Ready for action!
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.
Flying trip today. Came down a very wet driveway at 2:45 pm with a truck bed full of tools and building materials from Mayville. My folks are making the final push to sell that place, and I’m happy to help just to be rid of it. I made some room in the pole barn for all the sheets of OSB and panelling from the Mayville garage and had the truck emptied in about ten minutes. As long as I was here and heading back to Mayville, I figured I’d make the most of it. I backed up the truck to the scrap pile and heaved the burn barrel into the bed. Farmer Joe expressed some interest in this a while back, so today he’s getting it delivered. Rolled out around 3:30.
Pulled in at 3:30. No pooch; don’t want to risk someone mistaking her for a deer. Temperatures were hovering just above freezing with on-and-off rain and I was looking forward to heading into a nice, pre-warmed keep. It was not to be. Apparently, there was a power outage between Tuesday and today; microwave clock was reset and the heater wasn’t running. Lovely. I went to the pole barn to get my propane sunflower heater to kickstart the keep thawing process, but it was nowhere to be found. Frustrated, I headed into the big trailer and saw Dad was using it in the living room. He, Steve, and Sam were already plenty warm and had electric heaters going anyway, so I grumbled, stole my propane gear back, and headed out to the keep again.
With the sunflower heater blasting warmth, I finally unloaded the truck. I carried the water jugs over to the big trailer and had a drink with the guys while the keep warmed up. I didn’t stick around long, though. The big trailer reeks. Pretty sure mice have made some kind of home in the oven. The whole place smells like boiled rodent urine. Not sure how the three of them can stand it. I wandered back to the keep and threw on a movie while I started to rebuild the Puckanet. I replaced the router with a Unifi gateway to give me some more remote control and data. And hopefully, if I ever find a way around Verizon’s NAT mess, I can use the gateway for VPN connections to my home network instead of relying on the Pi. The Puckanet is constantly evolving.
Pulled in around 4:00 pm in a fairly empty pickup. All of my tools and goodies for the weekend were brought up last weekend, so all I really needed today was my duffle bag. Well, that and the final parts for the secret project I started last trip up. I brought everything into the keep between intermittent rain showers and got to work on the final big project for Puckaweekend: hot and cold running water.
Of course, cold running water has been a reality up here since early this summer, but I wanted to take it further. I picked up a outdoor, propane-fueled, tankless water heater on Amazon and built it into a “backpack” I could hang on the back of the keep. This setup also contains the pump that was previously mounted beneath the bathroom sink. All connections are centralized (propane supply, power outlet for the pump, water supply, hot output and cold output) and can be disconnected to store the backpack safely indoors for the winter. I ran my new hot water lines to both sinks, fixed my cold water connections beneath the bathroom sink to accommodate for the relocated pump, and ran an extension cord out to the backpack to run the pump in its new spot. I also replaced the kitchen and bathroom faucets with ones that sported both hot and cold taps (and the bathroom one was busted anyway). Finally, I added a hot water supply branch for the new shower head that came with the water heater. It has a supply shutoff switch right on the handle so there’s no need to plumb in a shower faucet. It was nearly dark by the time I finished setting everything up and, thankfully, it worked flawlessly during the first test. No leaks anywhere and 120° water within seconds of turning on a tap.
I pulled in at 11:30 with a truck full of tools, painting supplies, and a big ol’ 36″ prehung, outswing, exterior door I found for cheap on craigslist. It’ll eventually adorn the new outhouse, but for now it goes in the pole barn. Unloaded the rest of the tools and drove over to the keep where I hauled in my clothes, some clean towels and sheets, two flats of bottled water, and a cooler full of my latest batch of pickled goods. They now bide their time in the keep fridge, awaiting the brave souls who shall attend Puckaweekend 2016.
From left to right: garlic mushrooms, mustard/Tabasco eggs, horseradish eggs, pickles, Hell pickles, spicy garlic asparagus, Inferno asparagus.
With the truck emptied out and the pole barn jukebox playing some 70’s rock, it was time to set my sights on the big project of the weekend: painting the keep. I finally have a stretch of days with weather that lends itself well to painting outdoors (it’s supposed to stay under 80° with low humidity and plenty of sun all weekend), and I’m planning on making the most of it.
However, before I could even crack open a can of paint, I needed to prep the keep. I filled the bird feeders, then hauled the ladder onto the deck and used it to get a good look at the roof. What a mess. Years of leaves and small branches have piled up, decomposing into dirt in spots, the edging is pulling away in several places, the main vent pipe for the furnace is not connected to anything, and there’s grime and moss everywhere. I brought a leaf blower up and blasted the majority of the compost away, then took some sheet metal screws and secured the trim and the vent. Now it was time for the heavy equipment.
Pulled in at 10 pm and backed the truck up inside the pole barn to get out of the rain. Unloaded my tools, the patched-up mower blower components, and a few sheets of OSB. We had used them as makeshift tables for our garage sale in Oshkosh, but I plan on building a leaf-collection trailer box out of them. While I was still in the pole barn, I used my phone as a hotspot to download the latest Kodi update and sync the OneDrive account on the jukebox PC. I also copied the most recent music collection update off of my USB drive.
The rain let up, so I drove over to the keep to unload more goodies and settle in for the night. Since the pressure washer pump setup worked so well, I bought a second pump, reservoir, and strainer to use in the keep. This way, I can pursue the indoor plumbing project without sacrificing the ability to keep things clean outside. I grabbed a beer from the fridge and watched some Netflix for a bit before heading to bed around 11:30.
I love seeing these guys at the feeders. At one point there were seven of them at the same time.
Up around 7:30 and on my way to Aunt Judy’s soon after. Several of the staff including Judy herself made a point to ask where my little buddy was. My waffle-eater is a local celebrity. After enjoying a ham and cheese omelet and several cups of coffee, I headed back to Puckaway to get a day’s worth of projects underway. I started by filling the feeders. The squirrels have no problem getting up and down the pole now that they’re used to it being there, so I need to hurry up and build a baffle if I want the seed to last between trips. The new setup definitely draws more birds; we had chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, house finches, juncos, downy woodpeckers, and even a red-bellied woodpecker. I’ll need to clear some of the gnarly low branches in this part of the yard to open things up a little better for them all.
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.
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.
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.
Rolled in around 11:00 am with a new riding mower on the back of the truck. It’s an early-2000s Sabre (budget John Deere) model with a 48″ deck. Dad bought it from Linda and Dennis now that they’ve sold their house in Campbellsport. I had taken it home, washed it up, and given it a tune-up. I was also going to get new mulching blades for it but ended up ordering the wrong fitment; I’ll have to bring them up another time. The mower itself is in great shape but the bagging accessories look like they’ve been through hell and back. The bag unit itself is completely unsalvageable and the chute and blower assembly will require a lot of creative patching to get up and running again. But at least it cuts. I used the ATV ramps to unload the mower and decided to try it out by trimming the areas of the yard I had mowed/mulched last month. Even with dull, worn blades, it made quick work of cutting. I even tried a few areas with a lot of leaves and it never bogged down once. I can only imagine how well it’ll do when it’s got proper, sharp, mulching blades.
I was just finishing up cutting around 12:45 when Red and Gunner pulled in, trailer in tow. Red’s mission this weekend is to gather up the aluminum cans he stored here several years back and cash them in. It didn’t take Gunner long to go into “Puckaway mode” and start sprinting huge laps around the yard. He’ll sleep well.