Lyssa, the boys, and I pulled in at 11:00 after breakfast at Aunt Judy’s. Heading down the driveway, I was nervous that the new paint on the keep might not have held up through the big storms that rolled through this past week, but the place looks absolutely great. On our way up, we had stopped at J&A for a deer block. They were out of stock and won’t have more until Tuesday, so I got a bag of molasses-based feed and two bags of shell corn instead. I unloaded the boys’ power wheels from the back of the truck and they were off to the races. I carried the goods from J&A to the garden shed and got a bummer of a surprise upon opening it up. I had left a full 50-lb bag of sunflower seed in there without sealing it in one of the containers and the chipmunks had completely looted it. So much for filling the bird feeders. I spread the remains of the bag, the molasses mix, and some shell corn in the area behind the feeders and made sure the rest of my new purchases were secured in critter-proof cans. Chipmunks suck.


Musty paneling sure gets hot in a hurry.

I’ve got two goals today: collect building materials to build a new outhouse, and clean up fallen branches and brush around the yard. I knew there was a good-sized stack of exterior pine board paneling under the big house trailer, so I grabbed the green ATV and small yard trailer and started digging things out. Roughly 60% of the sheets were too rotten or rough to be of any use, so I stacked them on the trailer to get burned. The rest I set aside to get picked up later. The pit was already stacked with the big oak limb I cut down last trip, so I made a teepee out of the panels over that, poured on some old boat gas, and lit ‘er up. Wasn’t long before I had a nice hot fire. Lyssa tended it while I took the boys into town for snacks and to fill the two big gas cans from the pole barn with ethanol-free fuel. I stopped in at J&A again to see if they had any sunflower seed to replace the bag the chipmunks binged on. This, too, was out of stock until Tuesday. It’s always Tuesday.


Third- and fourth-generation Puckaway Wardens.

With the panels handled, I moved on to cleaning up the yard. The boys were a big help here. They rode on the trailer as I pulled it around the yard with the ATV and collected stray fallen branches for me. I stopped and pitched in when we got to the new clearing by the keep; there were a bunch of fallen birches and other big branches around there. There were also a bunch of dead trees still standing. I was foolish enough to try and take down a particularly large one barehanded, but also stubborn enough not to quit. After several sweeping, metronomic swings and a lot of sweating and grunting, I got the last rotten root to break free and lugged it over to the trailer. Who needs a chainsaw? I tossed the results of our efforts into the fire and traded the little yard trailer for my 5×8 utility trailer. This was loaded with all the good paneling that was left, the new door that I had hauled up for the outhouse, the two windows I found for it, and all of the good 2x4s and leftover deck lumber I was storing in the pole barn. I’m bringing everything back to Oshkosh where I’ll build the new outhouse in my garage. I’ll have a lot more time to work on it this way and it should be ready by Puckaweekend. Looking forward to giving the old one a viking funeral.

By the time I had everything ready to haul home in the truck and trailer, the fire had died down to a quiet coal pit. I’ll have to drive slow on the way home; the trailer is loaded. We were on our way by 5:30.