Still Here

I know it has been a long time since I have written.  Losing Amber was hard.  She was my sweet girl and very much a part of Brookwood Shire.  Seeing just two girls seems wrong.  Two is not a flock.  But there is no point getting more hens if we are going to Ireland.

IMG_5193For their part, Beatrix and Prudence are doing better than I thought they would.  Prudence has never liked Beatrix and I wondered how they would get on.  But they seem ok.  In fact they have managed to work together to escape a few times…partners in crime!

Shortly after we lost Amber, Fergus took a turn for the worse.  We thought we were going to lose him as well, but with some medication adjustments, he rallied.  He was the only one I know who enjoyed the SNOW we got in early April. 


He is still walking and swimming and enjoying himself.  He turns 14 at the end of the month….a feat for a large dog..especially one with cancer.  He seems stable at the moment…and happy.  

But the hot weather will be difficult for him.  His future is uncertain.  So all of a sudden, Ireland is feeling much more real and we wonder if this might be our last year at Brookwood Shire.  An unsettling thought.  For while we are excited about Ireland and looking forward to adventures there, Brookwood Shire has been our home for almost 30 years.  It will be hard to leave.

So as gardening season arrives, and I begin tidying the beds, I suddenly find myself wondering.  Gardening is all about the future.  What is our future?  

It changes the way I garden.  I didn’t start any seeds this year.  I will be planting fewer things…and not things to store over the winter.  I will not add any new beds (a first…I always add new beds!).  It will be different.  But I will garden…how could I not?  

IMG_5194The pumpkin patch will not have pumpkins this year.  I have divided it into four beds, with peas in the middle and chard and kale in the quarters.  And of course, flowers.  Why not make it beautiful?:)

IMG_5197I have planted some lettuce, but Peter (our resident bunny) has been sampling it.  He (or someone) has also sampled some of the chard and the  broccoli and a few strawberry plants.   Hopefully there will be enough for everyone.

I have been working my way around the gardens, tidying, adding compost, dividing and mulching.  Everything seems happy.  Despite the very strange weather we have in this new climate we have created, nature carries on.  It is quite amazing.


This is the time of year that the woodland gardens are at their best.  They fade as the summer gets hotter.   May and June is when they are spectacular.  I find myself wondering where we will be next June…and enjoying them all the more.

IMG_5210IMG_5209IMG_5203St. Francis watches over all.

It will be an interesting year..a transition year..and where we will be at the end of it….time will tell.

But for now, life continues at Brookwood Shire…


and all is well.  

🌷Happy Gardening!🌷



Posted in Gardens, Hens, Nature, Spring | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Farewell Sweet Amber

It has been a sad few days at Brookwood Shire.  On Sunday, when I went up to check on the girls, Amber was in the nesting box.  While Beatrix and Prudence are laying again, Amber has only laid one egg this Spring.  I thought perhaps she was starting up again, but when she saw me, she got down from the nesting box.  There was no egg and I noticed something red near her vent.  I brought her inside to check her and she had prolapsed again.  This happened once before but this was worse.  I gave her a bath but it didn’t help. Of course it was Sunday so there were no vet available.  She would have to spend the night inside.

IMG_5116  She was no better on Monday so I made an appointment with a local vet who sees chickens.

IMG_5118Amber did well and was very cooperative.  But the news wasn’t good.  The vet was able to fix the prolapse but Amber was pushing and it kept coming out again.  Why was she pushing?  X-Rays showed there was no egg in her….so what?  Possibly a growth.  Further investigation showed abnormal cells….probably a malignancy.   Amber has not really been herself for awhile…this would explain a lot of things.  But it was very bad news.  We discussed all possible interventions and there really  wasn’t anything that would help enough to be worth putting Amber through it.  This was only going to get worse.  So after a lot of discussion, we made the very hard decision to put her to sleep.  

IMG_5125She was able to have a final snack before we said good bye.  

It was a very gentle passing.   Amber is at peace now.  

Amber was my favorite from the beginning.  She was always the friendliest and the most talkative.  


Even as a baby check, still living in the bathroom, she was interested in everything and everybody.

IMG_0057She would jump/fly onto anyone who came in the room.  She just loved people!

As she got older, her world expanded.

import sept 26 2012 043But even in Cluckingham Palace, she was eager to meet new friends.

