As September approaches and the gardens wind down a bit (though there are still tomatoes to roast!) I have been reflecting on the summer.  It was an interesting summer here.  The weather was mixed.  We had some hazy, hot and humid days (NOT my favorite) and some nice days.  We got enough rain and the gardens, for the most part, did well.  

And amazingly, we lost very few veggies to the local wildlife.


Peter was joined by his cousin Benjamin and his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, but they mostly ate grass.

The girls enjoyed the big run, had lots of treats and laid lots of eggs.

IMG_4455They had no adventures with hawks or other wildlife thank goodness.

Merlin dozed in all the best places.

IMG_4483And seemed content as only cats can.

Unlike last summer when he had a broken ankle, Bill is back to mowing the lawn.

IMG_4151So I have not had to.  THAT has been nice!

But Fergus seems much older this summer.

IMG_4107 Last summer, despite the fact that he had been diagnosed with cancer in the Spring, he was himself.  He walked every day, swimming in all his favorite places and dozing peacefully the rest of the day.  I had hoped for another summer like that.  But he is aging rapidly.  It is noticeable.  He still walks and swims..but not from the steep banks any more.  He has trouble getting on his couch sometimes and the heat has been hard for him.  We know he is going.  And we know what a hole he will leave in our hearts.  Life without Fergus is hard to imagine.

We have been thinking about an old dream and wondering.  For years we had dreamed of retiring to Ireland.  But things got in the way and then Ireland got very expensive.  We gave up on the dream and settled into Brookwood Shire.  Bill took up photography and I started putting in gardens, got baby chicks and made our little cottage as cozy as I could.  We expected to stay here forever.  But we have never liked winters in New England and they seem to get harder as one ages.  Last winter, we began to question our decision to remain New Englanders.  We began to talk again about Ireland.  Prices have come down somewhat since the recession….could we trade Brookwood Shire for a cottage there?  Could we start again with new gardens…new hens (the girls could not come with us   though a friend has offered to take them)…could we put Merlin on a plane?  I am not sure.  But it has been on my mind a lot.  

So there may be changes in our future.  When “we don’t have Fergus anymore” (and I am still hoping that is a ways in the future) we are thinking of spending some time in Ireland..a month? 6 weeks?  Just to see how it feels,  look at property and test the waters.  

So we shall see what happens.  It is both exciting and quite daunting.  But it could be the adventure of a lifetime.

I will keep you posted. 🍀




Posted in Fergus, Gardens, Hens, Ireland, Merlin, Nature | Tagged | 4 Comments

Be Careful What You Wish For

Last year my tomatoes got a blight in early August.  We got a few, but not enough to freeze for the winter.  Shortly after that, the basil caught the blight and my “pesto all winter”  fantasy faded.  So this year I planted extra tomatoes and extra basil.  I was determined to have enough.  I started them in the greenhouse and they were huge by the time I planted them.  I hoped it would be a good year.  So you can imagine my horror when the tomato blight returned in late July!  There were tons of green tomatoes so I cut back the blighted leaves and hoped everything would ripen anyway.  I started harvesting basil, just in case, and made a bunch of pesto.

Well the good news is that, despite the blight, the tomatoes are doing fine.  They look a bit pathetic without many leaves, but they keep producing tomatoes.

IMG_4523 These are just the Roma tomatoes.

IMG_4524The regular tomatoes also continue to grow fat and juicy.

IMG_4529And the basil remains beautiful!

So I have been very busy roasting tomatoes.  It is very easy.

IMG_4516Gather some tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary.  Wash.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet.  Add the herbs.  Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes.

IMG_4519Your kitchen will smell heavenly.  Let them cool for a bit and then remove the skins.  They come right off…


..and my girls LOVE them!  Here they come..always ready for treats.

Once the skins are off, just put the roasted tomatoes in a canning jar.


I got one quart from that panful.

IMG_4520It will go in the freezer with the other jars and the pesto.  And pesto will definitely be on our menu this winter!

IMG_4522 IMG_4528And there is plenty more basil and more tomatoes in the garden!  I will be busy for awhile I think.  So be careful what you wish for…you may find yourself with a lot to do..

Unlike my boys…


IMG_4518…who are having a VERY relaxing summer!

Posted in Eating Well, Gardens | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Mysterious Missing Shoe

We had a bit of a mystery here yesterday.  I have pair of Keen water shoes that I wear every day when I take Fergus for his walk.  They are good because I can wear them into the river if I need to.  I got them years ago when Fergus was a puppy and apt to “steal” anything people left by the river.  He would excitedly snatch anything he saw,  dash into the river with it and often as not, drop it there.  I would then have to wade out to retrieve whatever it was, apologizing profusely.  Amazingly, most people just thought it was cute.  In any case, these shoes have been very handy over the years and even though Fergus is more “mature” now and no longer steals things, they are my “go for a walk” shoes in the summer.

