Hannah and I pulled in around 3:00 pm with a truck full of goodies. On the way up, I stopped at Festival and made my beer run for Puckaweekend. I also had some plywood and more treated lumber to finish off the battlement, our new deer stand. I unloaded all the keep-based goods, then drove to the pole barn, got the ATV and trailer going, and transferred all the building materials over. It’s relatively warm and dry today, but very windy, so I hope I can get this panelling up the ladder without it blowing away.
With my tools and materials loaded onto the trailer, I made my way out to the stand. I spent the next few hours cutting, hauling, and attaching plywood and treated lumber. I also cut down the ladder so it’s easier to get in and out of the stand. I made creative use of my ratcheting tie downs and tow straps: initially to help me carry the panels up the ladder and finally to draw the tops of the slightly bowed 4×4 posts together when framing out the roof. Hannah kept me company and sniffed around the marsh grass, but got excited and distracted when she found a shed deer antler. She was so proud of her quarry and wouldn’t let me grab it.
Back at the pole barn, I disassembled the old roof frame to free up the steel panels. There should be more than enough to use on the battlement, but that’s going to have to wait until I’ve got some help up here. While I still had some daylight left, I decided to tackle another project. The motion-sensing flood light on the pole barn has been acting up and now won’t turn on at all, so I bought an LED-based model to replace it. I got out my ladder, took down the old one, and mounted the replacement just as it was getting dark enough to activate the dusk/dawn side lights. Wow. This thing is bright. And it has the same feature as the old one where it can be on all night at reduced brightness but go to full when it sees motion. The pole barn is now lit up like a baseball stadium.
Satisfied with my efforts, I headed back to the keep for some pizza and beer. I also took some time to wire up a new outlet for the AC unit and heater to use. There’s a circuit in the keep—originally for the water heater—that I was able to repurpose for this. After a successful test of this new juice box, I went to bed relatively early around 10:30.
I woke up to a panting Hannah in my bed a little after 6:00 am. She doesn’t care for the duck hunters’ shotguns. I fell back asleep for a bit until I heard a much louder bang that sounded close by. I got up and saw that it was in the mid-20s outside and had a panicked thought about the water supply. I slipped on some shoes, headed out back, and sure enough, the hot water supply hose had blown off its barb fitting from the expanding ice. Shit. The last thing I want to deal with now is a plumbing problem. Heading into Puckaweekend without a working shower would be a terrible step backwards. All I could do until it warmed up a little more was unplug the pump and disconnect all the supply fittings. Back in the keep, I opened all the faucets up and tried to get back to sleep but had no luck. I watched some Frasier to distract myself, but was up for the day a little after 8:30.
My first official project for the day was to clean out the keep, top to bottom. I blew all the leaves off the deck and from around the entrance, then took out all the rugs and shook them over the deck rail. I started vacuuming but wasn’t getting a whole lot of suction. We’ve got a Dirt-devil bagless Dyson wannabe up here. The collection bin was empty so I checked out the filters and other parts. Gross. Tons of dirt/dust buildup on some of the finned plastic parts and the foam rubber filter surround was caked with it. I took everything out to the deck, turned on the leafblower and aimed it out, and proceeded to blast the gunk out of all the filters in huge plumes of dust. Once I had the vacuum reassembled, it was like a brand new machine.
I finished cleaning up in the keep and turned my attention back to the water problem. Temps were in the mid-40s now, so I figured everything would have had plenty of time to thaw. I took the water heater and pump pack down and checked out all the components. Miraculously, nothing was damaged and none of the pipes had ruptured. I reattached the fitting that had blown apart and hooked everything back up. I turned on the pump, said a little prayer, and my heart sank as the pump kept running. A PEX line must have burst somewhere inside the trailer. Just great.
I switched off the pump and headed inside to check under the sinks while assuming I’d have to pull the access panel in the bedroom closet to find the problem. That’s when I noticed the showerhead was dripping. I’m an idiot. The pump kept running because I had left all the faucets wide open. I shut all the valves and tried again, this time being rewarded by silence from the pump. The keep’s plumbing survived a freeze with no permanent damage and the hot showers can continue.
I took a quick lunch break and headed back outside. I wanted to top off the keep’s water tank in the hopes it’d be less susceptible to temperature changes and to make sure there was plenty of water for Puckaweekend. But the pump just hummed angrily when I turned it on. Why does water hate me?! I went to the keep, ran some hot water into a bucket, poured it into the pump, and waited a bit before flipping the switch again. Success! I’m dodging frozen bullets left and right today.
I ran the hose to the keep’s tank and turned my attention to the big trailer. I opened the back door and was greeted by a surprisingly unoffensive odor. The DampRid and AirWicks seem to have done their job. It still smells like dryer sheets trying to mask something else, but at least it’s not musty anymore. I vacuumed the whole place and closed it back up.
I spent the rest of the afternoon doing some light cleaning and organizing in the keep and pole barn. I set up the new turntable in the pole barn, too, and played some Alabama on vinyl while I pulled the batteries from Jake and Josh’s Power Wheels. Hannah was in her element, alternating between crazed runs around the grounds and sprawling lazily in the bare ground around the burnpit. I gathered the trash from the keep and pole barn to take home and was putting away the leaf blower when I saw Danny working in his yard behind the keep. We talked for a bit while Hannah and Buck played with each other. Turns out Danny just turned 80 this year. He’s looking pretty good for an octogenarian. I warned him about the upcoming festivities and told him to just come and yell at me if we were being too loud, but he didn’t seem concerned.
I closed up the buildings, called the pooch, and we were on our way back to Oshkosh around 5:15 pm. I’ll be back up soon—Wednesday afternoon—but it seems like an eternity from now. Puckaweekend looms large.