Hannah loves the extra room in the new truck.

Pulled in at 4:30 pm with Hannah and got right to work cleaning up the keep’s fridge so I could get it turned on for the year. The goal this weekend is to get everything cleaned and prepped so we can all come up next week for June Dairy Days.

Once the fridge was ready, I unloaded the truck and started a project I’ve been waiting to work on since Christmas. Lyssa gave me a really cool carved owl statue for up here but it needs a few coats of lacquer before it can be left out in the elements. I brushed on the first coat and trained a fan on it to keep the bugs away while it dried.

Next on the agenda was to clean and fill the bird feeders, which didn’t take very long. I got out the leaf blower and cleaned up the deck, then set up the patio umbrella, which is even more mouse-chewed this year. We’re going to need a new place to store that.

Got quite the haul at Pig.

At 7:00, I ran into town to stock the fridge and pantry for the year. After spending almost $200 at Piggly Wiggly, I stopped at A&W for dinner and picked up a bag of ice from the attached BP on my way out. Once I got back, I gave Hannah her cheeseburger, put away the groceries, and watched some Archer while tucking into some chili cheese fries. I saw a grossbeak and a cardinal at the feeders already; hope I can pull in some goldfinches again.

Around 9:00, I went out to the pole barn to apply a second coat of lacquer to the owl statue and closed things up out there for the night. Back in the keep, I swapped the storm windows out for screens and got the bedding out of storage. After a shower, I was in bed by 11:30 and fell asleep watching TV.


Up for the day around 7:45. Hannah spent most of the night up on the bed and panting as a line of evening thunderstorms blew through. The forecast for the day looks frustratingly vague with a 50% chance of light rain throughout the day. I spent the morning cleaning up in the keep. I vacuumed everything, using the hose attachment to clean the corners and get the cobwebs and dust off the ceiling. The counters, shelves, tub, and vinyl flooring all got scrubbed down. This place is open for business.

Thanks to Lyssa and the boys clearing leaves earlier this year, we’ve got a lot of growth in the wildflower garden.

Around noon, I put the final coat on the owl statue, managing to spill a bunch of lacquer all over my jeans when the can stuck to my latex glove. At least they’re just my cheap $13 Fleet Farm pants. I changed clothes and did my best to rinse and scrub the stain with dish soap, but I doubt I’ll be able to salvage them.

I was finishing cleaning up after the owl project when Gunner ran into the yard. Red wasn’t far behind him, but there was no vehicle to be seen. Apparently, some time last night, a big tree blew down across the driveway entrance. I got the green ATV, small yard trailer, and chainsaw ready to go, and we headed down the drive.

Shaka, when the tree fell.

A mid-size oak was there to greet us, blocking Red’s Corolla. It looked relatively healthy, but the trunk had snapped about four feet from the ground. I started delimbing it with the chainsaw while Red stacked the fallen branches on the ATV trailer. Roughly one hour and four trips to the pit later, the path was clear once again.

With that unexpected chore out of the way, Red turned his attention to the shack. He’ll be bringing the whole family up next weekend, so he’s up here today to clean things up as best he can. While he was busy inside, I grabbed a tow strap and brought the ATV around to the cedars by the marsh entrance to take care of the snapped tree trunk that finally fell to earth last winter. While it was pretty substantial at the base and almost 30 feet long, it pulled over to the pit without much fuss. I got the chainsaw back out and had it down to manageable chunks in pretty short order. Chainsaw still running, I walked over to the last remaining woodpile and carved up the maple that dropped since I mowed last month.

We had some pooped pooches.

Red finished up in the shack around 5:00 and we headed to the keep to check out the T-bones he brought up from Beck’s. Fine looking slabs of cow. I seasoned them and let them sit out for a bit while Red prepped some hobo meals to accompany them on the grill. These were comprised of red potatoes, onion, and green peppers in foil packs.

Happy Red.

We got the grill going and threw the packs on first, draining some hard seltzers while we waited until it was time to throw on the steaks. I tried getting the fire started, but my efforts weren’t met with lasting success. We ate dinner on the deck a little after 6:30. Just as we were finishing up, Danny drove in. Surprisingly, this was the first time Red had met him. He asked if we had seen Buck; he slipped his collar while Danny was running errands in town and had been gone all day. Unfortunately for him, the only dogs we had seen all day were the ones we brought with us.

After Danny left and I had the dishes done, I took another stab at starting a fire. This one took and it wasn’t long before we had a decent blaze going. The wooden swing got a viking funeral amidst a bunch of relatively green logs that hissed away the rest of the night.

We sat and drank and watched the fire for a while, but hopped on the green ATV for a trip to the battlement around 9:00. The marsh is still mighty wet, but our tower stands strong. We closed up the pole barn after parking the ATV and threw on some movies in the keep. I started dozing in the recliner a little after 11:00 and headed to bed for the night.


Between my bladder and Hannah, I was up for the day a little after 7:00. One thing I didn’t buy on Friday was coffee. I didn’t feel like digging out the Keurig to use the K-cups I had in the pantry, so I cut open four of them and dumped them into a filter so I could use the regular coffee pot. Worked pretty well.

Our new Guardian.

We had breakfast at the counter at Aunt Judy’s around 10:00 and stopped at Dollar General for some TP on the way back. The sky is clear and the weather is near perfect with no bugs. I texted Lyssa that she and the boys should come up for the day and enjoy it with me. Red and Gunner headed back to Oshkosh around noon and I set out the now-dry owl statue on the corner of the brick garden. Still not sure where I want to put it permanently.

I just drove the mower right into the brick garden. Time saver!

I threw on my headphones and got the mower going to take care of the surprisingly tall grass. I was making passes around the keep when Lyssa and the boys pulled in a little after 1:30. I had their Power Wheels batteries charged and ready to go, so I just had to bring the toys down from the pole barn rafters and hook them up. The boys were soon racing after each other around the grounds while Lyssa worked on a painting at the picnic table and I continued to tame the lawn.

I love how this place cleans up.

By 3:30, I reached a stopping point. I got most of the yard and was running low on gas. Both of the gas cans are empty, so I’ll need to run to town for a refill before I do any more cutting. Josh was asking about his swing, so I grabbed some rope to secure it to a tree branch for him. Even though it’s brand-new yellow nylon rope, I’m not a fan of how much it creaks and slides around on the branch. We’re going to have to come up with a better mount.

Lyssa and the boys headed back home around 4:15. I stuck around and finished closing up the pole barn, collecting the trash, showering, and packing up the keep. Hannah and I were on the road by 5:45, and I’m feeling a lot more ready for the big weekend coming up.

Fuel for next weekend.