Everyone loved Amber.  Her sisters all loved being with her.  I never saw anyone ever peck her.  And I never saw her peck anyone else.  She was a happy girl who got along with everyone.

Though she did not like to share the nesting box.  There were a few arguments about the nesting box.  


She could be quite pushy when she wanted the nesting box. 

IMG_3785And she was very proud when she laid an egg.

She loved being out in the big run..


…with her friends…


..or helping with the compost in the Spring.


And she LOVED her dust baths!

Amber brought much  joy to Brookwood Shire…..and lots of laughter.  It will be an emptier place with out her.   


Farewell, sweet girl…we will miss you!

Posted in Hens, Nature | 10 Comments

Life Returns!

  1. Our mild weather continues.  Last week we had some lovely warm weather and I was able to get out and tidy the gardens a bit.  And now we have had a few days of rain and little green shoots are popping up all over!  Very early for us.  Very nice.  Even the grass is turning green.  Usually at this time of year the grass is still buried beneath the snow.   So this is a treat.


The pussy willows have burst open.  They almost shimmer on this overcast day.  


The garlic is up.  


And this little catnip has poked up through the straw.

imageThe heather has blossomed.   This light pink one…image..and this darker one.  Both are stunning.

imageCrocus are appearing..imageA sure sign of Spring!

image Even the primroses have returned.

imageThe pulmonaria is just starting to flower.

IMG_5107And the daffodils are coming up!

All before St.Patrick’s Day!  It lifts the spirits to see life returning to the gardens.  And this is just the beginning!  Mother Nature is just awakening… …there is MUCH more to come!

Happy Spring, everyone!


Posted in Gardens, Spring | 2 Comments

Sorry Girls, The Party is Over

It has been a very quiet winter here at Brookwood Shire.  As New England winters go, it has been pretty mild..there were a few very cold days, but it was milder than last year and there hasn’t been much snow.  As a result, the girls’ big run, which was never intended to be anything but a temporary run, is still standing.IMG_5049This is the first winter it has survived.  It leans a bit in places, but it is still up.

This has been wonderful for my girls.  They refuse to come out if it is very cold or very windy or if there is SNOW (they hate snow) but on the milder sunny days, they enjoy being out.


It has made winter much easier to be able to get out a bit.

But then Prudence realized she could make a hole in the fence and escape.

IMG_5059Here she is out by the greenhouse exploring.

IMG_5058And Beatrix has followed her and the two of them just love getting out and exploring the gardens.

IMG_5060Amber, for the most part, has stayed in the run.  But she does not like it when the others get out.

IMG_5038Here is some of Prudence’s handiwork.  I have repaired the holes as best I can but they just make new ones.  I need to replace the fence, but the ground is still too frozen.

So when they are in the big run (and this is only when I am home) I am in the habit of checking on them frequently.  If they are out, I can put them back and close whatever gap they have made.  It is not a good system, but I hate to keep them in the little run on the mild days.

Yesterday changed all that.  I checked on them and found them (well not Amber) out and about exploring the compost area.  I put them back in and repaired the hole only to find them out again!  I returned them to the run and fixed the new hole.  I almost put them in the little run at that point, but it was a nice day so I let them stay out.  I checked on them a third time and saw this.

IMG_5070Forgive the picture but it was taken from inside and the window reflected the shed behind me.  I was not quick enough to get it, but there was another bear who had just gone behind the coop.  Luckily, the girls were still in the run and not out exploring.   They were huddled together being very quiet.  I held my breath and eventually the bear wandered off…

I do not know if bears eat hens…but it is early Spring and they are hungry and there isn’t much for them to eat yet.  They aren’t even usually up this early, but as I said, it has been a mild winter.  I do not want to think what might have happened if the bear had decided to have a go at my girls.  The big run is definitely not bear proof.  Worse is to think about Prudence and Beatrix, trapped outside (because while they have figured out how to get out, they have not figured out how to get back in) when the bears came through the yard.  Scary.

Today was an even nicer day then yesterday but the girls stayed in the little run.  I am afraid the party is over.  I can’t risk them escaping with bears about.


Sorry girls!




