We awoke to snow this morning. What?! The Farmer’s Almanac had actually predicted this though I had hoped they would be proven wrong.

It is not a lot of snow and it is supposed to be warmer later so it will melt. But....

..there were daffodils blooming here. We had heavy rain yesterday and they were already soaked and laying on the ground…..if they were above the snow they would probably be alright but now I am not so sure.

The pink of the heather glistens through the snow. It will be alright.

Will this little pulmonaria be a casualty as well?

That small red blur is my pea fence. The peas are planted but not up yet. Hopefully they are safe under the snow.

New England winters (and summers for that matter) have always been a bit unpredictable. But this new climate we have created is even more extreme and very changeable. It will be a challenge for growing things and for those who tend them for sure.

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Spring Clean Up….a Greenhouse?

The warm weather continues and I have been tidying the gardens.  Leaves left where they fell last Fall have been insulating the gardens over the cold winter.  Beneath them I discovered lots of new growth.  The more I tidied the more the gardens took shape…

IMG_1186….far from their summer glory,  but a beginning at least.

IMG_1176Fergus supervised from his shady throne.  He loves to have his bed outside..why not be comfortable?

My compost isn’t ready yet.  It was too cold this winter for much to break down.  So I got the girls to help.

IMG_1181They have been scratching and pecking for the last two days.  They are doing a great job.

IMG_1182They are finding lots of bugs and worms…and breaking down the compost as they go.  They won’t get to it all I am sure, but I am hoping for at least some finished compost for the gardens this year.

I have been tidying the vegetable beds as well.  I thought I would plant peas today but I didn’t quite manage to.

IMG_1189But I got the garden ready and put up the pea fence.  I will plant tomorrow.

IMG_1188Garlic is coming up in the front of the bed.  I think I got a little carried away last Fall.

IMG_1187There is garlic coming up in this bed as well.  But since we love garlic and since it keeps well, the more the better.

I have been thinking about getting a Greenhouse.  It is something I have wanted for a very long time.  They are expensive, but I think it would be very useful for starting seeds and extending the season.  Some things might winter over in a greenhouse and I could keep pots and planting equipment there.  I think the girls might enjoy doing a bit of scratching and pecking in it in the winter as well….so while I was out in the gardens today, I looked for a place to put one.  I think I found one.  Unfortunately, the pussy willow is in the way.  I cut it back last year anyway.  If any thing grows I will try to get cuttings to plant somewhere else.  It is too big to move, so we will cut it back completely and cover the stump to prevent growth. The stump will be in the greenhouse…not the best thing but I think I can work around it.   I will have to do a bit more research and decide.  But at least I have a sense of what size I can fit now.   It is a lot of money and a lot of space in the garden.  Would it be too hot for things in the summer?  Basil might be happy in a greenhouse… But if it is too hot to use it in the summer and too cold in the winter would it be worth it?  That is what I have to figure out.  Any advise would be more than welcome.

Meanwhile there is lots to do.  It is such a joy to be outside again….digging in the dirt.  I just love it!


Posted in Gardens, Hens, Spring | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Spring Has Sprung!

“Spring has sprungthe grass is riz,
I wonder where the flowers is..
The bird is on the wing, Ain’t that absurd,
I always thought the wing was on the bird!” 

My mother loved that poem, and recited it every Spring..but with with a New York accent.  I always think of it and of her this time of year.

We have had some absolutely delightful weather the last few days. Hats and mittens are put away.  Snow shovels are put away.  Green shoots are emerging everywhere.  It was a VERY long winter!  But that is forgotten now as we begin to feel the warmth of the sun and to see life returning.  A walk around the gardens reveals many surprises.

IMG_1098This little primrose is flowering.

IMG_1104This one is just opening…a splash of color in a still brownish landscape.

IMG_1164These crocus add even more color.  They are popping up everywhere.

IMG_1138Bleeding hearts are emerging.

IMG_1101And daffodils grow through the decaying leaves.  Buds have formed…there is nothing like yellow daffodils swaying in the breeze….soon.

IMG_1173 The heather is glorious against the gray rock.  The bees were out today, very busy on the heather.  There is not a lot of food for them yet so the heather is a welcome treat.  

There is a lot of tidying to do.   Winter has left its mark.  But it is just lovely to see signs of life again.

And inside…

IMG_1095Seeds are started at last.  I am a bit late this year..but the season is a bit late as well, so I am hoping it will be ok.

IMG_1097I brought this forsythia in a few days ago. Its blossoms are a  preview of things to come.  

And I can’t wait!!!  Happy Spring everyone!



Posted in Gardens, Nature, New England Weather, Seasons, Spring | 1 Comment

Art Show

Every year in March, the little town of Monson, MA has an Art Show.  Local artists submit works.  There are paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs and mixed media works.  Accepted works are displayed at the Monson Art Center on 200 Main St in Monson, MA from March 29 -April 13.  Weekends only.  It is a very well attended event.

And what does this have to do with Brookwood Shire?  Well, while I am very busy with my gardens and my girls, Bill is not.  He will help at times, but he is not fond of digging in the dirt.  And while he enjoys their eggs, he fails to really appreciate the charms of my delightful girls.   He is a photographer.  And every year he submits a few photos to the Monson Art Show.

And this year, I am proud to announce, he won first prize for photography!  Very exciting!  

