Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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


We are slowly melting the lake.  It is nice to see some open water for a change.  We still have a ways to go but warm temps are in the forecast


In the meantime while we wait for the snow to melt we have started painting.  The ski shack at the lake got a fresh coat


Mack was soaking up the warm rays being the first sunbather at the beach in 2018


Steve and Troy were finishing up the remodeling touches on Birchwood


Trim going on the new windows


Steve headed to Norway for his next project with his friend Darby.  Some who read the blog will remember Steve meeting up with Darby on a ski trail this winter in the middle of Lake Katherine.  Darby has a hard time keeping his shirt on for pictures that go on the blog


The new over hang over the steps of Norway.  Ever since we remodeled Norway we always intended and discussed changing the stairs and putting up a small roof.  Well it is finally happening.  No more slippery wet steps at Norway they will be covered



It will be a very nice project to cross off the list


In other news around the resort, Troy and I finished making our maple syrup.  It was not a good year for sap and we only made about half of what we usually do.  The weather just did not cooperate to get a good sap run this year.  There is a reason folks call maple syrup brown gold.  6 quarts is 2 months of cooking and hauling buckets of sap.  We will enjoy it on pancakes all year


In family news, our youngest son Grant had his signing ceremony at the high school signing his letter of intent to swim at Saint Norbert College next fall.  Can’t wait to see this kid ripping up the new pool at Saint Norbert.  Til then it is time work out at the woodshed and swim the lake.  We are very proud of his accomplishments and can’t wait to see where it leads him.  His brother Ben is also at Saint Norbert and is a life guard in the pool unless his brother talks him back into swimming.  We are waiting to see where Jake and Michelle land with their teaching jobs yet for next fall.  All of them could be in the Fox Valley next fall


All of this is very exhausting for Mack to keep up with.  He went from sunbathing at the beach to cooling off in the remaining snow banks

Resort dogs life is exhausting



The snow is finally melting the last few days.  We had a lot to melt so we still have a substantial amount on the ground.  Enough to stop any ideas of spring clean up around the resort.  Here is the walk way to the beach

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Here was our wood pile a week ago


Here it is this morning


Heading down to the beach the lake is still pretty white.  We are going to be in the upper 50’s and flirting with 60 all week so hopefully the melting goes fast.  The tilt of the sun now you can feel the extra warmth and longer days


Shoreline starting to get gray


It was thick enough I felt ok stepping out but did not go far from shore

Will the lake be open by the fishing opener?  Not sure it is going to be a close call on that


Birchwood in the melting snow today


The maple trees are flowing today and we got our old cooker going.  We have been collecting maple sap since the last week of February off and on with the temps.  The big flow of sap though will be today or tomorrow and we are ready to cook it.

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Still a lot of snow to melt

Our low spring rates starting at 135/night will be in effect up to Memorial weekend and for the week after.  We still have a few June openings if you are interested give a call

June 2 – 9th Birchwood and Holiday 975 and 1550/week

June 9 – 15th 6 nights Blackwood 2 bdr

June15 – 22 Blackwood 1275/week

June 16 – 23 Shamrock 3bdr 1665/week

June 23 – 30th Wigwam 3 bdr 1665/week

June 22 – 29th Red Pine 4 bdr home 2620/week up to 10 people



It has been a long few days.  We received a foot and a half of snow on top of the foot or so we already had on the ground.  The birds were staying near the feeder.  We have migratory birds coming in right now and I think they are ready to head back south



In between digging out for 2 days we worked on our new horse racing game.  Troy had 44 horses cut out to complete 4 games.  We got them painted up over the weekend.  They just need a coat of varnish yet. 


Here he is completing the game board.  He was drilling holes for the horses to move along the track


The guys also got some cabin work done.  They put new counters in Shamrock


Someone forgot the sink hole again…

While they did this I have gotten almost all the cabins spring cleaned and blankets washed ready for May visitors.  Many resorts in our area are not year round and do not have the ability to turn on water until the frost is out of the ground.  There are going to be a lot of resorts struggling to get open by even mid May.  We are lucky not to have to worry about that.  Getting the resort cleaned up from leaves, docks and boats in, and painting done is going to be our nightmare.  Our lake is far from going out and the rakes and paint brushes are collecting dust at the moment


More importantly Mack is wondering where in the world is he going to poop.  He was not thrilled with the new snow


We did get it all cleaned up but it sure was a lot of snow for April.  I read that we received more snow in April so far than in December, January and February combined

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View off the hill this morning.  The lake is going nowhere.  50’s though are seen this week and through the end of the month.  We have not even finished maple syrup season.  Our trees have run here and there but the big flow has not happened yet.  When the sap flows this time it is going to be fast and furious and then done

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The last pile of wood for the house for winter.  Come on Spring!

So never fear those with May reservations we will be open.  We may be running around when you are here getting things going that are usually done in April so hang in there with us this spring and grab a paint brush if you are bored



Mack:  Hey Penny, no bacon today it is slim pickings in the begging department.  Nobody around the resort

Penny:  Ok big guy we got to talk to Mother Nature….  this is unacceptable!


The deer agree with Penny and Mack… unacceptable


The only thing going on is when ever I turn my back the guys have the tools out and are making a mess in a new cabin.  Restawhile was next on the list


Really Troy this outside kitchen idea will work.  People will love the airy kitchens…


Ummm no…  much better inside


Yes Steve everyone who stays in Restawhile would like to have their bathroom sink back please

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Here is the finished Birchwood plus a few tools


I did steal the varnish bucket from the guys  and headed to the office for some community room beautification


Eagles Nest trees have been waking up and producing a little bit of maple sap.  We still need the warmer temps to get things really flowing.


