Hannah and I rolled in at 2:00 with very little in the truck. Most everything we need for Puckaweekend has already been brought up, but I received a mysterious package from Sean’s friend Darius earlier in the week. I was instructed not to open it until everyone arrived. Darius, who couldn’t make it this year, is a fearsome sysadmin; the box makes me nervous.
I turned up the heat in the keep, hooked up the plumbing, and headed to the big trailer. It smells much better now; the AirWicks and DampRid have done a great job. I set out two new containers of DampRid, turned on all the electric heaters and ceiling fans, then fired up my propane sunflower heater in the living room. Shouldn’t take long at all before this place is nice and toasty.
Back outside, I hopped in the truck and went down the road to Lynn and Carol’s to get the pop-up camper out of their pole barn. I parked it along the brick garden and took a few minutes to fill the bird feeders. Almost ended up starting the weekend with an injury by placing the ladder over a mole tunnel. I hate those burrowing vermin. Once that was done, I headed back to the pole barn to blow the leaves away from the buildings and the pit. It was 3:15 and I was just getting started when Red and Gunner showed up.
We unpacked some of his supplies and provisions, set up his cooler by the deck, and settled on a spot to set up the pop-up camper. It’s going up on the other side of the three tall cedars to the east of the big trailer. Sticking to the same spot as last year would put him uncomfortably close to the new outhouse location. I got the mower running and mulched all the leaves around Red’s new yard, then we towed the pop-up over with the green ATV. Had it set up in no time and plugged into the power pole. Red unpacked the rest of his stuff and I tested the pop-up’s propane heater. Works like a charm and should make for comfortable sleeping arrangements.
Hannah and I pulled in around 3:00 pm with a truck full of goodies. On the way up, I stopped at Festival and made my beer run for Puckaweekend. I also had some plywood and more treated lumber to finish off the battlement, our new deer stand. I unloaded all the keep-based goods, then drove to the pole barn, got the ATV and trailer going, and transferred all the building materials over. It’s relatively warm and dry today, but very windy, so I hope I can get this panelling up the ladder without it blowing away.
I’m almost 40, but I’m still building forts.
With my tools and materials loaded onto the trailer, I made my way out to the stand. I spent the next few hours cutting, hauling, and attaching plywood and treated lumber. I also cut down the ladder so it’s easier to get in and out of the stand. I made creative use of my ratcheting tie downs and tow straps: initially to help me carry the panels up the ladder and finally to draw the tops of the slightly bowed 4×4 posts together when framing out the roof. Hannah kept me company and sniffed around the marsh grass, but got excited and distracted when she found a shed deer antler. She was so proud of her quarry and wouldn’t let me grab it.
Came up around 3:00 with the whole family and the ATV trailer in tow. It’s full of treated lumber destined for the marsh; this weekend, I shall rebuild the deer stand. With the scaffolding no longer viable, I looked up some other tower-based stand construction methods and settled on an option that uses a wooden deck mounted on cross-braced 4x4s with purpose-built compound-angle brackets. Here’s hoping I can actually get the thing put together by tomorrow night.
Hannah was happy to be back and got right to sprinting around the yard. I think I broke her by coming up last weekend without her; she’s been acting weird all week. The boys went straight for their Power Wheels and began exploring the edges of the yard, Lyssa started setting things up in the keep, and I got right to work putting together the deck platform.
Pulled in at 5:00 pm to a 55° cloudy and damp evening. Intermittent showers and possible storms are in the forecast all weekend, so I reluctantly left Hannah at home, figuring she wouldn’t have too much fun if she was stuck in the keep all weekend listening to thunder. My truck was full of Puckaweekend and project supplies, so I got right to work stocking the keep with soda, sparkling water, snacks, frozen pizzas, and other goodies. The beer and perishable items will come up in a later trip.
I also had 32 8-foot 2x4s in the bed of the truck. My goal this weekend is to frame out behind the workbench in the pole barn so that the pegboard has something solid to mount to. Right now, it’s just being hung to cover the space between posts and isn’t very useful. I stacked the boards on some sawhorses but had a smaller project I wanted to finish before tackling the pegboard. I brought up some new Kwikset SmartKey door handles for the big trailer because I’m tired of not being able to unlock the back door from the outside and having to fish around my truck for the key to the front door. I replaced both handles and now the keep, pole barn, and big trailer can all be opened with the same key.
