Lyssa, the boys, and I arrived in the truck around 10:30 am after a family breakfast at Aunt Judy’s. We also got two flats of bottled water, which I was grateful for later—it was unseasonably warm and beautiful out; it stayed sunny and in the mid-70s all day. I quickly unpacked the boys’ Power Wheels ATV and Tractor from the truck bed and they were off exploring. I stacked the snow tires for Lyssa’s car in the pole barn and headed over to the keep to get things ready to unload the rest of the truck. I got out the leaf blower and cleared around the garden shed, bird feeders, deck, and the front of the keep. Once everything was ready, I pulled the truck around and set up the patio table and four chairs on the deck. We got a new set for the house so brought up our old set. It’s a perfect fit. Between the new furniture and the chairs we already had up here, we now have deck seating for ten. I’d still like to get some little side tables, though.

With everything unloaded, I went to tidy up in the keep. I ran the vacuum cleaner through to take care of the few dead flies that had accumulated, sprayed down and wiped out the shelves in the fridge, and cleaned the table and counters with bleach cleaner. Couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes to get things ready for the year. What a difference over last spring. Turned on the A/C so the boys would have somewhere to get relief from the sun. On my way out, I primed the pump and let it run for the rest of the day to clear out the accumulated gunk and sediment.


Now I could turn my attention to the day’s big project: tree management. I got the chainsaw out, made sure we had enough gas/oil mix and bar and chain oil, and started carving up the big limb I had to drop in January when I got my drone stuck. Jake helped me by hauling logs in his tractor’s trailer. Josh helped Lyssa drag some branches over to the pit. He’s got to work on his throw distance, but otherwise he’s getting to be a great helper.

Lyssa took the boys for a four-wheeler ride while I set my sights on levelling out all the stumps from last year’s efforts. I decided to get the big one out of the way first, so I went over by the pump and started quartering it vertically before making my base cuts. It was slow work, but I finally erased that tree from the landscape. The little that’s left of the stump is low enough to drive over with the truck. I plan on drilling all these stumps later this year and either rotting or burning them out. I hooked the small yard trailer to the blue ATV and brought it over to haul the remains to the pit. Josh was more than happy to help load the trailer.


The boys needed a snack break, so we set them up in the keep. I didn’t have the SNESBMC or the new NUC with me this trip, so I tried my luck at pulling in some stations on the antenna. Grabbed CBS, ABC, and FOX out of Madison, along with all of their sub-channels, and we ended up watching some Get Smart. Lyssa pulled out the futon and relaxed with the boys, hoping they’d nap.


Having the tree completely removed sure makes a big difference in the keep’s front yard.

I moved on to the stumps by the big trailer. Compared to that first one, these were dead easy to remove. Loaded them all in the trailer and travelled over by the pine tree stump in the south yard to harvest that one as well. While I was there, I trimmed the dead and dying lower branches from the remaining pines. Hopefully they’ll stay healthier with less dead weight on them. I pulled the trailer up to the pit and threw more logs and brush on the pile. It’s a pretty impressive stack, especially considering it’s 100% natural wood. We can’t burn today; DNR fire danger is currently “very high” so it’ll have to wait for a later trip.


Soon, Lyssa and the boys were back outside. There was apparently no luck on the nap front. The sunshine was a welcome change from the cold, overcast days we’ve been used to lately, but it was getting pretty darn hot out for folks used to winter weather. Lyssa stripped the boys to their socks and undies and they played in the hose for a bit to cool off. I just kept pounding water and tried to stay on task.


The driveway entrance is looking much cleaner this year with all the stumps gone.

The last bit of tree management to tackle for the day was at the driveway entrance. I sliced up some more stumps and a lot of scrawny scrub growth. It’s incredible how much more open this spot is now that the LP tanks, wood piles, and other assorted junk, equipment, and tires have been cleared out. I went to fell a small dead tree next to the wood shed but managed to get the chainsaw stuck in the trunk. After a failed attempt to free it with a felling wedge, I used a handsaw to complete the cut. Some quick hand and footwork got me and the chainsaw safely clear when the tree finally dropped, but it managed to get hung up on the roof of the wood shed. I levelled the stump, cut as much as I could off of the trunk, and brought around the ATV so I could winch the rest of the tree off the roof. A few more cuts and the last of the brush was cleared from the yard. Things are going to look great once I take care of all the leaves.


The grill that Steve brought up last year is shining like new after a few sprays of degreaser.

I grabbed a nine-foot patio umbrella from the pole barn to set up on the new deck table. Even though it was new in the box, it had been stored in there for almost a decade and the mice had gotten to it. A hole the size of an egg was chewed in one corner. No big deal; it still looks nice and provides plenty of shade. After a quick run to town for propane and gasoline, I hooked up a cylinder to the new grill Steve donated last year and rolled it over to the base of the deck. Before firing it up, I grabbed some degreaser and sprayed it down. I wasn’t expecting much so I was pleasantly surprised when it cut through all the accumulated gunk. The whole grill looked showroom new after getting wiped down. While Lyssa grilled us some burgers, brats, and zucchini, the boys and I made a quick circuit with the blue ATV. We all ate dinner together on the deck at the new table. The food was delicious and it felt great to be enjoying an outdoor meal with my family after a hard day’s work. We can all come up here and just enjoy things now without having to work so hard to make it livable first. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take that for granted.


Once we cleared the table and rolled the grill back to the pole barn, I got a ladder and got all the boys old baby stuff down from the rafters. We’re going to have a rummage sale next month in Oshkosh and will hopefully soon be rid of all of it. We loaded the truck bed with the rummage items and all of the window screens for the keep (I plan on re-screening them all back in Oshkosh), but there wasn’t room under the tonneau for the boys’ Power Wheels. I didn’t want to risk anything blowing out of the truck bed. I’m planning on coming up during the week to mow and collect leaves, so I’ll bring up their chargers then. Hopefully, we’ll all be back up here next weekend anyway—the weather is supposed to stay like this all week.

We pulled out of the driveway a little before 7:00 pm. What an all-around great day! It’s good to be back in the swing of things and making improvements again.