Pulled in at 1:30 with Hannah, who was glad to be back again so soon. She tore a few laps around the yard while I went into the keep to check out the Puckanet. It never reconnected to my VPN after the power was restored yesterday so I wanted to see what was going on. Turns out something got corrupted on the Pi and it wouldn’t boot at all. I’ll have to take it home and restore it from backup. Looks like the cameras will be down for a few days. I headed outside and saw Danny and Buck walking in to say hi. Hannah’s come around on Buck. She used to be really territorial and tried keeping him off the property, but now they’re perfectly happy chasing each other around the yard.
I’m sick of fighting this busted thing.
My main reason for coming up was mowing/leaf collection, so I got right to it. I hooked up the blower and the NASCAR trailer and started collecting leaves along the driveway. It was slow going as the trailer filled quickly. After three loads, I decided to change tactics and unhooked the collection equipment. I went around the yard between the keep and the pole barn and just mulched, progressively blowing the piles inward. Twice I was stopped by the front tie rod assembly coming apart at one of the wheels. I’ve had a redneck fix applied to this for the past year where it’s just held in place with a metal hose clamp, but it won’t hold anymore. The mount is just too worn out. I was forced to give up mowing around 4:15 with a lot of yard left to handle.
Hannah and I drove in around 5:30 pm with a truck bed loaded with tools and Puckaweekend goodies. The whole Thelen clan just spent a long weekend up in Presque Isle, but the boys have school tomorrow and Lyssa works. I, however, have Columbus Day off. As soon as we got back to Oshkosh, I quickly unpacked from PI and loaded up for Puckaway.
Lynn needs more hats.
Both Red and my dad were here waiting for me. Red and I work in the same office, so he’s got tomorrow off as well. He’s been here since 2:00 pm and has been busy mulching leaves all afternoon in the surprisingly high mid-70s temperatures. My dad got here shortly before me as he came straight down from PI. I helped Dad unload a snowblower from the back of his truck and rode with him to our neighbor Lynn’s property to store the pontoon boat for the winter. I’m glad that Dad was the one backing it in. While my trailering skills aren’t bad, there’s only about 3 inches of clearance on either side of the garage door when backing that big boat in, and I sure wouldn’t want to be the guy to scrape up our helpful neighbor’s garage. Lynn was there and I got to finally meet him. We hung out and talked for a bit, but Dad wanted to get back to Oshkosh and was on the road by 6:00.
Hannah and I got here around 2:30 pm with an empty ATV trailer in tow. I’m done hauling scrap for a while but will be using this tomorrow to help my dad clear out the garage in Mayville. The pooch sniffed around the grounds while I unloaded the back of the truck. I brought a cooler full of frozen pizzas, four 24-packs of bottled water, some seasoning, mixer ingredients, Ty Ku, and three different craft beer six packs. The Puckaweekend prep begins.
Two guys competing to take away these bricks for free was a beautiful thing to watch.
I spent some time putting everything away, then went out back to drain the IBC holding the keep’s water supply. It’s gotten pretty scummy and smelly. This didn’t seem to happen to the 55-gallon tank (that I noticed, at least) but that was drained and filled a lot more often throughout the year due to its smaller size. I brought up some pool shock treatment, figuring that a large tank of water that we’ll never drink but want to be able to use safely on our bodies has a lot in common with a swimming pool. I’m planning to overtreat a full tank, dump it out, clean it out, then refill it, At that point I’ll add the proper amount of pool shock to prevent anything from growing and living in it.
She’s run aground.
Hannah and I rolled in around 1pm hauling a cleaned-up pontoon boat behind us. The pooch would have to wait before she got to run some laps, though. I picked a spot in the south yard to park the boat where it would be off-level enough to help prevent rain from accumulating on the deck. It would also get plenty of sun to ward off more mildew formation.
I opened the pole barn and checked out our fuel situation. One of the 5-gallon gas cans was almost empty, so I topped off the mower’s tank with what was left in it and threw the can in the back of the truck. It’s almost 80°, so I popped into the keep to fire up the AC before heading into town for lunch and fuel. Hannah’s patience was rewarded with a burger from A&W.
Resilient little fella.
Once we got back, I ate in the keep while Hannah patrolled the property. It’s already comfortably cool inside; the new AC is a welcome upgrade. I changed into some yard work clothes and set my sites on taming the yard.
Hannah and I drove in around 6:20 pm with a pickup bed full of tools and other goodies. She ran some laps around the yard while I quickly unloaded the truck. I wanted to get right to my first project.
Let there be (night)light!
Lyssa got me a pair of really nice network cameras for Christmas. They’re PoE, 720p, have IR blasters, and are IP66 rated. Translated: they don’t need a power cord, have four times the clarity of the old ones, come with night vision, and they’re waterproof. One of them has replaced the driveway camera back home, but the other one will serve as the new bird feeder cam.
