Little notebooks, little notebooks…

 

I made some little notebooks.  All paper salvaged from an office recycling, cut to fit with little cardstock images I found graphic and entertaining – a flight safety pamphlet (no, I didn’t remove it from the seatback pocket), the cover of an antique trashy paperback, postcards, and bits from calendars.

In theory it would be a good way to add value to paper and saved images, but it took rather forever to cut little stacks of paper to fit and match up some attractive front and back covers.

After I had them all ready to bind, I took them to my neighborhood copy store that smells like toner.  I wanted the spiral coil binding, but that required sending them away and waiting for days, so I accepted the Cerlox binding they could do immediately.

Voila, little notebooks!

The freeloading late bloomers are laying!

We hadn’t checked on the chickens for a few days and H.W. came back from the henhouse telling me I’d better come see for myself.  I hadn’t even noticed hearing them for a couple days (their food and water supplies last for two weeks so we can ignore them at times), so I freaked out.  “Just tell me if they’re dead“, I wailed, on my way out to the henhouse without a jacket, but he wouldn’t.

The chickens were fine, milling nervously in the corner with their necks stretched tall and tilting their heads at us, cheeks comically fluffed out.  The big event was prominently featured front and center in the first nest box- eight perfect pale blue eggs.

I’m so proud!  Our chickens are all grown up!  Finally.  They were due to start producing around November, but that was the beginning of winter.  So they helped themselves to a whole ‘nother season of free feed before starting to earn their keep.

I was expecting some “starter eggs”- gnarled, diminutive, or otherwise dubious quality eggs while they were “breaking in”, so to speak, but all the eggs are uniform and perfect.  Next, I’m all excited about getting an incubator, and multiplying the flock.

First getting the little blighters

Long live the Covered Bicycle…

I truly love my bicycle and I treasure the times we spend together pushing each other to the limit and beyond, exploring the edges or just relaxing on a sunny afternoon. I take care of my bike and my bike takes care of me, as it should be for any quality friendship. But what of those moments in time when I am not sitting proudly atop my two wheeled chariot or faithfully de-greasing and re-greasing the simple inner and outer workings?  What of the times when I must park my bike overnight outside or store it for a extended duration inside of my old dusty barn?

My Machine

If I truly want this incredible machine to last a lifetime or at least to look good and work well for years to come then I must wrap it in love as much as possible. What I mean is that I must protect my bicycle from the elements when I’m not riding it. The best way to protect a bike or any vehicle for that matter from elements when not in use is to put a cover over it. This will add years to the life of a bicycle, guaranteed.

I recently was contacted  by Empire Covers in response to my “Adventures of the Bicycle Life” blog and was offered an opportunity to review the company’s bicycle covers. I checked out their website (empirecovers.com) and was impressed with the materials and wide selection of covers they make, from R.V. covers to bicycle covers and everything in between.

About the size of a football rolled up in its storage sack

I am always in need of a quality bike cover when I am camping during a bicycle tour or even just when I have my human powered machine parked in the dusty old barn between regular rides. For years I have used military rain ponchos as my bike covers. They work pretty well as they are camouflage (for when I camp) and waterproof, but they are not a perfect fit, especially when my bike is tour loaded with panniers. Then the poncho gets blown out of place easily by the wind.

Empire Covers make 3 well-designed bicycle covers: the standard, sun-proof, and waterproof covers.  I have utilized and am in the process of long-term testing all three. For the bicycle cover testing I’m using a 58cm Surly Long Haul truck with 700c wheels and Surly Nice Racks , and 22.5  inch Marin Larkspur with 26″ wheels and a rear Surly nice with a Jandd Extreme front rack.

"TaDaaa! Bicycle!" Standard bicycle cover.

The standard cover priced at $25 with a 2-year warranty is made of a silver, lightweight, high quality, breathable polyester material, that folds up to about the size of a football when stowed in its (included) storage sack. According to the Empire Covers website this cover has high protection ratings against dust, rain, sun and mid-range protection against snow.  It is very simple and quick to use. I pulled it out of the stow sack, unrolled it, located and positioned the “front” labeled side and slid it down over my bike, snugging the elastic band at the bottom of the cover around my wheels and drive train. Total installation time, 30 seconds. Now my bicycle looks happy, all sealed up, impermeable to dust, moisture and sun. I think it will be my perfect long-term indoor storage bike cover, as I always store my bicycles indoors at home.

Sunproof cover

The sun-proof cover priced at $35 with a 3-year warranty is made of a high quality lightweight, breathable Du-pont Tyvek material. It is a very nice and well-engineered cover as well, with the same elastic band at the bottom that keeps it snug around the bike. It installs over the bike with the same process as the standard cover. This cover boasts a 100% sun protection rating, with rain and dust ratings not far behind and a mid-range snow protection rating also. This cover would be ideal for the bicycle owner that stores their bike outside exposed to the hot sun.

Waterproof cover.

Then there is the top-of-the-line waterproof cover. This cover is by far my favorite  cover for outdoor expeditionary  type use (i.e. tour camping) because it is made of a heavy duty nylon material with an extra tough elastic band around the bottom and it is an easily concealable black color, requiring the same installation process and time as the other two covers. This cover boasts a 100% rain, snow, dust proof rating and a sun proof rating of at least 75%. I would say if  I was to buy just one of these three covers then the most versatile, long lasting and weather proof  option for me would be the waterproof cover.

