Ah, spring in Minnesota. It was 70F/21C yesterday and sunny. Cloudy but close to 70F again today. And now we are having a thunderstorm and there is snow in the forecast for Monday morning. The thing about snow this time of year though is that it will not stick, so that’s a relief. The moisture is much needed though, we’ve not had any precipitation of significance for weeks and the budding plants are thirsty! My rain barrels are set up and ready to be filled.

This past week has been fairly warm, well warm for my neck of the woods, and I have begun riding my bike to work. I worried that downtown traffic would be horrible, and while there are a few stretches that are a bit nerve wracking, for the most part it isn’t bad at all. My route is slightly longer and out of the way in order to cut down on the heavy car areas and I am pretty satisfied with it. The only downside is that I no longer have morning and afternoon reading time on public transit because it would be bad to try and bike and read at the same time. And, no, listening to an audiobook is out of the question because I need to be able to pay attention and listen to my surroundings. I won’t be cycling to work in the rain, so a reason to look forward to rainy/snowy days?

This morning I felt so farmer-ish as I was raking out all the the straw we put down in the chicken run over the winter. The ground is warm enough now that the straw is no longer needed in the run to help keep the Dashwoods warm. It is now composting for use in the garden. I had on my work clothes and wellies and some neighbors came walking by and stopped to chat and there I am talking to them and leaning against my big rake and standing in the middle of a pile of straw. It was almost all I could do to keep from laughing. It was sweaty work but I enjoyed myself immensely.

With the warmer weather, the trees are beginning to bloom for real. My crocuses burst open this week and the Siberian squill too. The tulips are well up and in a couple weeks will be flowering. The black currant has begun unfurling a few leaves and the honeyberries are just about to. Everyone’s lawns are turning green and with the rain the world will likely be colorful again nearly overnight.

I was out working on pruning the out of control raspberry patch into a slightly less wild shape. The Dashwoods were happily assisting. Luckily I have pretty good balance because between the thorny raspberry canes and the Dashwoods underfoot, somebody — me — could have been hurt. I got worn out before I was able to finish but progress has been made.

The Dashwoods also helped me start to change the veg garden bed layout. Honestly, I don’t know what I did without such helpers prior to now. They had to inspect everything and several times I was forced to stand still for fear of stepping on a chicken.

With the warmer weather I have been keeping an eye on the chicken coop green roof to see what might have survived. Sadly, it appears that nothing did, not even the spring bulbs we planted in the fall. So it is back to square one. Actually, two things survived the winter, some crab grass and a dandelion. So I am going to try some grasses up there this year. And annuals, lots of low growing annuals. And a sedum or two. It might end up being a roof of grasses and annuals and that’s ok, I’d just prefer an all perennial roof but I think soil freezing solid might preclude it. Still a bit more experimenting to do though, not giving up yet!

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