Arrived at 4 pm pulling the two ATVs on the aluminum trailer. Gorgeous day; sunny and in the upper 70s. In short order, I dropped the trailer, parked the truck, and got on the mower. The focus of this trip is going to be lawn maintenance. I plan on trying out the new lawn/leaf collection trailer at some point, but first I just need to mow again. Grass is nearly waist high in some spots, and the leaves on the ground could use another good mulching before they get picked up. I cleared around the front of the pole barn, the brick garden, the keep, the marsh entrance, and most of the big trailer’s front yard. I also ran through the area I cleaned up by the bird feeders earlier this year. The view from the deck (and the bird feeder camera) is now vastly improved.
I put away the mower around 8:00. The wind was picking up and the clouds seemed to threaten rain, so I got the ATVs into the pole barn for the night. The blue one still needs to be started with the pull rope. I figured out what was wrong with it back in Oshkosh—the starter solenoid is shot—but I won’t have a replacement part until next week. At least it’s an easy part to get to.
I made a few quick passes with the weed eater: around the keep, brick garden, outhouse, and some of the larger oaks. I still need to beat back the scrub growth in the garden itself, but I’ll save that for tomorrow. I closed up the pole barn and ran into town for items of questionable nutrition from A&W. Once I got back, I started heating a tank of water for a shower and ate my dinner in the recliner while watching some Firefly. Got myself cleaned up, then tidied up around the keep for a bit. Never did get any rain, but the wind picked up and temperatures dropped to the low 60s in a hurry. Nice weather for sleeping. I dozed off pretty early, around 10:30, after some reading in bed.
Up for the day around 7:30. Looks like we got some late night rain, but it’s already mostly dried up. Clear, sunny, and already 70° out. Stumbled around for a bit and was on my way to Aunt Judy’s by 8:30. Enjoyed an omelet and some coffee at the bar, then worked my way through flea market traffic to J&A Archery and Feed for a deer block. Figured I’d try to draw them in by the camera now that I’ve got a bigger clearing. I’m glad I found out about this place; the feed block was only $15. I made a grocery run to Pig to restock the fridge and was back to the keep by 10:00.
I grabbed some bricks and made a little stand for the feed block in the new clearing. As long as I was in the area, I topped off the feeders, cleaned out and refilled the bird bath, and spread some strips of corn and sunflower seed. I’m hoping to make that entire new clearing a big wildlife draw.
I finished mowing around the south garden and the cutting was done. I did more trim work with the weed eater, including the interior of the brick garden. While I was there, I decided it was time to try and dig out the remaining fence posts. Back when my grandparents actually tended a vegetable garden here, the whole thing was fenced in with chain-link and chicken wire to keep critters out. I wrestled down the remains of that fence back in 2011 when I trenched underground power lines to the keep and pulled out as many of the posts as I could. The eight that remained were the truly stubborn ones. I spent an hour, broke three shovel handles, chopped tree roots with an axe, employed a makeshift pry bar made from galvanized pipe and rope, and swore a lot, but eventually I got them all dug out.
After drinking a few reward beers, I got back to work. Dad’s parking the pontoon boat in the yard here now, so I had to move it to mow around it. I knew it’d be too heavy for an ATV to actually haul it down the road, but I hoped I could at least push it around the yard. It worked, but just barely, and the ATV squatted comically low from the weight of the trailer. Maybe not the best idea.
I headed to the pole barn to make some modifications to my leaf collector before putting it into service. I had bought a cheap curtain sheer at Menards to drape over the top, hoping it’d work as a makeshift filter for all the dust and debris that shoot out. I also drilled some holes to secure the wood frame to the trailer body with lag bolts. Lastly, I mounted a rubber collar around the hole where the discharge chute enters the trailer. This thing was now as ready as it’d ever be, so I set off to collect.
When I mowed earlier, I tried to keep the discharge chute aimed in such a way that the grass clippings and leaves would collect in strips for easy pick-up. This worked out pretty well! The trailer can’t take very tight turns, so I ended up making several big strafing runs at these piles. The “filter” and rubber collar really helped keep the dust under control compared to the first test run I made with this trailer last month.
