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Log: December 29, 2015

Put the truck in 4-wheel-drive and broke through the fresh snow in the driveway around 2:00 pm. We got our first real snowfall of the year overnight, and it came as a major snowstorm. Oshkosh got about 8 to 12 inches, with drifts over 2 feet. Things seem to have been calmer here in Green Lake County, with only 4 to 6 inches on the ground and not much drifting at all. Beautiful day, no wind and temperatures hovering around the mid-20s. Snow keeps everything peaceful and clean up here.

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The pit will not be deterred by mere snow.

Unloaded the summer tires and wheels for Lyssa’s car from the truck bed and stacked them in the pole barn for the winter. Danny pulled in as I was finishing and we talked for almost an hour. I finally got a chance to ask if he could ever hear the music from the pole barn, or just us in general when we’re up here, and if it was a bother. “Oh sure, I can hear you guys if I’m working out back. But if you were bothering me, I’d let you know it!” Apparently, we pass the Good Neighbor test.

After Danny left, I turned my attention to the remaining contents of the truck bed: cardboard, scrap wood, and a broken tote to get burned. I could still make out the depression of the pit in the fresh snow, so I stacked everything over it and lit the pile. It didn’t take long for the surrounding snow to melt (then boil) away. The pit is an all-season utility.

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Log: December 6, 2015

Lyssa, the boys, and I drove up in the truck and enjoyed a late Aunt Judy’s breakfast around 11:00. Josh’s first trip to Aunt Judy’s, as well as the first time the four of us have gone out to eat together, period. The boys did a great job, even prompting a compliment on their behavior from an older couple at the next table. Jake and I each had our respective “usual” breakfasts, Lyssa ordered an omelette, and Josh shared off of all of our plates. Bellies full, we headed to Puckaway.

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Work gloves are a must for helping out at Puckaway.

Temperatures hovered right above freezing all day, but the boys kept busy and warm in their coats, hats, and gloves. Jake got out all of his trucks and construction toys and tried getting Josh interested in a leaf-pickup operation. Josh would have none of it; he just wanted to explore. More than once, Lyssa had to retrieve him from the outer bounds of the yard. I can’t wait until he gets a little older and can come up for overnight trips with me and Jake.

The main purpose of this daytrip was to make a seasonal storage swap. We brought up the push lawnmower from Oshkosh to keep in the pole barn for the winter and traded it for Lyssa’s snow tires, the sleds, and our Christmas lawn decorations. After loading up the truck, I made my way over to the keep to check on things. Farmer Joe must follow the old camping rule, “always leave things cleaner than you found them” because the place was immaculate. No smell to the place at all except for the faint “new construction” aroma around the door frame. I made sure all the totes were secured and as critter-proof as possible and locked up. Probably won’t be back in there until spring.

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Log: December 4 and 5, 2015

Friday

Janine and I embarked on our trip to Puckaway shortly after 7pm, excited to be leaving the farm for awhile. We decided to eat at Center House before setting up at the keep to ensure we wouldn’t miss the fish fry. Arriving, we both ordered the all-you-can-eat fish with salad bar with brandy old-fashioned sweets. The bar was rather quiet with only about 6 others there. Our food was quickly served and delicious it was! We made it to Puckaway around 9:40. I had difficulty finding the keys for the pole shed and the keep. Luckily, my better half helped locate them. Upon walking into the keep, we realized we forgot to bring bedding along and Jeff had taken most with him for winter storage. I remembered Jeff had a few storage totes in the closet. Sure enough, the keep provided just what we needed!

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We fired up the portable quartz heater and settled in to watch movies. The temp inside was a brisk 45° and we laughed that we could see our breath. Cedar Rapids was our first movie choice followed by Date Night, which we fell asleep watching. Temp was around 52° when we crashed.

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Log: Deer Camp 2015 (November 20 – 22)

Friday

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We’re going to need a bigger grill.

Arrived around 5:30 and unloaded quickly—temperatures are hovering around freezing. Brought up bedding for the futon and the infrared heater. I plan to stay in the keep this weekend but will be leaving the bedroom and bathroom doors closed to help it stay warm. Fired up the heater immediately and lit some candles to give it a boost. I set up the sheets and comforter on the futon and put away the only other things I brought up: my clothes and overnight bag. This weekend, I’m just here to relax.

Headed over to the big trailer where Dad, Steve, and his son Sam had already settled in. Dad was frying up mushrooms to go with the massive steaks that Steve brought up from Leroy Meats. Steve and I headed out to the pole barn to get the grill and struggled to get it to light properly. I cleaned it out thoroughly with the air compressor, but we still couldn’t coax much more than an anemic flame from it. Dad resigned to trying to cook from what we had, but managed to extinguish the burners just by slamming the lid. It seemed like all hope might be lost, but upon relighting, the grill roared to life. The propane regulator must be over-sensitive or something. At least we got it going.

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Log: Puckaweekend 2015 (October 21 – 25)

Wednesday

October 21, 2015: Welcome to the future, everyone.

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The new mower does excellent work. I was able to reconquer the marsh trails in record time.

