The Pampered Princesses of Cluckingham Palace

Two years ago today, the new girls arrived.

A box of cuteness.

Now they are all grown up. And as the weather warms, and the days grow longer, egg production is in full swing. So I thought it was was time to again introduce you to the girls and give them a little credit for the delicious eggs that so many enjoy.

Sadly, we lost Rowena and Jasmine last Fall.

Rowena
Jasmine

They are buried here, next to the big run. I planted flowers and we now have The Rowena/Jasmine Garden.

It is a shady corner..close to everyone.

But everyone else is happy, healthy and laying. Even Beatrix, who turned seven in May, is laying. We get 4-5 eggs a day.

If everyone lays we get two blue and four brown eggs.

So whose is whose? Well, each egg, like each hen, is different. It is easy to tell whose egg you are eating.

Beatrix, our matriarch, is an Americana. She lays blue eggs. I can tell her eggs, because, as the queen, she only lays in the perfect nesting box. So a blue egg, there is hers.

Her eggs have a slight green hue as well.

Blossom is an Easter Egger and also lays blue eggs, She will lay anywhere but prefers the nesting boxes with curtains.

Her eggs are a bluer blue than Beatrix’s.

Everyone else lays brown eggs but they are all different.

Keara is an Australorp. She lays the darkest eggs.

She also announces to the world that she has laid an egg. She is very proud!

Hermine is a Golden Wyandotte. Her eggs are the smallest and distinctly pointed.

It is always easy to tell which eggs are hers.

Lucinda is a Barred Plymouth Rock.

Her eggs often have freckles…but not always.

Marigold is a Buff Orpington. She loves sitting on eggs in the nesting box. She likes to gather up any eggs that are there and sit on them all. She takes her time laying an egg and is not in a hurry to leave the eggs behind.

Her eggs are the palest with a bit of a pink hue to them at times.

And what do the girls do when they are not laying eggs?

One thing they all love is their morning oatmeal.

In the hot weather I just soak the oats, but if it is a chilly morning I will make them oatmeal.

I add a little cinnamon and sometimes cayenne pepper. It sound awful, but apparently they can’t taste the heat of the pepper and it is good for their respiratory health.

I add all sorts of goodies to their oatmeal. Sunflower and flax seeds, dried or fresh herbs, blueberries (or strawberries or raspberries when they are in season) coop kelp and brewers yeast with garlic (supplements from Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily) and of course, their favorite, yogurt. The oats, like everything else they eat, are organic.

When not eating they are busy in their run.

Roosting is always nice, especially on rainy days. Lucinda has always liked to roost as high as possible.

There are stumps to stand on.

Worms to find.

And on a sunny day, dust baths to take.

Or you can just watch the world go by.

The straw is very comfy if you just want to take a rest.

Just hanging out in the tunnel that connects the big and small runs is a favorite thing to do. It is a good place to watch to see if I am bringing any treats.

Which, of course, I do…the pampered princesses of Cluckingham Palace get many treats….

They are happy hens!

Cluckingham Palace and the little run.

The connecting tunnel.

The big run.

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Spring Has Sprung!

At long last, Spring has arrived. The daffodils are up and the hyacinth I planted last Fall have survived!

It has been one of the wettest Aprils that I can remember and that follows the wettest March.

Everything is a bit soggy. I have managed to get out in the gardens some this week and have added straw to the very wet areas. But there is more to do.

There are seedlings in the greenhouse waiting for the ground to dry out a bit. They will need potting on soon.

There is also quite a bit of mint in the greenhouse which managed to migrate in from outside. It has had a lovely winter there.

It will need to be moved back outside at some point.

But Fiona is still recovering from her surgery so I do not have as much time as I usually do.

She has come out with me a few times but sadly, is still in her crate.

So things are very busy at Brookwoodshire. I will do a proper blog about the gardens soon, but I also wanted to update you on Fiona. She is doing well and in fact has her own blog about her recovery….which explains why I have not written much here lately.

Here is a link to her blog. I started it awhile ago and mentioned it on Facebook but if you didn’t see it, here is a link: https://tplosurgeryandrecovery.wordpress.com/

In addition to Fiona and gardens , there also have been a few chicken adventures to deal with. Things do seem to come in threes.

Happily everyone is fine now but it really has been a busy month.

And May will be busier still! So if you haven’t seen it yet, catch up on Miss Fiona’s story.

And I will catch you up on the gardens and the girls SOON.

Happy Spring everyone!

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Day Two

So Fiona had her surgery on Tuesday. It went well and she came home yesterday. She was of course very happy to see us and to be home…

Things started well. We gave her a frozen pumpkin/yogurt “frosty paws.” Yum. We hoped she would just lick away and relax. But “relax” isn’t really part of Fiona’s repertoire. She just licked that and was ready for the next thing.

