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Utility Building in Motion!

We have been working with our builder on a new Utility Building. It has been somewhat of a challenge, at times, to move the property forward in a more timely manner. There is much time spent just managing the forest and its impact on our driveways, clearings and trails.... and at the water. Without the right equipment, it is a slow roll.

When we have downed trees, limbs or branches, we don't have the means to deal with the debris. Things have improved now that we have more open spaces in that we can do more burning of debris without worry about starting a forest fire. But we still have to maintain safety and our times to burn are somewhat limited. Add to that the fact that we need to move the debris to a given burn area, it is hard to do without the correct equipment. Just an ATV with a wagon allows you to get into the forest areas to cut, clean up and haul the debris. But besides an outhouse, there is not an adequate place to keep something like this.

It also has become cumbersome to haul our camper back and forth every time we go to the property. We have kayaks sitting outside. We have construction lumber, much of it treated and usable, sitting around. My Bravo trailer, that is our "portable shed", sits outside all year. We need a building to house all of this stuff. I don't like clutter, and it takes away from the experience we are trying to create. A building allows us to organize and de-clutter the property. It all goes against the principles of Leave No Trace, but I have to be transparent when I don't think we are living up to our expectations.

So, a utility building is what we need.

I had planned a trip with Dave and Bryan the prior weekend. We were going to do a one-nighter to meet with our tree guy and our general contractor. However, bad weather at our home resulted in some flooding in our basement, so I had to cancel that trip. Instead, Lorraine and I decided we would head up to have these meetings and get the building in motion.

We decided not to haul the camper, and, instead, just stay at the hotel...... just like we used to do before we had a camper. So we headed up on Friday morning, figuring we would have a bit of easy winter cleanup to do and plenty of time to meet with the people we are hiring and get things in motion. Boy, were we wrong about the "easy" part.

When the Derecho came through a few years back, Dave coined the phrase "we need a bigger boat" (from the movie "Jaws"), implying the job was bigger than we could handle. Well, this was another case of that. There was debris everywhere.... limbs down, trees bent over, and trees snapped off about half-way down. It was a mess. It was on the driveways, in the clearings, on the trails and back in the forest. Between the Derecho and this winter damage, our forest is a mess.

Our focus was on the areas the mowers need to access. I need the mowers. They keep the wild in check and keep the ticks in check (as much as you can actually keep the ticks in check). We worked all of that afternoon and were able to get things cleared back to the outhouse. It was hard work, but Lorraine jumped right in and learned quickly how we handle these challenges.

We were able to meet with both contractors that afternoon also.

We headed to Rosario's for pizza. It was slow....... slow..... but the pizza was excellent. We were just too tired to head back to the property. The area was under a red-flag warning anyway, so any burning at all, even a campfire, was not in the cards. So it was to the hotel for some rest and sleep for the night, which is not our typical stay. We still had a lot of work to do the next day, so we needed our rest.

As usual, I was awake around 5:00 AM so took off for the property. I figured I could rely on my battery-operated Stihl chainsaw for much of the work, so I wasn't operating my louder gas-powered Stihl chainsaw to wake the neighborhood at 6:00 AM. I didn't think Nick and Tiffany were at their place, but we thought we heard our neighbors to the north doing winter cleanup the prior day, so there was a possibility that they were there. But I just needed to get going so we could wrap things up and get back on the road back home.

I got to the property and got to work immediately. I was able to get the rest of the driveway done, along with part of the clearing, before I had to go pick up Lorraine. Back at it with her, we were able to finish up the clearing and also the Ridge Trail. Undone are the other trails.... the trail back to the stairway, the original trail from the clearing to the outhouse and fire lane, and the new trail going along the south property line.

The stairway to the water was covered in pine branches, a few pretty large. We only did a rough "sweep with the foot" clearing and never were able to get them properly swept off. Down at the water, there is a huge mess. However, I can't think about that right now as I don't have the time or resources to deal with the mound of large trees all caught up on our boulders from either an ice flow or a spring flood. And, I want to be able to deal with that not using dirty bar oil, but will instead use canola oil so we don't pollute the water with petroleum oils.

I have begun the migration from petro-based oils to canola oil which works quite well as long as you don't store the chainsaw for months. I just try to run with normal bar oil before I am going to store my chainsaws for the season. But during the spring/summer/fall months, the chainsaw is constantly being used, so canola oil is fine for those times.

We wrapped up by 10:30 AM, and headed back to the hotel for quick showers and then got on the road.

Nick, Tiffany and Maddox stopped over right before we were getting ready to leave, so we were able to catch up with them for a bit. They were able to update us on the winter storms that caused all of the damage. And, Tiffany told us about her trek up Mount Kilimanjaro which is pretty cool.

They also told us about the elk that was injured near our property. So here is the interesting thing.... I know there have been sightings of the herd near the quarry that is just across the road from our property. I have suspected that the elk might be going across our property, but really had nothing that proved this. While we were cleaning up the mess, we would find large piles of scat that looked like deer scat, but was much larger piles. Lorraine even said "it looks like a herd of deer chose to poop in the same pile", and that, indeed, is exactly what it looked like. So maybe this was elk scat? Well, the injured elk was right on County Road E by our properties, so I don't think it a stretch to assume that. I have trail cameras set up, but did not get the SD cards from them..... and am not even sure if the batteries are still working. I'll get them next time and see if they have any elk on them. That would sure be exciting to see some elk on our property. If you want to read more on the Black River Elk herd, read here.

Nick and Tif thought the injured elk was tended-to by DNR and released back into the herd, so hopefully good news on that front. Evidently, there was a poaching issue a few years back which is somewhat sad. Jackson County is the deer capital of Wisconsin.... why do you need to shoot an elk? SPS I suspect.

A very productive trip, with more work than we imagined we would need to do. But the building is in motion, and we are excited to take our capabilities to a new level!!

BTW, we stopped for lunch in Sauk City on the way home. Stopped in at Jose's Authentic Mexican Restaurant. Great food and great service! Located in the old pie shop that we have eaten at before. We'll be stopping there again!

BTW, we lost the fern tree. This was a special tree along the original trail that goes from the clearing to the outhouse. An oak tree with a fern growing out of it. I have many pictures of it, and even have a Christmas-gift painting-on-cedar-wood piece of art that Lorraine gave me. I am sad to lose this tree, as it was one of those things I treasured on this property. I will miss it. The photo is in the slideshow below.

Our wood storage also suffered some sort of calamity. The firewood all feel out, so it looks like we need to do some work on the floor as I think it became unbalanced which caused it to fall. The photo is in the slideshow below.

This being said, the stairs, Babcox (firewood storage), picnic tables, Bravo trailer and outhouse all survived. Any one of those being damaged would become a hardship, so we are blessed that none of these things were damaged.


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