Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

The projects, chores, and life of a family-owned, Northern Wisconsin resort.



This weekend we had a bit more snow come down.  Hoping this is the last snowfall or close to it



When it is snowing time to go to town for some good food.  We stopped by Friday for the fish fry at The Boat House.  The Boat House has changed hands the last few years from the Bosaki’s to Matt Morgans.  It is right next to the bridge and has amazing views of the lake.  We were all very happy with our fish and the service



The company could not be better.  All friends of ours from UW River Falls where Troy and I both went to college.  Fun weekend of laughs and reminiscing at the Cliff.  One of the couples had not been to the resort since our infamous wedding party back in the early 90′s…. a party like no other that has been had at the Cliff


They all would recommend The Boat House.  It was nice for our big group and very accommodating



With the snow on the ground and a few beers in our hands it was a weekend spend in doors.  Lauren asked me about infinity scarves and she and her mom Jackie helped me make my first infinity scarf.  There will be more of these to come in the resort gift shop



Craig spent some time working on the bowling game with our local expert.  The chances of it working this summer went up drastically but Craig is not promising anything yet



Mack was in 7th heaven when one of his favorite friends arrived, Char, along with Gail.  He is thrilled to see some of his summer friends returning



Spring got put on hold for a couple of days.  Winter made a return



Our maple trees stopped dripping and froze up



Before the snow and cold the trees were producing a lot of sap.  With the cold I had to break up the frozen sap left in the bags.  It was sad to see the trees stop flowing when they had been flowing so good.  They will be back to flowing as soon as it warms up



Cliff sitting out on the ice looked sad and forlorn with the cold and snow.  Almost defeated












Sitting up and hoping for a warmer day today.  Unfortunately I could not tell Cliff how cold it is supposed to be…. but this should be the last night of cold we are hoping



Shoreline back to being frozen up.  Ice Out will come….. I am sure it will….



First for anyone who just needs a pic of the hillside this morning.  Snow is just about gone and cold wind off the lake



For anyone who just wants to know what the guys are up to, Steve was wandering around wondering what to do today.  He walked in the basement and came out with 3 projects and I believe was headed to Shamrock

Now what was I up to besides cleaning cabins and making socks…



Collecting sap in the woods.  I had to collect sap-cicles from the maple tree taps this morning.  It was frozen and had to be coaxed from the bags



Here is the batch I have been working on.  It is boiling down to the pretty amber color of sap getting thicker and thicker.  I usually only make one batch of syrup.  I keep adding to it every day from what comes off the trees.  I have no idea how many gallons I have added to this years batch so far.  I just keep boiling it off



Adding the 2 batches together and ready to boil for the day.  I will collect again this afternoon and add more in to cook slowly tonight.  The brush on the side made it in the picture.  It is for a hairy shedding golden retriever I know



Enough sap to start cooking for the day.  It will slowly boil down til I add more this afternoon.  Most maple syrup people will tell you not to do what we do boiling the sap in the house.  We have done it this way for a few years without any problems.  They say you can take your wallpaper off the walls from the humidity it creates and the sugar residue in the steam gets on the walls.  Our house is so old, drafty, dry and has wood walls.  Just makes sense to put it on the woodstove and heat the house at the same time you boil the syrup.  We just slowly boil down this batch for about a month adding sap.  No hurry.  We have lots of fridges not being used this time of year and keep the unboiled sap there if the trees get ahead of our boiling.  So far it has been a slow and steady year and I have kept up with the cooking with each days sap.  Someday I hope to have an outside cooker and a small shack, called a sugar shack.  Til then we will continue to break the cooking rules and just do it in the house.

Back to cooking



Spring has been slowly melting the lake and getting it to change colors



That does not stop ice fishermen from heading out.  March is a ice fisherman’s dream, the snow melts off the lake and it is easier to get around.  That is as long as the ice stays thick enough



The darker ice is creeping out slowly to Cliff.  Ice Out is still a long way off



The guys have been busy this week putting new patio windows in Red Pine.  The old ones were getting worn out.  These windows will be more fuel efficient.  Craig got a good deal on them only problem… both slide to the left..  Not a big deal, just a little different



Can’t wait to get the new screens on and open things up



Working on a dog Christmas stocking.  When this one is done I have atleast one of each of my stockings done.  I do not make as many of these as I used to.  If you are interested in them let me know ahead otherwise they might be sold out



The town has been busy expanding the cemetery to the otherside of the road.  There is a small lake that this cemetery will look out as well



Back to splitting wood and waiting for the lake to melt.  This is Spring Break, Black’s Cliff style.  You know mom most of my friends are sitting on a beach somewhere?  Yes Jake keep splitting



Who needs the NCAA March Madness picks when the only real pick that matters is picking the day Cliff will plunge into Lower Kaubashine for ice out.  Here is our list of entries this year

