Some Good News

Hello and Happy New Year!  

IMG_7670The bitter cold weather that had descended upon us in mid December seems to be gone and we are having  more typical winter weather.  It is a relief to be sure….it was just TOO cold!  But is is still a long way until Spring so, as usual, I have filled the house with cheery primroses!  

IMG_7675They are a reminder that Spring will return and the gardens will again be filled with color.

IMG_7674These little daffodils will have to do until Spring arrives outside.  Last year at this time we were in Ireland and daffodils were up…not blooming  yet, but up.  But here in New England everything sleeps beneath the snow….it will be months before the daffodils emerge.

IMG_7663Merlin has called a truce and come upstairs.  The cellar was too cold and he missed his heater.  Fiona is VERY excited to see him upstairs…but of course he still won’t play with her.   She chases him and he leaves.  No fun at all!

IMG_7666 So she chews on her toys by the fire…

She is also busy with her rehab exercises.  As you may remember, she injured her knee a few months ago.  Surgery was recommended but not until her growth plates close which would take a few months.  So she doesn’t lose all the muscle mass in the injured leg while she waits,  she has PT exercise to do.

IMG_7679We call the blue circle thing the “cookie machine.”  She steps on it with her front feet and you wave a cookie around so she keeps shifting her weight on the back legs.  It keeps the injured leg engaged.  But as far as Fiona is concerned, the purpose of putting your feet on it is to produce cookies.  She loves it and never misses an opportunity to get a cookie.  The black dish is similar..front feet on it and she pivots around it with her back feet.  And another cookie is produced.  How wonderful!

IMG_7677These are cavellettis.   The bar is adjustable and she has to walk through, stepping over the bars and using each foot…no cheating and not using the lame leg.  The first hole (6″) was nothing but the second hole (9″) is challenging.  But she has been practicing and cookies are given so it is all good.

Today she went to the Vet to have more X rays to see if her growth plates have closed and to see how the knee looks.  She has been doing so well in rehab and shows no signs of lameness that I have been hoping that the knee has healed.

And perhaps it has.  The X-rays showed no fluid (which would indicate inflammation and a compromised ACL ligament.)  The little bump that indicated she had pulled the ligament away from the bone, is gone.   You can’t see the actual ligament on the X-ray so nothing is certain.  But surgery may not be needed.  If the ligament has reattached to the bone and healed, it should be secure..and she should be fine.  Unless it is not lined up right and it causes the ligament to tear.  That is what isn’t clear.  But her growth plates have closed and her muscle mass is good in both legs.  So we will continue with the rehab exercises AND she can have a longer leash for walks…and romp a bit.  We shall see how is goes but we are cautiously optimistic that we are on the road to recovery…she may not need surgery after all!!!  Such good news!!!

IMG_7676Fiona is tired after her big morning (and some sedation for the X-rays) but it won’t be long until she is herself again and ready for some fun!


Posted in Fiona, Nature, New England Weather, Winter | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Winter Has Arrived

Winter, it appears, has arrived at Brookwood Shire…bringing snow, ice, frigid temperatures, grey skies and dark days.  A big change after the mild Fall we had,   and not my favorite season.  It is always a bit of a shock.

Luckily, most of our winter preparations were made before the really bitter cold came.

IMG_7585Our bird feeders are up and ready for hungry birds and squirrels  who may come by.

IMG_7594I have added straw to the big run…

IMG_7598…and to the little run.  It gives the girls something to do and it is a bit of insulation from the frozen ground.

IMG_7600The nesting boxes got more straw as well.  As you can see, Lucinda is now laying.  So far only Rowena and Lucinda are laying but I think Marigold is thinking about it….or was before it got so cold.  We shall see how it goes.

Since it is so cold outside, I have been focusing on the inside…time to make it all a bit festive.  My lovely neighbor had an abundance of holly from her holly bush and generously shared with everyone, so I had lots of holly in addition to my usual greens and winterberry.

IMG_7560The mantle looks so warm and welcoming with the holly, greens and candles.

The kitchen is also very festive…..

IMG_7569The fridge is even cuter with a bit of holly.

IMG_7570The shelf above the fridge.

IMG_7579Another shelf, above the coffee area.  You can see I have hung the measuring spoons that I got for the Irish cottage.  Nice to have a place for them here as well.

I redid the coffee area with Christmas dishes.

IMG_7606And I used the chicken canisters from Ireland.  

IMG_7607The shelves and cabinet together.

IMG_7571More holly by the sink.

And some on the island.

