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baby chickens

Baby Dashwoods a year ago

Hello my friends! You may have noticed posting here lately has been a bit sporadic and it will continue to be so. Nothing bad going on, only super busy at work and home and my free time and brainpower are not linking up very well. Plus I have a bunch of books I am trying to read and I feel as though I am not getting anywhere except closer to their library due dates. So when I do start to manage to post regularly again, I hope I will have lots of books to tell you about.

Today, however, I must tell you the Dashwoods celebrated their Hatch Day on Thursday. They are officially one year old now. It has been a wonderful year with them, learning how to care for them and getting to know them. Bookman and I both marvel nearly every time we see them out in the garden. We look at each other and exclaim in surprise, We have chickens!

Elinor working in the garden

Initially Bookman did not want to get chickens. I suggested that maybe sometime we might want to and he did not hesitate to say absolutely not. But I kept working at him and casually mentioning it and then several months later I took a chicken keeping class just to find out about what would be involved. And I spent the spring and early summer talking about it until finally Bookman gave in.

Marianne and Margaret

We started building the coop in the fall, got the framing up and then had to call off the work for winter. This time last year as we had baby Dashwoods peeping and growing under a heat lamp in our basement, we were frantically spending out spare hours finishing the building of the coop and run. We did it and the coop and the Dashwoods survived their first year with only a few mishaps along the way.

To celebrate their birthday, they got an extra large purple cabbage. It was so large they haven’t managed to finish it yet despite their best efforts. Of course they have also been busy in the garden especially yesterday when we had a beautiful sunny day and temperatures reached 64F /18 C.

The Dashwoods are delightful and have brought us great joy, even the reluctant Bookman is glad they

Mrs. Dashwood

have joined us. I love watching them. I love sitting in the sun in the garden and talking with them and having them talk back. They make us laugh when they come up to the glass deck door and look in. Their voraciousness is both funny and alarming. They get so excited to see us in the morning and after work. And they do not hesitate to scold us when they are mad about something. It has been a fun year of adventures with them and I look forward to what year two will bring.

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day I had to get out and do some garden work even though I had a virtual bike race and rode another three hours afterwards. Spring waits for no one. Earlier in the week Bookman had time to pull the leaf mulch off one flowerbed and I finished the job doing two on Saturday and two more today even though today is not nearly as nice as yesterday.

winter mulch piled on the sidewalk

Spring arrived early here but the warm up has been slow. Yes, we’ve had some especially warm spring days but then temperatures drop back to mostly above freezing but still chilly. This means everything has been slow to start growing. Usually we are cold and then wham! it’s spring and warm and sunny day after day and things start growing and we are running around like crazy to get the mulch off the beds and when we finally do, the tulips are a little sad and bleached looking (they quickly recover). This year, the spring bulbs are just poking up and have not had a chance to grow much or be bleached from lack of sunlight. For once I almost feel on top of things!

The trees are starting to bloom, the grass is greening up, and the garden berry bushes are unfurling a few tiny leaves to test the situation. It’s all very exciting because this time of year, every day the world looks a little different than it did the day before.

All of the seeds we started indoors are doing magnificently. Well, all but the eggplant. Only one seed sprouted and it isn’t looking that strong. There might not be any small orange eggplants this year unless the one sprout manages to pull off a miracle at this point. There’s always next year to try again.

In about two weeks I’ll be able to plant peas and other cool weather vegetables like beets, lettuce and kale. So excited! But still so much work to do to get ready including Dashwood-proofing the garden.

In cycling news, April is 30 Days of Biking. I might not bike outdoors every day, but I mean to be on a bike every day. Monday will see me riding outside for the first time this year as I plan to begin bike commuting to work. I am terrified of the traffic in downtown Minneapolis even though there are many well-defined bike lanes, but I have, I think, worked out a pretty good route that, while it takes me on a less direct way, will, I hope, get me there safer and less stressed out over cars. One of my coworkers will also be biking to work tomorrow. Sadly, we don’t have the same schedule nor do our routes conveniently merge. If they did, it would be a blast to ride in to work together.

Zwift April Fools bobblehead

Zwift had some April Fools Day fun yesterday by turning everyone’s avatar into bobbleheads. It was hilarious but also made racing more difficult because everyone’s big heads kept getting in the way and I couldn’t see where I was or who was around me. Even the race commentators were having a hard time but it was all in good fun. It’s the surprise of bobblehead avatars that help make Zwift so enjoyable.

In sad cycling news, Mike Hall, one of the world’s best ultra-endurance cyclists was hit by a car and killed a few days ago. He was competing in an inaugural coast-to-coast race in Australia. At the time he was in second place and had tweeted earlier to alert other riders that traffic on Monaro Highway was dangerous and had a tendency to pass fast and much too close for comfort.

If you have seen the documentary Inspired to Ride, you will know who Mike Hall is. He was only 35 and one of those all-around nice people whom everybody loved, kind and generous, and without ego and airs in spite of being a top cyclist. In the world of ultra-cycling, a good many riders also raise money for charities, Mike was no exception. He died at the scene of the accident. The remainder of the race was cancelled. There was a tribute ride for Hall in Sydney on Sunday and someone on Zwift organized a tribute ride yesterday.

Please, if you are a driver, look out for cyclists. Yes, I know, sometimes they can be real asses, but most of us are not like that. Yeah we make stupid moves sometimes, just like you do, but most of us are terrified of you running us over because we are all too aware that in a collision between you in your car and us on our bikes, the car will win every single time. The road belongs to us too and we have just as much right to be there as you do. Please be alert. Please stop talking on your phone. Please stop texting. Please pass with at least a meter of space between you and the cyclist. Please don’t think passing really close and honking your horn is funny. It isn’t. Please don’t cut sharply in front of us to turn right or left. Please remember that between you and the bike, it’s the cyclist’s life on the line, not yours.

That probably doesn’t make you want to hop on a bicycle and go for a ride. But the more people who ride bikes, the better. So get on your bike and ride!

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