I also had the opportunity to test a set of Gust Guards. These handy little items are located in the automotive accessories department of the Empire Covers website, but alas they are just as practical for use on bicycles and I was glad to give them a test run on my bike.

Gust Guard in action

Essentially the Gust Guard is a set of short black bungees and four clips that attach to anywhere on the bike cover. You attach the clips at the base of the cover on opposite sides of the wheels and then hook the bungees onto the clips, which pulls it all snugly together so no wind gust will blow through and blow the cover off the bike. I think the covers are super snug and secure on my bikes on their own because of the form fitting design and tight elastic hem around the bottom, but the Gust Guard will give added security for the person that feels they would like it.

All three covers where large enough to put over my bicycle and racks when it was tour loaded with four large front and rear panniers.

These covers are great for protecting during storage all kinds of bicycles  in the garage (or barn in my case) because they protect against standard dust or sawdust and protect the bike frame from the occasional bump when I am working in close proximity.

These covers are great for the person that stores their bikes outside whether at home or during a tour because of their sun/water/snow protection, which is crucial to maintaining  the long term integrity of the bike frame and components.

These covers are well designed and made, well worth the $25 to $40 investment in protecting the beloved bicycles for a lifetime of riding, one pedal stroke at a time.

A bow and a solid hand shake to Empire Covers, well done.

– H.W.

Bicycles, Get Some!

Bicycle trailers:Pushing/Pulling the Limit

I go hard……

I dress in black and I go hard……

I go hard…. Those three words swirl through my mind and ripple across my lips when that primal urge swells up from within me while I’m seated in this throne of self propelled power that is the bicycle. I drag my body and this piece of steel up and over snow covered mountains, through crisp endless dessert, deep into the temperate rainforest, along jagged salty coastline and back again.
I dress in black and I go hard……

I dress in black as I ride an all black machine, this is my neo-geo, Mad Max version of cycling. Man and the machine merging into one parallel shadow soul existence. I am my bicycle, my bicycle is me, we have become one streamline soul that rides the line between two worlds into the sunset.
We dress in black and we go hard….

– H.W.

Elk. Problem.

This is the only picture with the little one showing.  He's short.

There used to be a couple of deer that would slink through and eat with Mucky.  Now, herds of elk just plow on in and help themselves.  Two or three in the wee hours, who cares, but when they rolled through in a posse nine deep, we noticed.

Now in the middle of the day we come back from the post office to find them crowded into Mucky’s feeding area, bold as brass.  In the middle of the day!  Clearly it was the same herd as the night raid, because the little one was along.  They look considerably less elegant in daylight, with their pale rumps and scruffy, tattered coats, ribs showing through.

They scattered slowly when we came back, slipping through the wire fence, too pell-mell to count them, while the little one got distracted staring at us.

Now we make sure to tromp around outside, open the door and talk, bang on the windows in the evening.  This won’t bother the horse but the elk will run off, and the point is to give the horse enough time to get most of the hay into HIM.  We don’t need to support the wild ruminants.

Last night, though, they moved in quick.  I stuck my head out to chat with the horse, not a quarter hour after the last time, and when I hollered, there was a brief pause, and then an apocalyptic rumble of pounding hooves burst out, thundering like a cavalry charge in all directions at once.

One thing for sure, that wasn’t just nine of them.

Elk

 

It’s pretty common to catch two or three elk sneaking through the paddock at night to glean Mucky’s uneaten extra hay, but last night, a whole herd came down, and we watched and listened to the whole drama.

Usually their hoofprints give their nightly visitations away, and occasionally we’ll catch them out when we leave the barn suddenly, which makes them all leap and thunder away.   I watched from my truck one night as three of them quietly crept along, ears on swivels and nervous about lowering their heads to eat.  I love the way elk look, with their furry neck scarves.   They’ve pushed over a couple fence posts from last summer, and their regularly used path out of the woods is more of an elk highroad now.

We lost track at nine of them last night, all appearing in twos or threes.  They flanked the horse and pushed him out of his defensive position standing over his food, then crowded tight in the small patch of hay scraps on the snow to eat.  There was a juvenile among them, and one laggard that seemed extra cautious and challenged by the fence.  Some even drank water from the horse buckets as they passed.  A couple of times, they argued over the spoils, and two reared up and stood hovering on their back legs, front legs tucked and chest to chest with each other.

At what stage does this become a problem?

 

 

Hi!

I’ve been suffering from a staggering fit of Blogger Guilt:  the common condition of being overwhelmed by so many things to urgently write about, compounded by feeling that there’s not enough time to ever catch up.   It causes some kind of neurological paralysis specific to bloggers.

Since we’re home from the holidays, we’ve been immersed in an aggressive push to finish the house (barn), while we’re still living in it.   Truly finish it, so that I can sit a chair, say, and look around and not see missing baseboard, shelves that need to be built, absent curtains, etc. It would be really nice to get the barn DONE and then be able to just live in it while exploring other interests – the kind that other people have, when they don’t live within the unfinished construction project of their home (whatever those interests may be?).

For a change.  My typical pattern is to make a home truly habitable just in time to start packing, handing off the dwelling to someone who doesn’t have the building skills to create a habitat out of thin air.

We were on a tight 10- day plan (we really are tantalizingly close to “really done”) but I optimistically neglected to add that crucial 20%, and a few more things arose to plump up the to-do list, so we are again paused at “almost-complete” to pay attention to other important aspects of life.

Like the world at large!  Watch out for posts coming out of chronological order to catch up on our recent train and hitchhiking adventures!