Hannah and I arrived at 6:30 pm and I pulled up to the pole barn to unload the truck. I opened up the keep and it was wonderfully cool and comfortable. I had turned on the AC remotely a few hours before driving up. It’s only in the upper 70s out but very humid.

I called Hannah inside and then headed to town for some A&W. I brought her back a cheeseburger and we dined in the keep while watching some episodes of Voyager. I turned off the AC briefly so I could take care of something that’s been bothering me for a while.

A classy cable kludge.

The air conditioner plugs in below the kitchen counter because that’s where I was able to route the outlet. It’s a dedicated circuit for either heat or AC depending on the season and was originally for the little under-counter water heater. The problem with this location is that the power cord has to hang off the front of the counter. To solve this, I drilled a small hole through the back of the counter below the AC, cut off the existing plug, routed the cable, and installed a properly-rated replacement plug. No more cable mess.

I relaxed for the rest of the night and drained a few cans of Summer Shandy. Tomorrow is when the real work begins. Finally got to sleep late, a little past midnight.


Up at 6:00 to let Hannah out and knock some bark off, then I went back to bed until almost 9:00. Had a pop-tart breakfast, washed up, and then got to work on my big project for the weekend, a PuckaPi upgrade.

Much of the tech up here—the camera timelapse videos, VPN connection to my home server, webcam for the AC unit, and the weather station—relies on a little Raspberry Pi computer sitting in the keep closet/pantry. This year, the Pi 4 was announced with up to 4GB of memory, true gigabit Ethernet, and USB 3.0, so I snatched one up to give the PuckaPi a little more horsepower.

I did a lot of the prep work ahead of time at home. Using a USB 3.0-to-SATA converter, I was able to get the new Pi to run off of a 240GB SSD instead of the slower microSD reader. I installed all the packages needed to get the various servers up and running and cloned over the config files and scripts from the existing Pi.

The heart of the Puckanet.

Now that I had the new and old Pis on the same network, I copied over the rest of the files and tested the image capture script and weather station data collection. Everything seemed in order, so I took the old Pi out of service and swapped in the Pi 4. I also took some time to work on cable management within the closet, tidying things up considerably.

I was also able to get the little Pi Zero in the pole barn to play nice with the rest of the network. This Pi’s sole purpose is to report on the UPS out there and provide temp/humidity data from an attached sensor. The bedroom TV in the keep has a Pi 3 running Kodi, and the old PuckaPi is going to be repurposed as a Kodi box for the shack’s TV (and will also report temp/humidity/UPS status from that building). We’ve got Pi everywhere you look around here.

This whole effort took a surprisingly large amount of time. I was getting hungry and noticed it was already 5:00 pm, so I ordered a pizza from Pizza Factory in Princeton. I continued to edit scripts and tweak configurations until dinner arrived. Hannah was more than happy to help get rid of the crusts.

Finally content with the state of the Puckanet, I headed out to the pole barn around 8:00 pm to attempt to create order from chaos. I hitched up the pop-up camper and pulled it outside, then drove the ATVs and mowers out into the yard to get some breathing room.

Pole barn cold storage!

Last month at my work, we closed an expansion office. We had three fridges between two offices and only needed two. When the extra fridge was offered for free, I snatched it up. It’s about 3/4 size of a normal kitchen refrigerator, making it perfect as a beer fridge for the pole barn. I made some room by the corner door and set it up. I don’t think it’ll run all year, but for June Dairy Days and Puckaweekend, it should prove invaluable and further reduce our dependence on the shack.

At some point years before I was born, my grandpa had come into a bunch of cabinets and dressers from a department store liquidation and brought them up here to use as storage. They’ve spent decades densely packed with no airflow and high humidity (and under a possibly leaking roof) and are now moldy and delaminating. It’s time for them to go.

I cleared off one of the cabinets between the doors on the east wall and carted it out to the pit. I was able to get a fire going fairly quickly by lighting some of the stacked branches out there with my propane torch. The cabinet held the heat in and was aflame itself in short order.

Back in the barn, I moved all of the stacked OSB and plywood we hauled up from Mayville from the middle of the pole barn over to where the cabinet had been. With that out of the way, I could see that the already rough-looking pool table from Farmer Joe’s shed got even rougher over the last three years. The felt was stained and torn and the whole thing seemed slightly warped. This, too, was sacrificed to the pit. I’d love to have a pool table up here eventually, but for now I’m just glad to free up the floor space.

It was getting late, so I called it a night around 11:15 and headed inside to shower up. I fell asleep watching more Voyager around midnight.


I was lying awake around 7:00 debating whether or not to go outside and relieve some bladder pressure when I noticed the sound of rain on the roof. That made my decision for me. I threw on some shoes, got in the truck, and backed the pop-up back into the pole barn. I closed up my tonneau cover, made sure I didn’t have any tools outside, then headed back in the keep. I didn’t go back to bed, but I did manage to fall asleep in the recliner for a while. I woke up again a little after 8:30 right as the rain was stopping.

After a breakfast of leftover pizza, I grabbed my laptop and checked on the new PuckaPi. Every night at 2:30 am, it builds a timelapse video out of still images captured during the previous day. I had a stats file but no video, so I had to do some digging to find out why. This kept me busy until about noon, but I was able to generate a video and felt fairly confident it would make another one the next time it was scheduled to.

I spent the rest of the afternoon attacking the pole barn. I got even more cleared out of the middle and unearthed a lot more cabinets and dressers, most of which were empty. The morning rain hadn’t put out the coals in the pit, so it didn’t take much work to get these burned up. I hooked up the smaller of the two yard trailers to the green ATV and backed it into the pole barn to load up a rusty old metal desk and some beat-up furnace/heater elements. I wheeled these around to the scrap pile. Paul’s going to have plenty to pick up this fall.

I lugged one last cabinet out to the pit around 4:00 and decided to wrap things up for the day. After a little more cleaning and organizing inside the pole barn, I pulled all the vehicles back in and loaded up my tools in the back of the truck. I closed up the pole barn, gathered my things from the keep, and Hannah and I headed back to Oshkosh around 5:30. It was a good weekend for Puckaway infrastructure, both physical and digital.