IMG_7545 Light for the dark days of winter.



And look who has decided it is too cold in the cellar.

IMG_7575He still hates Fiona but has figured out when she is asleep or in her crate and comes upstairs then.

IMG_7584He still loves “his” heater under the little cabinet in the kitchen and spends as much time as he can there.

IMG_7592Fiona still can’t understand why he won’t play with her.  Here  she is looking very grown up and dignified..Notice she has taken over “his” chair in the sun.

So despite the dark and the cold, Brookwood Shire is cozy and warm….and everyone is settling in.



Posted in Brookwood Shire, holiday greens, Merlin, Merlin, Winter | 4 Comments

The Kitchen So Far

As I mentioned awhile ago, we are planning to do some work on our kitchen.  I have wanted a cottage kitchen for as long as I can remember.  I had thought I would have one in Ireland…but that didn’t work out.  So I am determined to create one here  at Brookwood Shire.  I have lots of ideas and some sense of what it will look like when it is done, but it remains a work in progress.  


Given that Fiona is still supposed to be resting while she waits for her growth plates to close so she can have her knee surgery, it is not a good time to totally disrupt the house.  So most of the work will have to wait.  But I am doing some small things.

IMG_7457I have reorganized the cabinets….eventually these will be shelves  and I am trying to decide what will go where.  I also got this bread box.  I love it and it holds a LOT of bread!

IMG_7459I put the blue willow dishes in this cabinet.  I am thinking I may like to put them in some sort of plate rack eventually, though I am happy with how they look here (imagine no verticals).  As I said, a work in progress.

IMG_7460The china cabinet will become a pantry.  I have started it.  It needs more shelves but I think it will be fine.

IMG_7465I created a little coffee area where the flour used to be.  I was able to use some of the things from the Irish kitchen so that is nice.

IMG_7468I have been looking for a new kettle for awhile.  Our old cast iron one died before we went to Ireland and we were using an old camping kettle in the mean time.  But now we are home and we need a proper kettle.  I spotted this one online.  A chicken design seems  perfect for my cottage kitchen.

IMG_7471We have had this refrigerator for almost 20 years and I have hated it the entire time.  It is too big for our kitchen and looms large over everything.  And we don’t need that much refrigerator space.  In Ireland we had a small under the counter fridge and it was fine.  I wanted to find something smaller..and frankly..something cuter.  And I did.  I was able to find a fridge just like the one that was in the thatched cottage in Ireland that we wanted to buy…. How wonderful is that?!


IMG_7498In preparation for its arrival, we took the doors off the cabinet above the fridge.  With a smaller fridge I would actually be able to use that space for something.

IMG_7501I painted it white and put a few things inside.  The new refrigerator is much shorter so the things on top of it will be below the shelf.

IMG_7507We moved the big fridge outside.  Mass Save will come and collect it next week.    I think it looks better already…

IMG_7509Our new refrigerator was delivered today.

IMG_7510Here it is as we were unboxing it.  It took awhile to set it up.  All the shelves are adjustable and had to be arranged.  And it had to be leveled…and plugged in.  Isn’t it beautiful?

IMG_7514Here it is installed.  Lots of room on either side.  I can easily reach things on top and the cabinet behind it, which has been basically useless for years, is now visible.

IMG_7515Plenty of room inside.

IMG_7516More storage on the door.  It will be fine.  The freezer is small but we have a freezer in the cellar as well so that is not a problem.

IMG_7519I just love it!

Posted in cottage kitchen, house projects | 7 Comments

Bumps in the Road

It has been such a long time since I have been able to write.  Part of that is due to having too many projects, but part of it is because, while Fergus was quite content to nap quietly as I blogged, Fiona is not.  She is a busy girl and sees no purpose to computers.  I must say she has a point, but  so much has happened in the last few months (has it been that long?!) that I want to fill you all in.

IMG_7197First, I am very sorry to say that we lost Prudence at the end of October.  She had been doing remarkably well after her diagnosis in April.  She had a lovely summer and enjoyed watching the chicks grow.  She never let them get near her food, but she liked being with them.  Then last week she took a very sudden turn for the worse.  I brought her in the house for the colder evenings, and she spent a few days basking in the warmth of the greenhouse.

IMG_7356I  set up a pen so she and Beatrix could spend some time together outside.

IMG_7349They enjoyed a bit of grass and sunshine….and of course worms.  

