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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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°.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.