Had an unusual detour on the way here. All traffic on Hwy 23 around the golf course was being routed onto some narrow country roads for what I later found out was an accident involving a semi trailer full of carrots. Took about 15 minutes longer than I would have liked, but I arrived at 4:30 pm in a relatively empty truck. Beautiful day: sunny, breezy, and in the upper 60s. Everything I need for the long weekend is already here, hauled up last trip, so I was able to get right to work. Opened up the keep and the pole barn and set out to finish mowing the overgrown marsh trails. I debated using the older Craftsman mower for this to save wear and tear on the new one, but this part of the marsh is much flatter than it used to be and the new mower cuts wider swaths and bogs down less. The trails were tamed in short order—by the time I lost daylight, all the areas I had cleared last fall were cut again, now several feet wider in most places. I parked the mower and headed inside for the night.

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Log: October 17 and 18, 2015

Saturday

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°.

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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.

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Log: October 10 and 11, 2015

Saturday

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The new outdoor outlets. The left pair is always live and each outlet on the right is controlled by a switch inside the trailer to power the deck and outhouse lights respectively.

Arrived a little before 5:00 pm with Lyssa. My folks have the boys so we can go out for our anniversary this weekend. We’ve got reservations at Grey Rock in Green Lake, so we’re staying here for the night. The fall colors are just starting to creep in; lots of yellow leaves toward the south end of the property and the maple over the deck is already bright red. Lyssa remarked right away upon opening the trailer how nice and “homey” things are getting around here. The place looks (and smells!) pretty great.

With our reservations at 7:15, there was just enough time to finish a small project before we left for dinner. I started securing the deck lights to the railings. I also brought up and set out four more deck chairs that I had picked up on Craigslist. Before the sun even started setting, I heard a pair of owls start calling from across the road. Seemed pretty early for them to be up and about.

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Log: September 25 and 26, 2015

Friday

Jake had been asking about an overnight Puckaway trip since our last quick ride up, so I surprised him today at school with a loaded truck ready to head west. We stopped at the Dollar General in Princeton on our way for snacks and supplies. I keep underestimating that store… They have tubes of silicone! I could have saved myself a trip to Berlin earlier this summer when I was hanging the door. Picked up a full-size kitchen trash can, some white spray paint, bleach cleaner, and Lysol. Jake picked out some Hot Wheels, orange soda, and snacks. After narrowly avoiding being sidelined by the Princeton Homecoming parade, we ended up at Puckaway around 3:30. Still unusually warm for this time of year, it hovered around 70 for most of the afternoon.

As soon as we pulled in, I brought a cooler into my trailer to transfer some very precious cargo to the fridge. Four dozen pickled eggs, and a jar each of pickled mushrooms and asparagus now wait in the trailer for Puckaweekend. We opened up Jake’s new Hot Wheels and he started playing with them on the deck.

I made a quick pass around the front of my trailer and the brickpile garden with the mower. The grass wasn’t very high, but I needed it cut before moving onto our first project for the afternoon. Jake kept after me about going to see the deer bones he found the last time he was up here, so I gathered them up in a pail and laid them out on the picnic table. He had his work gloves on and was really interested in seeing how they all fit together and what they were for. It’s a little macabre but also cool to see him get so into learning.

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Log: September 23, 2015

Lyssa, Jake, Josh and I rode up around 4:00 for a quick delivery trip. Earlier in the week, Dad dropped off the blue utility trailer in Oshkosh. We hauled it here as the plan is to use it to carry the appliances from the pole barn off to the scrap yard. Also had a few other items to bring up, including outlets, wiring, conduit, switches, and lights for the deck.

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Dumped some brush from the yard in Oshkosh into the burnpit and parked the trailer by the stack of appliances. That’ll be a project for another day. We took the boys on a few ATV rides and they both got a kick out of throwing pebbles in the river at the boat landing. Jake noticed some deer bones at the edge of the yard. He was fascinated with them and the concept of dead deer in general to the point I’m starting to worry that we’re raising a little Tim Burton. Still, at least he’s interested in learning about things instead of being afraid of them. Josh cried when we took him off the four-wheeler. Thataboy, Josh.

Tidied up a little in the trailer, putting linens away and dressing the bed. Jake was bummed that we couldn’t stay overnight, but we left around 8:00. Quick (but fun!) family trip.

Log: September 12 and 13, 2015

Saturday

Rode up around 5:00 with my tools and some goodies from Menards. It’s been unseasonably cool lately but things are warming back up for the weekend. The first thing I noticed upon unlocking the door and stepping into the trailer is that the place smells great! I think the cabinet renovation took care of the worst of the pest infestation as my two mousetraps remain un-tripped. The true test will come when the weather turns cold and the little critters start looking for somewhere out of the elements to hunker down. Keep looking, you monsters; no vacancy.

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Unloaded the truck and got to work putting the finishing touches on the recent trailer improvements. I capped the holes in the kitchen sink that were left from taking out the useless faucet and installed carpet edging around the new lineoleum. I also brought up carpet edging for the bathroom door, a trim strip for the carpet seam in the hallway, and some quarter-round for the base of the kitchen cabinet and walls. I will save that work for another trip, however. My main focus now is the pole barn.

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