October 26-
    What a week! It flew by, a ton got done and I am ready for it to snow! Truth be told, I would be fine with 50's and sunshine for another 2 weeks, but if it were to snow, or rain, it would not crimp my style much. On Monday, I got busy building the lean-to for Big Red. Things went pretty smoothly. I guess all my construction work in the past 5-7 years has give me a bit of experience. That and the fact that on Wednesday, I had some professional help, as she had an early release day. By Thursday, the side wall was up and the roof was too and it was, for the most part, weathered in. Still quite a bit of work to do, but I think with putting in 2-3 hours a day, it will be done in a week or two.
    I am going to use the same spray foam insulation I used in the shops and it is arriving tomorrow. I also want to strengthen the roof rafters with some plywood glued and nailed in place to the 2x10's. For those with a keen eye spotting the precarious situation where the roof rafters are tied into the tails of the trusses for the shop, I will be putting in some vertical supports there and also some plywood gussets to make that section more bullet proof. Then a front and rear wall and garage door, along with some lights and it will be done. But the bottom line is, being weathered in at this time of the year is a huge thing and affords me a lot of peace of mind.
    On Friday afternoon, part of the wood cutting cavalry arrived and we took to dropping a few trees that were right next to the boiler that I wanted to drop. They dropped with perfect precision and then had their tops removed and trunks cut into cordwood and neatly stacked into the woodshed. 
    Saturday saw the full force of the cutting crew on site by 9 am. Saws were soon blazing, woodchips flying and wheelbarrows full of cut logs were heading into the shed to be neatly stacked to the rafters. 
    The late and wet spring, followed by an unusually cool and wet summer caused the load of wood to show up with an abnormally high amount of dirt on it. It did sit in our yard for around a month and a half and the rains that fell in that time did wash off the dirt pretty nicely on the exposed surfaces, but there were still lots of dirty logs to be cut. Dirt is not a friend of a chainsaw. It will dull a blade faster than almost anything else. So I put myself on power washer duty. The power washer worked well, but not perfectly, so there was quite a bit of blade sharpening done yesterday.
    Even with the delays caused by the sharpening, the crew of 12 were kept pretty busy cutting, tossing, hauling and stacking. Around 4 hours later, the final logs were being processed into firewood. The stacking job was done with such proficiency, we were able to stack all 16 cord, plus the three we dropped/cut Friday, into the woodshed with room to spare. So where logs once stood piled 8-9 feet high, there is bare ground once again.
    Things went so smoothly and the fact that I don't think that I even touched a saw, moved more than one wheel barrow of wood and stacked more than a half dozen pieces, makes it hard for me to comprehend it even happened! I am being serious. I think it will take a few trips to the woodshed and see all the wood stacked in there for it to officially sink in that all of our firewood for the season (I hope!) is done...Money in the bank. My HUGE thanks to The Wood Cutting Crew of 2014. Some Angels do wear canvas and denim!
    My smoker took a fatal blow last winter with a snow dumping off the shop roof and went to the great smoker land in the sky, so I could not treat the crew to brisket and pulled pork, but did come up with something that I thought would be nearly as rewarding. I ordered up a box of baby back pork ribs that were delivered Thursday. Friday morning I pre-cooked them to bone-sliding-doness and then back into the refrigerator to be finished off on the grill Saturday. So with around 45 minutes left in the cutting, I broke off from the wood cutting, fired up the grill and caramelized up 15 full slabs of ribs. Nora made some baked potatoes as well as some brownies and cookies for dessert and the I believe that all of the crew left with full bellies.
    The weather could probably not have been any better for cutting wood either. Temps were in the 50's with a mix of clouds and sun and a stiff westerly breeze. I do not even want to think about what it would have been like to have to do all that work in a pouring rain with temps in the 40's. 
    Actually, the weather for most of this week was quite good. Perfect autumn weather for my morning walks with Millie and Huck. We even hit 67 degrees on Friday, although earlier in the week, clear skies and calm winds led to some chilly mornings, including a heavy frost and even the first spotting of some night ice Tuesday morning.