Arrived at noon with Hannah and the boys. Kind of a dreary day. Temps hovering around 50° and misty with intermittent sprinkles. Jake was ready to explore right away and Hannah hit the ground running, but Josh was fast asleep in the truck. I let him nap while I doused Jake with bug spray and started unloading. I also turned on the infrared heater in the keep so we’d have somewhere to warm up later.
Jake got out his Power Wheels ATV and black garden cart and started picking up branches for me. I set up a pair of sawhorses in the doorway of the pole barn and laid out the trim boards I brought up for finishing off the new shelves in the keep. I wanted to have them painted and ready at home, but the textured spray paint I bought turned out to be big on texture and not so big on even color coverage, so I had to finish spraying them up here. I took care of this right away to give them as much time to dry as possible.
Rolled in with the whole family after a 10:30 Aunt Judy’s breakfast. The truck’s full of paneling, lumber, and shelves for the Keep Furnace Space Reclamation Project, the only thing on my to-do list for the day.
The boys made a beeline for the pole barn and their Power Wheels, but they needed to be charged up. They seemed equally happy to make use of their new work gloves by gathering all the big fallen branches throughout the yard from last month’s storms. They did a great job of it. Lyssa fed the birds for me while I started in on the keep renovations.
Hannah and I pulled in at 5:00 pm. Lyssa and the boys are down in Kenosha to see their new cousin this weekend and I’m going to be helping my folks make a major push to clear out Mayville while spending my nights here.
My truck will finish what the storm started.
After unloading the truck and getting the keep set up, I grabbed the green ATV and small yard trailer and aired up all the tires. I got the chainsaw out and fueled up, then started work on downing the apple tree that was partly uprooted by Tuesday’s storm. It took three trailer loads to feed the tree remains to the pit, but after an hour, I was left with nothing but a tall stump. I figured that since it had been twisted and snapped by the storm, I’d have a decent chance of pulling it out instead of leaving a flush-cut stump to trip over and mow around. I got my tow rope out of the truck, wrapped it around the remains of the trunk, set my gearbox to 4-low and started tugging. I ended up having to pull from three different angles but eventually got the tree out.
Drove up at 12:30 to survey the damage from last night’s storms. My weather station—which is surrounded by a copse of trees and has never registered winds above 15 mph—showed a peak gust of 40 mph yesterday afternoon. I could also tell from the cameras that my patio table got blown off the deck and something was seriously askew with the apple tree by the pump.
There wasn’t much damage along the roads on the way in, but I saw Peter working outside of his township truck feeding downed limbs into a chipper. He said they had already cleared the worst of the damage. Driving by Danny’s yard, I was shocked by just how high the water was. It went right up to his house. The drainage ditch that crosses the road in front of his house was overwhelmed and had flowed over the road all night and backing up into his lawn.
Jake, Josh, Hannah and I pulled in with the pop-up camper in tow around 2:15. I was going to store it in Lynn and Carol’s pole barn, but Lynn is still in hospice and Carol just had a rummage sale so their building was full. After parking the pop-up behind our pole barn, the boys got out their Power Wheels and roamed the yard while Hannah chased them. I got the tires on the mower aired up and got to work taming the yard. We’re in for a lot of rain next week, so I wanted to get this done before the storms hit.
The grass was taller than the cameras led me to believe. It’s really filling in nicely by my bird feeders and along the ruins of the wood shed. The trench lines are getting fainter, too. Once the boys’ batteries ran low, they decided to help me out by gathering fallen branches for the burnpit. This got cut short when poor Josh got stung by a hornet on his ankle. I checked him out and carried him into the keep where I set the boys up with a movie and got back to mowing.
I don’t know what drove me to do this, but I took these long, panning shots of the yard and marsh in April and November of 1999. I’m glad I did. The difference in the landscape between then and now is astonishing. So much has been cleaned up! And this was shot before we moved the keep to its current spot. And would you just look at the front of the pole barn?! One of these days, I should try to match this shot for shot in a comparison video. If I ever feel like I’m not making progress at Puckaway, I can always watch this for a clear reminder that I most certainly am.