Sadly, for her, there isn’t a lot of “next thing.” She needs to be in her crate most of the time for the next few weeks. She is allowed to go out to poop and pee and then it is right back in. And she can’t wander all over the yard looking for the perfect spot…she needs to just go outside the door and go.

Worse, still is that she has to wear this donut thing so she won’t lick her incision. I had hoped she would just use it as a pillow and she may learn to, but right now it is NOT her favorite thing!

It IS possible to sleep with the donut on…

…. but it MUCH nicer without it!

We are supposed to ice her leg a few times a day and do passive range of motion exercises on it, but she is having none of that. The incision looks good and there isn’t much swelling so I am letting that go for now.

She is eating well and taking her meds (they go right in her food and she never notices) and she remains very interested in treats. So it is not all bad.

She is pretty much hopping and keeps her injured leg up most of the time. She will toe touch to stabilize but no weight bearing. I think that is pretty normal and expect her to start using the leg a bit in a week or so.

It is going to be a long two weeks I think until she gets her stitches out…after that she at least won’t need the donut. But it will be another four weeks until she can have short walks and start her rehab.

Though she should improve day by day and when she is feeling a bit better I have a few games we can play while she is in the crate..so that will help pass the time.

But we have to get there.

For now things are a bit boring for poor Fiona….and she is not her usual happy self. 😢

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Poor Fiona

Well it seems the reprieve was short lived. After a little over a week of romping in the woods, Fiona has reinjured her knee. It is not a complete surprise, but we had hoped she would have longer.

But it appears the scar tissue is not up to the demands Fiona puts on that knee.

She LOVES running as fast as she can.

And capturing sticks, branches or logs and bringing them along.

It was a glorious, fun filled week! Though too short.

We have rescheduled her surgery for next Tuesday, March 26. Fiona needs a knee that holds up to her lifestle. From everything I have read, TPLO surgery will give her that. We hope so.

It will be a long road back for Fiona and the next few months will be challenging. But we have prepared as best we can and Fiona is young and healthy. So we are hoping for the best.

Fiona will need to spend a lot of time in her crate as she recovers…

…but she may have a friend to keep her company.

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A Reprieve!

As most of you know, Fiona hurt her knee right after Christmas. We rested her for a bit but she did not improve. Our Vet thought she might have torn her ACL and recommended a surgical consult. We saw two surgeons who both agreed she had a partial tear and would need surgery. The surgery was scheduled for Mar 11. Ten weeks since her injury. But during that time, she had begun to improve! In fact she was getting better every day.

On her birthday especially, as I watched her play with her toys, I noticed she was looking good. She wasn’t limping or favouring that leg at all. In fact she was bouncing around like the enthusiastic girl she is.

Had she healed?! Was the knee still unstable? I spoke with the surgeon and he said it was possible that her body had used scar tissue to stabilise the knee. Really? Did she still need the surgery? Probably. Given her age and her activity level, the scar tissue wouldn’t hold the joint forever. But we could wait to do the surgery. What?!

I brought her to my Vet to get her opinion. She had not seen Fiona since late January when Fiona was still very lame. She acknowledged that Fiona was MUCH better. Not 100%…but greatly improved. She hadn’t lost muscle mass and the bad knee was only 1 centimeter smaller than the good knee. She was using it. Could we let her off leash to run and play? Yes. Really?!!!

Everyone agrees that surgery is in Fiona’s future. The knee is compromised and at some point, she will hurt it again. But for now, the plan is to let her have some off leash time on her walks. See how she does. It is likely that she will, at some point, re-injure the knee. And at that point we will reschedule the surgery, it could be weeks…or months. No one knows.

But Fiona isn’t worried about that. She is too busy having FUN!!!

I will keep you posted.

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Surgery Afterall

As many of you may remember, in the Fall of 2017,  Fiona hurt her knee and surgery was recommended. The catch was that she was only 7 months old and the surgery would have to wait for her growth plates to close. So we spent four months in rehab, doing exercises to maintain her muscle mass and waiting.   And poor Fiona was not allowed to run or play. Miraculously, by the time the growth plates had closed Fiona’s knee had healed! Surgery was not necessary, though there was some concern that her knee might not have healed in the right position and she might be susceptible to future injury.

Fiona had ten glorious months of running and playing and being her enthusiastic self. But the day after Christmas, after running as fast as she could in an icy field, she started limping. Initially we hoped it was something minor so we rested her and only allowed short leash walks for a few weeks. But despite the fact that she stopped limping and didn’t seem to be in any pain, when my Vet examined her knee, she found it to still be very unstable. She suspected an ACL tear. We visited two surgeons and they both agreed. A partial tear, leaving the knee unstable. As long as we kept her on a leash the knee would seem ok, but the bones were sliding around and with regular activity she would reinjure it and eventually she would tear it completely. And in the meantime she could damage her good knee.. The best thing would be to have surgery to repair the knee.  Not the news we were hoping to hear.

