Arrived at 4:45 with Hannah to some light rain. We spooked some deer by the woodpile on our way in. Before I even got out of the truck, I drove around the yard targeting mole tunnels. Man, do I hate these things. I’d leave poison out but I don’t want my dog to get into it, and the mid-tunnel traps don’t do much good unless you’re up here regularly enough to keep checking them.
I unloaded the truck and headed into the keep. Watched some TV while I put clothes away in the bedroom and ended up dozing off for a bit. I woke up around 7:00, hungry. I ordered a pizza from Christianos then went out to the pole barn to work on a project so as not to feel completely lazy.
Pulled in at 7:00 with Jake and Hannah. After Josh’s solo overnight last weekend, Jake was ready for his own. We surprised four deer eating acorns in the south yard as we drove in. One bolted right away, one left after I parked the truck, another took off after I revved the engine, but the final deer was enjoying her snack too much to be bothered to move. It wasn’t until I pulled up to the pole barn that she decided it was time to join her friends. Jake, of course, got a big kick out of this.
I set my boy up with one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and he had his A&W dinner at the keep’s kitchen table. I joined him after unloading the truck by the pole barn. Since we arrived kind of late, I don’t have much to tackle projectwise tonight and we can just relax.
Pulled in at 4:00 pm with Hannah and Josh. This is his first solo overnight up here without his big brother and he’s excited. We unloaded the truck and Josh headed to the swing. I opened up the shack and turned on the ceiling fans to help freshen it up. I think I’ll start doing that every trip up to keep mildew at bay.
My next stop was the outhouse. This year, we’ve had several hatches of little black flies in there. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before, honestly. Between them, the spiders, moths, and crickets, it’s getting a little too crowded in there for my tastes. I brought up a four-pack of bug bomb with me today, so I grabbed one can, tied it to some twine, and lowered it down to just above the, uh, “waterline” in the pit below before tying the line off. I placed another can on the bench next to the seat, raised first can, and activated them both before dropping it back down below. I held my breath and shut the door. I’ll give this a few hours to sort itself out.
The whole family pulled in at 6:15 with some hot, carry-out pizza from Christianos. The boys were still talking about the huge buck we saw along Reetz Rd. on the way in. I couldn’t count points, but given the spread, height, and density of the tines, I’d guess it was in the mid to upper teens. We ate in the keep, then I unloaded the truck in(!) the pole barn. The increased real estate in there is still jarring. The boys showed Lyssa their fort and took turns getting pushed on the swing while I unpacked.
To make it a little more welcoming for my wife, I took the shop-vac out to the outhouse and cleared out the spiderwebs, sand, and other unpleasantness. While I was sucking out the stinkhouse, Jake and Josh walked Lyssa out to the battlement to enjoy the view and Hannah padded along after them.
The whole family made our way up around 5:00 in sultry conditions. The first thing I did was start up the AC and fans in the keep and shack, as well as the shack fridge as the Voights will be making use of it this weekend. Lyssa started unloading the truck while the boys wandered the grounds and I got out some penetrating grease to address the obnoxiously squeaky hinge on the keep’s screen door.
A little after 5:30, the Voights arrived with the blue utility trailer in tow and full of brush to burn. I got the boys’ Power Wheels out and they were all off exploring. Even Allison got to ride along. I gave Red a hand unhooking the trailer while he and Jenny settled into the shack. Gunner’s excited barking over the Power Wheels prompted a response from Buck next door. Glad Danny was able to find him again.
Pulled in at 4:30 pm with Hannah and got right to work cleaning up the keep’s fridge so I could get it turned on for the year. The goal this weekend is to get everything cleaned and prepped so we can all come up next week for June Dairy Days.
Once the fridge was ready, I unloaded the truck and started a project I’ve been waiting to work on since Christmas. Lyssa gave me a really cool carved owl statue for up here but it needs a few coats of lacquer before it can be left out in the elements. I brushed on the first coat and trained a fan on it to keep the bugs away while it dried.
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.
Drove up with the whole family and a fully loaded pickup truck at 3:30. We brought Josh’s Power Wheels UTV, and the only place it would fit was on top of the tonneau cover. The bed was full with our clothes, cooler, stuff for the boys, and the last big-ticket items I needed for my upcoming electrical project. We also had the boys’ new ATV helmets, which they couldn’t wait to put on. I took Josh’s UTV down from the truck and he and Jake went racing around the yard in their new gear. I unloaded my generator, a spool of 320 feet of underground cable, and a tote full of extension cords and stashed everything in the pole barn, then gave Lyssa a hand getting all our stuff into the keep.
We were taking rides with the real ATV when the Voights pulled in. This is Allison’s first time up. Gunner and Hannah immediately took turns chasing each other around the brick garden. The boys were happy to see Emmett and the three of them each grabbed their own Power Wheels and went off exploring the grounds. Red and Jenny took turns on baby duty while setting up the big trailer for themselves. I organized the pole barn for a bit while they settled in and Lyssa was getting things ready for dinner. We got the grill going around 5:45 and each family took turns on it. We ate on the deck; the weather is perfect for this time of year.
We pulled in around noon in two vehicles; Lyssa’s on call at the hospital this weekend and may need to go in on short notice. Jake and Hannah rode in the truck with me, Josh kept Lyssa company in the car. The boys finished eating their Culver’s and were quickly off playing with their trucks and tools in the sawdust pile “quarry”. Lyssa unpacked our stuff in the keep while I set out to put the finishing touches on the Outhouse Relocation Initiative.
A vastly improved view.
First, I wanted to address the old outhouse location. I certainly didn’t need Hannah messing around in there. I grabbed the green ATV and small yard trailer to collect all the bricks around the pit. Then I dug around the outside of the buried metal retaining ring and piled the dirt in the middle. Once I was about four inches below ground level all around the ring, I got out my sawzall and sliced the ring as far down as I could reach. I levelled out the dirt as best I could and with that the site was retired. I’ll need to fill in with more dirt later to even out the area, but it looks much better than it did.