    It's hard to believe that there are only 5 more days left in the month, which also means 5 more days until Halloween. Gracie's costume is well in the works and it looks like the weather will be OK, but not perfect. Today, we went on the hunt for some pumpkins. Not as late as last year when we were left with only baking pumpkins from the grocery store, but either the regular farm was not doing it this year, or we were too late. We did manage to find some at a local fruit/vegetable stand. Gracie wants to use three small ones to spell the word Boo and then one larger one to carve in a more traditional method. So here she is posing with her three smaller ones.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Plans for this week include setting up the raffle page for the antique sled, setting up the registration for the ride-in and perhaps watch some flakes of snow fall from the sky by later in the week. Oh, and keep chipping away at the lean-to for Big Red. I also plan to fire up the snowfall forecasts early next week (not this week). Won't be too long and the site will be going full speed ahead again!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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October 19-
    This will be a short one for sure and anyone coming just for the pictures can stop reading any further as I don't have any, sorry! We busted out of town Wednesday morning to go visit family and also take in the Milwaukee Snowmobile Show. We just got back on the island a bit ago and have finished the process of unloading and unpacking. So the trip is the main reason for no pictures and also for a short entry this week.
    As nice as it was to see my family, I just cannot get over the feeling of joy I have once we return home. It really is indescribable and just rings home how lucky I am to have found a place that embraces my soul so much. Even on a day when we return to temps in the low 40's, a battleship gray sky and some light rain, I still feel this is the most beauty I have seen for the past 5 days.
    So the show was nice and it was even nicer not to have to work it. I did not really need much, so mainly just walked around with one of my brothers and some friends. I am typically not one to complain, but I really did not like the layout of the show this year. In the past, they really seemed to try and have isles that went from one end of the show to the other and this year, many of the isles ended somewhere in the middle, which made it hard to navigate and I think also caused us to miss some of the vendors. I know if I were a vendor, I would certainly be saying something to the producers of the show, as I think that could end up being a real problem if continued. Otherwise it was nice to be at the show and get the mind thinking more about the snowmobile season and to bump into some nice visitors to the site.
    So with leaving on Wednesday morning, I did not get too much work done this week. I was able to finish up with the woodshed, so it is all ready to accept the wood that will be cut this weekend in the wood cutting party.
    This week I hope to be able to at least get the roof of the lean-to done. That way the weather will not have a big impact on further construction with it. I do have some other things going on this week, so I am not sure that I will get the roof done, but we'll see.
    I also plan to get the registration for the Ride-In going this week. The snowfall forecasts will hold off for another 2 weeks, but I do plan to resume them either November 3rd or 4th. I did post my seasonal outlook this past Wednesday and despite trying to tell folks to not take it too seriously, there were those that chose not to. I'm really not too sure why, but I am not going to lose any sleep over it either. 
    So I guess I am going to keep my promise with this being a short one. The week ahead looks to be pretty busy, so I should have more to say and pictures to share with you next week. Until then...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
October 12-
    Let the gales of November roar! We are ready for them! The final bit of work needed to be done to get the generator hooked into the house's/shop's power supply was done on Tuesday and it was fired up and tested and ran like a champ. Then yesterday, I heard what sounded like a muted motor running and at first could not figure out what it was. I opened the front door to hear the generator going through its self test. We have it set to do that self test every Saturday at noon.
    While I really do not wish for a power outage, as it would bring hardships to those without back up power, it is a huge relief to have that generator in place and all ready for action. I have my computers on a battery back up, so in the event of a power loss, they will not go down while the system makes the transition from municipal power to the generator. The generator will fire up after 20 seconds of sensing no power and then takes a few more seconds to break the connection to the line in from the power company (so that the lines near by are not energized while a power crew might be working on the lines, thinking they are dead) and send power to the house. So if all goes as planned, the loss of power while they did the final wiring of the generator on Tuesday was the last time we will ever be without power for more than around 30 seconds!
    On Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, I finished up getting ready to pour the slab for Big-Red's lean-to. Thursday morning was spent with a bit of anxiety, as I got through my morning duties and mentally prepared for the concrete truck to arrive at 2 that afternoon. There are a number of reasons why I would never want to do concrete work for a living. The big two are that it is really heavy work and I am just getting too old to do that day in and day out. The other reason is that once that truck is on its way, there is no turning back and no room for mistakes. Unlike working with wood, you cannot re-cut a 2-by that was cut wrong. Concrete is a "one chance to get it right" kind of thing. 
