It’s time once again to take a look back at the projects and progress that defined another year at Puckaway. This now the fourth year-in-review post in the series, and it’s pretty incredible to binge-read these and see just how much we’ve accomplished.
This year’s first trip was all about getting work done. Peter, ever the helpful neighbor, was borrowing a SkyTrak and brought it over to trim the trees leaning over the pole barn. This put a welcome hole in the sky and helped me feel a lot less nervous about storms and high winds taking out a building.
Quick run today. Got here at 1:15 pm pulling an empty ATV trailer. I parked this to the southeast of the pole barn to keep it out of sight from the road but in view of the cameras, then drove down the road to Lynn and Carol’s. Lynn passed away last month after a long battle with cancer, but he made it years longer than his doctors expected him to and spent the majority of them at home and doing what he loved. I hope he was buried with at least one of his many caps.
Carol will be moving to a retirement home and they’re selling the property, so we need to get the pop-up camper and pontoon boat out of their pole barn. I took the afternoon off of work to handle this today as temps are warming up and I’d much rather move things around in snow than mud. I didn’t see anyone home but the pole barn door was open so I hooked the truck up to the pop-up and hauled it back. It just fits in the pole barn.
When I went back for the pontoon, one of Lynn’s sons was there and Peter was pulling in their driveway on his tractor. He’s helping them clear some debris from the back half of the land. If our new neighbor ends up half as decent as Peter, we’ll have it made. With Peter’s help, I rolled the pontoon out and into the driveway and coupled it to the truck. I pulled this next to the ATV trailer where it’ll have to stay until we find some other storage solution as it’s too big to fit through our pole barn doors. I headed back out around 2:00.
Happy New Year! Hannah and I pulled in at 2:30 for a quick supply run. We got around 6 inches of snow yesterday and I certainly don’t feel like clearing it all by hand. I backed up to the pole barn and hooked up to the ATV trailer, pulled it out of the barn, and rolled the mower from Mayville (which, by the way, finally sold last month!!!) off of it. I then fired up the blue ATV and drove it on, dragged the plow up behind it, and pulled Dad’s snowblower on as well.
Jake and I drove in around 4:00 pm and were the fourth vehicle here. Dad made it up around 12:30, Steve followed a half-hour later, and Sammy rolled in a little before 3:30. Temps are just below freezing but there’s no snow. I unloaded our gear into the keep and fired up the propane sunflower heater and two electric heaters while Jake ran to the big trailer to show Papa his new blaze-orange jacket. I also took a few minutes to install the storm windows.
We all hung out in the big trailer for the rest of the night. I showed the guys how to work the new Kodi box to stream all the movies and TV shows off of the PC in the keep. Even with all the new options available, we still ended up watching a bunch of Seinfeld. Dad started getting dinner ready and Steve kept busy trying to solo a bottle of Crown Royal Maple.
Pulled in with Dad, Jake, Josh, and Hannah at 12:30. It had snowed last night but most of it already melted this morning. Temps were hovering just above freezing. We unloaded some of Dad’s stuff into the big trailer before moving to the pole barn and loading up the ATVs and a yard trailer with gear for the battlement.
This was the first time Dad got to see his new stand in person and he was effusive with appreciation. I gave him a hand stapling some camo netting to the outside of the plywood walls and he tried out his homebuilt risers for his collapsible chair. We also secured a tarp to the roof frame; using the metal roof panels will have to wait until next year.
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.