Rolled in at 5:30 with the boys, the pooch, and a bunch of food from A&W. I set them up at the table in the keep with their dinner and opened all the windows. It’s finally nice enough out to air out the keep! Temps are in the low 70s and there’s no humidity to speak of.

The pole barn has a hemorrhoid.

I started up The Goonies while we ate and Jake and Josh wanted to watch the rest of it. They stayed inside while I headed out to the pole barn and towed the pop-up camper out. Walking around the pole barn, I noticed a basketball-sized hornets’ nest on the west wall up near the roof. That thing is gonna have to go.

I put on some gloves and pulled a bunch of metal out of the burnpit. There were a lot of drawer slides and shelf guides from all of the cabinets I burned last weekend. Hopefully, there will soon be many more. I fired up the mower and the ATVs and moved them out of the pole barn, too. My focus this weekend is to reclaim as much floorspace in there as possible.

It was getting dark, so at 8:30 I called the boys out to get their helmets and we took the blue ATV for a night ride. We stopped at the boat landing, then rode all the way up Wick’s Landing and took Roeder Rd. to the substation and back. Jake and I had done this before, but this was Josh’s first night ride and he got a huge kick out of it.

When we got back, the boys brushed their teeth and got in their jammies while I set up the futon for them with two sets of sheets and blankets. In keeping with the theme of 80’s kids’ movies, I started Explorers for them. I headed out for a bit and did some more organizing in the pole barn, but closed up early around 10:00. The boys both fell asleep around the end of the movie. I put on an episode of Voyager in the bedroom and dozed off around 11:00.


Woke up around 6:00 when Jake came into the bedroom to tell me he saw three deer in the yard. Josh was up soon after and they both played their 3DSes for a bit and watched Flight of the Navigator while I tried and failed to fall back asleep. I got dressed and ready for the day and we all headed outside.

The boys started working on a fort out in the woods southwest of the shed while I got their Power Wheels out and charging for them. We left for Aunt Judy’s a little before 9:30 where they each had an omelet. I think Jake’s was gone in under a minute. I worry about the cost of feeding them when they hit their teen years. They each gave Judy a big hug and she told them she wouldn’t see them again tomorrow morning because she’s having a 50th anniversary party. I hope that place has a succession plan; it’s a local institution.

We made stops at Piggly Wiggly and Dollar General for some supplies. The boys each picked out snacks and some Hot Wheels and I got some wasp and hornet killer to tackle the meganest on the side of the pole barn. I also found an intriguing new flavor of New Glarus to try out.

By 11:30, we were back at Puckaway and let Hannah out to run some laps. I checked out the boys’ progress on their fort. They were working hard around a fallen tree to get some big branches to stand up, but were having a tough go of it. I had an idea to kill two birds with one stone (or, at least, multiple cinder blocks). I’ve wanted to push back the outdoor scrap piles for a while now, and one of the piles consists of a bunch of cinder blocks that were underneath the old woodshed foundation.

I grabbed an ATV and trailer and started loading these up. I even got the few loose ones that were underneath the shack. Once they were all collected, I hauled them around to the southwest part of the yard where the slabs are drying and constructed an arched, low wall for the boys to use for their fort. We took the branches they had collected and stuck them into the blocks. I figured this would help with stability and reduce the chance of them dropping one on themselves.

Jake helped me cut some of the dead lower branches from a nearby pine so they’d have more room and Josh loaded them onto the ATV trailer. I gave them a few of the metal chairs and a small wooden table from the pole barn along with a bunch of that mylar-and-bubble-wrap insulation to serve as flooring. They had a cool looking fort in no time and were having a blast.

I threw the branches into the pit and got one of the rolling yard waste carts out to collect all the metal I had fished out yesterday. I also grabbed a cut-off bottom of a 55 gallon plastic drum to gather all the broken glass, then dragged it into the pole barn to collect more as I cleaned things out.

After unloading two full cans of killer foam onto and into the giant hornets’ nest, I kept busy in the pole barn as the boys alternated between working on their fort, playing on their swing, and zooming around in their Power Wheels. Hannah, her energy already spent for the day, slept in the sun.

She needs to learn to pace herself up here.

Around 2:30, I got a fire going so I could burn more junk from the pole barn. The boys wanted to go explore the marsh around the battlement, so I helped them get their rubber boots on. I gave them about 20 minutes before I figured I should check on them, so I fired up the mower, set the deck as high as it could go, and headed out to see if it was dry enough for me to try to tame the trails. To my surprise, it was, so I started mowing the clearing by the battlement as the boys kept trying to hide from me in the tall grass.

After about a half-hour’s worth of cutting, we had a nice, wide trail from the yard to the stand. The clearing was also completely open again except where that huge tree fell. Now that it’s dry again, I should be able to carve that up this year.

I parked the mower and continued burning moldy storage cabinets from the pole barn. It’s incredible how much of the space in there was being taken up by these things. I also tried burning some of the musty drop-ceiling tiles that I found in there, but these are designed to be fire-resistant, so it didn’t go the greatest.

