So We’re Off…

The girls are settling in to Whispering Pines Farm.  Carole reports that Beatrix has joined her new friends at least once.  How she got through the gate is anyone’s guess, but she did.  She is bolder than she has ever been and is making it known to everyone that she is done being the low man on the totem to speak.  She seems pretty happy.  Prudence is having a harder time adjusting.  She liked being number 1 here and wasn’t always nice to Beatrix.  Now she has to find her place in this new flock and it is unlikely that she will be number 1.  A lot of adjustments.


But Prudence is a survivor.  I predict she will size up the situation and just become “one of the girls” and carry on.  She misses being Queen of Cluckingham Palace, but she will do just fine.

The weather here has been hot and dry with no real rain in weeks and weeks.  The gardens are struggling.  I am watering but it feels like a losing battle.  They are not the lush gardens they were in the Spring.


Or as gorgeous as they were last year at this time.

IMG_4394They are a bit scraggly at the moment,and I haven’t even taken any pictures of them…. but they will survive I think..and live to bloom another day.  

I have given up on the vegetables.  Between the deer eating all the green beans and lettuce and the mole eating the roots of half the nasturtiums, and the bunnies finishing off the chard….not to mention not having rain….they are a bit of a lost cause.   I have not had time to tend them as I should..or harvest them for that matter.  The local wildlife may as well enjoy them.

At least the window boxes still look nice.


We leave for Ireland tomorrow.  We will be there until August 4.  First we go to Doolin.

IMG_4531Doolin is one of our favorite places in Ireland.  There is a lovely cliff walk and music is the pubs every night.  It will be great to be has been a few years since we were there.

And then we head for lovely Leitrim.. finally see the cottage we have rented.

And we will explore the countryside a bit.

IMG_0799I will be blogging about the trip on Ireland Calling as much a possible.  We won’t have internet everywhere, so I will have to see how it goes.  

I hope you will come along!  Slainte!

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More Good-byes

I have always known that my girls would not be able to come to Ireland with us.  My friend Carole, from Whispering Pines,  offered to take them.  She has been my chicken mentor and treats her hens very well.  I have learned a lot from her and I know she will take very good care of them.  

So today was the day.  Last night was their last night in Cluckingham Palace.

IMG_5509 IMG_5510Though of course, they didn’t know it.

This morning I made scones because I know they love them and I wanted them to have a special breakfast,

IMG_5530So after their yogurt and blueberries, I brought out a scone for them.  YUM!

And then it was time to go.

IMG_5532The car is packed with food, dishes, and all their things.  They are in the carriers, waiting to go to their new home.  Such an adventure!

IMG_5533So we drove to Whispering Pines Farm. They were happy to get out of the carriers and were VERY interested in the chickens on the other side of the gate.  They have their own little section for now.  They can see the other hens and watch them and eventually they will join the flock.

IMG_5536They have their own little house.  It is smaller than Cluckinham Palace but it is very cozy…and safe.


Gladys and Olive came over to meet the newcomers.

IMG_5542Gladys looks a bit like Beatrix so maybe they will be friends.

IMG_5535Beatrix is interested.

IMG_5537Not yet.  But perhaps soon.  For now the gate will remain closed so everyone can get used to each other.

IMG_5538There is lots to explore.  Lovely soft dirt for dust baths, and delicious bugs to find.

IMG_5539Pretty exciting.  I think they like it.  And it will be wonderful to be part of a flock.  

I will miss them.  But they will be fine.

Carole just emailed me to tell me that after a snack, they have gone to bed and are settling in for the night.  

And I can visit whenever I want.  :)


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Turning the Page

It has been a tough few weeks here at Brookwood Shire without our beloved Fergus.  We were a bit lost.  Dogs take up a lot of space in your home and in your heart.  And Brookwood Shire feels very empty.  But life goes on and  we are trying to move forward.


I finished planting and mulching all the gardens.  But I must confess some of the joy is gone.  Things have been so uncertain here.

IMG_5316 As many of you know, we have been exploring the possibility of moving to Ireland…”when we don’t have Fergus anymore.”  Well, that is now.  It was always in the future..always a dream.  But the time has come.


So now what?  That has been the question.  We had always planned to take a few months for a “fact finding mission” to test the waters…see how it all feels.  But it is impossible to leave gardens for 2 months….they need to be tended.  So our compromise is that we would go for a couple of weeks in July and reacquaint ourselves with Ireland and then go back for a longer trip in the Autumn…and possibly find a place to rent or to buy at that point.  The gardens would survive for a few weeks…

IMG_5392But what about the girls?

