Spring Time & The Mother of Invention

Well, spring has sprung here at our little urban homestead, bringing with it all manner of projects, activities and refections on the meaning of it all.

I went out to check for eggs this morning, having not done so for a while, and found that the girls have at last started laying! There was, in fact, a bumper crop of eggs, guess they are making up for lost time. At this point it appears that it may just our duck who is laying at the moment, with luck Henrietta hen will join her soon.

I am making slow progress on my latest bike related project: Around the first of the year I got it in my head to create some sort of trailer or other kid/cargo enclosing device that would allow me to ferry the Boy through foul weather, and also allow me to transport large bulky items that I don't want to have get wet. So, a while back, I picked up a Burley flatbed trailer as a base from which to work. At the time I was thinking of something tow-able, but as I began tinkering and researching, the project morphed (on paper) through a number of incarnations, finally evolving into a sidecar arrangement.

Some of my “bikey” associates think I am coddling the Boy, that he should pedal like the rest of us, rather than getting a free ride. Maybe he should, but the Boy has a liver condition, which I have not discussed much, here or in life, because it is rather depressing. He is less robust than most 12 year olds, and very sensitive to temperature drops and the like. He HATES getting wet or cold, and his kvetching really detracts from my enjoyment of our rides. I figure that going by bike (in any form) is better for him than traveling in a smog-mobile, even if I were willing to operate one, and by making cycling pleasant for him I may be instilling longterm habits.

One reason for a sidecar, rather than a trailer, is it will allow the Boy and I to chat while riding, I love being able to do this when he rides behind me on the Xtracycle's snap deck. The main deterent to the sidecar idea was the puzzle of how to attach it securely without permanently altering or damaging the bike. But after tinkering with the Burly a bit, I found that the hitch and arm are easily detached from each other, and from the trailer body, by removing a couple of bolts; meaning I could alter how the trailer attached to the bike without damaging or permanently altering it . This was a fabulous discovery, as I am reluctant to make permanent changes before knowing that the sidecar will work.

With the hitch removed from the arm of the trailer, it was possible to attach a piece of EMT tubing on to the hitch, and attach the other end to the trailer. A second piece of tubing connects the back of the trailer to the Xtracycle frame. The final puzzle will be putting together the "box", which will hold the Boy/cargo. Not so much a challenge from an engineering or carpentry stand point, but simply in terms of finding the time and energy.

The Boy is hoping to have a bean bag as a seat, although unconventional and -I think- decandent, this arrangement would make switching between passenger and cargo use a snap. I will be making bike-powered smoothies at this years Earth Day celebration, and hope to have the sidecar done in time to use for that ~I figure, if I am going to loose a load, or have the trailer malfunction, better to have it happen with an inanimate load on board.


Mindy said...

Hi there...

Your picture of just collected eggs caught my eye. My husband and I are in the process of fencing our yard so that we can raise a small flock of chickens and a couple of ducks and geese. I've been wondering about the taste of duck eggs (and geese if you happen to know!)compared to chicken eggs?

Your xtracycle looks really cool. I've been checking them out on the web. We've slimmed down to one vehicle, but I'd like to make it "none" and maybe an xtracycle would help us make the change. We live up a steep road in S. Oregon (Brookings) and I think that bringing groceries/supplies home will be a bit of a challenge.

Your blog is very inspiring :-)
Best regards,

Kyr said...

Getting ducks and getting an Xtracycle are two if the best decisions I have ever made. Duck eggs are so lovely they almost defy description, they are a bit larger than chicken eggs, and just a touch richer in flavor. Really nice! I have heard that the flavor and other characteristics of duck eggs vary, depending on the type of duck doing the laying. I have only ever raised Khaki Cambel ducks, so theres that. Ducks are also great for eating slugs and other pests.

We also have banty chickens, who are very sweet and lay these tasty little eggs, and are very nice company in the garden.

As for my Xtracycle, it was critical in my ditching and possibly the best money I have ever spent. I can carry up to 6 bags of groceries in the saddlebags, and still room on the snapdeck for my son or other loads. Clever Cycles (an family owned company right here in Oregon) offers an electric assist that works with the X, so that is one option. Beats drivin. Also, I have been amazed at the human body's ability to acclimate to hills. I live at the top of a formidable hill ( a dormant volcano) and found I was able to work up to it in stages, over time. Today I peddled uphill for about 4 miles with my 12 year old in the sidecar.