Ice out is still a long ways off.  We have more snow coming in for the weekend before we finally see some better spring temps

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The snow is very slow to melt this year.  It is causing us to be very behind in our outside spring clean up.  So instead we have headed inside to get projects done


Steve was busy measuring for new counters.  Birchwood bathroom and kitchen, Shamrock and Restawhile kitchens are all getting new counters

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Birchwood before

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and now with new counters

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New windows in Birchwood getting varnish


It is much better than working outside

The office is also getting some finishing touches with the varnish bucket


If this is a view you like give a call we have cabins open!


Picture sent by Steve of Penny enjoying the snow we got today.  Penny might be the only one enjoying it.  2 snowstorms with 6 – 10 inches each in 4 days is not the April we had in mind


More snow coming down and this was the view we had today.  The lake is nowhere near going out


So instead it was better to stay inside and varnish the new windows in Birchwood


Maybe the snow will melt by July…. maybe…..


Troy and I left for a few days for a short trip to Door County to meet up with Jake and Michelle while the resort is quiet

Eric and Chris came up to watch the resort with their wives and families.  While we were gone they had fun with power tools and Birchwood.  I left Steve with the resort checkbook and he had plans…… Eric and Chris love to remodel… what could possibly go wrong with them all working together….  answer…. Nothing went wrong….. until we got back and they took out chain saws on the trees…. but that is a story for another day.  New picnic table for Birchwood is no on order


When we left Eric was busy taking apart things in the bathroom

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Chris was getting started on the windows while Steve was busy with the checkbook

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Meanwhile we had a good few days away in Egg Harbor and Fish Creek with Jake and Michelle. Wine and cheese were on the top of the list.


When we came back they were burning things in the fireplace


One of my requests was a window that would open in the corner which they did


New kitchen windows that are easier to open but they best was yet to come…


New dinning room windows!.  You can crank them out instead of putting wood in to open them up.  Also they are easy to clean.  The old wind0ws were so hard to take apart I am embarrassed to say how often they got washed.  The view out these new windows is amazing!


Here is Eric’s project.  New floor in the bathroom.  We ordered the same floor for the rest of the cabin coming next week. Also a new sink in the bathroom, new sink in the kitchen, counters and a new front door.  Birchwood is shinning with the improvements I think all will enjoy but it keeps the Birchwood charm.


Now to find that new picnic table after a birch tree landed on the old one…


Lake is still frozen…. it is going to be a late ice out this year


I had these beautiful pictures of Bond Falls in Watersmeet shared with me by Linda and John Wrobel who took a trip up to see them in the spring melt.  It is an awesome time to head to see all the great water falls within an hour and hour 15 minutes of the resort





Thank you to John and Linda for sharing your trip with us!

Bond Falls is beautiful anytime of the year but spring is my favorite

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Steve and Troy headed out on a mission in the woods with snowshoes on and chainsaw in hand.  What could go wrong?  

Snowshoes are not clumsy at all and you can run away from falling trees quickly….. really…..


Steve:  “I have no idea why you think this might be a bad idea….”

Off to the swamp they went


Steve in his golden snowshoes searching for the perfect trees for his project


Trees marked earlier in the winter with orange tape for the special project.  Now to cut them down and haul them out


You can see who the smart one is who chooses to haul the trees in snowshoes instead of cutting trees in snowshoes

Hauling trees out of the woods is also why they tricked me into coming into the woods with them.  I got to help


We did it!  No idea why you had workman’s comp and the insurance agency on speed dial


Steve’s project pile.  These are all destine for the stairs to the beach.  Steve and Troy are replacing all the white railings before summer

The poles will all be skinned and stained as soon as the weather cooperates


Back at the resort…. spring is springing slowly


The guys traded in their snowshoes for axes and hit the wood pile


In the last 3 weeks they have managed to put in quite a few rows into the woodshed.  This will be late summer and next fall and early winter wood


Chris Moran stopped Steve in the driveway to tell him he really needs a truck


Truck who needs a truck!  Volvos are made of tough stuff!  Doesn’t everyone haul around trees on their volvos


Chris Moran and his friends Heather and Eric Peterson are up for the week and helping Steve with a few projects.  Birchwood is on their list of things to work on.  Stay tuned.  Pictures of Birchwood getting a bit of a make over are coming.  

Eric and Chris may come up later in the month for the beach stairs project as well when the snow leaves

Amanda is missing in the picture but I hear she is milking a few cows and making cheese and will be up later in the week to join this crazy crew

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Troy has been enjoying identifying all sorts of migratory birds coming through our feeder that we only see twice a year as they go through.  Red Polls where our visitors the last few days

Our summer opening list is getting smaller and smaller.  Check it out on our website before they are all gone

April is quiet and if you want to check out what the projects are give a call.  Except for Birchwood…. I think it will have some natural air conditioning for the next week or so as we have it closed down


Troy looked out our window waking up and looking over at Kaubashine saw a bob cat by the wood pile.  In all my years I have never seen a bobcat in the resort. It quickly left before either of us could get to our phones to take a picture


We did check out the snow for tracks.  Due to the ice it is hard to say but we thought we saw tracks in the snow

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