One of the nice things about living in the country is the freedom to do off-the-wall sort of things; things that a person just couldn’t get away with inside city limits.
Case in point: in our yard there was a children’s playhouse, you know the sort, constructed of two-by-fours and decking, festooned with ladders, slides and swings with a canopy on top. For some reason here lately my 20-something-year-old daughters don’t use it very often.
My thinking was that - with just a few modifications - the playhouse could make a dandy deer-hunting platform, perfect for a little pop-up hunting blind. The idea was a textbook example of what I call “Appalachian practicality and sensibility,” but coming up with an alternate use for the playhouse and putting it into practice are two radically different things, and the most obvious question was how to get the heavy wooden structure into the woods in the first place.
Width-wise the playhouse was going to be a snug fit for my utility trailer, so my wife and I removed the tattered canopy and used a chain saw to remove the “arms” where the swings and rope ladders used to hang, then backed the trailer up close to it and then plopped the heavy structure into the trailer on its side and fastened it onto the deck.
From that point on it was going to be an easy trip across the field, up the hill and into the woods, or so I thought. Once into the woods, the Jeep bogged down in a perennial wet, muddy spot, which required the use of the old tractor to pull both the Jeep and the trailer onto the hill to a preselected location for the new elevated hunting blind.
I am sure the sight of my old Jeep pulling the playhouse into the woods would have been a humorous one to any onlookers, so for that reason I was careful to make sure there were no witnesses to the hijinks.
Eventually we reached the designated point, at which time the question became how to unload it?
My immediate idea was to back the whole contraption up to a tree, fasten a strap to the top-most brace, and then pull out from underneath it, dropping it in the desired location. Too simple, right? Of course this is also there point where anything could go wrong.
“Watch this!” I called out as I slowly pulled the Jeep forwards. Of course everybody knows that “Hey y’all, watch this!” are generally a redneck’s final words.
The slack came out of the line as the Jeep and the trailer with the playhouse on top slowly moved forwards until the playhouse stopped against the back of the trailer deck. Then ever-so-slowly the playhouse began to slowly right itself up into the air until it reached the point where if it fell forwards it could slam back down onto the deck of the trailer or, if I continued advancing, it would fall backwards onto the ground.
I continued pulling ahead. For a moment the whole structure tottered precariously like a drunk after last call, then crashed the ground, tottered again as it threatened to continue rolling, then pitched back forward landing halfway onto the trailer, which was unamused and yet unharmed by the entire incident.
“Wooohooo!” I hollered in exultation.
From there it was a simple matter of pulling away from underneath the playhouse, and then - since it hadn’t suffered enough indignation - backing into it with the trailer to nudge it into the desired location.
So now I am waiting for deer season to approach so I can put the converted playhouse to good use, but for now it is just a plaything for the squirrels, birds and other critters. Only 97 days to go.
Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and his column generally appears every other Sunday. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org