Poor Beatrix

It is bad enough that poor Beatrix has been molting and looking quite ridiculous for the last few weeks.

IMG_4747She doesn’t exactly look her best during a molt.

But even as her feathers came back she looked pretty scraggly.  I was concerned.  Hens are aways lighter without their feathers, but Beatrix weighed nothing.  She was too skinny!  I checked her out and noticed her crop was very full..even in the morning.  Not good.

After calling a friend and checking online, I decided two things.  First, her crop was probably impacted and there was a bit of a sour smell.  For some reason, her crop wasn’t emptying and bacteria was growing causing the smell.  This can be fatal in hens so I knew I had to do something.  The second thing I decided was that online “remedies” were too varied and some were things I was not comfortable with.  That led me to my third decision, which was to call a vet.  The first vet I called had no appointments, but they recommended another Vet.  I was able to get an appointment with him for that afternoon.

So off we went.  He agreed that her crop  was sour and too full.  He said it can be caused by eating a piece of metal or some other shiny non edible object, but he couldn’t feel anything.  It can also be caused by eating too much long grass or not having enough grit…In any case he recommended separating her from the others, and massaging the crop and giving her lots of fluids.

IMG_4800He also prescribed Nystatin (which had been mentioned online as well) and metoclopramide (not sure of that spelling) for nausea.  He said to call him in a few days to discuss how it was going.  Poor Beatrix!

IMG_4799Here she is in her new quarters…not looking very happy at all.  She was even less happy when I had to give her the medicine.  

But she is a trooper and didn’t complain too much, though she was bored and lonely.

IMG_4807A mirror was added to her crate and she was fascinated with her new “friend.”

After a few days the sour smell went away, but her crop was still not emptying normally.  She was allowed a bit of yogurt and pellets soaked in water.  Not too exciting, but she did eat some.  And she is pooping which is good.  I am still giving her fluids and massaging her crop and it does seem to be improving.

But the weather has been SO nice (70F in November in New England!) that I couldn’t bear to let her miss it. She went up to the big run today for awhile.


Perfect day for a dust bath!

Her sisters, from now on known as “the Mean Girls,” were not that pleased to see her.  They are best friends and have no use for poor little Beatrix.

IMG_4818They pointedly ignored her and finished their yogurt…

But Beatrix is used to them.  She enjoyed her dust bath and did some pecking and scratching.

IMG_4817It was GREAT to be outside again!

Her crop is getting smaller so I think she is on the mend.  She is still sleeping inside because she needs medicine 2x a day.  But I am hopeful that she will be joining her sisters again soon.  I will have to watch her closely for awhile to make sure she is ok.  We are still not sure why her crop became impacted so that is worrisome, but Beatrix is looking better and wanting to get back to her life!

Hopefully that will be very soon!

Posted in Hens | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

A Killing Frost

The last three nights have brought frost warnings.  This is not unusual for October in New England, so I was not surprised.  But Fall got started late this year and we have had pretty warm weather…so it feels early.  The trees have been glorious but are a bit behind….but then, quite suddenly,  it turned cold!  It went from lows in the 40s to lows in the teens!!!  It was quite a shock!

I covered the few things that remained in the garden..onions, kale, chard and some celery.  Even hardy kale doesn’t like temperatures in the teens.

And I covered the tender plants in the greenhouse.  Even the mums and the potatoes got covered.  But I decided that it was late in the season and the marigolds, nasturtiums would be on their own.    

IMG_4684 IMG_4680

There were too many of them and they were scattered all over….

And I hoped that the mums in the front would be ok.


Mums don’t mind a light frost.  I did what I could and hoped for the best.

It was not a compete diasater….


The mums are a bit discolored, but not dead.  

The nasturtiums and marigolds though….they were heartbreaking.

IMG_4780 IMG_4775

And I forgot about the morning glories.

IMG_4779They do NOT like frost!


The mum spent the night in the greenhouse so it was ok.

The peppers in the greenhouse, even covered, didn’t make it…

IMG_4791..but a few things survived.

IMG_4790The potatoes look a bit unhappy but I think they are ok.

IMG_4785The celery pulled through.

IMG_4786As did the kale..

IMG_4787The chard,

IMG_4796And the onions.

But the hydrangeas..


..are done for this year.  Very sad, they looked.


The rosemary came inside for the winter so it is fine.

IMG_4793But the sage and the lavender braved the cold quite well though.

I will cut back the dead things…and harvest the rest.  The season is over…there is raking to do and there will be wood to stack….and we will move inside.  There will be cozy fires and lovely soups and knitting to finish….

But I will miss my gardens….and I will begin dreaming of Spring!


Posted in Autumn, Gardens, New England Weather | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Eggs? Are You Kidding?

