First, the Dashwood update.
They are getting so big and are just over a week old now. They have little wing feathers and tiny little tails. Except Marianne, the one with the chipmunk stripes, she has no tail feathers. At first we were afraid the others might be picking on her and pulling them out or something, but I think her tail is just slow to get going because while she gets pecked she doesn’t appear to be overly pecked.
We had to make the sides of the brooder taller and for two days did not need the screen on top. Then they all decided to start testing those new wing feathers and love taking running leaps at the side of the box, frantically flapping their tiny wings. They make it higher than you think they should be able to.
Here is an update video. They were upset when I turned off their heat lamp so I could film and then the camera freaked them out a little too. Mrs. Dashwood is the black one with the white smudge on her head, Margaret is the other black one. The red one is Elinor and the the chipmunk is Marianne.
I have stopped trying to pick them up since they did not like it one bit. Instead I put a little bit of food in my hand and they come right over and eat and stand on my hand. Margaret likes very much to scratch, more than the others, and she climbs on my hand, stands on the food and flicks her feet through it, flinging it off my hand and around the brooder. Then she climbs off my hand and wonders where all the food went.
Mrs. Dashwood remains top bird. She is the first to investigate anything different, the first to try tofly, the one who charges at things she thinks are a threat. She isn’t really bossy but she is the one who pecks the others, they do not peck her. Elinor is second in command, more relaxed than Mrs. D, but she keeps an eye on things. Margaret and Marianne seem content to let the other two keep order. They are kind of like the smaller kids who hang back until they see what’s up. Margaret and Marianne also get excited about things, especially Marianne. I think hers is the loudest peep and when she eats, she really gets into it.
Today was a decent day and Bookman and I got a chance to work on the coop. There is a roof now and we put down vinyl flooring on the coop floor. We have plywood and cinder blocks on top of it while the glue dries to hold the flooring down. Time to start on the walls now!
In the garden the Siberian squill is blooming. There is a little crocus in a front yard bed that managed to work its way up through the winter mulch I still haven’t removed — we had a few hours of snow Wednesday and it has been freezing at night. Today though we managed to do some transplanting.Last year at the big plant sale we go to we bought a number of shrubs in anticipation of our garage being knocked down. But it took much longer to find a contractor than we expected and the shrubs we bought to make a hedge in the chicken garden were planted temporarily in the regular garden. Today we moved them before they got too far along in their spring sprouting. Along the fence at the back of the chicken garden we moved: elderberry, saskatoon serviceberry, flowering quince, prairie rose. I also moved a black currant from a spot in the front yard where it has been struggling for two years to a sunnier place in the back garden where I hope it will be happier.
I feel so much better having all those moved. Now it’s “just” regular gardening ahead.
The little adventure Astrid and I had today was to a women’s bike skills clinic for beginner racing. They talked about bikes and pedals and the different types of racing and then we got to ride around a parking lot.
The first exercise was practicing getting bumped. When you are riding in a group of people it is inevitable that you bump into each other and you have to be cool with that otherwise you might cause a crash. So we partnered up and rode back and forth bumping into each other’s shoulders and leaning into each other. That was kind of scary and my partner and I were so nervous about actually crashing into each other that managing to make shoulder contact was not easy. But we did and it turned out to not be such a bad thing. Of course we also weren’t going very fast and in a race the bumping will be a little different but I am glad for the practice because I have an idea of what to expect and that I can get bumped and actually not crash.
Then we practiced turns without turning our handlebars but just using our hips and shifting our weight. At first I thought, no way can I do that! But it turned out to not be so hard and actually felt smoother than turning my front wheel.
After we had big turns down we had a slalom course to weave through without turning our front wheel. Again I thought no way! But it wasn’t bad. Then they shortened the space between the slalom markers and stuck one marker out to the side requiring a quick turn of the wheel. The idea here was to be able to make quick corrections without overdoing it and crashing or causing others to crash. The first time through most of us missed some of the turns or crashed into the markers but after a few tries we all got it down pretty good.
The next thing we did was talk about cornering and how to approach turns and move through them without losing speed. So we practiced that a bit. Then we broke up into two groups and played follow the leader through the parking lot in a group so we could practice riding with others while going through turns.
It was fun in spite of the cold wind. And it was good to ride around outdoors instead of on the trainer going nowhere fast. The clinic lasted two hours. I kind of made a new friend. She found me on Facebook afterwards so I’m going to call that good. We are both signed up for the Riot Gravel race at the end of May.
The clinic was put on by a local women’s racing team and Anna, the team captain, basically said you just have to get out there and do it. You are going to suck at first and probably come in last but keep going because you can and will get better. The only way we are going to learn and get better is by doing it. So. There are a few beginner races this week that I wish I had known about sooner, I would have maybe signed up for one. But I am not prepared to just jump in spur of the moment. I know where to look now to find out about races to register and plan ahead.
One of the great things about the clinic today besides getting a chance to practice some skills was learning that the racing community in the Twin Cities is pretty friendly and laid back and welcoming to new riders. Today’s clinic was way outside my comfort zone and I survived and enjoyed myself enough to be interested in actually trying out some USA Cycling sanctioned races. Stay tuned.