IMG_5464More hard decisions.  Two hens are not a flock.  Especially two hens who don’t really like each other.  They need other hens…Beatrix needs a friend.  And it is easier for my friend Carole, who has offered to take them when we go, to integrate them into her flock in the summer.  It will be good for them to be settled before we go.  I will be able to visit and see them happy in their new home.  I will miss them and Cluckingham Palace will not be the same without them..but it will be better for them to be part of a larger flock. 

So many changes!  

IMG_5424Merlin, of course, will come with us when we eventually move….and a friend will stay with him while we are in Ireland in July.  

So that was the plan..well, it still is, but…things are falling into place more quickly that we had thought possible.  And sometimes you just have to go with the flow.  Amazingly, I stumbled upon this lovely cottage for rent.  Beautifully restored by the owner…and quite stunning.


This would go quickly. Cottages like this are rare. It would not still be available by the time we got there in July. If we wanted it, we would have to move fast.  Luckily, it is in Leitrim, where  we have a friend ..a woman who moved to Ireland just last July and writes about it on  Bonfire at the Crossroads.  You can find her blog here.  She agreed to view the cottage for us and she loved it!  So we called the owner to say we wanted it.  And yesterday, we found out that it was ours!!!!!  

We have it for a year.  So we are good to go.  During that year we hope to find “our cottage.”  We will have time to explore different parts of Ireland and see lots of cottages….I am sure one of them will be the one….

What an adventure it will be!

IMG_0697 Dreams do come true!


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Today was a very sad day. Today we said good bye to Fergus.

 I think he hung on for his birthday.  A few days before his birthday, he started having trouble breathing.  The weather had turned suddenly hot and we thought it might be that.  He found it impossible to walk or to swim, but was pretty happy  hanging out in the cool house.  It was troubling but he has rallied so many times, we hoped he would improve.  But then, Wednesday morning, the day after his birthday, was very cool and he still refused to go for a walk and his breathing worsened.  About 5 years ago he was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis.  It is common in Labs and means that the flaps that close to prevent food from getting into his lungs get lazy and don’t open and close properly.  It made him sensitive to heat but otherwise he was fine.  But it is progressive and we guessed it had gotten worse.  I called my Vet and she agreed that was probably what it was..and that perhaps one of the flaps had just closed.   This meant he was getting very little air.   He was panting a lot and his breathing sounded very congested.    And he was starting to cough.  We were told that it could get worse quickly….and that his walking and swimming days were over.  It was very bad news, especially after we had just celebrated his 14th birthday.  

Laying in a cool house, struggling to breath is no kind of matter how loved you are or how many treats you are given.   So we made the very hard decision, to say goodbye.  His Vet came today.

Fergus was always a very sweet dog.  There wasn’t an aggressive bone in his body.  He never even barked.  He loved everyone and he was loved in return.  It was always wonderful when walking him to see another person approach.  Fergus would see them and he would start smiling.  He would approach them as if they were his best friend and try to get them to pet him.  No matter how bad a day they might be having, Fergus could make them smile.  It was quite amazing.  We met so many people because of Fergus.  He was very special.  

In his younger days he was quite mischievous.  He loved stealing things from people..hats, mittens, water bottles.  He would snatch whatever it was and run…absolutely joyous. He loved to be chased or to play tug with the item…or just to play.  Despite how annoying that might seem, no one ever seemed to mind.  They would just laugh and Fergus would have another friend.  

We feel very blessed to have had 14 years with this special boy.  He was an absolute joy.  He will be sorely missed..but he will be in our hearts forever.





 DSCN0624IMG_0336IMG_5136IMG_0235IMG_2793IMG_4934IMG_1995ipad pics 042
IMG_5345IMG_5335Farewell, sweet boy….we will always love you.

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Another Birthday for Fergus!

As most of you know, Fergus is our very beloved Yellow Lab.  He is one of the sweetest dogs you could ever meet and he brings much joy wherever he goes.  Over two years ago he was diagnosed with spleen cancer and we were told it wouldn’t be long.  That was right before his 12th birthday.  Well, remarkably, he made it to his 12th birthday and we were thrilled.  Then, even more remarkably, he made it to his 13th birthday.  Who would have thought?  And today, almost unbelievably, he celebrated his 14th birthday!


Sadly, we didn’t have our usual was just too hot.  Fergus has never liked the heat but every year it gets harder and harder for him.  As much as he loves swimming, it is over a mile walk to the river and that is too much in the heat.  But Fergus, who always finds the joy of any situation, was quite happy to stay in the air conditioned house and just hang out with his people.  He had his usual treats, and then a nice long nap.

IMG_5327Merlin even joined him for a time.

And then, after supper, he had his favorite treat.  Frosty Paws!

IMG_5330Merlin was interested but Frosty Paws are not for sharing.

IMG_5333They are just too good!

So it was a good day….a lovely day…and I think there is still time for another nap.


Happy Birthday, Fergus! 

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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!🌷



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