Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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


The snow is not going anywhere and it is starting to look a bit like Christmas around the resort.  Troy has about 12 trees lit up through the resort and it is getting more and more feeling like Christmas


We did play Scrooge with a squirrel . The squirrel is trying to get in to the feeder and our automatic squirrel spinner is taking it for quite a ride.  Squirrel ended being flung into a snow bank


We had Jake and Sarah up this weekend.  They were working on earning some extra Christmas money by filling the woodshed


They helped us get a start on next summer’s wood.  They earned a few Christmas cookies


We also had the Moore family up this weekend  They tried out snowshoes for the first time.  Vicki was having fun in the snow


Vicki, Rob and Barb had a few visitors down in the driveway by Holiday at night


Mack was not interested in the visitors but much happier to count down to Christmas in front of the fireplace

Our college students, Ben and Grant will be home this week for break and Christmas gets going as they are home for the holidays. 

We do have openings throughout the Christmas break if you are looking to sneak up to the woods.  I just put Wigwam on special for Christmas up to Dec 26th at 180/night for up to 5 people.   


As we clean up from 2 big snow storms over the holidays it is pretty to look at as long as you are not shoveling it

This morning with the early morning sun peaking through the pines


I was going to go to the lake and take some pictures but the beach steps were not shoveled and the is how much snow is covering them 


So enjoy the pics from the top of the hill


Late in the day over at Bear Den the views were as good





We have plenty of cabins open up to Christmas if you need a little trip to the woods give a call


We woke up to this view our our windows Wednesday.  We spend Wednesday shoveling out 12 inches of heavy wet snow before Thanksgiving 



Some of us had more fun than others trying out the new plow


Others got a good work out after spending too many hours studying at Saint Norbert


Peggy at Charles Fine Cheese said to say Happy Thanksgiving to all her favorite resort guests who who stop by for ice cream.  Peggy was fondly thinking back to warm summer afternoons while shoveling for the 3rd time Wednesday



It was pretty.  The casualty of the day was my back.  I ended the day in pain and begging my doctor for a script of predizone before she left for the day.  There are no pictures of families this year enjoying their Thanksgiving dinners as I was laying on the couch with an ice pack Thursday.  Thankful for a husband and sons who kicked in and got the turkey cooked and dinner on the table.  

More snow coming on Saturday



Its the calm before the storm.  The last time to wear shoes outside in the leaves.  There is snow storm after snow storm predicted in the next week and I have lost track of how many inches.  I just know I will have to put this shoes away tomorrow morning and break out the snow boots to help with the shoveling

Everyone who is arriving for Thanksgiving drive safe and leave a little later the roads should be better later in the day Wednesday


Steve is all set to plow out the resort with his new plow.  He gets to learn how to maneuver this big plow.  He has never used a plow with a split in the middle.  He can move it back and forth like waving.  Stay out of his way


All set for the storms.  Chairs put away for the winter just waiting for the arrival of the white stuff tonight

We are just happy Ben and Grant are arriving home tonight and will be off the roads.  Jake in his little white go kart (aka Fiat) might wait till Thanksgiving morning.  The Fiat does not do the snow as good as mom’s Chevy Traverse all wheel drive no matter what he thinks

Pictures of snow coming soon


Some have been working hard this week filling the wood shed before the snow gets thick


Some have not been working as hard


Ben, Grant and Jake have all expressed interest to split some wood over the next week.  Troy and Steve have given them plenty to work with

Poor college students needing cash indentured to the woodshed is the way to go!  Jake will be introducing Sarah to piling wood at the resort there is an art to it


The final pile


Penny would like it pointed out she is not laying on a dog bed waiting forlornly for bacon cookers to arrive


I think this picture sums it up right now.  Winter is knocking on the door.  We do have cabins open with a 1 night minimum at times up to Christmas if you are looking for a short trip away or a long one.  Christmas week is booking up if you want to enjoy the holidays at the resort give a call.  

Thanksgiving we have one 2 bdr left open up to Friday which is Bayview at 140/night 2 night minimum


The ice is freezing things in.  I jumped on the raft and it is stuck solidly in the ice with no bounce at all. 


There were a few tracks close to shore on the ice.  Not sure guessing this might be a rabbit.  I know it is not Mack’s tracks


There will be no fishing at Thanksgiving this year


We have been working inside getting things done.  Besides working at the desk the hat machine has been whirling with me making hats.  Yarn has been flying as I get ready for shows next week and filling Christmas orders.


