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Marianne and Elinor

Marianne and Elinor

It has been quite the weekend. Friday and Saturday were boiling hot and humid but after a big thunderstorm early this morning today has been cooler. The cool wind helps too. The week is looking to be warm and unsettled but nothing boiling again I hope.

In the garden the beans, zucchini and pumpkins are sprouting up strong. I took the cover off the polyculture bed today and was very disappointed to find only a few radishes had sprouted. We had the same thing happen last year. I don’t know what’s up but it is really disappointing and frustrating. It’s a raised bed, maybe the soil in it needs some work after only two years? That doesn’t seem right but then I’m not sure what I’m getting in bags of soil from the garden store. I will have to put on my thinking cap and figure it out.



The peas did not much like the hot weather last week. Even though we kept things pretty well watered, a few of them are looking a little fried. It isn’t supposed to reach over 90F/32C for a couple days in a row until the middle of July. Poor peas. And some of the arugula and chard has already bolted. I haven’t had a chance to plant cilantro yet, but now I am wondering if I missed my window of opportunity.

The potatoes are growing like crazy and we ran out of straw to mound up around them. Bookman went out to get some today but the garden center was out. Will have to see if we can get some at another location. The situation is getting desperate.

Mrs Dashwood

Mrs. Dashwood

The garlic is looking great this year and the scapes will be ready to snip off in the next few days. I am so very much looking forward to eating them. The walking onion is getting all sorts of little bulbs at the top like it is supposed to. I am not sure when or how to harvest these bulbs. I might just let then “walk” and root so I can have a nice patch before I start harvesting them.

The Dashwoods continue to be highly entertaining. One evening I was out in the run bent over talking to Elinor and Margaret and Marianne climbs up the ladder and hops over onto my back! She hung out up there for quite a while and would have stayed longer but I encouraged her to get off. Mrs. Dashwood was totally jealous and at one point was trying to figure out how she might be able to join Marianne. Thankfully, Marianne would not move over to accommodate her, so Mrs. Dashwood gave up.


Marianne on my back

Since we have let them free range a bit, they all crowd the run door and try to scurry out between our feet. Sometimes they succeed and they have to be lured back in with dandelions. Margaret is definitely not the smartest chicken in the flock. One evening they all ran out the run door and I lured them back in with dandelions. Except Margaret, she was just around the corner of the run from the door looking in through the wiring and running back and forth frantically, peeping like crazy. She couldn’t figure out how to get back in the run and everyone else was in there getting dandelions! I had to stick my arm out the door and wave a leaf at her for her to follow back inside!

The temperature yesterday was about 93F/34C with humidity making it feel closer to 98F/37C. Bookman made a corn popsicle for the Dashwoods to give them a treat and something cold to eat. When he took it to them they squealed and ran away and stood well back to make sure it wasn’t going to — explode? attack? — who knows what goes on in their brains. When Bookman went out a little while later, there was not a kernel of corn left so they must have figured it out eventually.



I did not get to see the fun because I was cycling all day Saturday in the Dirty Benjamin gravel race. The race began at 8 a.m. and it was still comfortable. I had a bag on the top tube of my bike filled with oatmeal date energy bites, two water bottles on my bike and two more in my jersey pockets. There was a checkpoint at mile 44 (70 km). It was a shady park and there was a bathroom (hooray!), water and Bookman. He had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and apple slices for me. It was a little after 11 when I got there. Everything was going great and I even found a few people to chat with along the way. I was feeling good and, while hot, was not too hot.

Off I went through the park. The route through the park was a mountain bike trail. Yeah. Muddy, rocky and tree roots. I am riding Astrid, a road bike. I was going slow and handling it all fine until a slight rise and three tree roots. Astrid’s front tire slipped sideways against the first root instead of going over it and down I went. Luckily I was going so slow Astrid was not injured and I just got a little scraped up. We made it through and back to the gravel road without further incident until the trail went off road through a swamp.


Mud and thick reeds. The good news is I couldn’t get lost because those before me had beaten down the reeds. The bad news is it was so muddy my small tires kept getting caught in the ruts and slipping badly. When I was in my lowest gear and pushing like I was going uphill and not getting anywhere and about to tip over I decided to get off Astrid and we walked. Walking was not easy but at least we didn’t fall over.

Back on the road again and starting to get hot, I was glad to make it to the 66 mile/ 106 km water drop. Because of the extreme heat, the race organizers had left gallon jugs of cold water in a tiny park along the route. They were on a picnic table in the shade. I refilled the two bottles I had drained since the checkpoint, drank half of one of them because the water was cold, then filled it again, I stood in the shade cooling off for a good ten to fifteen minutes before getting back on Astrid and setting off.

After a little while I was getting pretty hot. My legs felt fine but my stomach began to feel a bit queasy. I thought perhaps it was the PB&J and kept on.

Gravel country roads offer very little shade and now it was moving into the middle of the afternoon. Around mile 77 (124 km) I came upon a short but steep hill covered in fresh, deep gravel. I began churning up it and about a third of the way I was so overheated I felt a bit nauseous. I got off Astrid and we had a hard walk to the top where there was thankfully a small bit of shade at the side of the road. I stopped there for a few minutes, drinking water and trying to cool off. When I started to feel better I set off again.

Around mile 86 (138 km), the heat was getting to me again and I stopped at the side of the road in the shade of some farmhouse trees. I felt better after a few minutes and set off again but soon began feeling bad.


So dirty

At mile 92 (148 km) I took a wrong turn and didn’t realize it until I was a mile down the road. I stopped in the shade of some trees by a cemetery before turning around. Back to where I turned wrong and on track again, I managed to make another wrong turn not far after that. A little more than a mile down the road I realized I turned wrong again and came up on a big dirt parking lot next to a reserve area that had a bit of shade behind the info sign. I was so overheated at this point I was having a hard time cooling off. My bike computer said 96 miles/154 km. Once I got back on track I’d have another 8 miles/12 km to go until the finish line with the last bit of the route being single track, grassy and muddy. My legs felt fine but the rest of me didn’t and I was almost out of water. So I called Bookman who came and rescued me.

dirty and exhausted

Exhausted by the heat but still smiling

He had been waiting at the finish and said I was not the only one who didn’t make it. He was talking to a guy while waiting who didn’t finish who told him quite a few people didn’t make it because of the heat. And then the guy got a call from his friend who was still out on the course and needed rescuing.

I was disappointed to not be able to finish but the heat won. Bookman put Astrid on the back of the car, got me inside and blasted the air conditioner, gave me water and some food and we got on the road and headed home.

When we got home he made drink several glasses of cold water. I showered, drank more water and then Bookman made me eat. After that I collapsed on the couch. We started watching a movie, a comedy, and I nearly fell asleep. I called it quits about 8 and crawled into bed and promptly fell asleep.

Feeling much better today. Not sore or tired. Well, my hands and feet are sore. At first I thought I had blisters but then I realized they are bruises from being rattled around for 8 hours on gravel roads, mountain bike trails and swamps. Astrid was a trooper but she is not the right kind of bike for such a long multi-terrain race. So before I do the Dirty Benjamin again — and I will — Astrid will be getting a sister. In the mean time, I spent over an hour this afternoon cleaning all of her nooks and crannies. No more gravel races planned for the rest of the summer, though Bookman says if I want to do a century on the trainer he will throw gravel at me.