The Chicks Get an Addition

The chicks are growing bigger and bigger every day.   Their feathers are coming in and they are jumping and running and flying all the time.  The brooder box is starting to feel too small for them.  So I decided to expand it to give them more  space.

Last summer when we thought we were moving to Ireland, we got a few plastic bins for shipping.  I used one for the brooder box, but I had another.  I would use that.

IMG_6822I could clip them together and double the available space.  But we would need a door.

IMG_6823I marked where the opening should go, and Bill drilled holes for the corners.

IMG_6829Then he used a saw to cut it out.

IMG_6828We lined up the boxes to make a matching opening in the second box.  There was a bit of a gap between the doors because of the angle of the box.

IMG_6831But a 2×4 scrap left over from the big run, fit perfectly to make a bridge.

IMG_6832So problem solved.

IMG_6835I clipped them together and lined the bottoms with newspaper.

IMG_6837I added shavings.  I put the food, water and “Mom” in the side with the light.  That would be the warmer side for eating and sleeping.

IMG_6839The other side would be the playroom…with mirrors, a roost and their grit. Treats could go in this side as well.  They like to chase each other for treats and  shavings go everywhere.  This way maybe the food and water would stay a bit cleaner.

IMG_6840For fun, I hung a potholder that my friend, Carole,  had made for me on the outside of the box.   I thought the chicken pattern might interest them.

So did they like it?

I made a video of their reaction but for some reason it won’t upload to WordPress.  I will try to post it on the Brookwood Shire Facebook page later.

Interestingly, it was little Keara who  was the first into the new area….perhaps she thought it was her old box…or after spending all that time looking through her window, she knew there were other places to explore….in any case she was first.  Even more amazingly, Blossom followed her….she is usually last to try everything.  But eventually they all discovered the door and checked it out.

IMG_6852By the time I added strawberries and herbs, they were all there.

IMG_6854At one point, Marigold decided she would be gatekeeper.

IMG_6856Until Lucinda reminded her that she didn’t need to go through the door.  She could just go over the top!  

In any case, they have plenty of room now….

IMG_6857…and all is well.

Posted in Baby Chicks, Nature | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Keara Goes Home

Little  Keara has been improving everyday.  Her ankle swelling has reduced greatly and she has not been limping at all.  

IMG_6767I made her a few more windows and she has been spending her time watching her friends …and healing.

IMG_6789I gave her her own little mirror which she also loved.  It is hard for a chick to be on her own for so long.

Luckily, her friends were also taking an interest in her….and in roosting as high as possible.

IMG_6773Lucinda (now known as Lucy in the sky) discovered that she could fly/jump up to the edge of the brooder box and roost there.  And she could watch little Keara at the same time .  She even took to visiting from time to time.

IMG_6777Jasmine was not far behind.  She can now roost on the edge of the brooder box as well.

IMG_6785And she could visit.  Keara was enjoying the company.

IMG_6787Soon Rowena was joining her sisters.  How long before they were all up there?

IMG_6788The brooder box was looking rather empty.  “Keara View” was getting quite popular.  

I was worrying less about how to integrate her back into the flock.  They seemed to be handling that for me.

Then this morning when I checked them, Keara’s box was empty!  Where was little Keara?  She had escaped a few times and was usually between the brooder box and the big mirror…but she wasn’t there.  Where was Keara?

IMG_6791Can you see her?  Somehow, she had gotten back into the brooder box with her sisters.  I had been planning to give her a few more days..until the swelling was completely gone…but apparently she had other plans.

IMG_6793She had gone home. 

I put the feather duster back in the brooder box.

IMG_6802Everyone was happy to have “mom” back. 

IMG_6805And Keara was just happy to be home!


Posted in Baby Chicks, Hens, Nature, travel | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Poor Little Keara

IMG_6655On Saturday, I noticed little Keara was limping.  She had been very quiet and sleeping a lot on Friday as well.  I couldn’t really see anything wrong with her leg/foot but I had added a roost and some things to climb on so I wondered if perhaps she had fallen or something.  She was sleeping in the feather duster and I hoped  that if she rested a bit, she would be fine.

But on Sunday she was much worse.  She was holding her leg up and trembling if the others got near her.  They were all running around jostling each other and I think she had been knocked over a few times.   It was clear the day of rest had not helped at all.  She would need to be separated so she could heal.  

