I pulled in at 3:00 pm with a truck bed full of tools and Outhouse 2.0 on the ATV trailer. This weekend will be the final project push before Puckaweekend 2016. It’s overcast and in the mid-60s and the forecast is calling for intermittent rain all weekend. Not sure how much yard work I’ll be able to get done, but there are plenty of other things to do. I unhooked the trailer and backed up to the pole barn to start unloading tools and materials. I’ll be leaving most of this stuff up here until next weekend. I was just about done when I noticed someone with a day-glo yellow shirt walking up the drive. It was a dump truck driver with Kinas Excavating and he had a full load of gravel to spread at the end of the driveway. Perfect timing. I walked him down and showed him where we wanted it, though the low spots were pretty obvious. Once he knew where to drop, it didn’t take him long to get to work. He had it all spread evenly and was on his way within minutes. It was pretty impressive to watch.
After taking a minute to check out the new driveway, I grabbed the green ATV, hooked it up to the small yard trailer, and backed up to the outhouse. I took down the Christmas lights and removed everything of value from the outhouse like the seat and roll holder. I then took a sledge to the roof assembly, hoping I could pop it loose to re-use on the new outhouse. No such luck. The old roof came away in pieces and shingles crumbled right off of it. I’ll have to come up with a different plan for Outhouse 2.0.
With the roof off and set aside, I tipped the old outhouse onto the yard trailer and hauled it over to the woodshed. It’ll burn next weekend when everyone’s up here. I switched to the ATV trailer, carefully maneuvered it into place next to the outhouse “foundation,” and began the difficult task of unloading it. I was able to prop up one end with a cut-off section of 2×4 so I could slide a furniture mover cart underneath it. I used a handcart to get leverage on the other end so I could slide a pipe underneath it. From there, it actually rolled off the trailer pretty easily. After a whole lot of grunting and shoving (appropriate actions where an outhouse is involved), I finally had it in position. It seemed a little precariously balanced, though; the new platform made more contact with the pit liner than the old flooring. We’re going to need to put down another layer of bricks underneath this thing.
By the time I was done wrestling with the outhouse, it was 6:30, getting dark, and I was starving. It was also starting to rain a little, so I grabbed some luann plywood panels from the pole barn and laid them out as a temporary outhouse roof. I ran into town for some A&W and spent the rest of the evening focused on some indoor projects, including one I plan on keeping under wraps until after Puckaweekend. As I was working, I could hear some nearby owls hooting their approval. I called it quits around 10:00, took a quick shower, and fell asleep soon after.
I woke up at 4:30 am and noticed the little fan in the bedroom wasn’t working. And then I noticed that the lights wouldn’t turn on. The GFCI outlet outside of the keep had tripped, killing the power to the whole place. Not sure why. I reset it and went back to bed, getting up for the day at 8 am. It’s misting out and everything is soaked. Yard work is definitely not in the picture this weekend.
Red pulled in at 9:30 with the blue utility trailer in tow. I had left it behind in Oshkosh since I needed the ATV trailer to haul the outhouse up. The blue trailer was full with leftover paneling, lumber, some old DVD shelves to burn, and the french doors from our downstairs office at home. Those are too nice to destroy; they’re just getting stored up in the rafters of the pole barn. Red and I unloaded the trailer, saving the nicer paneling, the doors, and the lumber. The rest was tossed right in the burn pit.
We headed to town around 11:00. The first stop was Aunt Judy’s where I had a late breakfast and Red had an early lunch. Next stop was Dollar General for some silicone to seal the seams of the outhouse, J&A for sunflower seed, and finally Piggly Wiggly for some frozen pizzas.
Once we got back, we decided to divide and conquer. Red used the green ATV and little yard trailer to gather the last of the bricks from the pile in the south yard while I finished work on the outhouse. I cut the hole in the bench and drilled spots to mount the seat. I made sure the bench hole was sanded smooth for reasons that should be obvious. With that done, I took my Dremel and cut the top hole in the liner. Finally, I spread a thick layer of silicone under the front of the bench and around the rim of the hole to prevent any liquids from being absorbed into the wood. When all of this was done, I secured the bench top with some screws, installed the seat, and Outhouse 2.0 was open for business.