    So the truck showed up right on time and I was ready. Other than having to move some concrete by wheel barrow as well as pulling it with a concrete rake at the early going, things went surprisingly well. That is...until I came up around 2 feet short of mix! They say always order more and I did order more than I had calculated I needed, but there was a low spot in the grade that ended up being lower, and thus eating up more concrete, than I had accounted for. It was too late in the day to do anything about it Thursday, so on Friday, I headed out to rent a mixer and picked up 20 bags of Quickrete and got busy filling the hole.
    There were no surprises with that activity and I was able to finish the job and even have 5 bags of mix left over to return. All the while I was doing that, the pups stood guard over a squirrel in trees behind the house. They actually stayed in that same position for over 20 minutes. If you have ever met Huck and Millie, you know that is something highly unusual!
    So with the slab poured for the lean-to, it was time to switch projects and get the wood shed repaired. If you don't remember, two winters ago, I had a bunch of snow on the roof of the woodshed and the forecast called for a chance of rain. Rather than risk having the roof collapse under the weight of the snow and then the additional weight of the water from the rain, I knocked down an overhanging drift that was holding the snow on the roof. The drift calved off, the snow slid off the roof, but the horizontal force of the snow sliding caused the 4x4 uprights to snap. Not all of them, but several. So I was able to stabilize things right away and got through last winter without fixing it (was too busy building the addition), but really wanted to get it repaired for good this warm season.
    The first thing that needed to be done was to get the structure straight up and down again, so I hooked up a heavy duty nylon tow strap to the spot on the shed that had the most lean to it and hooked the other end up to a come-along that was hooked up to another heavy duty tow strap that was anchored to a sturdy maple tree. The process went very well and by the time I had cranked the come along as far as it would go, the lean was gone and the shed was straight up and down for the first time in around 18 months!
    The plan was to then sister in some pressure treated 6x6's to all the posts, not just the ones that were snapped and all would be good- in theory. I was able to get the 12 foot 6x6's set in place and some of them still need a bit more work to tie them into the existing structure. I also got the 6 foot 6x6's in place and they just need to be tied in and once that is done, then the wood shed will be all ready for business. That business will take place in 2 weeks as there is a pretty big crew showing up to cut, move and stack the firewood. Speaking of the firewood, Millie and Huck did a nice inspection job the other day. 
    This past Thursday was the 10th anniversary of Nora and I getting married. I had the slab to pour and Nora had some things going on Thursday afternoon as well, so we decided to hold off the celebrating until Friday, when we all would have more time. So Friday after work, we all got a little gussied up and headed up the highway towards the tip of the Keweenaw. We are past the peak of the colors, but even so, the trip through the "covered drive" portion of highway 41 was beautiful.
    Our destination was the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, a very neat place with very good food. The manager there really turned things around when he took over several years ago and I would place it among the best restaurants to eat at while up here. Plus, the view is magnificent.
    We had a very nice meal, Gracie performed the toast to mark the occasion and we had a fun and memorable time celebrating 10 years of marriage. Before leaving, we posed for a nice family picture and then headed up to Copper Harbor to pick up a picture we had purchased from Steve Brimm at the Eagle Harbor Art Fair back in August and then turned around and headed back home. This time being treated to a different, but no less impressive, version of mother natures color show.
    The weather this week was pretty typical for this time of the year in this neck of the woods. Earlier in the week, we were treated to some frozen precip, including snow and some sleet. By today, temps rose into the low 60's, with beautiful sunshine, which Nora and Gracie too advantage of to move some leaves and cut the lawn.
    So that about covers it for this one. I am feeling pretty good about the progress made this week and the fact that I have only an hour or two to finish the wood shed repair and then a few days of work to finish the lean-to for Big Red. Then cut the wood and fill the wood shed and winter can come!
    Speaking of winter, I do hope to get my winter outlook done by the 15th (this Wednesday), so if you are interested in that kind of thing, be sure to check in!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
October 5-
    Welcome to October everyone! It sure looks and feels like October up here. After last weekends record highs, we sank like a rock on Monday, recovered some for midweek and then sank late in the week. We even had our first bout of wintry precip up here yesterday and today. Most of it was a mix of rain and snow, although I did travel through a pretty good snow squall in Painesdale yesterday afternoon and we also had a pretty good sleet shower this morning. No accumulations this way, but there were some accumulations in MN, WI and other parts of the western UP.