This really blows.

While stoking the coals with the leaf-blower, I finally accomplished something that I’m surprised hasn’t happened a long time ago: I melted the end of the leaf-blower tube and part of the upper handle from the sheer heat of the fire. I turned to the pole barn for a solution and it provided one. I fashioned an extension out of two 10-foot sections of 1 1/2″ steel pipe and duct taped the (now stubbier) end of the leaf blower to it. This worked beautifully and, as an added bonus, I can stick it right in the coals now without worrying about damaging anything.

I’m slowly making my way around the big stack in the middle of the building and hope to have that all opened up by the time I leave tomorrow. As I was clearing out one of the cabinets so I could burn it, I came across a stack of old fishing and hunting magazines with some loose papers sandwiched between them. I’m glad I took a moment to leaf through them, because I came across some real treasures. I had a handful of my grandpa’s game licenses from the 60s, a hand-drawn map of his stateline property from 1954, some logs of hunting trips to Rosholt from the early ’70s, and one from a stateline trip in 1959. I thought we already had pretty much everything he ever wrote, so this was a really fun surprise.

Done with the marsh for a while, the boys returned to their relay of fort, swing, and Power Wheels. I started getting hungry at 5:00 so I conferred with Jake and Josh and we decided to order pizza from Christianos. While we were talking, I noticed a really strange-looking cluster of mushrooms growing between the pole barn and their fort. I snapped a picture and found out later that they aren’t mushrooms at all but a non-photosynthetic plant called monotropa uniflora, or “ghost pipe.” Really interesting, and something I’d never seen up here before.

The pizza got here around 6:15 after I helped the delivery driver find our driveway. The boys washed up and we ate in the keep while watching the rest of Flight of the Navigator. I got a chance to try my new beer. It’s called Kühler, and it’s delicious. Like their Raspberry Tart or Belgian Red, it’s a sweeter, fruit-based beer. It’s citrusy, like a mimosa. I need to find more of this.

A little after 7:00, we took a slightly earlier night ride on the ATV than yesterday. When we got back, I got both of the boys through the shower and ready for bed. They started watching Honey, I Shrunk The Kids as I headed out to finish things up in the pole barn for the night. I closed up at 9:15 and took my own much-needed shower and enjoyed a few more Kühlers. The boys were both asleep before 10:00 and I didn’t stay up much later than that.


My bladder woke me up at 6:30 and I headed outside to water a tree. The boys were still out cold and didn’t get up for another hour. They played their 3DSes between getting dressed and ready, then were out in their fort again.

We left for Aunt Judy’s a little before 10:00 and were able to sit up at the bar. Sharon and Sue both asked where “mom” was, so we’ll have to come back with Lyssa next time. The boys switched things up today; Jake had a raspberry waffle, easily finishing the whole thing and Josh had at least 80% worth of a giant chocolate chip pancake.

When we got back, I rewarded Hannah with the rest of Josh’s pancake. The boys set off on another adventure. I’m really happy with how well they’re playing together, how active they’re being, and how much they’re using their imaginations. I gave them some more accessories for their fort: an old parasol, some bowling pins, and some metal sailing ship decorations. They’ve got quite the little hide-out now.

While the boys played, I gave it hell in the pole barn with the final clean-up push. I was able to clear a roughly 8′ by 10′ spot on the wall opposite the side door. I filled it with the pot-belly and Ben Franklin stoves that were stacked in the middle of the barn and stacked a bunch more stuff on top of them. I brought around the ATV trailer and hauled away the washing machine and electric stove that were also in that big middle section, along with a bunch of old, empty propane tanks.

Jake saw how tired I looked and was really interested in helping me any way he could. He swept the floor in the areas I cleared out and Josh pitched in to help organize their collection of toy trucks and tractors for me. I’ve got some great helpers-in-training here.

By 4:30, I had everything emptied out of the center and stood back to admire the progress. This is the most open, by far, that this building has ever been in my lifetime. We’ve got plenty lined up for Paul to haul away, and I think if we got another dumpster rented, we could finally tackle the no-man’s-land that is the southwest corner of the building.

I did some final cleanup and organizing before we all headed into the keep at 5:30 to wash up and eat some leftover pizza. I was covered in dust-caked sweat, so I showered up and changed while the boys watched Honey, I Blew Up The Kid.

At 6:15, I headed back out and used the truck to back the pop-up camper into the pole barn. With it parked all the way in the back corner, there’s still enough room to drive an ATV in one door and out the other. The change is incredible; when we got here on Friday, the pop-up was as far back as it could go and still barely cleared the garage door.

I brought the mower and ATVs back inside and re-strung the extension cords for their battery minders. For grins, I pulled the truck in and shut the garage door. There’s room to spare to walk around and work even with all the equipment parked inside. This feels like a real accomplishment.

I called the boys out and we took one last ATV ride through the marsh before packing up and heading home around 7:00. I’m absolutely beat, but I feel great.