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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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Pickled Eggs Part 3: The New Batch

Puckaweekend grows ever closer. As I write this, it’s a little over six weeks away, so this is the perfect time to brew up a new round of pickled eggs to bring to the party.

The first efforts went over quite well considering this was something I’d never tried to do before. The mustard eggs and horseradish eggs were the clear favorites, so this time around I made two large jars of each. While I didn’t deviate far from the original recipes, I did end up making some minor adjustments to both varieties. The mustard eggs got a little heat help from a heaping teaspoon of red pepper flakes, I subbed garlic Tabasco for the standard variety, and I added some onion powder to broaden the flavor a bit. The horseradish kind got a double-dose of its namesake and this time I added it after boiling the vinegar and dry ingredients. I think I lost some of the potency last time that way. Also, as it was in season this time around, each jar has some fresh dill. I minced, rather than crushed, the fresh garlic for this batch. I have no idea whether that’ll make much of a difference, but it was certainly easier. Besides, I needed a bunch of minced garlic for a new experiment.

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Log: August 30, 2015

Walked over to Paco’s around 9:00 am to start the process of loading the garden shed onto Peter’s flatbed trailer. Since Paco’s backyard is fenced in, we began by removing a section of chain-link fence. It came away in one piece except for the center pole, which we had to cut at the base. I emptied the shed and took out all the shelves to make it as light as possible, then jacked it up at the doorway so I could side a pipe under the frame. I wrapped a long chain around the base, cinched it up in front of the shed, and grabbed it with the blue ATV’s winch hook. After some initial hesitation, the shed starting rolling across the pipe. Paco and I alternated between positioning pipes and pushing and turning the shed to clear a tight corner between his garage and his kids’ playset. Once we got out in the open, I went back to winching from the ATV while Paco laid out pipes.

Once we had the shed lined up with the trailer, we had to switch tactics. I traded the ATV for my truck and hooked up to the trailer. With the fence out of the way, I could back a few feet further into the yard, clearing the house and giving us more room to work. We attached the trailer ramps and used my new come-along to slowly ratchet the shed up the trailer deck. It took some finesse, but we eventually got it positioned perfectly on the front of the trailer. I pulled out of Paco’s yard as carefully as possible but, because of the added weight of the shed, managed to scalp a 4 foot section of sod. At least it was easy to put back. I parked on the street and helped Paco put his fence back together. We kept his sawed-off fence pole in place with some rebar; you’d never know it had been modified. I backed the trailer into my driveway to finish securing the load and took a break for lunch.

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Log: August 27, 2015

Jake and I came up for a quick trip around 4:30 and rode the blue ATV over to Peter’s to ask to borrow his big flatbed trailer. The plan is to take it back to Oshkosh to transport a garden shed from Paco’s house. Peter was happy to lend it out. Jake and I ran the ATV back to the pole barn and drove my truck down the service road in Peter’s woods where he keeps the trailer parked. I let Jake sit in the front seat for this little excursion and he was really excited.

When we got to the trailer, Peter was there waiting to help us hook it up. I carefully and slowly wound my way back down the service road and pulled back into the yard to check the tire pressure and trailer lights. One of the rear lenses was broken and all the tires needed airing up, but everything was otherwise in great shape. As I was airing the tires, Peter stopped in with a replacement light assembly, so he must have been thinking about the same thing. He’s a great neighbor; I owe him a beer or several for all this.

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Log: August 21-23, 2015

Friday

Came up a little after 4:00 pm with a full truck bed of tools and building materials. Warmer and more humid than I expected. I wasn’t here five minutes and a UPS truck rolled up the driveway. The experiment worked! Amazon and UPS consider this a valid shipping address, so I got a new TV antenna for my trailer delivered right to Puckaway. I unloaded my tools, the new storm door for my trailer, and the salvaged countertops I got for free on craigslist and went hunting for a pole I could use to hang the antenna.

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I found three pipes of varying diameters and built an antenna mast. I drilled through the two larger pipes about two feet from the end and ran bolts through. This let the next smaller pipe “stack” inside and netted me about 30 feet of overall height for the antenna. I temporarily strapped the pole to the side of the deck, hooked up the TV, and scanned for channels. I was able to pull CBS, ABC, and FOX from Madison. Not bad for $30. I’m sure I could get more channels if I could raise the antenna even further, but I had more pressing tasks ahead.

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