high in some places and looks a lot fuller and greener than it has in years. The last year’s worth of effort in collecting leaves early and often is really starting to pay off. Things have finally dried up after our very soggy spring, so I can finally mow the back yard toward the marsh entrance this trip.
Pulled in at 10:15 am with a pair of IBCs in the back of the pickup and a bunch of tools crammed in the back seat. I got the containers for $40 each on craigslist. Once I get them cleaned out, I want to use one as the keep’s water supply and strap the other one to the larger yard trailer for pressure washing and other water needs. The 55-gallon drums have worked well, but they require too much refilling and it’s difficult to gauge how full they are. These square containers have five times the capacity of a drum and you can tell the water level at a glance. They should be quite the upgrade.
I took a moment to walk around the grounds. The grass is really filling in nicely this year; I think all my mowing and collecting from last month is paying off. There’s a lot of sage (at least I think that’s what it is) growing in the wildflower garden where Jake and I cleared leaves, which adds some nice color to the area. There’s also a bunch of stuff coming up in the brick garden and around the woodshed foundation. I’ll need to fire up the weed trimmer soon and beat that all back while it’s still small enough to be manageable.
A boy and his (tolerant) dog.
Jake, Hannah, and I came up in the truck around 6:15 pm. Jake’s been asking for an overnight up here—just him and me—for a while now, so he’s pretty excited. We unloaded the truck, unhooked the blue trailer, and opened up the keep while Hannah ran her laps around the grounds. I started the heater right away as it’s only 50° right now and the temp continues to drop.
We called Hannah into the keep and Jake and I headed into town to fill up the gas cans and get some dinner at A&W. We ate once we got back and spent the rest of the night inside relaxing and watching How It’s Made. Jake fell asleep on the couch around 9:30 and I carried him back to the bedroom. I stayed up messing with some automation scripts on the PuckaPi. I let Hannah out one more time for the night, then joined my snoring kiddo around 11:00.
Hannah and I drove in around 6:20 pm with a pickup bed full of tools and other goodies. She ran some laps around the yard while I quickly unloaded the truck. I wanted to get right to my first project.
Let there be (night)light!
Lyssa got me a pair of really nice network cameras for Christmas. They’re PoE, 720p, have IR blasters, and are IP66 rated. Translated: they don’t need a power cord, have four times the clarity of the old ones, come with night vision, and they’re waterproof. One of them has replaced the driveway camera back home, but the other one will serve as the new bird feeder cam.
I had already configured everything from home, so I installed it to the roof overhang on the keep, plugged it in, and tested it out. There was the expected major increase in image quality, but I was surprised by just how much wider of a field of view it has, too. This is a very welcome improvement.
Lyssa, the boys, Hannah, and I all met my dad at Aunt Judy’s around 10:30. Jake was excited to show Grandpa that his picture was up on the wall. Hannah waited patiently in the truck while we had breakfast, guarding our trailer full of ATVs. We were all on the road to Puckaway by 11:15. It’s unseasonably warm for spring and a beautiful sunny day.
Ready to explore!
As we drove down the driveway, Lyssa spotted a big mound of dirt at the edge of the yard in front of the keep. Scanning the yard, I saw several more. I was confused for a second until I realized the pattern—all of the these piles were around stumps. Rather, they were around craters where stumps used to be. Someone had come through with a stump grinder and dispatched a total of 14 of them. I wandered the yard, grinning as I took tally. The projects are now completing themselves up here!
Flying trip up today just to drop off some gear and pick up the green ATV and trailer. Now that plowing season is (hopefully) over, I’m taking both of the ATVs to the dealer to get serviced and checked over. Pulled in at 3:30. Hannah came along for the ride. She hit the ground running as soon as I opened the truck door. I think she likes it up here.
The keep now has a security system.
I unloaded Dad’s snow blower from the back of the pickup and rolled it into the shed. Once the trailer was hooked up, I drove the green ATV onto it and stacked the summer tires for Lyssa’s car behind it. I loaded up Dad’s riding mower, having to shove it aboard since he pulled the battery and left it back at home. I had to air up all four tires, too. Glad to see the air compressor works again; after the main breaker tripped last deer season, it couldn’t seem to pull enough amps to fire up.
The five of us pulled down the snowy driveway around 11:45—Lyssa, Jake, Josh, me, and our new dog, Hannah. This is Hannah’s first trip anywhere with us. We just got her three weeks ago from a local shelter and she’s acclimating well. Turns out she’s a very good rider; she barely even moved the whole trip up.
Hannah’s first road trip.
It’s been fun to watch Hannah learn how to be a dog. She’s four years old and I don’t think she’s ever been off a short leash or out of a small kennel run. She absolutely loves it up here, running fast enough to squeeze tears out of her eyes. The boys get a kick out of watching her.
I was still getting the boys’ sleds out of the back of the truck when Lyssa called me over to the front door of the big house trailer but said I needed to get ahold of Hannah first. There, half-underneath the trailer, was a dead six-point buck. I don’t know if it got hit by a car or someone was taking potshots out of season, or what. It didn’t have any obvious wounds.
If you eat enough of Aunt Judy’s waffles…
Lyssa, the boys, and I rolled into Aunt Judy’s a little after 11:00 for a late breakfast. Jake had his usual waffle and Josh devoured a cheese omelet. It was a pretty standard meal for the most part, but Jake spotted something on his way out: himself. There’s a little notice on the wall urging people to leave TripAdvisor reviews, and they’ve got Jake’s picture! I took the photo back in June and uploaded it to Google Maps where it’s had over 5,000 views. Aunt Judy’s “waffle baby” is a little celebrity now!
… you go up on the wall!
Quick supply run today. Took almost 90 minutes to get here from Oshkosh thanks to last night’s snowfall and everyone forgetting how to drive in winter conditions. Around 11:00, I made my way down the driveway through 6 inches of snow and backed up to the pole barn. I hooked up the ATV trailer and loaded it up with both ATVs and the plow. I’m going to have them both serviced at the dealer this winter, but I need the plow up and running today.
A roving gang of turkeys greeted me as I rounded the corner to the driveway.
Pulled in the driveway a little before 2:00 pm. Incredibly windy today and temps are dropping fast. First thing I did was fire up the infrared heater in the keep. Dad was already up here getting things ready in the big trailer. He’s got it cleaned up pretty nicely already. Steve and Sammy showed up about 3:30 and Steve set up his portable stand along the east edge of the yard. Based on the timelapse activity I’ve been seeing over the past few months, he should get some deer traffic there. With the wind gusts as strong as they were, I didn’t need to worry about blowing leaves at all. I got the pump going for Dad and filled the 5-gallon pails we use for wash water in the big trailer. Because of the freezing temperatures, I had to drain the pump as soon as I was done. I also ran the hose over to the pole barn and blew it out with the air compressor so it wouldn’t plug up with ice. I fed the birds, put down a feed block, some corn, and some mixed seed, and headed inside by the rest of the guys. It’s getting damn cold.