I caught my brother inlaw Bryon at the Great Northern Coffee Shop.  He was giving a thumbs up for working on the new Black’s Cliff website.  Right now he has a resort map in the works.  He and Steve will be putting their heads together to come up with the best one in the Northwoods.  Our old one used Flash and could not be downloaded anymore so we got a make over from Bryon.  The website will be a creative process for the next few months as we add to it and edit things


It was a quiet and colder weekend but perfect to spend up North


The Blaser Family was thrilled to enjoy the first snows and a hike in the woods with their kids


Mack contemplating the arrival of an early winter


Even with the cold it was time to get a few things done.  Jake was up for the weekend and we put him to work making winter kindling as Troy loaded up wood

Recognize that trim he is denailing for kindling?


Steve and Chris Moran were the suppliers of the kindling trim


All of the 70’s dark paneling in Bear Den’s upstairs bedroom is gone.   Looks good guys!


A few hooks installed in the closet for all those hook people out there

More to come in the spring after Steve goes window shopping


View off the hill of the freezing lake


With temps cracking 32 it was time to head for a walk in the woods with Mack


Down the Red Trail we went


Mack keeping eye out for any stray deer that might cross the path


Though the valley of darkness


To the frozen swamp


And back home to the warm wood stove and comfy new bed.  

Mack really has a rough life


It may seem quiet at the resort but it has been a busy week


We had part of our crew from the 4th of July stop up to the resort for a few days of fun.  Ottos was a great evening with everyone to start out the fun


We choose this weekend because it is craft fair weekend in Minocqua and Murry brings up her creations to sell at her own booth.  She also had Linda Hoadley’s famous pot holder bowls with that were being sold to support the Northwoods Wildlife Hospital.  The pot holders were flying off the table!


I was next door to Murry making and selling socks, hats, gloves and scarves.  It was the most entertaining booths in the show with commentary flowing between the two booths


Troy’s sister Felicia on the far right, was up this weekend with her friends for their annual cabin weekend.  They were up to shenanigas the craft fair was their first stop.  There were a few others but things that happen on shenanigans weekend stay up north

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There tame shenanigans was a fun afternoon crafting


We had more sock machine lessons with Amanda who is considering giving my last sock machine for sale a new home.  Stanley the sock machine went back home with Amanda after he made it through the first pair of socks with her


Murry tried her hand at using one of my other machines making her own pair.  Amy my soap making friend was showing her how to make a heel.  Murry and Amanda had fun and have a new member of their family, Stanley, as long as he does not bit anyone with his sharp needles and behaves

At the moment I have no other sock machines for sale.  Troy is ok with me having 8 resident sock machines 5 of them are on permanent display and in retirement.  Three of them are at the house working.  Then there is the hat machine and the 1890 flatbed knitting machine but those don’t count.  

When I find another machine to sell I will announce it.  Machines come with sock making lessons.  So far 4 of them have headed out my door to new homes


Rich and Gloria Snodgrass while visiting took a drive over to Cedar Falls and took some nice pictures they shared with me


Thanks for sharing, Rich and Gloria!


Once everyone left it was time to get back to work.  Raking and blowing the resort is high on Troy’s list


Steve and his buddy Chris Moran had other ideas involving power tools and making holes in things.  First thing was a door on the boat barn


Making holes!


Looking good at the boat barn!


When the table saw gets moved over to a cabin things are serious along with a pile of lumber.  

The cabins get empty and the projects start.  Bear Den has a few more things on its list this year


First up was ugly 70’s paneling removal in queen bedroom upstairs


This was the end of day one.  We shall see how far they get.  I heard this is just a short project, not taking on the window replacement til spring


Penny just wants to have a warm place to take a nap while they work


Speaking of warm places that is not at the beach this week


Yep that is ice out half way into the lake.  With more cold temps on deck for next week


Time to enjoy the fireplaces at the resort and peace and quiet as long as the power tools are not being used



Light snow and cold arrived this week making it perfect.  Perfect for what you ask?  Just wait and see


The ladies started arriving one by one setting up in Muskie for our first official Crank In at the resort.  The 1st Annual Loons At The Lake Crank In started with 15 – 20 machines and crankers set up in.  We moved out all the furniture to make room for everyone.  We spent 3 days laughing, cranking, eating and learning from each other.  The farthest traveler we had was Missouri.  Many people ask me does anyone else do what you do with sock machines and the answer is yes.  We had a waiting list of more who wanted to come but we ran out of room


Cindy above bought one of my old machines back on vacation in June and was back to learn more.  Vicki behind her was a pro who was sharing her knowledge of the ribber with the rest of us along with much more


Shari and her husband John enjoying time together and helping others.  Emily behind them was our farthest traveler from Missouri along with her buddy Hilly.  Emily was working on a Legare machine from Canada


We had several newbies stopping in like Linda above who used one of my extra machines to make her first sock.  It may be the only sock she ever makes but she did it herself and was thrilled.  Working on my first machine I ever got a 1924 Gearhart


My buddy Hilly who invented the pedals for my sock machine is next to the windows with her machine from the 20’s hooked up to her original pedals  Hilly traveled from Hanibal Missouri to join us and get the only 2 pedaling machines in the country together for the first time.  Amy is on the right side of the machine who makes all the soaps everyone in the resort has enjoyed this summer and was learning how to use her machine that she also got from me.  


