Black's Cliff Resort's Birch Bark Blog

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


It was a beautiful Memorial Weekend.  70’s for temps and no rain Saturday and Sunday.  Perfect for enjoying the first days of summer


The water tramp made it out on the water to join the raft.  Grant and Quinton helping Troy get it set on the anchor.  They wanted to go water skiing but the red boat is not in yet so the water tramp was the next best thing 


Grant and Quinton enjoying the ride back from the tramp.  All in a days work at the resort.  Much better than finals week at the dorm


This lady was enjoying her 33 year at the resort watching her family have fun fro the top of the steps.  Nobody had a bigger smile this weekend than she did and nobody styled hats as well either


After getting the stink eye from a couple of humming birds it was time to get the feeders up.  One particularly aggressive hummer flew over this pile of feeders getting our attention as if to say “Hey get off your butts and get these hung up”  Grant, Quinton and Conner got to making sap for them.  We boil it 4 – 1 water to sugar no red dye


Steve and Bella spent part of the winter making the worlds best jump ropes as voted by Bella

They are for sale in the gift shop


Here are their sizes.  Bella will demo them if needed


Back to enjoying the rest of the weekend and remembering why we celebrate it.  

Salute to our Veterans who sacrificed and gave their service for us to enjoy this great place


Rosebreasted Grosebeak stopped by when he heard and a bunch of his friends….


Someone at the resort turned 50 not saying who but there was much fun had by all…. 


After a long week of work getting the resort ready everyone was ready for a party.  Ben and Grant tired and thinking finals week was easier than resort opening


Ben boning up on his skills to weave anchor rope on the boats.  If any anchors get loose this summer see Ben.  


Lots of beach cleaning


Steps going in, ladders on the raft and slide in place


Blue dock going in


Big Brown dock with lots of hands to help


Is it straight?


Alright I declare it straight enough!  Now who wants to put the raft out?


Off it goes being pushed out from shore


Now I learned all the wrong ways to do it from Paul….  now to do it right…


Yep looks good and done in record time

We have not had great weather for getting things done this spring but we have taken advantage of every good day with lots of hands to help and got it done!

Memorial Weekend we are full Friday, Saturday and Sunday

I have some specials going for before and after the weekend check them out at click on Availability.  Weekend rentals over June 1st weekend require 3 night minimum except for Bear Den which can be booked for 2 nights at 320/night up to 10 people

Eagles Nest June 1 – 8th 135/night mid week and 165/night Fri and Sat or 920/week

Birchwood May 29th and 30th and June 5 – 8th at 155/night

Wigwam May 27 – June 8th 175/night mid week 210/night Fri and Sat or 1200/week

Muskie May 27 – June 1st on special for smaller groups up to 4 people at 165/night or 210/night up to 8 people

Bayview May 29 to June 3 135/night mid week and 165/night Fri and Sat 3 night minimum

Norway May 30th – June 3th 190/night mid week and 245/night Friday and Sat 

We have 2 remaining openings for the remainder of the summer 

Blackwood June 17 – 21st 180/night 2 bdr 4 nights

Wigwam 3bdr June 22 – 29th at 1715/week.  I will consider breaking this week up into a 4 and 3 night rentals at 250/night but you must either start on June 22 or leave on June 29th so I can rent the other nights

Call 715 356 3018 for more details




It has been a busy week.  Besides all the work going on with the late spring Bryon has moved our website to a different more secure server and there have been days of things moving over from servers including the blog.  

While that was going on Ben and Grant made it home in time to help with resort opening.  They got all the green boats painted and then moved on to docks


And painting the perch….


After a week of finals painting steps is relaxing.  We put them to work


Troy worked ahead of them getting the scraping done.  Picnic tables quickly got spiffy


Nobody takes pictures of me working but I had my own projects


Lots and lots of paint slinging was going on


Steve in on the action as well with his own projects painting trim in Birchwood


Steve got help from Chris Bognar who had a quiet week at home till we called with lots of work to keep him busy


Steve and Chris made quick work of Shamrock and Kaubashine getting painting done there


Keep going Grant!  We are not done yet and resort is full this weekend.  Paint paint paint!


Troy made quick work of straightening the docks while everyone else was painting.  He happily has non leaky waders on and is not sharing them with anyone


Our first shipment of new shirts arrived today.  I ordered a bunch of new kids shirts.  Check them out in the gift shop


Penny following Mack’s lead on sleeping her way through all the work.  She just wants everyone to finish and throw the ball for her


Despite how busy Mack looks we had a busy weekend with 8 cabins at the resort and trying to get spring work done around the resort.  Don’t let Mack fool you that spring around a resort in relaxing if you live here.  


