The Main Lodge is a small renovated 70 year old barn memorializing the life of my beloved deceased son, Tim Kern, a naturalist and outdoorsman. Tim was a unique individual, and in his memory every facet of this old building is also unique, methodically and meticulously renovated with loving hands. We preserved everything possible from the original structure and tried to utilize each material in some way to retain the ambiance of the old barn.
All of this contributed to the “green” establishment it has become.
The Old Muleskinners:
Before modern farm tractors were common, much farm work was done by mules, and the men and women who worked and handled the mules were called “Mule Skinners”. So we have named our lodge after those Muleskinners in memory of Tim who trained mules for competition jumping, trail riding and hunting.
About the Building and Property:
The main lodge was a 20′ x 40′ old barn, the exterior was originally constructed with six inch yellow pine lap siding. The boards were badly weathered but after power washing, drying and sanding, they made good use ‘inside’ as polyurethaned wall boards constructed at angles. Fir 2x6s were then purchased, routed, sanded, stained and made into interlocking half logs for the outside. Since it’s renovation, we’ve surrounded the lodge building with a wondrous 650 square foot composition deck, and have covered most of the deck with a roof. The lodge property consists of 20 acres of Kansas Certified Wildlife Habitat and Kansas Certified Tree Farm land, situated on Raccoon Ridge. No matter in what season you visit us, you’ll have great views overlooking the ravine, creek, and a lovely meadow adjacent to the tiny, old, quaint town of Denison, Kansas.
A little over a hundred years ago, the property was the site of the Denison Fair Grounds. White Tail deer love to forage the bluegrass that still recovers whenever and wherever the brush is removed from the land. The bluegrass is undoubtedly remnant from the fairgrounds era. It is a sheer joy to watch deer occasionally nipping the grass and honeysuckle leaves in the meadow across the ravine from the lodge. As we planted the many trees, I was led to feel, as it was with King Thesus of Crete and his son, that the trees were extensions of my son’s life and that, to me, was consoling. There were many species of trees already established on the property, and now many new ones including a small orchard. Both the wildlife habitat and the tree farm are the focus of much care and have been methodically planned with the Kansas Forestry and Wildlife for a balance to benefit both wildlife and trees.
Pruning the water garden euonomous bushes by me is a thing of the past now as the deer diligently attended to that.
The little red squirrels bounce around the lodge via the Osage Orange (hedge) railings and once in a while a little raccoon may peer in at the sliding glass doors from the deck. They sometimes come up the ravine and right on up the ridge to forage on the euonomous only a few feet from the lodge.
The indoor/outdoor intercom brings daytime bird songs into the lodge in real time and sometimes at night, coyote, raccoon, owl, night hawk, wild goose and fox sounds also.