Hannah, the boys, and I pulled in at 5:30 towing the ATV trailer full of furniture. I’ve already had a busy weekend shuffling couches and chairs around. My folks got new living room furniture a few weeks ago, so yesterday afternoon, Dad and I headed up to Presque Isle with the old couch, loveseat, chair and recliner from their house. We stayed the night up there and swapped out all four pieces earlier this morning. Back in Oshkosh, we swapped the recliner for the one in Dad’s basement, then headed to my house to swap the couch and loveseat for the ones we had on the front porch. This is the final leg of the journey. The chair from Presque Isle will end up in the keep. The couch and chairs from my porch, along with the recliner from my folks’ basement, are destined for the shack. Finally, the furniture currently in the shack has a date with the burnpit.

For now, that’s all got to wait; we narrowly avoided the rain on our way in, so I backed the ATV trailer into the pole barn to keep everything nice and dry. There wasn’t much to the front and the rain let up within 20 minutes. The boys kept busy with their fort, Power Wheels, and the swing while I headed over to the shack.

I started by getting as much out of the living room as possible. I packed up the totes of DVDs and moved them, along with the table and chairs, coffee table, and the contents of the entertainment center, into Dad’s bedroom. I tossed the busted recliner and mouse-chewed glider out the front door and turned my attention to the pull-out couch. I really didn’t want to wrestle this whole, heavy thing if I could help it.

I tipped the couch onto its back and noticed that the bed assembly was only attached to the wooden couch frame by four bolts and four screws. I got some tools from the pole barn and separated the two frames. From there, it was easy to break off the front of the couch and drag the arms and back out the door.

All that was left was the entertainment center. We won’t need it anymore since I’ve got a wall-mount for the 40″ TV I brought up last weekend, which is good since this thing is in rough shape: moldy and delaminating. After some shoving and swearing, I managed to get this out the door and onto the growing pile of burnpit fuel.

A rare opportunity to fully take in the glory of this green carpet.

I had the shack’s living room completely emptied out by 7:45. It was getting dark and the boys wanted to head in for the night. They’ve been very patient with me and have been playing really well together, so the three of us drove into town to reward them with root beer floats. They seemed just as happy with this version of a “night ride” as when we take one on an ATV.

Before running through A&W, I stopped in at Dollar General for some cleaning supplies. I got a bunch of paper towels, Windex, and some bleach-based cleaner for the walls and surfaces in the shack. I also picked up some carpet freshening powder. I had originally planned on running my steam vac before moving in the new furniture, but as damp as that building gets, I don’t think the floor would ever dry. The powder works great at home for our basement, so I figured it was worth a shot.

We got back to the keep a little before 8:30 and the boys enjoyed their floats in their jammies while watching Infinity Train. I got them set up on the futon and headed back to the shack. I vacuumed thoroughly, making multiple passes after liberally sprinkling carpet powder.

Not quite ready to start scouring the walls with bleach, I walked out to the pole barn to grab the handcart. One piece at a time, I lugged all of the old furniture over to the burn pit and stacked it up. At 9:30, I lit one of the couch cushions with my propane torch. In less than a minute I was looking at one of the biggest, brightest fires this place has ever seen. Not only were the flames plenty tall, but it threw off so much light that you could see clear to the edges of the yard everywhere you looked. It was hard to get any closer to it than the edge of the pole barn.

It may have burned hot, but it also burned fast. The inferno was reduced to a small pile of flaming embers by 9:55. With the fire under control, I made my way over to the keep to check on the boys. Josh was already asleep but Jake was still watching TV. I kissed my kiddos goodnight and headed back to the shack for some serious cleaning.

I got the bleach cleaner and started with the wall that butts up against the kitchen so I could hang the TV and have something to watch while I did the rest of the room. I got the Pi hooked up and put on some Voyager episodes, then made my way around the room, methodically spraying down all of the wall panels and washing the windows. A disturbing amount of brown/black crud was accumulating on my paper towels as I wiped the walls down. This was certainly overdue.