But after a few days Prudence decided that even this was too much.  She passed peacefully…I was with her.  It was so hard to see her go, but she was ready.  I like to think she is with her beloved Amber ranging with no hawks to worry about..and having adventures.  She was a very special girl…challenging in many ways…never willing to share food and earning the name “Houdini Hen” because of her ability to escape.  She will be sorely missed.

IMG_7386That leaves Beatrix as the sole defender of Cluckingham Palace.  At least that is how she sees it.

IMG_7385She decides if the “invaders” are allowed in or not!  They remain respectful of her..she is now the Queen of Cluckingham Palace after all..but there really is plenty room for everyone.

IMG_7381On a happier note, Rowena laid an egg!  She has been laying for almost a week now.  So far she is the only one, but I expect the others to lay soon.

IMG_7410Her eggs are still small…as she is young..but they get bigger every day and will soon be as big as Beatrix’s.  

IMG_7392I have begun winterizing the coop.  It is still remarkably mild for November but there have been a few cold nights.  I am also harvesting the last of the herbs and hanging them.  

IMG_7399Some are hanging in the storage side of the coop.

IMG_7395But most are in the coop.  I love the way they look and they small so nice.

IMG_7387I hung fresh lavender near the nesting box it is supposed to be calming.  And that is pineapple sage below.  It really does smell like pineapple!

I did my usual Fall decorating with pumpkins and mums…and they were beautiful…though the hungry chipmunks and squirrels have been busy feasting on them..and the mums have now faded to brown.  Soon I will cut them back and save the remaining pumpkins for treats for the girls.


Fiona has had a very rough couple of months as well.  It started in late September with what we thought was a groin injury.  She had to have leash walks only for a few days and seemed to be improving.  But then she began limping again.  We rested her completely for a week (NOT easy with a puppy) and she improved.  A few more weeks of leash walks and she was looking good.  She got the OK from the Vet to have a bit of time off leash time last week.  We were all very relieved and happy to be out in the woods again.  But after only one off leash walk she was limping again!  So X-rays were taken.  They showed fluid in her knee and indicate an ACL injury.  Very bad news.  She will likely need surgery to repair the knee BUT she is still growing.  They won’t do the surgery until her growth plates close which is at least two months away!  She can have short leash walks but no running or romping… She is not a happy girl.  

She has been consoling herself with chewies.

IMG_7308And watching the squirrels outside.

IMG_7315She even has a new harness to for walks..but she is not thrilled with it.  She wants to PLAY!!!!!

It will be a long winter I am afraid…and romping in the snow may have to wait until next year.  But there is not much to be done.  She will go to PT on Wed and be given some exercises..something to do!  Hopefully that will help.  And we will get through it all…

There are always bumps in the road…we have apparently hit a few…but the journey continues.  And you never know what might be around the next bend.


Posted in Autumn, Brookwood Shire, Cluckingham Palace, Hens, Nature | 2 Comments

Summer Fades


Summer is fading.  It is darker in the mornings..and cooler.  Acorns are falling.  Random spots of color are appearing in the trees.  Leaves float gently on the breeze.  The cycle of Nature continues.

I can not say where summer went….it seems only yesterday I was planting gardens and rejoicing in the arrival of Spring flowers.  But then there have been so many arrivals this year.   We returned from Ireland…Beatrix and Prudence came home.  And of course Fiona arrived and changed everything.  And then the baby chicks arrived.  It has been a busy summer!

Prudence continues to hang in.  Her tumor is growing, but she is eating well and enjoying the new run.

img_7197.jpgWhile her longterm future remains uncertain, she is not letting it spoil her appetite.

IMG_7250Beatrix remains queen of Cluckingham Palace (now that Prudence has stepped down from that role) and while she is tolerating the new chicks better, she does not yet like them.  


And the chicks?  Well they aren’t really chicks any more.  They have moved into the coop side of Cluckingham Palace and love it there.  They keep an eye out for Beatrix (who they have named “Dragon Lady”) and stay out of her way…but they still have plenty of space to explore.

IMG_7273Here they are roosting in the little run..a favorite place. You can see how big they are now.  Hermione is not with them…she remains a busy body and an independent girl. 

IMG_7274She is wondering if she can boss Beatrix around….  


Fiona is also growing up.

IMG_7249She is no longer a tiny puppy.  She is six months old now and looking quite the lovely young lady.

She enjoys her daily walks and is exploring the river.  

IMG_7231IMG_7235She won’t go in over her head yet.  When it gets too deep she barks at the river and comes back to shore.   

IMG_7225There are often treasures to find along the river…how great is that?

