Log (page 1 of 10)

The day-to-day Puckaway activities, recorded for posterity.

Log: October 20 and 21, 2018

Saturday

Puckaweekend playlist.

Hannah and I pulled in around 3:00 pm with a truck full of goodies. On the way up, I stopped at Festival and made my beer run for Puckaweekend. I also had some plywood and more treated lumber to finish off the battlement, our new deer stand. I unloaded all the keep-based goods, then drove to the pole barn, got the ATV and trailer going, and transferred all the building materials over. It’s relatively warm and dry today, but very windy, so I hope I can get this panelling up the ladder without it blowing away.

I’m almost 40, but I’m still building forts.

With my tools and materials loaded onto the trailer, I made my way out to the stand. I spent the next few hours cutting, hauling, and attaching plywood and treated lumber. I also cut down the ladder so it’s easier to get in and out of the stand. I made creative use of my ratcheting tie downs and tow straps: initially to help me carry the panels up the ladder and finally to draw the tops of the slightly bowed 4×4 posts together when framing out the roof. Hannah kept me company and sniffed around the marsh grass, but got excited and distracted when she found a shed deer antler. She was so proud of her quarry and wouldn’t let me grab it.

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Log: October 13 and 14, 2018 (The Battlement Project)

Saturday

‘Bout time Fall decided to show up.

Came up around 3:00 with the whole family and the ATV trailer in tow. It’s full of treated lumber destined for the marsh; this weekend, I shall rebuild the deer stand. With the scaffolding no longer viable, I looked up some other tower-based stand construction methods and settled on an option that uses a wooden deck mounted on cross-braced 4x4s with purpose-built compound-angle brackets. Here’s hoping I can actually get the thing put together by tomorrow night.

Hannah was happy to be back and got right to sprinting around the yard. I think I broke her by coming up last weekend without her; she’s been acting weird all week. The boys went straight for their Power Wheels and began exploring the edges of the yard, Lyssa started setting things up in the keep, and I got right to work putting together the deck platform.

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Log: October 5 – 8, 2018

Friday

Pulled in at 5:00 pm to a 55° cloudy and damp evening. Intermittent showers and possible storms are in the forecast all weekend, so I reluctantly left Hannah at home, figuring she wouldn’t have too much fun if she was stuck in the keep all weekend listening to thunder. My truck was full of Puckaweekend and project supplies, so I got right to work stocking the keep with soda, sparkling water, snacks, frozen pizzas, and other goodies. The beer and perishable items will come up in a later trip.

I also had 32 8-foot 2x4s in the bed of the truck. My goal this weekend is to frame out behind the workbench in the pole barn so that the pegboard has something solid to mount to. Right now, it’s just being hung to cover the space between posts and isn’t very useful. I stacked the boards on some sawhorses but had a smaller project I wanted to finish before tackling the pegboard. I brought up some new Kwikset SmartKey door handles for the big trailer because I’m tired of not being able to unlock the back door from the outside and having to fish around my truck for the key to the front door. I replaced both handles and now the keep, pole barn, and big trailer can all be opened with the same key.

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Log: September 30, 2018

Arrived at noon with Hannah and the boys. Kind of a dreary day. Temps hovering around 50° and misty with intermittent sprinkles. Jake was ready to explore right away and Hannah hit the ground running, but Josh was fast asleep in the truck. I let him nap while I doused Jake with bug spray and started unloading. I also turned on the infrared heater in the keep so we’d have somewhere to warm up later.

Jake got out his Power Wheels ATV and black garden cart and started picking up branches for me. I set up a pair of sawhorses in the doorway of the pole barn and laid out the trim boards I brought up for finishing off the new shelves in the keep. I wanted to have them painted and ready at home, but the textured spray paint I bought turned out to be big on texture and not so big on even color coverage, so I had to finish spraying them up here. I took care of this right away to give them as much time to dry as possible.

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Log: September 9, 2018

Rolled in with the whole family after a 10:30 Aunt Judy’s breakfast. The truck’s full of paneling, lumber, and shelves for the Keep Furnace Space Reclamation Project, the only thing on my to-do list for the day.

The boys made a beeline for the pole barn and their Power Wheels, but they needed to be charged up. They seemed equally happy to make use of their new work gloves by gathering all the big fallen branches throughout the yard from last month’s storms. They did a great job of it. Lyssa fed the birds for me while I started in on the keep renovations.

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Log: August 31 – September 3, 2018

Friday

Hannah and I pulled in at 5:00 pm. Lyssa and the boys are down in Kenosha to see their new cousin this weekend and I’m going to be helping my folks make a major push to clear out Mayville while spending my nights here.

My truck will finish what the storm started.

