Hannah and I pulled in a little after 11:00 with the keep’s water tank in the back of the truck. Back home, I had pressure-washed it inside and out, added a spigot to the side of the tank near the bottom, and built and installed a new enclosure for the pump, filter, and pressure tank. I did some testing, and it looks like this is going to solve a lot of the problems we had with air getting into the lines and causing the water heater to cut out.
I wrestled the tank back to the platform behind the keep and hooked up the supply lines, propane, and power cord. Then I headed for the pole barn to fire up the mower. That’s the main reason I’m here today; I want to collect leaves before it’s too late to get any grass to grow. I made a few passes around the keep and brick garden, then gave it a rest so I could start the pump and begin filling the water tank. I sprinkled some pool shock in the bottom and set up the hose. It’ll take several hours to fill.
First family trip of the year! Lyssa, the boys, Hannah, and I made our way to Aunt Judy’s around 11:15. Hannah had to wait in the truck. Judy was happy to see Jake and Josh and couldn’t get over how much they’ve grown.
We ended up sitting next to Danny and Jan, who have a late breakfast there every Sunday. Jake inhaled an omelet and Josh gave his best try at a giant chocolate chip pancake, making it about halfway through. Felt good to be back; it’s been about six months.
Just a quick visit today to drop things off and enjoy the sunshine. Hannah, Lyssa, and I pulled in around 12:15 pulling the blue trailer. The boys are up at Presque Isle this weekend with my folks.
Hannah hit the ground running; I think she’s been feeling cooped up lately. I unloaded the ATV and plow from the trailer and maneuvered them into the pole barn. It’s getting pretty tight in there with the pop-up camper but the grounds are still too squishy to pull that out.
I parked the blue trailer along the side of the pole barn and we made our way over to the keep to check on things. Lyssa filled the feeders while I did my walkthrough and downloaded the latest timelapse videos. No signs of critters, water damage, or any other obvious problems, so it looks like we’ve made it through another winter intact. The deck could certainly use a new coat of stain, though.
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.
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.
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.