Merlin continues to HATE Fiona and will not be in the same room as her.  He chooses to stay in the cellar when she is being too rambunctious, but he comes upstairs when she is quiet or in her crate.

IMG_7178Though he still wishes she would just get out of HIS house!  It is hard to be Merlin right now.

We have also been doing a lot of sorting and organizing of things since we got back.  Last summer, when we thought we would be moving to Ireland, we packed up some things and got rid of a lot more.  Now we had to unpack the boxes and find places for everything.  An opportunity to reorganize.

IMG_7278The cellar pantry got moved.  Since we had gotten rid of a lot of stuff, it was much easier to organize it all.  I spent quite a few rainy days organizing things….linens, Christmas stuff, extra glass containers, food….it was long overdue.

Since we are planning to stay here, there are quite a few things that need doing.  Things we just didn’t bother with since we were leaving that now need to be done.  

I sanded all the woodwork on our porch/sunroom and painted it.  

IMG_7240I rearranged the furniture as well..the couch is now facing the wood stove.

IMG_7243It feels more open but still cozy.

IMG_7241And there is room for Fiona’s crate.  She doesn’t use it as much now, but if we go out, she needs to be in it.  She can’t yet be trusted not to eat the house…

There have been closets to paint and organize as well.  We are definitely settling in for the long term.

I am still determined to have my cottage kitchen so we have been starting to think about that as well.  I want open shelves instead of upper cabinets.  To get a sense of what that would look like, we took the cabinet doors off and I painted the cabinets white.

IMG_7136I basically hated it at first.  I will miss my blue cabinets.  But the shelves will look different.  This just looks like cabinets without doors.

IMG_7142Putting stuff on the shelves helped but I don’t like all the verticals.  

IMG_7149I cut fresh herbs and hung them to dry.  An improvement for sure, but it still isn’t right.

I am getting used to it and I think open shelves, wood instead of white, will work.  I am not sure when we will get to it in any case…so there is time to think about it.

The gardens have pretty much been on their own this summer.  Luckily we have had enough rain so I didn’t have to water.  I haven’t even had time to take many pictures…and it is already time to put them to bed!

IMG_7186The sweet peas did well…it was the first time I planted them so I was pleased.

IMG_7221There were plenty of tomatoes to roast and freeze along with basil for pesto.  A taste of summer for the winter months.

The flowers were lovely as well, but I must confess that the gardens were not my top priority this year.  It has just been too busy with other things!


Summer fades..Autumn approaches..  All our babies are growing up and we are settling in.     

Life at Brookwood Shire continues…and we are happy to be home!



Posted in Brookwood Shire, Cluckingham Palace, Hens, house projects, Nature | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Adventures with Chickens

It has been almost a month since I have written.  Things have been very busy here, mostly with chicken projects.

First, shortly after my last post, I was sitting in the sunroom very early in the morning and Beatrix and Prudence were in the big run.  I heard some startled clucking and a warning call.  I looked out and saw what  I thought was a big cat, circling the run and watching the girls.  This has happened before and they DO NOT like it.  So I went out to shoo the cat away.  But when I got closer I realized that that was no cat.  It was a grey fox!  And he was very interested in my girls.

IMG_6549  I knew the big run was safe, but the connecting run was not.  It would keep out hawks…but a fox could get in.  This was not good.  We put it up so the girls could use the run but we knew that at some point we would have to build something safer.  It appeared that that time was now.  I do not want my girls to be on some foxes family menu.

After much discussion and a few designs, we decided to make a connecting tunnel out of wood and hardware cloth….same as the run.  It was complicated by the fact that the land sloped and there would have to be a curve in the connecting run.  And I was still hoping to have some sort of bridge over it so we could get to the woodland garden beyond it without going around the big run.

IMG_6948First we built the frame (well, Bill did most of it).

IMG_6960I dug a trench to bury the hardware cloth so no foxes could dig under.

IMG_6966We added hardware cloth to the sides and top.

IMG_7054And one of the sections got a wood top and steps.  A bridge!

IMG_7053My girls would be very safe in this tunnel!

IMG_6980It took a bit of getting used to, but Beatrix and Prudence were happy to be able to get to their big run again.

IMG_7058Here it is from the other side.

Once that was finished, it became clear that the chicks were quickly wearing  out their welcome in the house.  They refused to stay in the brooder box and there was poop and shavings all over the room they were in.  Time to move them up to the potting side of Cluckingham Palace.  Beatrix didn’t like it,  but she would get used to the idea.

The chicks LOVED their new digs.


