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Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope 2017 is off to a good start. Tomorrow I will have my 2016 book stats for you. Today, today is garden and chicken and cycling gossip.

It was a beautiful, sunny day with the temperature hovering around freezing. This is good because we had some cleaning and egg door repair to do on the coop. The Dashwoods in their winter boredom figured out how to get through the door cracks to peck at and eat the foam insulation. They love to eat the insulation! Had to fix that. It was also time to freshen the bedding in the coop.

The Dashwoods of course were delighted to be let out into the garden. They don’t like the snow at all so they hang around near the coop where we have cleared away the snow and run up and down the garden path to the deck. We left them a celery surprise on the deck. They have never had celery before but they figured it was food and all of them investigated and pecked at it but then turned their beaks up and left it alone. Even when Bookman offered them a piece from his hand they were not interested. Maybe they prefer it with peanut butter? That’s not going to happen.

We also have cabbage since we know they love that. We didn’t even bother hanging it up since they broke the twine with the last one and we figured they’d do the same again. So we just tossed it into the run and left them go at it.

The garden was empty and quiet for a long time. Then suddenly there came a tapping as of someone gently rapping, rapping at the chamber door. Bookman says, what’s that? Not a raven, but a chicken. Not Lenore but Elinor! And Mrs. Dashwood. They must have either devoured the cabbage or had enough, because they were on the deck and Dickens was watching. Bookman took a little video:

Waldo and Dickens are still curious about the Dashwoods but they have grown used to them being in the garden and at the window and don’t get excited about it anymore. They like to watch them, but the what-the-heck-are-those freak outs have passed. Very glad about that because come summer when one of the Dashwoods ends up on the deck with nothing but a screen door between her and Waldo, I won’t be so alarmed and concerned that Waldo will hurl himself at the screen. But then Waldo also knows he cannot pass through glass or screen as he has tried both with squirrels on the deck.

What an adventure 2016 turned out to be with the Dashwoods! I am so happy to have them and Bookman, who when I initially proposed the idea of having chickens two years ago and he said absolutely not, is glad to have them too. They are a delightful addition to the household and the garden. We are also still pretty amazed that we designed and built the coop and run ourselves without ever having done any kind of building project like it before.

Because last spring and summer was dedicated to the Dashwoods, the garden suffered a bit from neglect. What we did manage though went well. It was a banner year for beans, potatoes, raspberries and arugula. We tried sunchokes for the first time and our honeyberries and bush cherries produced for the first time.

I have already ordered seeds from one of my favorite places, Baker Creek. They were donating the proceeds to help Syrian refugees if I ordered by noon yesterday. Now I have through tomorrow to order from my other favorite place, Pinetree, so I can get free shipping. You wouldn’t think seeds cost so much to ship, but all the seed folks charge based on total dollar amount of your order so, for instance, orders under $10 might cost $3.50 to ship. If you order one packet of seeds for $1.75 it still costs $3.50 to ship. I order more than one seed packet, but it always seems I fall in a weird seed to shipping cost ratio where I feel like I am being screwed. So it will be nice to not have to worry about it.

What I am growing for veg is planned but I am still working on actual garden planning. I am going to change the layout of the garden beds this spring to make them more orderly and consistent instead of the random blobs that developed from making one or two new beds a year until there was no more yard. Plus I am thinking of adding another honeyberry, another black currant, and trying a “new” berry called aronia that is actually related to roses.

2017 should be full of all sorts of new gardening adventures!

Cycling

It was a great year for cycling. Astrid was a trooper venturing out into the world of gravel racing, not the kind of roads she was designed for. But it was great fun. So much fun I decided to get Astrid a sister. Carter is designed for gravel roads and we will be getting to know each other well this year because there will be a number of gravel races to try out. Also, I am thinking about trying cyclocross racing next fall, which means I will be learning some new bike handling skills and getting really dirty in the process. Here’s a short video I found of a beginner’s race so you have some idea what it’s all about:

Fun? I’ll let you know!

Astrid will not get lonely though. While Carter and I will have our first gravel race at the end of April, Astrid and I will be riding in a 100 mile/161 km Gran Fondo on May 7th. And then there is the Race Across America Minnesota ride in early August. That one will be 200 miles/ 320 km and lots of long training rides leading up to it. I am already planning out destinations because it is much more fun to have a place to ride to than to wander around aimlessly. Though there is pleasure in that too, and after early August there will be plenty of those kinds of rides.

2016 is only the second year I have been cycling seriously. In 2015 I managed to ride 5,337.6 miles/ 8,590 km. But I upped my game in 2016 and rode a total of 8,721 miles/ 14,035 km! In case you are wondering how many hours that takes, it took me 514. In 2017 I am aiming for 10,000 miles/ 16,093 km. When I told Bookman he said, is that all? Ha!

Gardening and cycling adventures galore! And books, lots of book adventures too. More on that tomorrow.

What sorts of adventures might be in store for you in 2017?

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