Tag: progress (page 2 of 3)

Log: July 29 and 30, 2017


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.

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Hot and Cold Running Water

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.

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Log: September 30 – October 2, 2016



No more low spots!

I pulled in at 3:00 pm with a truck bed full of tools and Outhouse 2.0 on the ATV trailer. This weekend will be the final project push before Puckaweekend 2016. It’s overcast and in the mid-60s and the forecast is calling for intermittent rain all weekend. Not sure how much yard work I’ll be able to get done, but there are plenty of other things to do. I unhooked the trailer and backed up to the pole barn to start unloading tools and materials. I’ll be leaving most of this stuff up here until next weekend. I was just about done when I noticed someone with a day-glo yellow shirt walking up the drive. It was a dump truck driver with Kinas Excavating and he had a full load of gravel to spread at the end of the driveway. Perfect timing. I walked him down and showed him where we wanted it, though the low spots were pretty obvious. Once he knew where to drop, it didn’t take him long to get to work. He had it all spread evenly and was on his way within minutes. It was pretty impressive to watch.

After taking a minute to check out the new driveway, I grabbed the green ATV, hooked it up to the small yard trailer, and backed up to the outhouse. I took down the Christmas lights and removed everything of value from the outhouse like the seat and roll holder. I then took a sledge to the roof assembly, hoping I could pop it loose to re-use on the new outhouse. No such luck. The old roof came away in pieces and shingles crumbled right off of it. I’ll have to come up with a different plan for Outhouse 2.0.

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Outhouse 2.0

Now that the deck and the keep have both been refinished, the outhouse has been looking even worse than usual by comparison. The door sticks and sometimes won’t even close. The seat’s at an uncomfortable height and depth. It’s covered in cobwebs and open to all manner of critters. And the aging wood has been absorbing unspeakable horrors for the better part of four decades. It needs to go. While not the most glamorous project, it’s hard to argue against the importance and necessity of an outhouse, so some real thought needs to go into its replacement.

Like many projects up here, this one started in SketchUp. I designed a simple four-foot square plywood platform that stands on joists made from the leftover treated 2×8 lumber from the deck. The framing would be done with 2×4 studs, I’d install two windows that I had found in the pole barn, and the whole thing would be panelled with the pine plywood siding that was stacked under the big house trailer. I still needed a roof and a door. My hope was that I could reuse the roof from the old outhouse, so I just had to track down a suitable door. I turned to craigslist and was in luck; I found an outswing, exterior, prehung door for only $40. It was 36″ wide, which is a bit much for this little building, but it was hard to argue with the price.

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Log: September 3 – 5, 2016


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.

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The First Video Log

A Puckaway video log entry is an idea I’ve toyed around with since I started posting entries last spring, but I was beat to the punch by almost 25 years. Here’s Richie, in late November of 1991, admiring the fresh-fallen snow:

Grandpa bought a VHS camcorder some time in 1988. Starting that Christmas, it was ever-present at family gatherings, on his trips to Florida and Canada, and it even made it to Puckaway a few times over the years. I have his entire collection of tapes, nearly 25 hours of footage in total, digitally preserved. I’ve left things unedited, only cutting static between recordings. I want to start cleaning this collection up further, and figured a Puckaway log entry would be a fitting place to start.

Taking photos of and transcribing the log pages has been a fulfilling way to connect with the past of this place, but it can’t top being able to hear my grandpa narrating a trip. There’s nothing too profound or significant being discussed, but it doesn’t matter. Welcome to puckaway.net, Beeba. Thanks for posting.

Log: June 3 – 5: 2016


Arrived at 4 pm pulling the two ATVs on the aluminum trailer. Gorgeous day; sunny and in the upper 70s. In short order, I dropped the trailer, parked the truck, and got on the mower. The focus of this trip is going to be lawn maintenance. I plan on trying out the new lawn/leaf collection trailer at some point, but first I just need to mow again. Grass is nearly waist high in some spots, and the leaves on the ground could use another good mulching before they get picked up. I cleared around the front of the pole barn, the brick garden, the keep, the marsh entrance, and most of the big trailer’s front yard. I also ran through the area I cleaned up by the bird feeders earlier this year. The view from the deck (and the bird feeder camera) is now vastly improved.