The type of surgery recommended is a TPLO and involves cutting and repositioning the bones in the knee. They put in a plate to hold them in place and the ACL ligament is no longer stressed. Cutting bone to fix a ligament seems like a lot to me but having done a lot of research on this surgery and seeing many videos of dogs running and playing after, I am convinced that for a young and very active dog like Fiona, this would be the best option. Also there seems to be less arthritis after this surgery than the more traditional surgery. And again, given how young she is, that would be good. In addition, my Vet, who also does rehab and has worked with many dogs after this surgery says that they can weight bear and use the leg sooner and so lose less muscle and the rehab is actually quicker.  

So surgery is scheduled for March 11. She will need to be in a crate as much as possible for the first six weeks, until the bones heal. And she will not be allowed on any furniture. She will miss her couch! So we have been trying to create an environment that will be easy for her. First, we put back the gate we had last winter to keep her from going down the step to the porch/sunroom.

She loves to sit on the back of the couch out there and look out the windows.

Not a good idea post surgery.

And since she won’t be allowed on furniture, including beds, we decided to make that easy as well. We have a platform bed with two futons. We put the bed in the cellar and put one of the futons on the floor in the bedroom.

That way, she could be on the bed…at least some of the time. It would be a break from the crate and with the door closed, she would be contained in the room.

The other futon went on the floor in the room with her crate.

She will be able to go from her crate to the bed easily. Her knee will need icing, massage and range of motion exercises at first and the bed might be a better place for that than the crate.

She will need to wear a cone for two weeks after the surgery until the stitches come out. And the cone in the crate seems a bit much, so we got her an inflatable “donut” to see if that would prevent her from licking her leg.

It is not her favorite thing but if you look closely at the picture you will see a brown smear on her leg. That is peanut butter and she couldn’t lick it off. So perhaps this will work.

We also got her a sling to help her get up and down the two steps into our house.

It is hanging on the back of the door in the room with her crate..with the donut.

In addition, our neighbors had an extra crate that their dog has outgrown and it is the right size for Fiona. They are letting us borrow it so we can have another crate for her near the kitchen.

Fiona will be able to be nearby to help with any meal preparation. She loves to help me cook! This crate is also closer to the door to the outside and that might be helpful in the first few days..

So I think we are ready. It will be a challenging few months but hopefully at the end of it, Fiona will be able to run and play again and all will be well.

Merlin, at least, isn’t worried.

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Winter Goes On

I have never been a fan of winter and I don’t seem to become fonder of it as time goes by… it is just something to get through. This winter started out mild and snowless. No complaints from me there. But it is January in New England so no one expected that to last. Snow, sleet, freezing rain and bitter cold arrived last weekend. Not, in my humble opinion, an improvement.  But there you are.  So how are we all passing the time at Brookwood Shire?

First, as soon as the Christmas decorations were put away, I got some primroses. These cheery little flowers get me through the winter. I put them everywhere.

A lovely blue one on the island in the kitchen….

…a pink one on the dining table…

…and a few more on the table by the window.

The coffee area, with the new floral electric kettle, got a white one.

Another white one adds a bit of brightness to the plants in the sunroom.

A few more in the spare bedroom.  Basically, anywhere I think they will get enough light to be happy, I put primroses. Seeing their lovely bright colors add cheer  to the bleak and frozen world that we live in at the moment.

But what are we doing?

Merlin spends his days napping in the sun in “his” chair…


….or sleeping on his heater under the cabinet inthe kitchen…

…or sitting by the wood stove. Anywhere warm works for Merlin.  He is not a fan of winter or cold at all.


The girls are mostly up in Cluckingham Palace hoping the “scary white stuff” goes away soon. But if it gets too bitterly cold they move into the Coop under the Stairs.

It is an enclosed area under the cellar stairs….used for very bitter cold nights.

It is not a big area but it is warm. They usually get to do a bit of exploring in the cellar while they are there.

Here they are having a little “walk about” in the cellar.

Fiona is intrigued by them and wonders what they are doing down there.

She also enjoys watching the world go by from the sunroom.

Or just relaxing on the couch.

It has been a particularly boring month for Fiona. She had too much fun running as fast as she could in an icy field the day after Christmas and hurt her knee again. She has been restricted to very short leash walks since then and sadly is not improving as fast as we had hoped. She may need to have that surgery after all. We will meet with a few surgeons next month and we shall see what they think. So things are a bit uncertain for her.

And so we wait. The next few months may be challenging. But Spring will return…

Life will go on…

And all will be well.

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