Looks better and deters squirrels. What’s not to like?

Lyssa, the boys, and I pulled in around 11:30 after the requisite Aunt Judy’s breakfast. It’s a little cool today, highs in the lower 60s, but it sure feels nice when the sun peeks out of the clouds. I opened the pole barn right away so Jake and Josh could get their Power Wheels out and they were patrolling the yard in short order. Lyssa went off in search of a nice, quiet place to read. I wasn’t much help in that regard; the first thing I went for was the chainsaw.

In reviewing the timelapse footage from the camera I installed last week, I noticed the squirrels still had no problem getting to the feeders. They weren’t getting around the baffle, though. This was an aerial assault. I always thought the dead lower branches by the feeders and garden shed were an eyesore anyway; now I had even more reason to get rid of them.


One of several rose-breasted grosbeaks we’ve seen at the feeders this spring.

I spent the next few hours clearing limbs and unwanted scrub growth from around the feeders. I’m getting pretty good at felling trees. I had to thread the needle a few times between the feeders and deck and thankfully there were no casualties. As long as I was clearing, I maneuvered my way through the overgrown area behind the outhouse and mostly reclaimed the little wildlife garden my grandpa planned many years back. The whole area looks a lot nicer now and it’s easier to spot the birds as they fly to and from the feeders.


I had plenty of good help for my branch-clearing effort.

I was doing some final touch up by taking out some very small new trees when the chain jumped the bar and smacked me in the shin. Luckily, I got the dull end of it. But I took it as a sign that I was done with the chainsaw for the day. I hopped in the green ATV, hooked up the small yard trailer, and started loading branches. I had two willing little helpers for this part of the project. I think they were just relieved that the chainsaw was finally done making noise.


No matter how fresh or green the limbs, they’re no match for the pit.

My folks pulled in around 2:00 while Lyssa was giving Jake and Josh a ride on the blue ATV. The boys showed off all their projects, then so did I. Feels good to see people enjoying the swing again. After hauling four full trailer loads of brush over to the pit and checking the DNR site to make sure there wasn’t a burn ban, I started a bonfire. It took a little coaxing at first, but once a coal pit got established, the pile started shrinking quickly. Almost too quickly—an ember burned a hole through my mom’s fleece. Sorry, Mom.

Dad loaded up some big chain link trellises that were leaning in front of the wood shed. Mom plans to use these back in Oshkosh for some climbing plants. He also broke down and thoroughly cleaned the chainsaw. I got out the grill for Lyssa and she made some delicious grilled chicken gyros and fresh green beans on the side burner. The boys had brat patties and mac & cheese. We all enjoyed our meal on the newly stained deck and watched the endless stream of bird activity by the feeders. It was very relaxing.

After dinner, we started to pack up. Lyssa washed the dishes and I burned the trash. I grabbed the water cart (the 55-gallon drum and pump kit) and used it to put out the last of the smoldering logs in the pit. Sure works a lot better than using the anemic flow from the well pump. I closed up the keep and the pole barn and we were all on our way a little after 7:00. Nice, full, productive day.