CornHuskThis is the photo that won.  It is called Corn Husk. 

There are many other lovely works to see if you are able to attend.

IMG_1020Here are a few from their brochure.

If you can’t get there they also have a website with a gallery of some of the work.  Though of course it is better in person.

In any case, we are very excited about this.  If you want to see more of Bill’s work you can go to his website.  There are no pictures of chickens….but you might find something you like.





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Solar Update

As many of you know, we had solar panels installed last December.  Admittedly not the sunniest time of year.  Snow fell almost immediately.

IMG_4335That snow melted, but by the time the electric company installed the new meter and connected our panels to the grid, more snow had fallen.  There was a series of snowfalls and melts, but in between our solar panels generated electricity.  It was exciting, but we weren’t generating as much as we were using.  And then in February we got two big storms right in a row and our panels were covered for half the month.  So we would still have an electric bill to pay.  When they came to read the meter at the end of February, it read “562″.  That is how much electricity we had used since early January.  The meter records energy we use above and beyond what the solar panels produce.  I had hoped for better. 

But eventually the snow melted from the panels and March has been a much better month.  Despite the many cloudy days, we have produced almost 500Kwh since they read the meter in February.  That is more than we use.  And so the meter has been going backwards! 


It now reads “466.”  That means we have generated almost 100kwh  more than we have used!  Wow!  In Massachusetts we have what they call net metering.  That means that we get credit for extra energy generated and we can use that at night and during times we don’t generate enough.  That means that next winter we should have credit we can use when the panels are covered with snow or the days are just too short.

What an amazing thing.  No fossil fuels are used to produce our electricity.  It is completely green.  Of all the things we have done to improve the sustainability of our lifestyle (gardens, compost, chickens, wood stove, etc) the solar panels have reduced our carbon footprint the most.  Financially, with the rebates, tax credits etc the panels should pay for themselves in about five years.  But the benefit for the planet….that is immediate.  

import sept 26 2012 076




Posted in Green Energy, Sustainability | Tagged , | 8 Comments

A Lamb Day At Last!

Today turned into an absolutely glorious day.  After a bit of a dreary start and a brief shower, the sun emerged and brought its bright warmth to all.  It was much needed and very much appreciated.

Even in the woods, where we walked Fergus, the warmth of the sun could be felt.  The snow and ice are melting, mixing with mud.  Winter is letting go.  Fergus had a grand walk, sniffing, rolling in the snow, demanding cookies.  He is doing well on his meds and able to have his walks.  So we are happy about that.

IMG_0898He even had a little swim the other day.  

Most of the snow has melted from our yard, revealing some fairly bedraggled looking gardens.  Not much going on yet.

IMG_0941A few crocus tips are emerging on a south facing slope.

IMG_0943Some primroses are coming up as well.  It is not much yet, but green shoots of any kind are a welcome sight.


And our little chipmunk friend is back after his winter snooze.

The girls were out having dust baths in their run, basking in the warmth.  I brought them a bit of lettuce.

IMG_0955They thoroughly enjoyed it.  Much clucking accompanied the pecking.  

Blustery March winds arrived this afternoon, driving everyone back inside.  But at least we were out for awhile.

Inside there are a few more signs of Spring.

IMG_0632This primrose is from last winter.  It has been in this basket since the Fall, but has only just decided to bloom.  Isn’t it lovely?

The lion days have definitely outnumbered the lamb days this March, and more cold weather is predicted  for next week.  But today was a lamb day…at long last!


                        🌷 Happy Spring everyone!  🌷






Posted in Fergus, Gardens, Hens, Nature, New England Weather, Spring | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


Things have been a bit unsettled at Brookwood Shire for the last few weeks.  I am afraid we got more bad news about Fergus.  He wasn’t feeling at all well last week so we went to see our friends at the Veterinary Clinic.  They took some X-rays and found a large suspicious mass on his spleen.  Not good.  It may or may not be malignant.  They would need to do surgery to biopsy it.  But given the other suspicious mass discovered a few weeks ago,  I think it might be.  There were a lot of ifs.  IF he survived the surgery (which is risky for older dogs) and IF the mass is not malignant, and IF it hasn’t affected any other organs (though his liver number was elevated so that was not encouraging) then surgery just MIGHT be “curative”….That is too much of a long shot for me.  I do not want to put Fergus through all that with such poor odds.   So we have brought him home.  It is a hospice situation.  We have meds for his pain and so far they are keeping him comfortable.  He is able to have his life or at least a version of it.  Though for how long, we do not know.  Anyone who has welcomed a dog (or any pet) into their home and into their hearts knows this time will come.  Dogs lives are too short.  If you are lucky enough to have them into their senior years, then you know that sooner or later something will happen.  And you will have to say good bye.  And it is always hard…

But Fergus, as all wise dogs, lives in the moment.  He is not worried about tomorrow.  As long as he is pain free, life is good.  There are treats and walks and breakfast and dinner.  And now, because he needs to take his meds with food, there is even lunch!  For Fergus, it is all good.  He remains joyful.  He is thrilled to see friends, enjoys his cookies, and his walks.  He rolls in the snow, sniffs everything, and has a grand time.  We can learn a lot from dogs.  So we too are trying to stay in the moment…and are appreciating every tail wag and every smile.  

 🍀  Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🍀


Posted in Nature | 17 Comments