Red had all the bricks moved at this point, so I gave him a hand unearthing the last of the pipes and railroad ties that were up by that pile. The ties were immediately fed to the burn pit and would smoulder for the rest of the weekend. As long as we had the yard trailer hooked up and were burning, I crawled under the big house trailer and handed Red the rest of the rotting paneling and lumber stored under there. You can now see through to the other side when you look under there, which hasn’t been the case for many, many years. We built a giant teepee out of the panels and lumber in the pit. It took a good, long time to finally light with the constant drizzle and mist going on, but once it went up, it really went up. Felt nice to have a pocket of warm, dry air.
We teamed up for the outhouse leveling effort. I backed the green ATV and trailer up behind the keep to gather the big, square bricks that were stacked back there. We then hauled the bricks over to the outhouse. I planted my feet and tipped the building while Red laid down a layer of bricks. We repeated this for each side until the outhouse was sitting on a solid foundation.
With the bottom of the outhouse taken care of, it was time to address the top. I moved things around to get to the back corner of the pole barn where I had stored all the good, full-length plywood sheets. I planned to use some 3/4″ plywood to create a roof panel that I could shingle later. However, when we got back there, we discovered something that’d take less effort, provide better waterproofing, have a much lower profile, and would look pretty damn cool to boot: a big ol’ ROAD CONSTRUCTION AHEAD sign.
I cut, fit, and attached some roof stringer 2x4s to the outhouse and we installed the sign over it. I secured it with some screws, then got the silicone back out to seal the edges and screw holes. This thing is completely air and water tight. Our daylight was fading, so we got out the halogen work lamps to finish the project by re-stringing the Christmas lights around the perimeter of the outhouse. I cut one end of the string and hard-wired it into the service box on the outside wall. The remaining lights were strung inside where they can plug into the wall outlet.
Outhouse 2.0 was finally complete. We collected all the tools, closed up the pole barn, and headed into the keep for the night. Red started the pizza oven while I washed up. I noticed a weird hissing noise coming from the bathroom sink. I couldn’t place it at first, and it changed in pitch when I moved the hand soap, which made no sense to me at all. I moved the soap back and forth a few times and then my hand got a little wet. Turns out, there’s a hairline crack in the base of the faucet and it’s spraying an almost imperceptible stream out of the left side. Great. Now we need to shut the pump off when we’re not using it until I can replace the faucet.
Red took over the bathroom and I put a second pizza in the oven. We spent the rest of the night relaxing in the keep, gorging on cheap pizza. The new deck lights got Red’s seal of approval. We also broke into the pickled goods, sampling both varieties of pickles and asparagus. The spicy variants didn’t get as hot as I expected, but everything is delicious. Good thing I quadrupled the batch of asparagus this year; that’s going to go quickly next weekend. I started dozing off in the recliner a little after midnight, so I retired to the bedroom and Red pulled out the futon.
For the second night in a row, I woke up around 4:30 to no power. This doesn’t happen while the place isn’t in use, and the only thing that’s different is having the two fans running. There must be enough of a draw differential when the fridge kicks on and the fan motors are running to trip the GFCI. I’ll either have to get a better (more expensive) GFCI outlet or just wire around it. After resetting it, I dropped back off to sleep until about 8:00. Red was already up and about, stirring up the coals in the pit to burn the rest of the railroad ties down. We headed for Aunt Judy’s around 9:30 where the bottomless coffee helped wake us up.
Back at Puckaway, I fed the birds and put out some shell corn and molasses mix for the deer. Red gathered up his stuff and was on the road by 11:00. We had tapped the water barrel earlier this morning, so I filled it from the pump. While the hose was out, I let it fill the outhouse pit. I’ll do this again on Thursday when I come back up; it helps to cut down on the unpleasant aroma.
I spent the rest of the afternoon working in the pole barn. I cleared all my tools off of the workbench so it’s actually usable space, got a new filter in the shop vac, swept the floor, and cleared off the shelves by the side entry door. We’ve got a lot of space in there now. I even set up the Packard Bell computer I got off of craigslist a few years ago. It’s running Windows 98 and it just kind of looks at home up here.
I also continued work on the secret project for next weekend. I’ll have to finish things up at home this week and bring it all back with me. Luckily, I won’t need many tools and can still leave the majority of my stuff up here. I’m also going to leave the ATV trailer up here in the hope that we can fill it with scrap tires to haul back for my dad to dispose of.
I buttoned up the pole barn around 3:30 and headed back to the keep. After vacuuming, wiping down the counters, and putting everything away, the place seemed as ready as ever for Puckaweekend. I was on the road around 5:15.