IMG_4507I keep them outside, in the carport, with my Wellies.

So you can imagine my surprise when Fergus and I went out to go for our walk yesterday and found this.

IMG_4508Only one shoe.  Where was the other one?  A quick search found nothing.  Where in the world could it be?  Who would take one shoe?  Very mysterious.  Fergus was impatient for his walk so I found some other shoes and off we went.

IMG_4503We had a great walk with a few swims and came home.

I had a more thorough search for my missing shoe..but nothing.  Not in the carport or on the steps or fallen behind anything.  How strange.  

Never mind.  I was convinced it would turn up…I did some gardening.  Luckily I don’t generally wear shoes for gardening.

I worked my way from garden to garden and just as I was finishing up the last garden, I looked down and saw this.

IMG_4505MY SHOE!  What in the world was it doing up here?  How did it get here?  We will never know….

IMG_4456I wonder if Peter knows anything about it……

In any case, I was thrilled to have my shoe back.  Now I will be ready to go for a walk tomorrow…

IMG_4506At least I hope so! 

Posted in Fergus, Nature | 3 Comments


It has been hazy, hot and humid for the last few days.  Not atypical weather for July in New England, but not my favorite weather .   But apparently zucchini loves it.  It has gotten a bit out of control.  

IMG_4460It just keeps coming and coming!  So today, since it was too hot for me to be in the gardens, I thought I would try to use at least some of it.  Luckily it is a very versatile vegetable and you can use zucchini in lots of different recipes.

What should I make?  After a search of the internet, I settled on a few things.  First I would make zucchini chocolate chip cookies.  In my experience adding chocolate chips to almost anything is a guaranteed success.

IMG_4463They certainly look good.

Next I made another batch of zucchini oat bread.  I made this a few weeks ago and it was delicious.

IMG_4469It is lovely for breakfast or with a cup o tea.

I had a bit of grated zucchini left over from the bread.


So the girls got a little treat.  

But what to do with the rest of the zucchini?  I have just acquired this lovely new kitchen tool.

IMG_4461It is a julienne peeler and it turns zucchini into a pasta like food.  Or so they say.  I decided to try it out.  The internet is filled with delicious looking recipes.  I settled on one that used things that I had in the garden.  Zucchini noodles with Pesto.  Since basil likes hot weather there was plenty of that as well.

I made the pesto.

IMG_4476There is nothing like the smell of fresh basil!

And then it was time to try out the peeler.

IMG_4472It worked beautifully and soon I had a bowl of zucchini noodles.

IMG_4473The recipe said you could use them as is or heat them a bit.  I decided to heat them.

IMG_4477Into the wok they went.  I added some pesto and a few cherry tomatoes from the garden.


IMG_4478It was starting to smell delicious!

IMG_4479A bit of cheese and it was perfect!

I had also roasted some cauliflower.  It doesn’t like the heat so I wanted to use it up.


And voila!  Dinner almost entirely from the garden.  Zucchini noodles are very interesting.  They taste a bit like pasta but have a lovely crunchy texture.  Nice.

So all in all it was a very productive day…


..but there is STILL zucchini left!  

Well tomorrow is another day……

Posted in Cooking, Eating Well, Gardens | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Harvest Continues…

We had a lovely June this year and the cool weather plants all did well.  We have been feasting on huge heads of broccoli, sweet tender lettuce, delicious peas, and bountiful kale, chard and spinach.

But July turned hot.  The spinach bolted as did the lettuce, and the peas faded.  The broccoli is still producing some and the kale and chard are fine.  But now the hot weather plants are coming.  It has been a busy time in the gardens.

The tomatoes have finally begun to ripen…


and they are HUGE!

IMG_4405 Even the tomatoes in the greenhouse, which were planted much later, are ripening.

IMG_4406The plum tomatoes are coming as well.

IMG_4419The zucchini is  prolific….we have had enough to stir fry and more to make zucchini bread.  Such a versatile plant.

IMG_4418We have plenty of cucumbers and the cherry tomatoes have begun to ripen.  That is celery and dill in the jug.  Just gorgeous.

IMG_4401The cauliflower is ready.

IMG_4398And the winter squash are getting bigger.  There are LOTS of them!

IMG_4397The arch has been a great success so far.

And remarkably..
IMG_4402….the deer have not eaten the beans yet this year.  They are just flowering now so fingers crossed the deer will stay away!

The garlic has also been harvested and is drying in the carport.

IMG_4417In case you are wondering if it really matters if you remove the garlic scapes…

IMG_4415I missed the garlic scape on the bulb on the right.  It had a lovely flower…but you can see it had less energy for the bulb.  If you remove the scapes you not only get delicious garlic get bigger garlic bulbs!  


I have even harvested the potatoes from the potato bags.  Yum!

So you can see it HAS been a very busy time in the gardens.

And while I was busy with the veggies, the summer flowers BLOOMED!