After unloading the truck and getting the keep set up, I grabbed the green ATV and small yard trailer and aired up all the tires. I got the chainsaw out and fueled up, then started work on downing the apple tree that was partly uprooted by Tuesday’s storm. It took three trailer loads to feed the tree remains to the pit, but after an hour, I was left with nothing but a tall stump. I figured that since it had been twisted and snapped by the storm, I’d have a decent chance of pulling it out instead of leaving a flush-cut stump to trip over and mow around. I got my tow rope out of the truck, wrapped it around the remains of the trunk, set my gearbox to 4-low and started tugging. I ended up having to pull from three different angles but eventually got the tree out.

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Log: August 29, 2018

Drove up at 12:30 to survey the damage from last night’s storms. My weather station—which is surrounded by a copse of trees and has never registered winds above 15 mph—showed a peak gust of 40 mph yesterday afternoon. I could also tell from the cameras that my patio table got blown off the deck and something was seriously askew with the apple tree by the pump.

There wasn’t much damage along the roads on the way in, but I saw Peter working outside of his township truck feeding downed limbs into a chipper. He said they had already cleared the worst of the damage. Driving by Danny’s yard, I was shocked by just how high the water was. It went right up to his house. The drainage ditch that crosses the road in front of his house was overwhelmed and had flowed over the road all night and backing up into his lawn.

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Log: August 25, 2018

Jake, Josh, Hannah and I pulled in with the pop-up camper in tow around 2:15. I was going to store it in Lynn and Carol’s pole barn, but Lynn is still in hospice and Carol just had a rummage sale so their building was full. After parking the pop-up behind our pole barn, the boys got out their Power Wheels and roamed the yard while Hannah chased them. I got the tires on the mower aired up and got to work taming the yard. We’re in for a lot of rain next week, so I wanted to get this done before the storms hit.

Much better.

The grass was taller than the cameras led me to believe. It’s really filling in nicely by my bird feeders and along the ruins of the wood shed. The trench lines are getting fainter, too. Once the boys’ batteries ran low, they decided to help me out by gathering fallen branches for the burnpit. This got cut short when poor Josh got stung by a hornet on his ankle. I checked him out and carried him into the keep where I set the boys up with a movie and got back to mowing.

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Log: July 6 – 8, 2018

Friday

Rolled in at 6:30 with Lyssa, Jake, Josh, and Hannah. The boys both fell asleep on the way and were both finishing their Culvers when we got here. Hannah was glad to be back and for the break in the oppressive heat we’ve had for the last week. Once they were done eating, the boys made a beeline for the pole barn to hop on their Power Wheels and roam the grounds. They both liked that they could “help” me by running over the trench dirt to pack it down.

A perfect day for a Puckaway trip.

I had a bunch of new tech goodies in the back of the truck that I was itching to play with. I got two more 8-port Unifi PoE switches, one for the pole barn and one for the big trailer, and another wireless access point that I want to mount to the big trailer’s antenna mast. I also plan on relocating one of the current access points from outside the keep to inside the pole barn. We don’t have well and septic, but we do have mesh wifi and three-building gigabit Ethernet. Priorities! I adopted the new Unifi gear into the Controller and applied all the waiting firmware updates, then switched gears and set out to clean up the pole barn. After last month’s electrical project, it was in rough shape. I left tools and project mess everywhere since I was focused on trying to finish the wiring in time.

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Log: June 22 – 25, 2018 (Electrical Upgrade Project)

Friday

Hannah and I pulled in at 2:30 with a rented trencher in tow. I picked this up at Kitz and Pfeil in Berlin on the way up. This weekend is dedicated to running new power lines to the keep and pole barn straight from the new service panel we installed last fall. After opening up the keep and getting my clothes and other supplies put away, I unloaded the trencher from its trailer. This is the same one I rented back in 2011 when I made the first buried electrical runs. While that project was a significant improvement from previous methods of getting power to the keep and pole barn—stringing extension cords through the trees—the limitations were starting to show.

This is my trencher. There are many others like it, but this one is mine (for the next 24 hours).

When I first did this seven years ago, I used 10-gauge, 2-conductor direct burial copper cable…mostly. Power was supplied from two 20-amp breakers in the big trailer and run to an outdoor service box using 12-gauge romex. The thicker 10-gauge wire was only run underground to each building where it was spliced to 12-gauge romex in conduits. I also didn’t have subpanels at either building. In the pole barn, I just spliced the incoming connection with wire nuts. In the keep, I gutted the contents of the old fuse box and spliced everything together from the feed, and this was after a spliced stop at the water pump outside. In retrospect, this was terribly kludgy. When you consider the system it was replacing, however, it was revolutionary. Still, the time had come to revisit this project and do it right this time.

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