I put away the mower around 8:00. The wind was picking up and the clouds seemed to threaten rain, so I got the ATVs into the pole barn for the night. The blue one still needs to be started with the pull rope. I figured out what was wrong with it back in Oshkosh—the starter solenoid is shot—but I won’t have a replacement part until next week. At least it’s an easy part to get to.

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Log: April 16, 2016

Lyssa, the boys, and I arrived in the truck around 10:30 am after a family breakfast at Aunt Judy’s. We also got two flats of bottled water, which I was grateful for later—it was unseasonably warm and beautiful out; it stayed sunny and in the mid-70s all day. I quickly unpacked the boys’ Power Wheels ATV and Tractor from the truck bed and they were off exploring. I stacked the snow tires for Lyssa’s car in the pole barn and headed over to the keep to get things ready to unload the rest of the truck. I got out the leaf blower and cleared around the garden shed, bird feeders, deck, and the front of the keep. Once everything was ready, I pulled the truck around and set up the patio table and four chairs on the deck. We got a new set for the house so brought up our old set. It’s a perfect fit. Between the new furniture and the chairs we already had up here, we now have deck seating for ten. I’d still like to get some little side tables, though.

With everything unloaded, I went to tidy up in the keep. I ran the vacuum cleaner through to take care of the few dead flies that had accumulated, sprayed down and wiped out the shelves in the fridge, and cleaned the table and counters with bleach cleaner. Couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes to get things ready for the year. What a difference over last spring. Turned on the A/C so the boys would have somewhere to get relief from the sun. On my way out, I primed the pump and let it run for the rest of the day to clear out the accumulated gunk and sediment.

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Log: March 28, 2016

Speed run! Wound my way up the soggy driveway with a full truck bed around 2:30 pm. I’m having sinus surgery in two days and I’m not supposed to lift over 10 lbs for a week afterwards, so I wanted to get the first spring haul out of the way. After last week’s surprise final snowstorm, this sunny, 55° day is especially welcome. Dropped off the outdoor Christmas decorations from Oshkosh, some outside toys for the boys, the propane heater and propane tank, then took a moment to hook the pole barn jukebox back up. I installed a different hard drive in that laptop over the winter so it can better handle the music collection, upgraded to Windows 10, and updated KODI as well. The tunes continue.

I also brought up a toaster for the keep, so I walked over to check out how things had fared in there the rest of the winter. There was my mousetrap, baited and set just like I left it. The place smells stuffy, like it could use a good airing out, but not musty or mouse-infested. The fact that the keep went an entire winter without a single critter incursion might be a completely unprecedented Puckaway event. God bless the new door and last summer’s kitchen overhaul.

After slightly venting a few windows for some airflow and locking up, I stopped at the garden shed to fill the bird feeders with the last of the sunflower seed. I’ll have to get more at Menards before my next trip. The chickadees were sure happy to see me. I closed up the shed and headed back to the pole barn to load up my push mower and the summer tires for Lyssa’s car. I noticed that the left rear tire on the green ATV had gone flat so I powered up the air compressor, let the tank build, and aired it back up. Can’t see a hole or hear a leak, so I’ll have to look more into it later.

I was back on the road around 4:00. Feels good to be starting a new year of projects, however short the trip.

Log: Puckaweekend 2015 (October 21 – 25)


October 21, 2015: Welcome to the future, everyone.


The new mower does excellent work. I was able to reconquer the marsh trails in record time.

Had an unusual detour on the way here. All traffic on Hwy 23 around the golf course was being routed onto some narrow country roads for what I later found out was an accident involving a semi trailer full of carrots. Took about 15 minutes longer than I would have liked, but I arrived at 4:30 pm in a relatively empty truck. Beautiful day: sunny, breezy, and in the upper 60s. Everything I need for the long weekend is already here, hauled up last trip, so I was able to get right to work. Opened up the keep and the pole barn and set out to finish mowing the overgrown marsh trails. I debated using the older Craftsman mower for this to save wear and tear on the new one, but this part of the marsh is much flatter than it used to be and the new mower cuts wider swaths and bogs down less. The trails were tamed in short order—by the time I lost daylight, all the areas I had cleared last fall were cut again, now several feet wider in most places. I parked the mower and headed inside for the night.


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