IMG_4392 IMG_4394 IMG_4395

Brookwood Shire is BURSTING with color!  And the bees are VERY happy!


Posted in Eating Well, Gardens, Nature | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Garlic Scape Pesto

We have had severe thunderstorm warnings all day today.  It rained on and off and in-between it was hot and humid…with sudden gusts of wind and occasional thunder.   So my plans for spreading new straw in some of the beds were canceled.  Instead I decided to find some recipes for the garlic scapes I harvested yesterday.

I have used garlic scapes to make my usual pesto, but I wanted to try something new.  I also was thinking of finding a few new recipes for all the kale that is in the garden.  So I was delighted to find a recipe for Kale Basil Garlic Scape Pesto.  Since I am sure I am not the only one with overflowing gardens, I thought I would share.

The actual recipe calls for pistachios as well, and can be found here.  I didn’t have any pistachios so I used pine nuts instead.


I harvested some kale and basil and brought them in.  I would also need garlic scapes and oil.  The recipe called for garlic scape paste, so first I had to make that.


Cut up nine garlic scapes…

IMG_4344….about a cup.

These go in the food processor.  Pour in the oil as it is processing.  You will have a beautiful pale green paste.

IMG_4346This will be used in the Kale, Basil Pesto.

Blanch the kale.

IMG_4363Make sure you cut out the tough stems before you blanch it.

IMG_4364Remove the stems from the basil and you are ready to start.

IMG_4365Put three tablespoons of the garlic scape paste in the processor.

IMG_4368Add the basil leaves, the kale and the nuts.

IMG_4369Add the oil as it is processing and you are done.  How easy was that?

IMG_4370Kale Basil Pine Nut Garlic Scape Pesto.

I served it on whole wheat pasta with tomatoes and some Romano Cheese.IMG_4372It was delicious!

IMG_4328And there are plenty of garlic scapes left…..aren’t they beautiful?


Posted in Eating Well, Gardens | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Garden Update

While May was challenging with heatwaves and frost warnings, June has been lovely.  We even had a few rainy days!  It has been seasonal or even a bit cooler than normal…so I have been enjoying my time in the gardens.  Most everything is planted now…though there are a few odds and ends to find places for.  The plants are loving the weather as well and are growing like crazy!  It has been wonderful.

Today I planted the leftover tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse.  This is an experiment (like so much that I do here).  I have no idea if it will get too hot in the greenhouse..but these are extra plants so I thought I would see what happens.

IMG_4310I have gotten a shade cloth for the greenhouse so it is not as hot as it was.  Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant like it hot so I am hoping they will be happy and keep producing into the Fall.

didn’t have room for the extra basil, so that ended up in a pot on the front steps….it can go into the greenhouse in the Fall if it is still happy.

IMG_4322I still had plants left but found homes for most of them with neighbors.

IMG_4311I had three Roma tomatoes left over that I potted up as well.  Roma tomatoes freeze really well so I am hoping for a huge harvest.  

I also have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil in raised beds.  

IMG_4238This bed has strawberries on the edges as well.  So far the deer have left them alone and Peter (my resident rabbit..I am determined NOT to turn into Farmer MacGregor) has only nibbled a few.

The peas (which the deer DID sample) have been enjoying the cooler weather and come back.

IMG_4323We have a few flowers so the peas won’t be far behind.  I LOVE peas!

The lettuce is also enjoying the cooler weather and so far no bears have been by.

IMG_4284So salads are on the menu most nights.  Yum!


The kale and chard are glorious!  That is catmint and lemon balm behind the kale….everything is just exploding with the nice weather.

The first broccoli I planted is just forming heads.


And the newer plant are coming along.

IMG_4237I am hoping for a continuous harvest.

The garlic scapes have appeared.

IMG_4320They really are beautiful.  I will remove them and we will stir fry them with something….and the garlic will be ready soon!

The sunflowers are planted.

IMG_4235There are fewer now as the deer have sampled them (!) but they will be glorious.

The spinach bolted in the heat of last month, but is happier now.  It has gotten huge and the leaves are still tasty.

IMG_4283Spinach, garlic, tomatoes and eggs is one my favorite things to cook up after a long day in the garden.  Easy, quick and tasty!

The potatoes I planted in bags have flowered.


There are more planted in straw….but they were planted much later.  They won’t be ready for awhile yet.  These will be our first potatoes of the season….perhaps a lovely potato salad….

All in all, the gardens are doing well.  All beds, veggie or flower have been tidied and mulched.  The window boxes and pots are done and doing well. And the girls big run is up!

Here is a short video of them enjoying  the big run. (I hope…my first video in a I hope it works)  

It has been a busy month at Brookwood Shire…the days are long but productive.  And the season is just beginning!


Good night for now…..and Happy Gardening!

Posted in Gardens, Hens, Nature | Tagged , | 6 Comments