While Mack was busy sleeping we got the raft painted


The ladders for the dock and raft got a fresh paint job as well.  This next week is going to be all about getting the beach opened up and ready


Meanwhile someone woke up long enough to wander down to the beach with a  stick to chew on.  He really has a ruff life


The big brown dock also got a scrap job and we started painting it before the rain hit


Big blue dock spread out drying also for a paint job later in the week.  Troy did get the white steps into the lake painted as well in the corner of the picture


I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon working on my 4 sock machines I am rehabbing and selling this summer.  So far 3 of them are cleaned up and getting closer to being ready to go


Troy helped me with this repair on one of the machines.  It is a 1920 machine and its cams needed a new spring.  We pulled an old spring out of a pen and that is all it took to get the came flipping again


There was some fishing going on this weekend.  Rob Schulz was out test driving one of the motors as the first user of it this spring.  All was good.  I did not hear how the fishing went


Amy the soap lady stopped to drop off my first shipment of goat milk soaps.  We are putting her soaps in all of the bathrooms in the cabins for guests.  They are great and I think everyone will enjoy them.  I will also have her larger bars for sale in the gift shop.  Lilies of the Valley, Oak leaves and Acorns, and Oatmeal and Honey are the first find we are trying.  I will also have her Sportmans soap that washes away human scent for fishermen and hunters to use


All this work, Mack needed a break.  Charlies Cheese opened and he got his first doggie cone which he spent 5 minutes slowly licking and enjoying on the ground

Its a Dog’s Life



The lake has opened up and the loons are back.  We heard our first loons a couple of days ago.  There was supposed to be a poser in this picture on the dock….. I swear he knew before going to the lake that I would ask him to pose out on the dock because he would not come down the steps and when he did he kept out of range.  Who could this chicken dressed up like a dog be…….


Ummm… no I know what you are up to with that camera and the ice is gone and my paws are staying on ground.  No docks and certainly not stepping out nom the raft


So imagine a golden retriever sun bathing on the raft.  The sun was as scarce as the golden retriever.  Raft is ready for a coat of paint as soon as the sun dries it out and 2 boys make it home from college.  Only a week and a half and Ben and Grant will be home for summer.  


Dock parts waiting for a warmer day as well to go in the water


Sock machine news.  This 1924 machine will be the first of my rehabbed machines for sale starting next week.  It is running really well.  A few more tweaks and it will be out in the office for sale.  If you are interested in buying a sock machine I will have 4 of them for sale from 1920 – 1924 all Gearharts ready to make socks.  Contact me at for more info.  All machines will come with a sock making lesson


One of the repairs it needed was a new heel spring attached by JB Weld.  We did this repair for 3 of the machines on their masts

I did have a cancellation June 22 – 29th on Wigwam 3 bdr and Bear Den is still open July 26 – August 2nd

We have nightly openings up to June 8th with a 3 night minimum.  Check out the website for details on these at or call 715 356 3018

Shamrock is on special from now until May 17th at 155/night for up to 4 people or 170/night for up to 6.

Fishing Opener May 4th weekend we still have a few cabins open starting at 135/night

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The lake is very quickly heading to ice out.  The darker it gets the closer it gets to open water


The raft is floating free today of its ice winter home


View off the hill today of the darkening lake.  The small pond by Save More Grocery store is ice free today it is always the lake that opens first


Troy blew through 4 fill ups of gas in the leaf blower today cleaning up the leaves


Looks so much better after he went through


We were also spring cleaning cabins.  This drawer of Scrabble games in Muskie makes me think of Jack and Char who would always have a game going on the table when they stayed.  I happily organized the loose Scrabble game drawer thinking of them.  Certain games in each cabin bring memories of the family that enjoys each.  The loose ping pong balls in the drawer above the Scrabble drawer I also know who left and happily left them to be found again this summer on a hot night in July with red Solo Cups


Troy and I happily ended our maple syrup season canning 6 gallons of syrup.  Unfortunately we had some bad sap at some point that effected the flavor of the sap but we canned it anyway it is better than the stuff the call syrup in the store


I also spent some time working on one of my sock machines I will be putting for sale  I oiled and cleaned this 1924 machine,  It turns like a trooper.  I will have it ready to go in a week or so.  I will be selling it with a lesson in how to make socks if interested let me know.  I will have 4 machines for sale during the year as I get them oiled and cleaned


I also had new arrivals for the Gift Shop.  These graphite fire lighters arrived.  You strike them for a spark to get the fire going


We also had these great marshmallow cookers arrive.  They spread out to cook as many marshmallows as you can get on them over the fire


