The whole family pulled in at 6:15 with some hot, carry-out pizza from Christianos. The boys were still talking about the huge buck we saw along Reetz Rd. on the way in. I couldn’t count points, but given the spread, height, and density of the tines, I’d guess it was in the mid to upper teens. We ate in the keep, then I unloaded the truck in(!) the pole barn. The increased real estate in there is still jarring. The boys showed Lyssa their fort and took turns getting pushed on the swing while I unpacked.

To make it a little more welcoming for my wife, I took the shop-vac out to the outhouse and cleared out the spiderwebs, sand, and other unpleasantness. While I was sucking out the stinkhouse, Jake and Josh walked Lyssa out to the battlement to enjoy the view and Hannah padded along after them.

I was carrying the shop-vac back to the pole barn as the crew returned to the yard. I started transferring all of the bedding and extra clothes in the keep’s bedroom closet to some new storage totes with locking handles. We haven’t had critter problems in there in years, but I didn’t like how some of the old totes wouldn’t close properly. While I was working on this, Lyssa and the boys filled the bird feeders, something I’ve been neglecting lately.

Once it started getting dark, we had a quiet evening inside. The boys were set up on the futon and started watching The Neverending Story while Lyssa relaxed in the bedroom to some episodes of Good Eats. I gave her a Kühler to sample and the response was a simple, “New favorite!” After closing up the pole barn, I stayed out with the boys through the end of the movie, then joined my wife in bed. We were all out by 10:30.


The boys were up early and playing their 3DSes, Lyssa was up soon after, and the smell of the coffee she made got me out of bed around 8:00. We all got dressed and ready for the day and the boys headed out to the yard to take turns on the swing. Lyssa and I finished the pot of coffee and gathered the boys. We were off to Aunt Judy’s at 9:45.

The Labor Day weekend traffic headed into Princeton was ridiculous. If I was thinking, I would have come up D instead of W, but the boys like looking for animals in the fields along W and Reetz Rd. We slowly made our way into Aunt Judy’s packed parking lot but a table opened up for us just as we walked in.

After filling our bellies, we had planned on stocking up on supplies at Piggly Wiggly, but the westbound traffic seemed worse than ever. I cut across the highway and headed east down the road behind the gas station, cut north on the first turn, then cut back west on P. That got us in just north of the grocery store. I’m not sure it was any faster overall, but it sure felt better than staring at brake lights while inching our way past the flea market. After securing our provisions (including some more Kühler), we cut through town and headed back along T.

A truly fearsome beast.

We returned to Puckaway at 11:30 and rewarded Hannah for her patience with a pig ear treat. The boys got their Power Wheels out and were driving around the yard when my folks pulled in. Dad was towing the blue trailer and is planning to take the ATV trailer home so we can use it to move some furniture next weekend.

The boys wanted to take ATV rides with their grandparents, so I took Jake and my nervous mother on the blue one while Josh and Papa rode the green one. Mom finally got to see the battlement up close and marveled at just how overgrown the marsh has become. After the rides, I started a small bonfire with the brush that the boys had collected. My folks were headed to Amish country for some mums and bakery before coming back to collect the ATV trailer, so Lyssa and Jake decided to tag along. Josh and the pooch stayed back with me.

I began cleaning up around (what I’m getting tired of having to call) the “woodshed ruins” in the hopes that it’ll soon just become another part of the yard. I pulled up a bunch of raspberry bushes and little sucker trees and started stacking the red paver bricks in the small yard trailer. Dad’s truck pulled back in around 2:00 and we all relaxed a bit until my folks left an hour later.

She really captured Hannah’s innate wisdom here.

Lyssa gave me a hand raking up the mess of shingles, insulation, styrofoam, leaves, and roots where I had removed all the bricks, then spent some time on the keep deck to do some watercolor. I took a break from the brick-moving effort and fired up the chainsaw-on-a-stick to trim some of the low-hanging branches on the leaner trees around the pole barn and by the driveway entrance and last remaining woodpile. I also got as much as I could off of the huge mostly-fallen tree back by the scrap piles.

Now that the trunk of that big, arched tree was bare, I felt confident I could carve it up. I grabbed the Husqvarna and began lopping logs off of the end of it. With each pass lightening the load, the trunk started rising further off the ground, so I went back to the base of the tree and cut a notch until it began to lower again. I repeated this a few times until I had the tree completely processed. This part of the yard looks much better now and we’ll have plenty of firewood to start off Puckaweekend this year.

While I was working on the tree trunk, the boys were pitching in by hauling some of the more manageable branches over to the burnpit. Lyssa got the grill out and was starting dinner. I put away the chainsaw and pulled the trailer full of bricks over by the stack next to the pole barn and headed to the keep for some brats.

After dinner, I washed up and we spent a quiet evening inside. We heard that there was a chance to see the northern lights this weekend, but Lyssa and I got up and checked several times throughout the night with no luck.


Jake and Josh were up typically early and were outside playing by 8:00. Lyssa got breakfast going shortly afterwards and we soon had some eggs, toast, and sausage to start our day.

After finishing the last of my coffee, I headed back out to my cleanup project. This time, everyone pitched in and we got the paver bricks neatly stacked in no time. I got out the pitchfork and started filling the blue trailer with the raked-up junk from the woodshed ruins. This kept me busy until 1:00 and the trailer was almost full by the time I was done. That area looks much, much better now. Nothing is left to haul away except the rough-hewn bricks.

I fired up the mower and made a few passes around the newly cleared areas, then started laps around the brick garden to clean up the yard around the keep, birdfeeders, burnpit, and pole barn. Satisfied with the state of the yard, I put away the mower and closed up the pole barn while Lyssa stripped the beds and got the keep buttoned up. We were on our way out by 2:30.