Friday, December 09, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Well, Christmas 2005 is nearly upon us and I want to wish everyone the merriest one possible! I made my own Christmas cards this year for the very first time. I like the way they came out so well, that I will doubtless do it that way from now on. I used the camp as my inspiration and just to show that one man's ugly is another's beauty, I featured the big red spruce on the corner of the main campsite clearing. Dad and Rob (among others) gave me quite the hard time about wanting to keep my "ugly" old pine tree, but I saw much more to it. What do you think?
I apologize that the posts here have been kind of sparse, but that became a necessity once I realized that while Dad and I (or someone and I) have been up to camp many times in the past 2 years (2 years! can you believe it???), and while we have always tried to do some improvement on the place each time, quite often very little changed from one visit to the next. if fact, it's not until you look back at the early pictures, that you can get the sense of all of the changes that have occured. That shows the gradularity of the work we have done thus far.

However, that is about to change in a very dramatic way. In the past month or so (Around Thansgiving) we purchased a 5' x 10', 2000 lb capacity flatbed trailer with a ramp gate (for ATVs) . With this we bought and hauled all of the green-treated lumber we will need to build the base of our first cabin. Also, over the Summer, my neighbor across the street purchased new windows for her house and gave us (no charge) a combination Picture window with sliding side-lites and a regular casement style window. Furthermore, Dad purchased a pretty decent air compressor, and I bought a 3500 watt gas-powered generator and a 6-way extendable air hammer gun. All of these materials and tools have been taken up north. We have also chosen the site for the first cabin (pretty much right about where the tarp and tent sit in the previous post--except a little further into the corner).

I have to pick up a few more things such as blocks and flooring/decking and we can begin building the base. Once it is up we can take our time and put up the walls and roof. I still have about $2000 remaining for this last bit of material, but it should be plenty enough. We already have a kerosene heater so once the cabin is up we can begin using the property as we like. The road and the well will be our next projects, and then probably another cabin. I also want to cut and clear some trails in the woods to make movement more easily managed. But these are all future projects. First, the cabin.

This will likely be the last 2005 post so I want to wish everyone a warm and happy holiday season. See you next year!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Cabin Materials

Last week we purchased a trailer and a plow for the tractor. We also bought and hauled up enough pressure- treated 2x8's to build a 16' x 18' platform. This will be the base for a small cabin (12' x 16') which will be built over on site 2.

I am still holding out hope that I will be able to pull together the funds (or at least arrange the financing) to purchase one of those heirloom or vintage log cabins that Cabin and Timber are selling for the main site. Cabin and Timber is a company that collects and restores old log and timber frame structures and resells them. It's a unique way of recycling old material so that less new trees need to be cut and the old timbers don't go to waste on someone's fire.

This week, we got lucky in that my neighbor across the street was installing new windows and graciously permitted us to take her old ones. So we hauled them up as well. We found that the plow blade doesn't quite fit so we have to buy some longer pins or at least spacers for the existing pins to push them out further. We also need a longer top-rod and at least one new adjuster bar for canting the blade. Eventually, we will get an adjustment bar on both sides, but for now we only really need the right one.

There is an eagle eyrie very near by us as we saw one flying just overhead the camp. I managed to get some pictures, by the eagle was up very high and the pictures do not do it justice. All-in-all we have had a pretty dry winter here so far and this late in the season, when we should have snow on the ground, we find the ground bare. No need to complain too hard though as the temperatures are mild enough to make us not mind the missing snow.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

2005 Get-Together

Rob and Vicki came out to visit and we all got up to the camp together. Rob was so excited he wouldn't let anyone else do any chainsaw cutting! Recently, we had begun using a tarp and pole lean-to construction to cover the Picnic table and/or tent area. We set that up and built a nice fire in the firepit. Rob set to cutting down and clearing out the area where Dad and I want to set up the first cabin. He did such a good job, I only had a little bit left to finish up.

The picture above (click on it to see it full-size) is a composite of 2 camera shots showing the main campsite from between the tractor and my Explorer with the outhouse and shooting range behind me. The inset image is that of the outhouse.

