Pulled in with Lyssa and the boys around 11:30 am. I had Jake’s tractor in the back of the truck so we unloaded that right away, fired up the Power Wheels ATV, and the boys were making trails through the tall grass. Beautiful day today; upper 70s, clear sunny skies, and breezy.
I helped Lyssa haul our cooler and bags into the keep and noticed a noisy and very small bird chewing me out from up on the deck rail. I looked around but didn’t notice any kind of nest so I just shrugged it off. The temperatures might be low enough, but it’s still pretty humid, so I turned on the AC in the keep for the day to help dry it out in there. We enjoyed a quick lunch before I took on the big project for the day: the grass.
Yesterday, at my folks, the boys were taking turns riding with Grandpa on the lawn mower and they wanted to do the same thing here. Josh rode around the yard with me for maybe a whole minute before he decided it was just too noisy for him. He headed back to play with trucks in the pole barn and Jake joined me for cutting the driveway, which looks great now that the lawn and leaf trailer loads have really compacted in the low spots. It got me wondering how many more years it’ll be before I can trust him to cut up here by himself. That’ll certainly be a huge help. I’ll have to go through the logs to find out how old I was when my grandpa let me do it.
After the driveway was complete, Jake was getting tired of ducking branches and went off to play, too. About an hour into cutting the grass, Lyssa flagged me down and said she was planning to run into town for groceries. I asked her to stop at the feed store and pick up a deer block and some sunflower seed while she was out. The boys went along for the ride, so I was able to continue cutting without having to keep an eye out for them.
When they returned, Josh’s blue lips gave away that they had stopped for ice cream at that little place on the corner of Water St. and Main. Looked like they had fun! I continued taming the yard while Lyssa and the boys filled the feeders and put out the new deer block. It’s a great feeling when everyone pitches in around here. I took multiple passes in the south yard (where I wasn’t able to collect leaves earlier this year) to help further grind up and redistribute the mulch, and I was finally done mowing. Only took a little over three hours and one tank of gas; not bad at all.
I had to “tow” Josh back to the pole barn from the middle of the driveway because the battery on the Power Wheels ATV just plain gave out. I plugged both vehicles into the charger and gave the boys a “wheeler ride” through the marsh trails. Things are are unusually dry out there for this time of year and it makes for easy riding. I told Lyssa and this gave her confidence to brave the deep marsh for herself. She and the boys blazed some trails while I moved on to my next project.
With the yardwork taken care of, I set out to remedy something that’s been bugging me all summer. Having always-on 4G internet has been a fun new addition to this place, particularly being able to watch the bird feeder camera from home, but the equipment for it is kind of sprawled out all over the living room in the keep. I figured it would make sense to put everything up on a shelf above the front window next to the door. It’s the highest point in the keep and it faces the pole barn, providing better signal for both 4G and WiFi. I thought I had some metal shelf brackets I could use, but after searching every accessible part of the pole barn I came up empty. I had to get creative instead. I took two small strips of hardwood from the stack I acquired last year, cut them at perpendicular angles, and drilled pilot holes through them for mounting. I made the shelf itself out of a length of 1″x12″ with a notched corner. I sanded everything down, test fit it, and put it up in the keep. It’s nice and unobtrusive and now all the Puckanet equipment is out of the way, receiving and providing better signal. I can pull down 22mbps reliably from the pole barn PC now, more than enough to stream content from the main computer in here if needed.
While I was finishing up in the keep, Lyssa was busy grilling burgers and sweet corn for us all. We enjoyed family dinner on the deck and watched the grateful birds rediscover the feeders. We also figured out why that little wren was so mad at me earlier today. She has a nest with two chicks inside the little birdhouse Josh painted for me! I picked the boys up so they could see inside from a distance, but we mostly left them be so Mama Wren could do her thing. After supper, we started a bonfire to clear out the brush that we had gathered over the last few trips. The boys were getting pretty ornery, though. They had been giving it hard all day with no real naps, so we were all back in the keep by 8:00 to cool down and relax before bed. Lyssa and Josh retired to the bedroom by 9:00 and Jake fell asleep next to me on the futon soon after. I stayed up reading until about 10:00. I’m already glad for the shelf; it was nice not to have a router blinking in my face all night.
Everyone was up and about by 8:00. The boys were very excited to try out their fully-charged Power Wheels so Lyssa officiated a few races around the yard. With a little bit of crazy out of their systems, we all hopped in the truck and headed to Aunt Judy’s where Jacob was again loudly greeted with, “There’s my waffle baby!” by Judy herself. The boys sure brought their appetites—Jake ate his entire whipped cream and blueberry waffle and Josh had his whole scrambled egg and sausage plate as well as half of my English muffin and a few bites of omelet. Full and happy, we headed back.
The coals were still hot from last night’s bonfire, so I raked and forked the rest of the brush into the middle of the burnpit. Wasn’t long before a good fire was going again. I figured it couldn’t hurt to keep feeding it, so I decided to try my hand at pulling the big gnarly stump on the side of the pole barn. Now that the picnic table and swing have been moved closer to the keep, there’s a lot of room to get my truck into the south part of the yard. I wrapped a chain around the base of the stump, put my truck in 4-low, and…started making ruts in the yard. So much for that idea. I backed up ten feet or so and then let the truck coast forward. That did the trick and the stump broke free. It was promptly disposed of in the pit. Bout time.
I parked my truck and stared down the woodshed for a while. I’m looking forward to getting rid of this eyesore, but it’s going to take a fair amount of time and sweat. And it all starts with moving the bricks away from the north side. But before I could even start on that, I needed a vehicle that was up to the task. The smaller yard trailer seemed like the best option, but it would need a deck upgrade first as the plywood is in rough shape. I grabbed one of the few good-sized panel scraps from under the big house trailer and cut it down to fit the yard trailer. Rather than replace the existing deck, I just laid it over the top where it’s held in place by pressure from the side rails.
With that out of the way, I still needed a place to actually move the bricks to. I grabbed a bunch of rusting corrugated metal building panels we unearthed from the driveway woodpiles last fall and laid them out along the west side of the pole barn. Seemed like as good a base as any, so I started stacking bricks into the trailer. I stopped at 156, as the ancient suspension on the yard trailer seemed to be at its limit. While moving around some of the other landscape stones, I came across a lava rock the size of a football helmet, and nearly as light. I made a big show of struggling with it, set it down in front of Jacob, and asked him to try to lift it. He was surprised at how strong he was, but figured it was from working at Puckaway and eating Aunt Judy’s. I carefully maneuvered the trailer in place and started stacking bricks by the pole barn. It’s sad how tiny the first load looks all by itself on the end. This is going to take some real effort, especially if we’re ever going to try to get anywhere with the 4,000-brick-strong pile in the garden.
While I was busy playing Brick Taxi, Lyssa relaxed in the hammock and watched the boys race each other on their Power Wheels. I was debating a second trailer load, but we still have a lot of housework to catch up on back in Oshkosh, so we packed things up instead and headed out around 2:15. I love how this place is starting to shape up.