March 19  Acelyn Zierke

March 25th Briza Bryden

March 26th Craig Novak

March 28th Conner Novak

April 1st Baeah Bryden

April 4th Jen Bryden

April 5th Cathy Brown

April 7th Lindsey Scheid

April 9th Jimmy Cikowski

April 11 Linda Scheid

April 13th Steph Novak

April 14th Fritz

April 15th Ruth Grady

April 16th Bob Moore

April 19th Kim Flower

April 20th Danika Thompson

April 21 Barb Moore

April 22nd Carmella Grady (our one lone dog entry and one of these years she is going to win it)

April 23rd Mike Grady and LInda Wrobel

April 24th Linda Hoadley

April 25th Will Flower

April 26th Suzi Thompson

April 27th Kim Flower

April 28th Al and Roberta Cikowski (single entry)

April 29th Tommy Cikowski and Karen Thompson

April 30th Rob Moore

May 1st  Johnny Thompson

May 2nd Mike Thompson

MAy 3rd Jerry Flower

May 4th The Salatino Family

May 5th John Thompson Sr.

May 16th Kathy Walsh

Whew….. I think I got them all.  We have 35 entries and the pot will be 87.50 this year to the winner or winners.  The Wildlife hospital will get 87.50 plus an extra 50 dollars one of the families donated extra to the Northwoods Wildlife Hosptial

Can’t wait to see who wins!



There is a lot of ice between Cliff and the shore for now



Spring has definitely sprung on Lower Kaubashine, let the melting begin!



A lot of warm weather had made a lot of changes at the lake.  Cliff looked like he was sleeping in the sun.



The hockey rink was looking like its own small lake



Shore line showing signs of spring



Strange black streaks in the ice always give a person pause when walking past.


Time to get Cliff tied in to his chair





Mack wanted nothing to do with going out on the lake with us.  Until his swimming hole reappears he will stick to the shoreline



See you Cliff!

I will be posting the Ice Out guesses tomorrow or Tuesday.



Warm sunrise started out the day



Guys continuing their projects.  Steve continuing his job of carpeting a path for Murry and Linda this summer to the beach.  Murry has volunteered the financing of the project



Meanwhile Troy working on some carpets inside of Muskie



Heading to the beach, Cliff was basking in the sun.  Time to get those ice out guesses in.  My postoffice box has been getting them.  Only a few days left to get in on the contest.  When will Cliff take the plunge into Lower Kaubashine



Raft and boats slowly coming out of winter’s grip



Our skaing rink has become a big puddle



Lone hockey stick still frozen in.  More melting will have to happen to pry it from the lake before the ice goes out



-22 degrees this morning for Cliff’s 2nd day at the lake.  He was looking a bit frosty this morning.  No melting yet.



Being so cold out the guys have been busy on a few indoor projects.  They installed these old windows from Norway Pines in the downstairs bedroom of Bear Den.  We were thinking this would open up the bedroom to more light and give a view of the lake through the patio window.  Hope everyone at Bear Den likes this new addition.  We were happy to find a new use for the old windows.



View from in the bedroom.  I believe these were Norway’s kitchen windows.



The moment that project was done, they snuck into Muskie which I had just cleaned and did this



And this….



And took a door or two off.  Giving the bedrooms a little facelift while it is cold outside.



It is the beginning of March and time for Cliff to come out of the closet and head to the lake for Ice Out 2015.  You could almost hear his thoughts looking out at the lake sitting in his chair.



After 2 very late ice outs the last couple of years, Cliff is ready for a shorter sit this year



Down to the lake he goes.  Taking up his post, awaiting his icy plunge into Lower Kaubashine



Ok you all know the rules.  Send 5 dollars with your guess as to the date Cliff will plunge into Lower Kaubashine to ICE OUT Black’s Cliff Resort PO Box 125  Hazelhurst WI 54531.  1/2 of the money will go into a pot for the Northwoods Wildlife Hospital, 1/2 goes in the winners pot for the person or persons who pick the correct day he plunges into Lower Kaubashine

If Cliff takes the plunge after the sun goes down, he gets credited to the following day.  Troy and Jenny are not staying up til Midnight with a flashlight watching him.  No more than 2 people may guess the same day.  If the day is full of guessers I will contact you to pick a different day.  Your guesses must be in my mail box by March 15th to count.  You may also contact me through email with  your guess and then send the money by snail mail by the 15th

Let the fun begin and bring on spring!



Great time of year to come up.  We start out lower spring rates this coming weekend starting at 125/night.  The snow is still here and more on the way on Tuesday.  Ski trails in good shape.  We skied the Madeline trail on Saturday, great conditions!



We had other folks up snowmobiling.  This crew is snowmobiling all week and reporting the trails in good shape.  Warmer temps and snow covered trails = happy people



Stopped to see the Cikowski crew on the ice


Mack was very interested in their holes…



Fish were biting.  Jimmy spotted a bunch of perch on this camera just before I got out on the ice



Somebody in the group was wearing a Wisconsin hat….. but I am not saying who….



So come on up and enjoy the trails at the lower spring rates



Or just come up for a good back scratch in the snow



Before too long the snow will be gone and the boats in the water….



But til then time to enjoy the trails and snow covered lake