It wasn’t long before they realized they could fly up to the shelf and explore up there.IMG_7089Mostly it was Lucinda (still Lucy in the Sky) and Rowena.  They like high places and were the first to roost on the side of the brooder box as well.

IMG_7084IMG_7085You may notice that I have now removed the quilts from the shelf.   Chicks poop everywhere!

IMG_7091Marigold likes to perch on the water jug.

IMG_7068As does Hermione.

IMG_7087Jasmine and Blossom are content with the roost.

IMG_7086And Keara is happy to join them.

They are growing very fast and even this space is getting small for them.  They want to stretch their wings and FLY!!!

So this week I have started letting them use the big run.  At first I fenced off a section for them to use.

IMG_7032I wanted Beatrix and Prudence to get used to sharing with them.

IMG_7031Prudence was interested.  Beatrix was incensed!  WHAT WERE THEY DOING IN HER RUN?!  She was ready to attack them.

It took no time at all for the chicks to realize they could fly over the fence and enjoy the whole run.  Luckily, Beatrix had left in a huff before they learned that.

IMG_7024So now, unless I am there to supervise, they take turns in the big run.  Beatrix and Prudence have the little run and the tunnel…but I block the entrance to the big run when the chicks are there.  Poor Beatrix.

She hates them a little less every time they are together, but she is not happy.

Today I had them all in the big run and took some pictures.

IMG_7106Beatrix and Prudence had a drink and ignored the chicks at first.

IMG_7120The chicks showed some respect and kept their distance.

IMG_7127But then Prudence joined them.  If they got too close, she pecked at them, but she was basically fine.

IMG_7122Beatrix went to the far end of the run..away from the chicks.  She lunged and chased them if they came near her.  It is going to take some time I think.

IMG_7107Marigold, meanwhile, enjoyed a dust bath…

IMG_7119…and chatted with Rowena.

IMG_7115Jasmine and Blossom played on the stump and Hermione watched.

IMG_7123Lucinda is fascinated with Prudence.  Keara is having a rest.

IMG_7128Blossom..being Blossom.

It was good start.  Hopefully Beatrix will come around and everyone can be together in Cluckingham Palace soon.  

And the adventures will continue.


Meanwhile, look who is learning to swim….





Posted in Baby Chicks, Brookwood Shire, Cluckingham Palace, Hens | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Moving on Up

The chicks will be 4 weeks old on Sunday and they are getting huge!  They are very active, and have no problem getting in and out of their brooder box.  The addition is nice, but they want to explore everywhere.  This, as you might imagine, makes quite a mess with shavings and poop everywhere.   They are not ready to move up to Cluckingham Palace yet, but they will be in another week or two….depending on weather.  

So I have been working on creating a space for them in Cluckingham Palace.  They will need to be separated from Beatrix and Prudence for while…until everyone is used to each other.  Luckily, Cluckingham Palace has a divider.  One side is the coop area and the other is for storage and was a potting area.  But since I have the greenhouse now, I don’t need it for potting.   That side can be used for the chicks.

This was a good opportunity to clean and reorganise Cluckingham Palace.  

I moved most of the pots and soil and tools to the greenhouse.  That left a lot of space.  A good scrubbing, some clean linens and a few new storage bins and it was looking good.

IMG_6914Lots of little shelves for things.   Jars for herbs or treats.

IMG_6915And lots of tins to store food and grit and oyster shells.  The chick food and the chick grit is different than what Beatrix and Prudence eat, so it will need to be kept separately.

Underneath the shelves, where soil and shavings used to be was now empty.  A perfect place for a roost.

I  found a small branch in the woods and Bill installed it.

Here it is with the straw and food, water, grit and hanging is a “baby cake.” It is supposed to help them learn to peck.  This would be plenty of space for them until they could move into the coop side of Cluckingham Palace.

The chick side was looking good..all clean and organized.  Perhaps the coop side could use something.

I have hated the particle board or what ever it is since we installed it.  I would paint it white.

What a difference it made!!!  So bright and cheery!  

When everything was ready, I brought the chicks up to Cluckingham Palace for a visit.

They were fascinated with their “aunties.”

Beatrix wanted NO part of any new chicks.  She left in a huff.  But Prudence was interested.

She came over to say hello.  She watched as they explored.

I made a video of the visit which will be on the Brookwood Shire Facebook page.  

All in all I would say it was successful visit.

Though I am not sure Beatrix would agree.

Posted in Baby Chicks, Brookwood Shire, Cluckingham Palace, Hens, Nature | Tagged , | 2 Comments