I had the room scrubbed by 11:00 and decided to call it a night. I made it back to the keep, resituated the boys on the futon to tuck them in a bit better, let Hannah out one more time, and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


The boys were up characteristically early, but kept themselves busy on their 3DSes while I convinced my sore muscles to get out of bed. I had all of us dressed and ready by 8:00 and we were headed to Aunt Judy’s by 8:30. Joshua had a chocolate chip pancake again and almost ate the whole thing. Jacob destroyed a ham and cheese omelet and then finished off his brother’s pancake. These boys sure bring their appetites.

We were back at Puckaway by 9:30. We had an earlier-than-usual breakfast run today because I’m meeting someone from MPB Builders at 10:00 to get an estimate on repairing the pole barn roof and to discuss possible options for either raising the roof or adding an expansion with a taller ceiling.

While I was waiting, the boys were looking for a project. I pointed out to them that the long, skinny bricks in the pile by the woodshed ruins were theirs for the taking if they wanted them for their fort. Jake grabbed his wagon and the two got busy hauling. I got a call from Jerry at MPB that he was running a little late, so I turned my attention back to the shack.

I towed the ATV trailer over to the shack and started hauling furniture in. The recliner was easy since the back was detachable, but the loveseat and couch required some finesse and advanced geometry lessons. I was just barely able to get the couch to fit through the doorway after I removed the rear legs and somehow managed to lift it while it was tilted in at a 45 degree angle. I was just getting the legs screwed back in when the boys ran in to tell me someone was here.

I showed Jerry around the pole barn and explained our goals. He shot down my idea of raising an existing section of the pole barn, saying it wouldn’t be cost effective. He’s going to quote us on replacing the roof hardware and removing the fiberglass “skylight” panels, and also on a 20-foot expansion along the back wall that would be tall enough to accomodate a 10-foot garage door. Jerry also owns an antique store in Princeton and was very interested in some of the things in and around the pole barn. I need to get him and Mom up here at the same time so they can do some American Pickers deals.

Our guest left a little before noon and I headed back into the shack. I did my best to clean up the wiring for the network equipment, battery backup, antenna amplifier, and rotor control, mounting as much as I could on the wall behind the couch. After wiping it down, I moved the coffee table under the TV. I brought the table and chairs back in and tweaked the room layout a few times before settling on something that works a lot better than it did before.

At 1:30, I had to stop to move the ATV trailer back into the pole barn as it was starting to drizzle and I still had one more chair to move into the keep. I made the boys a pizza and once again headed back to the shack to finish my cleanup project. I wiped down all the pictures, prints, figures, and paintings and hung them back up on the walls. The living room was finally done and looking better than it had since my grandparents were still making regular trips up.

Around 3:30, I started my last furniture moves of the weekend. I cleared a runway in the keep and got the old green chair out of there. I brought around the ATV trailer and lugged the nice new chair in. It’s much bigger than the one it’s replacing, but after repositioning the TV cabinet, everything fit rather nicely.

I put the green chair in the pole barn for the time being, then started gathering up all the trash from the keep, pole barn, and shack. I closed up the shack, happy with the progress I was able to make in just a day’s time. The boys and I took a quick ATV ride, then we closed up the pole barn, too. Jake and Josh wanted to show me the little farm they had built out of the bricks they gathered earlier. They made a grain storage bin and a place to feed cows. I love seeing them getting creative and using their imaginations up here.

I loaded up the truck and got the keep closed up. Beat, but feeling oddly triumphant, I pulled out of the driveway at 6:15. For a long time now, I’ve dismissed the shack as being beyond saving. In the long term, that’s still true. The underside is largely uninsulated thanks to raccoons ripping out the subfloor. The roof is deteriorating. It’s old, settling unevenly, and it would take more work than it’s worth to get it fixed up again. But the living room transformation I was able to achieve this weekend shows I can at least make the best of it in the meantime. And now it feels like there’s no project at Puckaway too big to take on.