Running water is something we all take for granted. It’s been a basic feature of American homes for over 100 years. But up at Puckaway, we haven’t quite caught up, as there are a few major hurdles in the way. If you want potable (safe to drink) water around here, you need to drill down over 200 feet. We’re not putting in a proper well until we have a nice permanent home up here and know where we’re placing the slab.
Also, while we have always had a shallow well and outdoor pump to provide water that we can wash up with, it has a poor flow rate of under one gallon per minute. Additionally, we have to drain the pump and hoses when temperatures drop below freezing. And we don’t heat any of the buildings during the winter. Pipes would freeze and burst.
Last year, I reconnected all of the drain plumbing in the keep, but I wasn’t expecting much improvement on the supply side. We did what we had always done, storing 5-gallon buckets next to the sinks to wash up with and using our portable, hand-pumped, camping shower. Interestingly enough, this was all about to change because of a pressure washer.
Jake and I rode in around 7:00 pm after a stop at Piggly Wiggly to stock the fridge and cabinets. Got all kinds of goodies: brats and italian sausage, canned veggies, chips and salsa, juice boxes and snacks for the boys (Jake picked out some Little Debbie brownies), essentials like ketchup, mustard, horseradish, and butter, and two six-packs of different Wisconsin craft beers. There’s now a whole aisle devoted to smaller Wisconsin breweries at the Princeton Pig—a welcome surprise. I brought in the groceries and goods from Oshkosh while Jake got his trucks set up by the pole barn.
With the fire danger holding at Moderate, it was safe enough to burn in the pit. I started the pump and began to fill a 55-gallon drum as a precaution, pulled the truck around to the pole barn, poured some old boat gas around the base of the pile, and tossed a match. Wasn’t long before we had a roaring fire. I kept an eye on it while unloading tools from the back of my truck. Once the pine boughs and smaller branches all burned off, we were left with a sizeable pile of thick logs and a warm, low flame. Jake and I cozied up on the bench in front of the pole barn and watched it burn down until he decided he was tired enough to turn in for the night.
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.
We’re going to need a bigger grill.
Arrived around 5:30 and unloaded quickly—temperatures are hovering around freezing. Brought up bedding for the futon and the infrared heater. I plan to stay in the keep this weekend but will be leaving the bedroom and bathroom doors closed to help it stay warm. Fired up the heater immediately and lit some candles to give it a boost. I set up the sheets and comforter on the futon and put away the only other things I brought up: my clothes and overnight bag. This weekend, I’m just here to relax.
Headed over to the big trailer where Dad, Steve, and his son Sam had already settled in. Dad was frying up mushrooms to go with the massive steaks that Steve brought up from Leroy Meats. Steve and I headed out to the pole barn to get the grill and struggled to get it to light properly. I cleaned it out thoroughly with the air compressor, but we still couldn’t coax much more than an anemic flame from it. Dad resigned to trying to cook from what we had, but managed to extinguish the burners just by slamming the lid. It seemed like all hope might be lost, but upon relighting, the grill roared to life. The propane regulator must be over-sensitive or something. At least we got it going.