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Elinor and Margaret would like to come in

Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Dashwoods? They are ever and always themselves and don’t apologize for it. They don’t hide their feelings or hold a grudge. You always know where you stand with them. They take life as it comes and don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. They are always busy but never so busy that they can’t take time for a luxurious long dirt bath wallow in the warm sun. They don’t care what they look like, there are more important things than a feather gone awry. And whether it is kale or wilted chard, a great big purple cabbage or hot oatmeal, they attack it with the same excitement and pleasure because it is an unexpected treat and all unexpected treats are awesome no matter what they are. We humans could learn a thing or two from chickens.

It’s nearly dark when I get home from work now and by the time I change my clothes and feed Waldo and Dickens it is time to go put the Dashwoods to bed. We had a couple of days that we did not get above freezing and before the cold descended I picked all the carrots out of the garden. But it was midweek after work after I closed the Dashwoods in the coop therefore it was dark. I pulled carrots by flashlight. Bookman laughed at the wood chips and leaves that got mixed in because I couldn’t see what I was doing. All I cared about was making sure I got all the carrots!

Carroty goodness

This is the first time I have ever had success with carrots and I am so excited about it. Finally, after years of trying different varieties and areas of the garden I hit on a successful formula. The carrot variety is oxheart. Instead of the long, thin roots like you see at the grocery store, these are short, round and fat. I planted them in a mostly sunny part of the garden in loose, sandy soil. They taste sweet and earthy and strongly “carroty.”

And the greens. Did you know carrot greens are edible? They make a fantastic pesto. We’ve never done this before and weren’t sure how it would taste. Carrot greens will never go in the compost again at our house! The pesto has a mild, sweet flavor and we had it with pan roasted tofu, potatoes, beets and broccoli. We had it again with noodles. We still have some but put it in the freezer for another time. I highly recommend making some of your own. You will not be disappointed!

I had a little bike mechanics hilarity today. I checked my chain last week to see how it was holding up and discovered that after all my summer cycling and now indoor trainer riding, the miles had taken a tool on the chain and it was time for a new one. Bookman picked one up for me as well as a tool to break the chain.

Now, I have only changed my chain once, earlier in the spring at the bike shop during my bike maintenance class when there was an expert there to walk me through it. It was so easy!

I used my spiffy new tool to break the chain and then Bookman held up the old chain while I measured the new one against it. I took off two links in the new chain and threaded it onto the bike’s drive train and was horrified to find it was several inches too short! Now those two links I removed are only about an inch or so. Something was clearly not right. Thank goodness I have more than one bike! I went and looked at how the chain is thread on the drive train and sure enough, I had done it wrong. Once I got it all going in the right direction the length was perfect. Now to connect the chain together.

There are two types of bike chain, one with and one without what is called a mater link. The chain I took off my bike did not have a master link. The chain Bookman got me did. I knew how to connect the old one but was not sure what to do with the master link. YouTube to the rescue!

In theory you just snap the master link on and give it a tug and voila! But it didn’t work. Then we found out the link has arrows on it and it is supposed to go on in a particular way and we had done it backwards. But we couldn’t undo the link to turn it around and the tool I had to break the chain that had been on my bike was not the right tool to open the master link. Bookman hurried over to the bike shop to get the right tool and the link came right apart. We turned it all around but still couldn’t get the pins to snap in all the way. What the heck?

We are both covered in grease and maybe swearing a little.

After much Googling we finally find a video that helped us out. To get the pins all the way in, move the pedals to get the wheel and chain moving and then grab the rear brake hard. We were skeptical. Bookman got the whole thing moving and I grabbed the brake, and snap! We heard the link click into place just like that. After all of our squeezing and pulling and pushing we couldn’t believe how easy it was.

Come spring I will very likely be doing this again. Hopefully I will remember enough so that it will be easier and a little less greasy.