Dad, Rob and I went hiking all over the grounds just to give Rob an idea of the size and shape of the land. I think he was well pleased. There are plenty of places for setting up cabins, for hiking and for hunting. Not to mention that we are only about a little over 1000 ft from the Kettle River. We also went down there to show Rob just how close it is. The water level was incredibly low then, but it was still quite picturesque. All in all, it was a great time.

Monday, July 25, 2005

First Multi-Nighter

Dad and I had the first multi-night campout this past week. I had Wednesday through Friday off so we packed up and headed north for a couple nights to see how we liked it and to pick up our tractor and see just how much work we could get done in 2-3 days.

We got the tractor alright (see picture inset), a 1952 J I CASE DC with 37 hp, 2WD, LH, LPTO and an eagle hitch. It is an antique, but runs pretty well. We may have to do some work on it as the carburator leaks a little and the oil is slightly sludgy (possible blown head gasket), also the lighting is not wired properly. We did get a new carb kit with the deal and an oil change, but if it is a head gasket, then we will have to get that changed before we do a whole lot of work with the tractor. It's in such good shape I'd hate to do anything that could cause it permanent damage.

The guy was offering it for $1500, but Dad not only talked him into giving us a fresh oil change, but also the new carb kit thrown in and delivered to our site, for $1300! So if it needs a little work, that's no bother since we ended u
p getting it for such a great deal.

Already, with the number of passes we've made on the tractor going up and down the lane, even without attachments, just using the front wheels as cutters and the rear wheels as packers, we've made such an improvement to the lane that we could very likely bring my car back there again as most of the deepest ruts have been flattened out some. The ruts were really the only reason my car had any trouble because the
4 wheel drive handles the mud just fine. But the ruts were so deep in some spots, it left my wagon hung up on its belly with wheels spinning.

We also took the opportunity to begin clearing out th
e secondary cabin site and have most if not all of the trees cut, stripped and de-brushed. This site is not quite ready for use as a campsite yet, but maybe another working weekend will bring it around. I don't have any pictures of it finished but will likely have something on the next post. Meanwhile, here is a panoramic composite picture of the main site from the end of the driveway (click on it to enlarge).

Monday, June 27, 2005

Property Site Map

I have decided to do a pictorial history of our experiences at Woodpecker Hollow from the first time we ever laid eyes on it. I will try to post it so that it follows the proper dating of the posts, but failing that will at least create the diary and provide a link to it from here. Also, I am going to open up (as much as the host service will permit) the blog to others so that all who use our land may be able to share and express their experiences here.

The picture inserted here (click on the image to see it full size) is a site map of the property showing the trails and creeks and other features. This map will be updated soon since over the past year and a half, many changes have already occured.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Name

Woodpecker Hollow is the name I have finally decided on for the property up north. For some time now, we have affectionately been refering to the property as "the camp" or "the land" or even simply "up north". However Dad informed me that a proper "camp" has to have a proper name and so, with considerable discussion on the subject and much advice from everyone I have been trying to come up with one.

There are many things prevalent in the woods up north, not the least of which are flickers and woodpeckers. In fact, just south of the property the Audabon society has land set aside for the birds of the northwoods. There are eagles and owls, cardinals and jays, finches and flickers and yes, woodpeckers as well as many other varietis of feathered beasts living in the area. There is even a land feature named Woodpecker Ridge not far from this site.

Considering how many flickers and woodpeckers we see everytime we go up north, and the fact that our property is located on the side of a gradual descent to the Kettle river bottoms, I chose Woodpecker Hollow as the name for the camp.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Its a new year and the great birds are already out. Majestic in their beauty, they soar over the woods and the meadows in the Northland like patrolmen walking the beat. Today, we got up close to a Great Owl (left image, click to enlarge) freshly arrived from the Canadian wilderness to nest. Come Spring, it will be gone back North in search of wilder territory and more plentiful prey.

We also caught sight of one of our other great raptors, the American Bald Eagle (right image, click to enlarge). It soared over the meadow for quite awhile hunting for critters to gnosh on, I suppose.

As white as it was, and for all it being only February, it wasn't really very cold.