If you analyze a molecule of chlorophyll itself, what you get is one hundred thirty-six atoms of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen arranged in an exact and complex relationship around a central ring. At the ring’s center is a single atom of magnesium. Now: If you remove the atom of magnesium and in its exact place put an atom of iron, you get a molecule of hemoglobin. The iron combines with all the other atoms to make red blood. (Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)

Chlorophyll and our blood, only one atom’s difference. That has got to be one of the most amazing things ever.

My new favorite tool

My new favorite tool

Bookman unfortunately had to work all weekend so there was no coop building. But, there was plenty of work in the garden. Finally, finally, I got all the winter mulch out of all the garden beds, cut back all of last year’s perennial stems and grasses. I have a new favorite garden tool: a sod sickle. Where has this tool been all my life? It is designed for cutting grass. I have lots of prairie grass and this baby made short work of cutting it back. For years I have used clippers and ended up with a very sore hand afterwards from the constant cutting motion. With the sickle I grab a bunch of grass in one hand and slice through the stems with the other. Where a big bunch of little bluestem might take me a few minutes to snip back, I can cut it back with the sickle in seconds. I was so happy I almost cried with joy, especially now after all that work, my hands are not sore.

I have some new clippers too. These are for cutting small stems and work on most perennials. For over a decade I have had a lovely pair of Fiskars with a bright orange handle. Last fall the spring sprung out and disappeared into a garden bed. Bookman and I looked and looked but it is like a needle in a haystack to find a tiny dark gray spring in mulch and dirt. So a new pair was in order. I could not find any Fiskars but the new pair works great and I like them and I hope they last a good long time.

However, when the design team for these clippers were sitting around the conference table whoever had

Where'd those clippers go?

Where’d those clippers go?

the bright idea of making the handle brown should be fired. As they were discussing handle color and tossing out orange or blue or yellow, why did someone say, how about brown? It’s a nice garden color, natural, won’t clash with anything. And because they don’t clash with anything they are easy to lose amidst the garden detritus. So while the clippers themselves might last a very long time, the likelihood of them disappearing like the spring on my Fiskars is high.

This morning before Bookman went off to work we had some time to begin preparing the vegetable beds. We were going to plant the potatoes except I forgot that after you cut them they need to dry for 24 hours before planting. This is the second year we are growing potatoes. Last year we grew Irish Cobbler. They were so good we are growing them again. This year we are also growing a purple potato called Adirondack Blue. We’ll plant them tomorrow evening after dinner. At least the bed is prepared for them so that’s something!

Seed potatoes

Seed potatoes

We also got a good way through prepping the main vegetable bed for planting and after Bookman left for work I finished it off. Tomorrow evening when we plant potatoes we will also be planting peas. Lots and lots of peas. And possibly a few other seeds. We’ll see how fast the potatoes and peas go.

The Dashwoods are just over four weeks old. They have mostly feathers now and very little fluff. Occasionally they almost cluck but it is still mostly peeping. Marianne is an Ameraucana and that breed tends to have a neck ruff that looks kind of like a Victorian gentleman’s whiskers. The ruff has begun to emerge. As I was looking them over this afternoon I noticed a red bump on Mrs. Dashwood’s head and had a moment of panic thinking someone had scratched her but then I realized her comb is growing!

This week I gave them another broccoli floret and they did not run away screaming like they did the first time. Mrs. Dashwood strode right up and gave it a mighty peck. Then they all started tearing at it a bit and quickly lost interested. I left it in their feeder and it was gone the next morning so it was devoured at some point during the night.

I also gave them some carrot. I cut it up in small chick bite-size pieces and held the little pile in my hand for them to eat. They weren’t sure what it was but they were not afraid of the little pieces. Margaret was the only one to really get excited by it. She seemed to like it quite a lot but then she also really likes my thumb. During the carrot feeding, after trying a few pieces Mrs. Dashwood decided it was much more interesting to stand on my hand while Margaret tried to eat carrot pieces from between her toes. Gradually Mrs. D moved up my hand until she was standing on my wrist and kept looking up like she was trying to figure out if she could climb up my arm. Thank goodness Margaret pecking her toes distracted her!

Here is today’s dose of Dashwoods. I had just given them some dandelion and sorrel so they are all worked up. When they get excited Marianne starts jumping at everyone, especially Elinor. Mrs. Dashwood is the black one with the white specks in her feathers. Elinor is the dark red/brown one. Margaret is the solid black one. Marianne is the white/tan speckled one. I am not sure what color to call her anymore. She no longer has her chipmunk stripes and her color changes every few days. It will be interesting to see what she looks like when she is done.

Next weekend Bookman and I both have three days off. The big plant sale is Friday. We plan on finishing the coop. I hope the weather cooperates!