Jake and I left Oshkosh early with a fully loaded truck towing Enterprise, the 14′ fishing boat. Time to put it away in the pole barn for the winter. We pulled into Puckaway at 9:30 and got to work unloading. I brought up almost all of my tools, my 26′ ladder, and several new pairs of work gloves to prepare for Puckaweekend. Dad had dropped off his larger fishing boat from up north earlier in the week, so space is at a premium in the pole barn once again. Sunny but cool out today, temperature is hovering around 50°.


The older .22 gets some love.

I used my birthday money to dress up the standard-barrel Ruger .22 rifle so I set to work on the upgrades. New composite stock, bipod, and 25-round magazine. I also got polycarbonite recoil buffer pins for both of the rifles that are supposed to reduce drift between shots. Not that a .22 has powerful recoil, but since we use these mostly for target practice and varmint sniping, anything that keeps them steady is a plus. It only took a few minutes to install everything, and now the original .22 no longer has to play second-fiddle to its bull-barrelled counterpart. I got Jake some earplugs and he stayed behind me and watched as I dialed in the scope on another birthday purchase, new high-visibility splatter targets. I thought the rifle might scare him, but he was very interested in it. I made sure he understood that guns are tools, not toys. Never too early to drill that in.


After securing the rifles, I decided to reward the birds that were brave enough to stick around. I hauled all of the barrels of bird seed out of the pole barn and over to the new garden shed. It’ll be more convenient to keep everything in there right next to all the feeders, and it also frees up valuable floor space in the pole barn. I brought up a 50-pound bag of sunflower seed to replenish our supply. I didn’t think we’d go through so much so quickly. Thankfully, Menards has seed for pretty cheap. Jake kept himself busy hauling leaves around in his dump trucks while I blew the leaves off of the deck and away from the front of my trailer.


I think it gets confusing the way the word “trailer” is used around here. It means too many things so it always needs qualifiers. My trailer. The big house trailer. The blue utility trailer. The flat yard trailers. Sean, ever a fount of excellent Puckaway-related ideas, suggested referring to my trailer (the one with the deck) as “the keep.” As the definition of keep (noun) is “the strongest or central tower of a castle, acting as a final refuge,” I am fully on board with this idea. I don’t have a good name for the other dwelling up here yet, but considering we’re working towards replacing it with a pre-fab house, maybe it doesn’t need one.


Josh loves wearing his work boots!

Anyway, not long after moving the leaf-blowing operation to the pole barn area, Lyssa and Josh pulled into the yard. He’s still too young for an overnight trip up here to be anything but stress for us all, but he certainly has fun when he comes up! We had lunch together in the keep, but the boys were itching to get back outside. They kept themselves busy running around the yard while Lyssa and I pulled Dad’s boat out of the pole barn and wrapped it up with his new boat cover. It wasn’t long before Josh started begging for a four-wheeler ride, so he and I took off in the green one while Lyssa and Jake followed in the blue one. She feels a lot better taking him around now that he’s got his special seat in the back. We made several loops through the marsh, but Josh just couldn’t get enough. Lyssa ended up hauling both of them around for a while on the blue ATV once I rigged a harness for Josh out of a tie-down strap.


Around 2:30 or so, Josh started getting restless and cranky, so Lyssa packed up and they were on their way. Jake was getting cold and wanted to come inside for a bit, so I put a movie on for him while I finished attaching the last of the deck lights. By the time I was done, he was out cold on the couch. I tucked him in and used the opportunity to fire up the lawn mower and attempt to tame some marsh grass. I started with the path out to Dad’s deer stand and the nearby clearing. I was at it for about an hour when the mower ran out of gas. I used the last of our reserves to fill the ATVs earlier, so mowing was on hold until I could make a run to town.

Back at the keep, I unpacked all the clothes and linens I brought up and dressed both beds in the bedroom. Jake woke up from his two-hour nap hungry, so I called in a carry-out order from Pizza Factory. I grabbed our two 5-gallon gas cans, pre-loaded them with Stabil, and we ran into town. Gassed up, made a quick grocery run for snacks and supplies, and stopped in to pick up our pizza. As we we walked from our parking spot to the restaurant, Jacob looked up and declared, “Daddy, I’m having the best day. I love coming to Puckaway with you.” So that pretty much made my year. It was dark by the time we got back and I had left the deck lights on. Jake thought it looked awesome.


After dinner, I plugged in the infrared heater I brought up. We usually use it to keep the basement warm back home, and I figured it’d circulate heat better than the standing quartz heater I usually use up here. We needed it, too—now that the sun had set, the temperature was dropping pretty quick. It was too cold out for a night ride on the ATV, but I had to retrieve the mower which was still sitting in the marsh with an empty tank. Jake rode along with me on the blue ATV to tow it back to the pole barn. He loves when I use the winch, so that was almost as fun for him as taking a longer ride.


The new front doors make a huge difference in keeping the trailer insulated from the cold.

We closed up the pole barn and headed inside for the night. I dressed the futon bedding, put Jake in some pajamas, and set him up with another movie while I started on some indoor projects. I keep bumping into the little “island” that stores the storm windows during the summer ever since moving it to the living room area, but I like having it there as it helps separate the living space from the kitchen. I secured it to the closet wall with a section of an old tie-down strap. I used a similar rigging method to create a spot along the back corner of the bathtub for the shower tank to mount. No more having to reach outside to pump up the water pressure. I also drilled a hole for the coax cable coming in from the antenna and installed some bushings to keep it airtight.

I was going to move on to cleaning and installing the storm windows when I noticed Jake’s eyelids were getting pretty heavy. I did the bedroom windows first and he was out before I got the first one done. I tucked him in as soon as I finished back there and spent the rest of the night cleaning and installing the remaining windows. I also cleaned the insides of the primary jalousie windows. It was long overdue; the paper towels were coming away black. Temperatures plummeted below 30° outside, but the infrared heater kept us toasty warm. It certainly helps to have properly insulated doors now, too. I finished the windows and was in bed around midnight.


Jake let me sleep until around 7:30, which was mighty nice of him. When we got up, I lifted him to look out the front windows; there were ten turkeys strutting around the birdfeeders. I used to think the hanging mesh sunflower feeder was damaged by squirrels or racoons until I saw a couple of big gobblers smacking away at it. Jake had to go water the trees and got a kick out of me shooing the turkeys away. We made the customary run to Aunt Judy’s around 8:30 where we each had our regular breakfast. Jake even placed his own order with the waitress.

Back at Puckaway, I set up my miter saw on the deck and made a simple frame for the AC unit out of the trim boards I brought up. I nailed up the frame and sealed it with white caulk, then went outside to dress the hole up a little better from the outside. I had some aluminum flashing, which I cut around the top and sides of the AC and caulked in. Looks much better now, and should keep water and critters out. The whole time I was working back there, Jake kept busy finding big branches to haul over to the burnpit. Back in the keep, I continued my mitering efforts and installed quarter-round in the bathroom, properly securing the linoleum in the process.


We had leftover pizza for lunch and Jake snuggled in on the couch for a while. No nap, but he said he was comfy and just wanted to watch a movie. I cleaned up my tools and organized the pole barn a bit before bringing the boats in and closing it all up. It’s a little warmer today, but still definitely fall weather. I started a small fire for the branches Jake brought over and to burn the weekend’s garbage. Cleaned up some more inside, made the beds, but left all my clean clothes in the keep and all my tools in the pole barn. The plan is to just come up straight from work on Wednesday, nothing to bring but my toiletry bag. I made sure the fire was out and we were on our way back to Oshkosh by 4:00. Next stop: Puckaweekend.