I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I could collect with this thing. I got almost the entire property picked up with just four loads. I ended up emptying two of these loads at the base of the driveway and the other two at the entrance to the marsh. I had to use a pitchfork to help unload and spread everything around; you can really cover a lot of ground with the payload from this beast.
I probably would have had a fifth trailer filled, but my patch job on the blower housing for the collector gave out on me. I guess I’ll have to use stronger material than HVAC ducting and pop rivets if I want it to last longer. At least it was only the south yard and area east of the pole barn that didn’t get picked up; the rest of the place looks better than it has in years.
I put away the mower and did my final trimming with the weed eater. I also moved the swing and picnic table to a new spot east of the brick garden. This, along with the new clearing, really helps tie the keep to the rest of the yard instead of feeling isolated on the edge.
It was almost dark by the time I headed into the keep to wash up. I was hungry, but I was also caked in sweat and fine lawn and leaf grit—way too filthy to sit down anywhere. I started heating a shower tank and picked up my tools around the yard while I waited for it to warm up. Once I was grime-free, I made a pair of sandwich wraps, grabbed a beer, and plopped into the recliner for some more Firefly. I started drifting off in the chair around 10:00, so I headed back to bed.
Slept in a bit today—didn’t get out of bed until about 8:30. Got dressed and ran into town for some fried eggs and bacon at Aunt Judy’s. Once I was back, I started hauling vehicles out of the pole barn. Things are getting pretty cramped in there with the 55-gallon barrels, Dad’s fishing boat, and the boys’ Power Wheels, so some reorganizing is in order. I put the boat cover on Defiant and parked it outdoors along the west side of the pole barn, minus the outboard which I’ll store inside.
This cleared up a lane in the southeast corner of the pole barn and let me stack junk further back. I moved all of the gas cans that were in the middle of the barn back here along with the 55-gallon barrels. Once the cans were all moved, I notice a very new-looking piece of power equipment that had been buried beneath them. It was a Craftsman walk-behind weed-eater with some pretty heavy-gauge whips. I pulled the oil dipstick and was surprised to find it looking clear and clean. It was completely out of gas, so I was hoping the carb wasn’t too gummed up. I filled it up and gave it about a dozen pulls, and while it had good compression, it didn’t seem to be turning over at all. I gave it one more pull, though, and thought I heard combustion. A few more, and it was idling happy and ready to go. The whips were nearly gone, so I can’t attest to its ability, but it runs beautifully. I zip-tied the handle in the on position and let it heat up and run itself out of gas again. What a find! No more bringing up my little handheld weed-eater and going through a ton of line to clear out the gardens.
In the early afternoon it started raining, so I positioned Enterprise back in the corner where Defiant had been and parked it in with the red ATV and both riding mowers. This left the entire front half of the pole barn open for Dad’s boat (which will eventually go back up to Presque Isle) and the two big ATVs, with plenty of room to work around them. I cleared up to the bins on the west wall and moved the tool chest, fuel tanks, and grill over there. I now have the full workbench available to use again, and the boys have a spot on the east wall for their Power Wheels, toy trucks, and diggers.
It rained off and on all afternoon. Between showers, I got a little more yard work done. I started the well pump and filled the keep’s water supply barrel. While I was back there, I grabbed the bow saw and cleared out a bunch of the smaller trees and branches growing behind the keep. There’s a lot more room to work back there which I’m sure I’ll appreciate when I finally paint the place. I dragged the fallen limbs to the pit and finished up in the pole barn, closing it down for the weekend around 7:00. I put the new weed-eater on the ATV trailer—Dad’s going buy some line for it and use it in Mayville next week—and hooked it back up to the truck. I gathered my laundry from the keep, did some final cleaning, and was on the road about 8:00. Didn’t really break ground on any new projects this weekend, but I got a lot of maintenance done that’s been nagging at me for a while. Looking forward to next weekend: Lyssa, the boys, and I are coming up for the June Dairy Days parade in Markesan. The boys should have some fun here in the newly landscaped yard.