    Before I get too far into things, I received some new pictures of the raffle sled for this years Ride-In. It sure is looking good and also strongly reminds me of one of the first sleds I ever rode. The first two sleds our family owned were Johnson's, but then we pick up a pair of Polaris Colts from my uncle. The TX 340 that has been restored is a little different from the colts, but there are also some strong similarities, especially the color and graphics. That seat and tank also look very similar. It sure will be neat to see it in person.
    Although I am not particularly enjoying the wet weather, I am enjoying the cooler temps. After the 80's we had last weekend, I finally became ready for the cooler temps of autumn. I am not quite ready for true winter temps, but it is nice to have to wear a jacket when outside and even nice to light up the fireplace from time to time.
    It was a pretty hectic week for me. Nora was out of town from Sunday through Tuesday, so it was just Gracie and I and the pups manning the fort for a few days. It did not put a crimp in my style too much, although the mornings did get a little crazy, trying to finish up my work, then feed us breakfast, get us both ready for the day and then her to school on time.
    With my spare time Monday, I helped make the final connections of the wood boiler, get it filled up and running. Unfortunately, we had some air locks in the system that I tried to address a bit Monday evening and again on Tuesday morning, but to no avail. So I called in the pro and he came over and got things going for us. So as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire and where there is fire, there is heat...and unlimited hot water! Maybe that is why I am fully comfortable with the cooler temps!
    Monday and Tuesday would have been pretty nice days to get out and take some pictures of the colors, but was too busy getting the boiler and heating system going. By Wednesday, the weather had started to turn a bit and both Thursday and Friday were not too great for color pics, while yesterday was downright nasty! 
    So I never did get out and take an official color tour this year, but none the less, I was able to take some pics of the show right outside our front doors. I am not sure when this picture was taken, but it does look like I took advantage of a brief window of sunshine. My guess is that it was earlier in the week, as the tree in the foreground that is orange, is now bare. 
    I sure wish that I would have taken some time this week to tour the region, but I sure am thankful that we live in the beautiful woods and can just take shots like this with one foot still inside the house! Although some trees have already turned and some even have dropped their leaves, I think our woods are still a few days away from full peak. I took this panoramic shot around midday today. 
    Since that shot was take, most of the rock has been moved by big red. I used it to form a nice bed for the concrete slab for Big Red's lean to. The plan is to pour that this Wednesday, then fix the woodshed and then after that, get the roof in for the shelter. I figure that I can fix the woodshed in almost any kind of weather and once the roof is on the lean-to, then the weather will not impact future construction on it either. My hope is to have the woodshed repaired and the lean-to roof done by the end of next week.
    On Friday, the cold front passed through and then strong west winds developed behind it. We waited for a little bit and then all piled into the car to head down to the big lake to see the waves. Even though the winds had only been going strong for a few hours, the wave action had already gotten pretty impressive and the big lake was all churned up. Gracie and I braved the strong winds and chilly air, while the pups stayed back with Nora- who had brought only a light jacket.
    When we got home, I ventured into our own woods a bit and looked for some interesting shots- since I had the good camera in my hand from the lake visit trip. There really was not much to shoot, as the skies were a battleship gray and thus the colors were highly muted. I did look up to watch the tops of the trees sway heavily in the strong winds and decided that I would try a longer exposure shot to see what kind of an effect it would give with the tree tops blowing in the winds. Nothing too special, but since I am hurting for material, I decided to include it in this weeks entry! I guess you do get a sense of motion in that shot. Back to the old drawing board I guess!

   So I think that about covers it for this one. I have ended the warm season forecast graphics and will be starting up the snowfall forecasts in early November. The hope is to sneak in the Seasonal Outlook before the 15th and I also plan to get the registration for the Ride-In going by the last week of this month, as well as start selling the raffle tickets for the sled. I have already started to get a few prizes donated for the ride-in and if you or someone you know would like to donate a prize, it is never too early!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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