Lyssa, the boys, and I pulled in at 11:00 after breakfast at Aunt Judy’s. Heading down the driveway, I was nervous that the new paint on the keep might not have held up through the big storms that rolled through this past week, but the place looks absolutely great. On our way up, we had stopped at J&A for a deer block. They were out of stock and won’t have more until Tuesday, so I got a bag of molasses-based feed and two bags of shell corn instead. I unloaded the boys’ power wheels from the back of the truck and they were off to the races. I carried the goods from J&A to the garden shed and got a bummer of a surprise upon opening it up. I had left a full 50-lb bag of sunflower seed in there without sealing it in one of the containers and the chipmunks had completely looted it. So much for filling the bird feeders. I spread the remains of the bag, the molasses mix, and some shell corn in the area behind the feeders and made sure the rest of my new purchases were secured in critter-proof cans. Chipmunks suck.
Musty paneling sure gets hot in a hurry.
I’ve got two goals today: collect building materials to build a new outhouse, and clean up fallen branches and brush around the yard. I knew there was a good-sized stack of exterior pine board paneling under the big house trailer, so I grabbed the green ATV and small yard trailer and started digging things out. Roughly 60% of the sheets were too rotten or rough to be of any use, so I stacked them on the trailer to get burned. The rest I set aside to get picked up later. The pit was already stacked with the big oak limb I cut down last trip, so I made a teepee out of the panels over that, poured on some old boat gas, and lit ‘er up. Wasn’t long before I had a nice hot fire. Lyssa tended it while I took the boys into town for snacks and to fill the two big gas cans from the pole barn with ethanol-free fuel. I stopped in at J&A again to see if they had any sunflower seed to replace the bag the chipmunks binged on. This, too, was out of stock until Tuesday. It’s always Tuesday.
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.
Speed run part deux! My sinus surgery is tomorrow, so I wanted to get one more haul out of the way before my lifting restrictions kick in. Made it up a little after 9:00 pm with the blue ATV, plow, and drive-up ramps in the back of the truck. I had stopped at Menards earlier as well and bought 50 lbs of sunflower seed and 100 lbs of whole-kernel corn. And finally, I brought up the three 5-gallon jugs of Oshkosh drinking water. All the heavy stuff.
I unloaded and parked the ATV, then put on some music while I stowed the ramps and plow for the summer. Drove the truck over to the keep, powered it up to get the outside lights going, and secured the seed and corn in the sealed bins in the garden shed. Noticed the low-hanging feeder was knocked off the shepherd’s hook—must be turkeys. I’ll have to find a new solution to raise the feeders a bit higher. Hopefully, having corn to thrown down will help keep them out of the feeders, too.
Lugged the water jugs into the keep bathroom and took a moment to enjoy how incredibly easy it’s been to start things out for spring. I don’t track in any dirt now because of the deck, the new lighting makes nighttime hauling a snap, all the linens are clean and folded in vacuum bags, and there are actual beds waiting and ready now. I plopped down in the recliner for a bit and just let it sink in that we’ve finally got a good base of operations up here. I hit the lights, locked up, shut down the pole barn, and was out around 10:30. Can’t wait to get the all-clear from the sinus doc so I can dig into some spring cleaning and yardwork up here.
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.
Walked over to Paco’s around 9:00 am to start the process of loading the garden shed onto Peter’s flatbed trailer. Since Paco’s backyard is fenced in, we began by removing a section of chain-link fence. It came away in one piece except for the center pole, which we had to cut at the base. I emptied the shed and took out all the shelves to make it as light as possible, then jacked it up at the doorway so I could side a pipe under the frame. I wrapped a long chain around the base, cinched it up in front of the shed, and grabbed it with the blue ATV’s winch hook. After some initial hesitation, the shed starting rolling across the pipe. Paco and I alternated between positioning pipes and pushing and turning the shed to clear a tight corner between his garage and his kids’ playset. Once we got out in the open, I went back to winching from the ATV while Paco laid out pipes.
Once we had the shed lined up with the trailer, we had to switch tactics. I traded the ATV for my truck and hooked up to the trailer. With the fence out of the way, I could back a few feet further into the yard, clearing the house and giving us more room to work. We attached the trailer ramps and used my new come-along to slowly ratchet the shed up the trailer deck. It took some finesse, but we eventually got it positioned perfectly on the front of the trailer. I pulled out of Paco’s yard as carefully as possible but, because of the added weight of the shed, managed to scalp a 4 foot section of sod. At least it was easy to put back. I parked on the street and helped Paco put his fence back together. We kept his sawed-off fence pole in place with some rebar; you’d never know it had been modified. I backed the trailer into my driveway to finish securing the load and took a break for lunch.
Jake and I came up for a quick trip around 4:30 and rode the blue ATV over to Peter’s to ask to borrow his big flatbed trailer. The plan is to take it back to Oshkosh to transport a garden shed from Paco’s house. Peter was happy to lend it out. Jake and I ran the ATV back to the pole barn and drove my truck down the service road in Peter’s woods where he keeps the trailer parked. I let Jake sit in the front seat for this little excursion and he was really excited.
When we got to the trailer, Peter was there waiting to help us hook it up. I carefully and slowly wound my way back down the service road and pulled back into the yard to check the tire pressure and trailer lights. One of the rear lenses was broken and all the tires needed airing up, but everything was otherwise in great shape. As I was airing the tires, Peter stopped in with a replacement light assembly, so he must have been thinking about the same thing. He’s a great neighbor; I owe him a beer or several for all this.