I had already configured everything from home, so I installed it to the roof overhang on the keep, plugged it in, and tested it out. There was the expected major increase in image quality, but I was surprised by just how much wider of a field of view it has, too. This is a very welcome improvement.
Lyssa, the boys, and I pulled in around 2:30 pm with a truck bed full of tools and burnables. Beautiful day; sunny and upper 70s. I backed the truck up to the pole barn to offload my tools and the boys were off on their Power Wheels. Lyssa made herself comfy with a book while I stacked cardboard and the remains of our old coffee table in the burn pit. There’s a lot to do up here, as always, but I don’t really have a set agenda. The only real goal of this weekend is to have our first overnight stay as a family. As I was looking around and sizing things up, inspiration struck. The tree at the base of the driveway would have to go.
A little bigger than I had expected. Good thing there was nothing in its way.
Over half of the upper branches were dead and bare, so I figured if the tree was going down, it’d be better if it was on my terms. I fired up the chainsaw, made sure the kiddos were well clear, and the tree was on the ground in short order. Jake was really interested in how I cut it, and went to show off the “felling wedge” to Lyssa and Josh. He thought it was really cool that I could get the tree to fall just the way I wanted it to. Hell, so did I. I’m still kinda new at this.
As long as the chainsaw was out, I also trimmed some dead limbs from the small tree next to the pump. I had a helluva time carving everything up, though. I must have really dulled the chain when I was clearing brush and stumps last trip. The boys gave me a hand hauling limbs and branches over to the pit. Poor Josh was getting frustrated; he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t able to lift the big pieces like his daddy. He’ll get there soon enough.
Came up around 4:30 with a 16′ 4×4 jutting out of the back of the truck. I intend to deer-proof the bird feeders today. But first, some unloading. I stopped by my folks’ house on the way up to pick up Dad’s snowblower. It’ll stay in the pole barn for the summer. Also brought up a bunch of new blankets and sheets for the keep.
I found the auger in the pole barn and started digging a hole for the new bird feeder pole. Went as far as the handle would allow and then set the post. I had bought this stuff called Fast 2K that promised to deliver the strength and rigidity of a 50-lb bag of concrete in a 2-lb bag of 2-part expanding foam. It had all sorts of colorful warnings, the best of which was, “CAUTION! DO NOT EXCEED MIXING TIME AND NEVER ALLOW THE COMPOSITE TO START EXPANDING INSIDE THE BAG AS BAG MAY RUPTURE, CAUSING CONTENTS TO SPRAY OUT AND PERSONAL INJURY AS WELL AS PROPERTY DAMAGE TO OCCUR.” Sounds like a fine product to me. I mixed the two parts in the bag, sliced the corner, and poured it in the hole. It looked like melted black cherry ice cream; I figured I had done it wrong, or didn’t mix it enough, or something. However, after about a minute, it started rising up in the hole as thick, off-white foam. I held the post plumb for a few minutes while it set, and went to clean up. I grabbed the bag, which itself was inflating a bit, and immediately dropped it—it was red-hot. This stuff has one helluva catalytic reaction.
Came up a little before 8pm with a tarped load in some intermittently heavy rain. Backed the truck into the pole barn and unloaded the woodworking tools and hardwood pieces I picked up after my last trip up. It’s nice having all of that out of the Oshkosh garage, and it’s really nice being able to say I “backed the truck into the pole barn.” Up until a few years ago, that statement would be describing an accident.
Before it got too dark, I noticed how much new-growth grass we had this year in the area between the driveway entrance and pole barn. It’s nice to see the yard reestablishing itself.
The rain really started pouring as I finished wrestling down the last drill and sander from the truck bed. I need to put a small section of rain gutter above the pole barn entry door. It’s like looking out from behind a waterfall. I finished unloading the tools I brought up and the supplies from Menards for repairing the outdoor outlet for the pole barn. My first setup didn’t stand up to winter very well, so this time I got the same type of PVC box and conduit I used for all the other outdoor outlets. I installed this during breaks in the rain, but still need to wire it back in.
Came up for a lawn maintenance trip around 4:30. Upper 80s and sunny, but at least it isn’t humid. Grass is knee high in areas I cut earlier this year, and waist high everywhere else. I brought the mulching blades for the new mower; this will be a good test for them. I hopped on the green ATV and did a quick perimeter check for any storm damage from the weekend. Nothing new by us, but the Illinois neighbors have a sizeable tree branch down in their front yard. Not that anyone’s been there to notice. I started down the smaller marsh trail loop, once again overgrown, and noticed what looked like a giant ant hill. I slowed down as I approached it to get a better look and was only a few feet from it when it got up and flew away. Turkey. Big one. Scared the hell out of me. Didn’t look like it had a nest or anything there; I think it was just trying to stay cool. It eyeballed me from twenty feet away for a while before strutting off into the woods. I don’t ever remember seeing as many turkeys around up here as I have in the last year.