I Need Never Get Old – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

This was a big year for Puckaway. Let’s take a look back at it!

On April 15, I finally accepted my responsibility for keeping the logs. But rather than taking pen to paper, I took fingers to keyboard and started a WordPress site. Accounts of the days’ activities are now accompanied by photos and videos, projects can be tracked from start to finish, and even the old notebooks are getting digitized and transcribed. I now have a platform to share my favorite little corner of the globe with the rest of the world.

Spring was greeted with the usual cleaning efforts and the start of some of the most ambitious projects I’ve undertaken. Farmer Joe provided a truckful of fertilized dirt to help rehabilitate the yard and we tamed the area around the brick pile. I jacked up and levelled out the keep in preparation for Sean’s 2014 suggestion, a new deck. With a little help from Jake, I was able to frame out the platform, lay the boards, and install the stairs in just two short trips. While this construction was underway, the keep got a much-needed new recliner, the pole barn got some new all-weather outdoor speakers, and I built a full/twin trundle bed for the keep’s bedroom. No more air mattresses.

Red and I got things ready for summer by installing the A/C into the wall of the keep, giving us our kitchen window back. We also tore out the stove, which Red hauled away for scrap along with his extensive collection of aluminum cans. More spring cleaning was done around the yard as I cut trees and cleared out the LP tanks and scrap from the end of the driveway. The place was looking better than ever.

Summer arrived with fun family milestones: Jake had his first overnight stay and his first visit to Aunt Judy’s. We also checked out the Markesan June Dairy Days parade and installed the passenger seat on the blue ATV. I love being up here with my little buddy. July started off with plumbing and electrical upgrades: I installed new pendant lights in the keep and replaced all of the remaining incandescent light bulbs in the place with LEDs, the kitchen and bathroom sinks finally got functioning drains, and the outdoor outlet on the pole barn was repaired and replaced. I finished out the month by repairing the entryway to the keep and installing a much-needed new custom-cut steel entry door. I also got a chance to commune with the owls.

I stated August out by finishing the deck. Energized from finishing the year’s major project, I steamrolled through a few more: I completely rebuilt the keep’s kitchen and installed a storm door over the new entry door. We also gained a new building in August with Paco’s donation of his unwanted garden shed. It’s a great place to store the pump hoses and bird feed.

By September, most of the major work in and around the keep was completed. I shifted my attention to the pole barn, clearing a path to the rear wall, the first time that’s been done in my lifetime. Jake enjoyed his second overnight trip and helped me put down mulch around the deck stairs. I also got some wiring done: the outhouse light, yard light, and new deck lights can now be controlled independently from within the keep. Things are getting fancy around here.

October’s always a busy month at Puckaway. Lyssa and I celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Grey Rock and an overnight stay, a testament to the extent of the keep’s recent upgrades in creature comforts. I took a trip with Jake in the middle of the month to make final Puckaweekend preparations. The keep got some detailing: the island was secured to the wall, a new mount was rigged for the portable shower, the windows were cleaned for the first time in over 20 years, the bathroom linoleum finally got secured with some trim, and the A/C unit was sealed into the wall with silicone and framed out.

And then there was Puckaweekend 2015. After some final touches like new ceiling lights and a shelf in the bedroom, the keep was ready for its annual influx of visitors. We had nine guys this year. With our powers combined, we made a helluva dent in many things; the wood piles, the contents of the wood shed, the beer supply, Piggly Wiggly’s shelves, Aunt Judy’s kitchen supplies, the scrap metal piles, and the number of trees needing to be cut down. A great time was had by all, and there’s always next year to look forward to.

We had a first in December; a log post by someone other than me! Farmer Joe and his lovely wife took a night to relax at Green Lake County’s most exclusive resort. Later that same weekend, Lyssa, the boys, and I enjoyed our first family breakfast out together, and what better place to have it than Aunt Judy’s.

On December 29, I struggled through the snow and loaded up the blue ATV and plow for what would be the last trip of 2015. I pulled out of the driveway that evening with a big grin on my face. So much progress this year! I can’t wait for the snow to melt and the yard to dry up to start 2016 out right. There’s a mountain of work ahead, but for the first time in a long time, it’s a mountain I’m confident I can summit. I give my heartfelt thanks to all of the amazing people in my life that not only somehow understand my obsession with caring for this place, but celebrate it and happily share in the work. Knowing you’re all in my corner means more to me than you realize and keeps my fire stoked all year round.

On to the next project!