Deb on the left who never had been in a room with other sock machines brought her 20’s Legare to learn from everyone.  Peggy on the right had a new machine like my red pedaling machine from Erlbacher Gearhart in in Missouri that makes about 10 machines a week at the moment.  Erlbacher has a 2 month waiting period to get one of their new machines.  So far they have put abut 1500 new machines out into the world.  4 of them were at our crank in


Christy from central Wisconsin was teaching techniques on her Legare.  A Legare is just a brand of machine just like Ford is to cars.  Christy bought her machine in January when she saw the article about my machine in Our Wisconsin Magazine.  Christy in 10 months has learned more techniques than I have in my 7 years of sock making.  She had everyones undivided attention solving the problem of dog eared toes and explaining the joys of ravelry cord.


Christy with her friend Diane could not wait to get her hands of my hat machine and try it out.  Diane works at the Nueske’s Meat store and antiques.  Many of our guests stop at Nueske’s to buy great meat on their way to the resort.  Say hi to Diane and you may see her sock machine which is now on display at the store.


Hilly giving instructions to one of our newbies who dropped in.  Pat had run into a sock machine in an auction for 95 dollars and snapped it up 3 weeks ago from 1904.  Pat was thrilled to find a group to give her a hand learning this new craft and is headed down a rabbit hole.  It was fun to see all the different tables and set ups everyone had come up with from Amy’s ladder to Diane’s antique table to Hilly and my pedal seat up.  Hilly on the left used an old treadle base for her set up.  


After day one it was time for a little wine


Wine was enjoyed and laughs and food.


Some enjoyed their wine a lot


We also had a sock machine mechanic stop in Pete Oswald with his wife Deb.  They brought back to me my 1890 Lamb flat bed knitting machine that I had tried to restore this summer.  The number of parts when I was putting it back together baffled me and I sent it off to visit Pete for a few months.  Pete cleaned it up amazingly well.  It still needs some tweaks and I have yet to learn how to use it but it is very pretty and an amazing piece of history.  Troy and I have our home work to do from Pete and will be heading to Ham Lake Minnesota in January to get Pete to fine tune it after Troy makes a 100 clips for it from wire.  Deb will be giving me some instruction on how to use the old machine and we may have it going by summer.  Time will tell


The beautiful finish and decorative painting on the machine survived the years and rust.  Pete helped me clean up the brass fittings without loosing the black finish


Thanks Pete!!!  


The ladies took a cranking break to enter Hilly’s dye shop.  Everyone got on gloves


Hilly was like a mad scientist mixing up the colors of dye


Off they went dyeing away sock tubes


I did a polka dot tube


Everyone went home with a tube to make a sock out of dyed by themselves.  The Packer colors in the middle will be Packer socks and gloves for sale at the gift shop as soon as I get them knit up.  Hilly will be dyeing Packer yarn for me in the future and you will see her yarns made up into socks in the shop from now on.  Just ask me what Hilly socks I have done when you are in the shop.  Hilly promise to keep my mail box full of special dyed yarns from Missouri that will be Hilly originals just like she is 


All good things must come to an end and so they did….


Looking forward to the 2nd Annual Loons At The Lake 2020 already!


It has been a beautiful fall.  The dog gets lost in the leaves


Late fall colors


We had a wonderful weekend with our college friends Matt and Tammy.  Matt brought his tripod cooker up and promised to make wonderful dinner and he did not disappoint   First night was chicken thighs and potatoes.  Matt calls this 5 beer chicken.  You drink 5 beers while it cooks and that is the measure of when it is done.  It was perfect




Matt caught Mack enjoying the shnibbles left over on the cooker the next morning


I had a long craft fair on Saturday and was starved….


Warming the cooker up for venison wrapped in bacon and seasoned with teriaki 


Mat getting the proper spin on the cooker that keeps everything cooking equally.  He also raises and lowers the cooker.  We may never look at a weber grill again


This was a 3 beer meal.  




Back to work taking out the pontoons.  This was colder than it looks

This week starting Monday we have 20 sock machine folks coming to the resort for the first ever crank in.  Muskie will be set up for 20 sock machines and the click clack clicking of the machines will echo through the resort.  Stay tuned for pictures.  Everyone thinks I am the only one who uses sock machines.  I have one lady traveling all the way from Missouri for Loons At The Lake 2019 Crank In

Wild pictures to come