These more traditional marshmallow cookers arrived as well


I also have them in the longer variety


Puggie Pie irons will also be in the shop

Stay tuned I have a few more items arriving along with new sweatshirts and T shirts.  I am picking out the new logo this week


Reggie the bunny was hoping around the resort this weekend.  He is 50 years old and follows the Jensen family where ever their Easter plans take them through the generations.  This year it brought him to Muskie

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Lots of Easter resort fun as well with the Martin Family who had quite the egg hunt around the resort


While on an egg hunt through you have to take time for the important things


And of course stopping to pet Mack who was enjoying the warm Easter sun


We also had some Loons up who thought they fit The Loony Bin sign well


We had a house full as well of friends up enjoying our first meal on the deck.  Everyone enjoyed the warmer temps, good food and even better friends


As we cooked off the last of our maple syrup there were many suggestions on how to make it cook faster.  You can’t have 3 guys around a fire and not have suggestions on what to do.  In the end the longer stove pipe with a damper was a good improvement and we will be ready for next sap season

The majority of sap is cooked down.  We are now finishing it off in the house the next couple of days.  I think this is going to be a banner year for syrup


Sunday afternoon the lake is getting more and more open.  We may just make that May 4th fishing opener



With warmer temps this week we have spotted our first open water.  I am sure the ducks are not far away.  Temps going to 65 on Saturday will get things really moving along melting


I caught Penny down on our side of the lake looking forlornly at her swimming hole.  It will be a few more days before we get open water on our side


At least the beach steps are clear of snow.  They need a good sweeping.  Spring clean up starts as soon as we get a little drier weather


This week has been all about spring cleaning.  The guys were supposed to be shampooing carpets, dusting and washing windows.  Instead they found a couple of projects.  The curtains in Red Pine open the correct way now and there just might be labels on the confusing switches in Red PIne stay tuned


The maple trees are finally done running.  We have a huge back log of sap waiting to be cooked squirreled away in pots in snowbanks, and fridges all over the resort keeping it cool until we can cook it down.  Right now we are cooking it as fast as we can four different ways.  From the wood stove above


Kitchen stove.  Notice the color difference between the pots.  The one on the left has thicker syrup in it more concentrated it is brown under all that foam just like the pots on the wood stove a rich brown.  The pot on the right is the clean sap that is not very concentrated.  I used fresh sap in that pot when I started it up.  People are so surprised that maple syrup comes from clear liquid that looks like water.  As you cook it down that is where the brown color comes from


Our outside cooker in the rain.  A steady rain had us scrambling to keep the fire going.  Yes I moved the cardboard box after this picture.

My favorite way of cooking is on the wood stove it is just not the fastest when you have a lot of sap.  We should have a good supply once it all cooks down.  


The snow is getting thinner and thi



We are slowly melting the snow from the big storm last week.  Hopefully the resort looks less white in a few days.  We have warmer temps and rain headed our way and that should hurry up the melting.  I think Steve is taking the plow off for the last time this week.  Hopefully that is a good sign.


I was not taking the steps to the beach for lake pics this morning.  It was slippery and snow covered and I did not want to break my ankle.  So no beach pics till the steps are clearer


I shot this picture from the top of the steps.  The lake should be much darker in a few days when the rain comes in


I had the chance to purchase 5 sock machines last week.  They arrived and I am sorting them out.  That brings my total machines to 10   4 of them will be going for sale as soon as I get them oiled up and cleaned.  The one in the middle of the picture I am going to keep it is from 1893 – 1897 it will be on display in my office as my oldest sock machine.  The one in the box in the back of the picture is a treasure.  It is at Lamb flat bed machine from 1870’s I will also be keeping that one and hopefully have it knitting this summer.  


This is one of the 4 that will be going for sale.  It is a Gearhart from probably 1914 – 1920ish.  If interested in the knitting machines send me a message.  I do not know pricing on them yet until I see how many ribbers, cylinders and dials each one will have.  When I sell them I will also give a lesson in how to use one and make a sock.  They will be in the 1000 dollar range depending on how many accessories each has.  These machines were headed to a scrap heap until the owner of them saw my article in the Our Wisconsin magazine and called me with the collection his dad had in the garage in Milwaukee 


Hopefully this scene with snow is gone soon and campfires come back

I have just listed June 1 – 8th remaining cabins can be booked nightly I have Wigwam, Norway and Eagles Nest open check out for prices or call 715 356 3018 details under availability.  If you are taking the end of the week I just ask you book it through departing on the 8th not the 7th with a 3 night minimum

We do still have Blackwood 2bdr  open Jun 17 for 4 nights leaving the 21st and July 28th – August 2 for 5 nights

Bear Den 4 bdr is open July 26 – August 2nd at 2700/week up to 10 people