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Fergus’ New Bed

As many of you know, Fergus is a very beloved dog.  He has always had many lovely places to sleep…dog beds, people beds and many couches.  But his favorite has always been “his couch.”

IMG_2331That would be the couch in the living room.  This is the best place because it is close to the kitchen so you never miss a treat.  It is also close to the door so it is easy to greet any visitors who might arrive.

IMG_1073Merlin likes it too, so sometimes he has to share, but it is still the best place.  He has spent many lovely hours on his couch.  

But he is getting older now and it is getting harder and harder for him to get up on the couch.  He can still mange to get on the bigger couch, in the den.

IMG_4099And that is quite cozy..and will do.  But it is too far from the food.  It is possible to miss an opportunity to “help” with a meal.

So he prefers the living room.  But he cannot get up onto “his couch” anymore.

He has a dog bed in the living room.  

IMG_0285It is a fine place for a short nap, or a to eat a snack, or to wait for a walk…but it is not as soft as he likes.  He is an old boy and needs a soft bed.

So we got him a new one.

IMG_4996It is much thicker and it is made from memory foam…especially designed for older dogs.  It arrived shortly after Christmas.

IMG_4959He wasn’t sure at was different.

IMG_4984 But a snack tasted pretty good on the new bed.

IMG_4991Yes, that was quite good.


Ahh…..This bed IS quite comfortable.  A good place for a little nap.


I think it will do…

Sweet dreams, Fergus!

Posted in Fergus | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Happy Christmas!

Our warm weather continues.  It was sunny and near 60F on Christmas Day.  Very peculiar, but I am not complaining.  There will be plenty of cold, snowy days before winter is done….I can wait for it.

But as a result, for the first time in the almost 30 years we have lived here…

IMG_4951..we did not have a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day.  It was just too warm.

But we had a tree..

IMG_4943…sparkling in the corner.

IMG_4954And we had good old Bing, filling the air with Christmas songs…and a bit of nostalgia.

And of course there were presents.

IMG_4950A bit of an Irish theme for me….

And just a bit of magic..


Someone had decorated this little tree that grows in the woods where we walk Fergus.  It was very sweet to come upon it.

There were plenty of treats for everyone…furry and feathered and everyone enjoyed the day.


Later, Merlin found a cozy place to nap..

IMG_4952and Fergus was exhausted by it all.  He had a lovely long nap on our bed after his walk.

So it was a very good day…and a very good Christmas.  

And now we look forward to the New Year..and wonder what it will bring…

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas as well and thank you for sharing in our days at Brookwood Shire….

Merry Christmas….from our house to yours.


Posted in Holidays, Winter | Tagged , | 1 Comment

A Strange December

Despite its cold start, December has turned very warm and mild.  It has been above freezing most of the time…and not a hint of snow.  El Nino?  Climate change?  I am sure that in the grand scheme of things, this might not be such a good thing…but I am loving it!

As are the girls.   
IMG_4918Their big run is still up and they are out enjoying themselves most days.  They still have a few pumpkins to finish.

But the squirrels have gotten most of  the pumpkins.

IMG_4910Here is one now..feasting in the pumpkin patch.

IMG_4913They are doing a very thorough job!

It has also been great weather for gathering greens and filling the window boxes. IMG_4858Here is the little shed.


Cluckingham Palace, of course, got stockings as well.

IMG_4912And I even managed to get a wreath for the door this year.  Somehow that never happened last year.  It would be more festive with a bit of snow, but I am ok with this.

Inside, I have been doing my usual greens….It is so bright and cheery after the browns of  Autumn.

IMG_4875The porch is looking festive.

Though the stove is not lit.  Too warm!


I am certain there will be plenty of cozy fires before winter is over…but not yet.


No fire in the fireplace yet either, but Fergus doesn’t mind.

IMG_4931And Merlin seems quite content curled up in his favorite chair.

More greens in the kitchen.  The kitchen is one of my favorite rooms to decorate.


This is my version of an Irish dresser.  Maybe in Ireland I will have a  proper one.


The counter…


…and the sink.  Greens everywhere!


Even the bathroom got some.  Why not?

The weather may be unseasonably warm… 


….but Brookwood Shire is getting ready for Christmas! 🎄🎅🎁🔔


Posted in Hens, holiday greens, Seasons | Tagged , , | 1 Comment