It has been awhile since we have seen an egg at Brookwood Shire.  The days are darker and colder and molting has begun.    Well, Amber began molting early and she is mostly done, but now it is just too cold and dark…she will wait until Spring I think.


She is too busy enjoying dust baths now in any case.


There are lots of feathers in the coop.

IMG_4747And poor Beatrix is looking quite ridiculous.  She is too busy growing new feathers to lay any eggs.

Prudence looks a bit better, but has also stopped laying.

IMG_4722And I am starting to find her feathers here and there.

IMG_4745She too will be busy growing new feathers.

IMG_4713As well as enjoying her dust baths.

I am glad they are molting now before it gets too cold.  They will have nice new feathers to start the winter.  And who knows, they might even get back to laying some eggs!


Posted in Hens | Tagged , | 3 Comments

A Touch of Autumn

Autumn officially arrived yesterday bringing with it chilly evenings, cool mornings and lovely sunny, warm days.  Very nice.  So of course, I headed up to the pumpkin stands to get more things for the window boxes.  I have been gathering bittersweet over the last  few days.   Bittersweet grows in many places and since it damages trees, I never feel guilty about cutting it and using it in Fall decorations.  It is quite beautiful.

IMG_4636 IMG_4637

Such color!

I started with the front.


A mum and pumpkin for the steps and Indian corn for the door….

IMG_4691…and pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn for the window box…with a splash of bittersweet.  

IMG_4688The side window boxes also got done.

And the little shed.


A few mums add more color.

But some of the window boxes still have summer flowers blooming.


They will stay for awhile.

The coop got a  hanging mum..


..but the window box still has summer flowers.  

It is just the beginning of Autumn…plenty of time to add more pumpkins and mums.  There is still color in the gardens..

IMG_4655These nasturtiums are stunning and still quite happy.

IMG_4680 IMG_4681And the marigolds are glorious.

IMG_4659Alyssum seems to go on forever!


And these Clara Curtis mums are late bloomers.  They shimmer in the sun and the bees love them.

IMG_4628IMG_4629Some of last year’s mums have returned.  

IMG_4620And with the cooler weather, the borage has decide to have another go…..

Autumn has arrived….the season is changing…but the gardens are not quite done yet!

IMG_4685🍁Happy Fall everyone! 🍁

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

The New Blog

As I mentioned last week here, we are contemplating a move to Ireland.  It will be a long and probably complicated process.  I know I am not the only one who dreams of Ireland so I thought I would blog about our adventures.  

 There won’t be too much to blog about as long as we have Fergus.  But I have written an introductory post.  We are currently getting our Irish passports and we are citizens.  So there may be a few posts here and there. In any case, I thought I would send along link in case any of you are interested in following.

It is called Ireland Calling and you can find it here.


Posted in Ireland | 4 Comments

September Arrives

We turned the calendar to a new month this morning.  September at last.  I am usually very ready to say good bye to August and welcome the cooler Fall temperatures that September brings.  But this year it has remained hot.  Not good for going back to school.  But luckily for me, I no longer  have to go back.   But it is also not good for the gardens.  Often things recover a bit in September but I fear that may not happen this year.  Things are a bit bedraggled and not at their best.  We need rain as well and that is not helping.

But it is not a total loss.

IMG_4554The Squash Arch has been very productive.  There was still some powdery mildew and a few vines insisted on growing on the ground, but we have a lot of squash.

IMG_4543We will have lots of creamy squash soup this winter.  Yum!

IMG_4546The second planting of lettuce has recovered from Peter’s nibbling and is doing well.

IMG_4553There are more tomatoes to roast.  This should fill the freezer.  Tomato soup, tomato sauce….There will be plenty of tomatoes this winter!

IMG_4550Not to mention the tomatoes in the greenhouse.

IMG_4545The basil is also thriving in the heat.  A few more batches of pesto and then I think I will just dry the rest of the basil.

IMG_4552The second planting of potatoes is growing.  With the greenhouse there is time for them to mature I hope.

IMG_4555The raspberries have been very prolific this summer.  There may even be enough to freeze.  Or perhaps I should attempt jam.  Hmm..


And the kale and the chard keep producing.  It has been a good harvest this year.


The sunflowers are beautiful.

The late summer flowers are having their turn.


IMG_4562Summer phlox..

IMG_4567Garlic chives….


IMG_4566And of course, Black-eyed Susans, all continue to add their brilliant colors to the garden.  Soon it will be time for pumpkins and mums….


I didn’t plant any pumpkins this year but we do have a few volunteer gourds in with the carrots.


Despite the heat and end of summer fatigue, nature just keeps on producing.

IMG_4574Amber though, dislikes the heat.  She will take a shady spot any day thank you very much.  (Please don’t notice that she is missing her tail feathers..she is very embarrassed about it…..Molting has begun!)

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


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 | 5 Comments