Pulled in at 10 pm and backed the truck up inside the pole barn to get out of the rain. Unloaded my tools, the patched-up mower blower components, and a few sheets of OSB. We had used them as makeshift tables for our garage sale in Oshkosh, but I plan on building a leaf-collection trailer box out of them. While I was still in the pole barn, I used my phone as a hotspot to download the latest Kodi update and sync the OneDrive account on the jukebox PC. I also copied the most recent music collection update off of my USB drive.

The rain let up, so I drove over to the keep to unload more goodies and settle in for the night. Since the pressure washer pump setup worked so well, I bought a second pump, reservoir, and strainer to use in the keep. This way, I can pursue the indoor plumbing project without sacrificing the ability to keep things clean outside. I grabbed a beer from the fridge and watched some Netflix for a bit before heading to bed around 11:30.



I love seeing these guys at the feeders. At one point there were seven of them at the same time.

Up around 7:30 and on my way to Aunt Judy’s soon after. Several of the staff including Judy herself made a point to ask where my little buddy was. My waffle-eater is a local celebrity. After enjoying a ham and cheese omelet and several cups of coffee, I headed back to Puckaway to get a day’s worth of projects underway. I started by filling the feeders. The squirrels have no problem getting up and down the pole now that they’re used to it being there, so I need to hurry up and build a baffle if I want the seed to last between trips. The new setup definitely draws more birds; we had chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, house finches, juncos, downy woodpeckers, and even a red-bellied woodpecker. I’ll need to clear some of the gnarly low branches in this part of the yard to open things up a little better for them all.


Indoor plumbing in action!

Next on the agenda was running some new supply-side plumbing in the keep. I used my oscillating saw to cut an access hole in the right inside wall of the bathroom cabinet where it meets up with the dead space behind the tub faucet. I was happy to see that everything was very open underneath there; it meant my plan would work: I cut a 5/8″ hole in the wall between the kitchen and bathtub and ran 1/2″ pex through to connect the two sink cabinets. I clamped on some adapters and hooked the new kitchen faucet up to a tee below the bathroom sink. I also used a small run of pex to hook up the bathroom faucet to this tee. I connected the new strainer, pump, and reservoir together, secured them to the floor below the bathroom sink, and used more pex and adapters to tie the assembly into the tee. The pump and faucets were ready, now I just needed to get a water supply.

I noticed a few years ago that there was a big metal stand behind the woodshed that looked like it was meant to support a 55 gallon drum laid on its side. I went to retrieve it and saw one of the legs was bent pretty badly out of shape. I used some penetrating oil to free up all the mounting hardware and disassembled the stand just enough that I could take the leg over to the bench vise in the pole barn. After some persuasion with body weight and a few blows from a hammer, the leg was arrow-straight again. I put the stand back together and set it behind the keep on a few bricks to prevent it from sinking into the soil. I already had a drum with a hose fitting adapter rigged onto one of the top covers, so I brought it over, set it in the stand, and started filling it from the well pump.

Back in the keep, I snaked another run of pex from outside by the tub drain into the bathroom cabinet and hooked it into the pump assembly. I shut off power to the keep and wired in a new outlet under the sink to power the pump. I also used it as an opportunity to permanently cut power to the lines for the old oil heater and the water heater. It should be a little safer to remove the oil heater now, and there’s no longer a wire under the kitchen sink to deliver an accidental jolt. I went back outside and completed the pex run to the barrel, terminating it with a hose connector. I love working with pex. It’s cheap, you get the exact lengths you need, and you can re-use the fittings.

With the barrel full and the power set up, it was time to test the system. It works remarkably well! The faucets deliver a ton of water on full blast and the pump isn’t as loud as I expected. It’s a major upgrade to be able to wash up with running water instead of having to fill the sink from a bucket and slosh around. My plumbing efforts complete, I rewarded myself with lunch and a beer. I also vacuumed in the keep to clean up after my construction mess. As I was putting my tools away, Farmer Joe and family pulled in. We relaxed a bit and I showed off some recent improvements. Joe wanted to get a closer look at the wood shed to see if it was worth salvaging and hauling back to his farm. After realizing the roof was made of pieced-together beams instead of trusses and the floor was rotted through in several places, he smartly decided to pass. The Schanens were soon on their way to visit Janine’s friend in Princeton and I was back to work.


Letting the deck and siding cleaner soak. I was surprised how much crud came out of the wood in only a year’s time.

The last chore on my list was the biggest and most important of the day: prep the keep and deck for painting and staining. I started by taking down the deck lights and putting all the furniture away in the garden shed. I then went around the keep and pulled out any extraneous nails, screws, and mounting hardware as well as all the broken remains of the trailering lights. I grabbed the green ATV, hooked up the “water trailer,” and set up the pump and pressure washer. I also started the well pump and put the hose in the barrel to try to keep my supply topped off during spraying.

I loaded the soap dispenser with deck and siding cleaner and liberally foamed all four exterior walls of the keep and the entire deck. After letting things soak for a bit, I switched to the spray wand and blasted 40+ years of fading paint, moss, dirt, and mildew from the keep. I saved the deck for last and was surprised by just how much lighter the floorboards got. This gives me hope; if the pressure washer can penetrate this deep into the wood, the stain should take fairly well.

I wrapped things up around 8 pm, putting all my tools back in the pole barn and parking the water trailer. I walked into the keep barefoot to track as little dirt as possible onto the freshly washed deck. After washing up at the kitchen sink (with running water!), I had a quick dinner and one more beer. I enjoyed a little Netflix in the recliner, packed up my clothes, made the bed, and headed out the back door. I was on the road by 9:00. I plan on coming back in a few days to start staining.