Well Jake, Marian and I spent a productive few days at Red Hand before heading down to Windham for a 4th of July celebration.

Jake and I arrived on Wednesday night so that we could meet with contractors early the next morning.  Sure enough, 7:30 AM Thursday morning, as I'm making a cup of coffee, up pulls a flat bed with a small Deere backhoe on the back.  Richie and his son Matt were right on time to assist us with digging the footings for our soon to be constructed elevated deer stand.  The stand will allow us to cover the entire ridge and the upper pasture all from one location. 

Last year we set up 2 ground blinds on the upper rim of the field on opposite ends.  The field was covered but not the ridge.  We learned the hard way that it wasn't enough.  Kellen and I missed an opportunity at what looked like a nice 8 pointer that had come in from behind Jake's blind and proceeded up the ridge.  This year we'll be set up on the lower edge of the pasture with full views of both field and ridge.  However, there will be 2 disadvantages with this set-up.  First, we'll be shooting uphill instead of  the level/slight downhill orientation we're accustomed to.  That means an adjustment for bullet drop that we must calculate and compensate for in our firing solution.  Second, we'll be looking into the sun.  This will probably be the greater issue as we monitor the terrain for whitetails.  Polarized, UV protected, quality sun glasses will be "de rigueur".  Then a direct shot into the sun will surely challenge our marksmanship. 

So the construction began with site planning for the location of the 4 footings we were going to dig and then pour in concrete.  At the suggestion of one of our patients, we used plastic foundation forms called Big Foot Systems.
The forms come in various sizes depending upon the job at hand.  We used the BF-28 (3.25 cubic feet).  With the help of Richie, Matt and their backhoe, we dug holes below the frostline and set the Big Feet into place.  Richie and Matt left to attend to other business and then return later, while Jake and I drove the Mule back to the house.  Meanwhile, back at the house the snake exterminator had arrived.  Due to all the rain many of the farms, including ours, were experiencing an abundance of snakes. 

SNAKES ... I hate 'em.  Some primeval phobia deeply ingrained in my psyche.  Seeing them slithering around the window wells of the house was not inducing comforting thoughts.  They may already be inside!!!  Yikes!!!  It's why Jake and I came up alone last night, Marian refused to come into the house until we addressed the snake issue.  I had been taking them out with the blade of a shovel if I found them near the house, but the exterminator was now here to see if they were inside and what to do next?  An examination of the basement, window wells and cellar rafters revealed no snake signs nor any skin molts.  So far the house was secure, wish I knew that sleeping here last night.  Outside was another story.  We needed to conduct a snake round-up.  We captured 7 in total and put them into an old 5 gal. pail so "Jason the snake man" could remove them from the area.  Additional sticky traps were set with return visits planned for  Jason or one of his men to continue the round-up.  Then a barrier chemical spray is used around the perimeter of the house to keep them away.  We were also told to keep the grass cut down real short to decrease habitat and prey (mice).       

Inside, Tim and Cliff from Yerdon Construction were continuing with the stone work for the fireplace.  As much as I wanted to burn wood for heat, a gas insert seems to make the most sense.  A trip up to Herkimer to the stove and fireplace store is in the near future.  Tim offered to give us the use of his cement mixer to pour our footings.

Jake, meanwhile, drove the Ford F-150 up to the construction site and he unloaded 1600 lbs. of concrete bags.  He picked me up then headed into Richfield Springs to rent a generator so we could run the mixer out in the field.  We picked up the generator and loaded it along with the cement mixer and 20 gals. of water into the bed of the F-150 and headed over the bridge back to the build site.
A long day of mixing then pouring concrete and we had our footings in the
ground.  The blind construction should start this upcoming weekend after we put
together the lumber order and pick it up.
But still more work was on the agenda.  Richie, Matt and a cousin who's name I've forgotten returned with the bucket loader and hoisted the southwestern bridge (it was lifted in the bad flooding this spring and had floated down stream) and managed to locate it back onto the masonary walls on opposite sides of the creek.  The extreme weight of the bridge almost caused the collapse of the creek wall flipping the bucket loader and Richie into the stream.  We took it all in stride as is the way up here.  Richie once again invited us to Matt's graduation party in 2 weeks, in fact he had Matt get us the "formal" invitation.  You can tell that we both like one another and working together.  He is hankering we will "party" together.  I'm looking forward to a down home, country celebration.  He did offer one word of caution and I quote ... "it might get a little wild".  We'll fit right in.

Marian arrived Thursday afternoon and we took an evening trip up to New Hartford to check out Gander Mountain.  Jake and I looked into some seed for food plots, then headed home.  Next morning started with yet another gun shot as we culled an additional woodchuck from the hay field.  A little later that AM, the leather loveseats/recliners were delivered.  Finally we'll have a living room.  As soon as the furniture was in the house, we straightened up the place and headed to Windham for some 4th of July antics.  Hmmm the Kasa's, Leto's, Goode's and O'Neill's ... "it might get a little wild".

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