IMG_6703I put her in a box by herself.  I gave her the feather duster as she was all alone.  She curled up and went to sleep.   After a few hours she was feeling much better.  Her foot was down but she was still limping.  She would need more time.

IMG_6693She was missing out on a lot of fun, but it couldn’t be helped.

IMG_6714The other chicks were very busy exploring their little world and didn’t seem to miss their friend.  You can see how their feathers are coming in and they are getting huge!

By Monday morning she was still limping.  She was sleeping less and eating and drinking, but her foot still bothered her.  On closer examination, her ankle joint was swollen and one of her toes was very limp.  After checking online and speaking with my wonderful chicken vet, I decided to try a tape split.  Wrapping the swollen joint was just too hard on such a tiny chick, but I could tape the limp toe.  

IMG_6732 This actually gave her a lot of support and she was able to walk much better.  

She is feeling much better but she is lonely.  She wants to go back with her friends.  I have brought them out one at a time to be with her, but it is not the same.  And she got a little carried away walking around with them and ended up holding her foot up again.  Too soon.  She needs to rest more.

IMG_6730Her box is right next to the brooder box the others are in.

So I decided to at least give her a window so she could see them.

IMG_6727cut a little hole in her box….right near her beloved feather duster (Mom).

IMG_6724She loves watching her friends.  IMG_6729I hope her toe heals soon so she can join them…poor little Keara!










Posted in Baby Chicks, Hens, Nature | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The New Chicks

On Tuesday I got a call from the Post Office.  The chicks had arrived!   I went and got them….you could hear the little peeps from inside the box for the entire car ride.   When I got home I opened the box.

And there they were.  A box of cuteness.  

IMG_6565I put them in the brooder box with the infrared light.  They need it to be between 90-95F for the first few days.  I made sure everyone had a drink and some food.  You can see there is a feather duster (surrogate Mother hen) in the corner.

IMG_6605They soon discovered it and love snuggling there.

IMG_6611Though they are very busy exploring the food and water as well.

IMG_6610I leaned a mirror on the outside of the box..they love watching those “other” chicks.

They now all have names.

IMG_6598This is Marigold.  She is a Buff Orpington…like Amber was.  She is  #1 at the moment.  She is also the biggest…but only by a little.

IMG_6595This is Hermione.  She is a Golden laced Wyandotte…like Maeve was.  She will be very beautiful and I had planned to name her for someone beautiful, but she is a bossy little thing.  Always bothering everyone….trying to run the she ended up Hermione.  She is #2 at the moment, but she would like to be in charge.  We shall see.

IMG_6593This is Jasmine.  She is an Easter Egger and will lay pink or blue eggs eventually.  She is very curious and willing to try new things.  I think she is #3.

IMG_6600This is Rowena.  She is a Rhode Island Red, like Brianna was.  She is very sweet and likes everyone.  While Brianna was #1 from the first moment, Rowena is not….that might change, but at the moment she is more interested in just being friends with everyone.IMG_6604This is Keara.  She is and Australorp.  I have never had one of them before.  It is the Australian version of an Orpington.  She will be black and lay brown eggs.  They are supposed to be very friendly.  She is also very sweet…

IMG_6588This is Lucinda.  She is a Barred Plymouth Rock, like Prudence is.  She is also very sweet, sleeps a lot and loves the feather duster.  She is often with Keara.


IMG_6597This is Blossom.  She is also an Easter Egger and will lay blue or pink eggs.  She is already my favorite.  Like Beatrix, she is the the bottom of the pecking order.  She learns very slowly…it took her awhile to figure out drinking and eating and she was less stable on her feet.  She loves everyone and interestingly follows Hermione around a lot.  Perhaps she likes being told what to do.  She also likes to be with Jasmine.

So there they are.  They are such an interesting little flock.  I just love watching them together.  It will be a few weeks before they can go up to Cluckinham Palace and meet Beatrix and Prudence.   For now they will stay in the house.

As you can imagine, Merlin is NOT pleased!IMG_6440He has moved back upstairs from the cellar and has settled in the bedroom closet (with Coco of course). He was just getting used to the idea of Fiona when these new chicks arrived!!!

IMG_6540We have put a baby gate up so Fiona can’t bother him.  He comes out from time to time to see if she is still there….so hard to be Merlin at the moment.

IMG_6614Fiona just wishes he would play with her!!!  

And so life goes on at Brookwood Shire.  It should be an interesting few weeks.


Posted in Hens, Nature | Tagged | 1 Comment

June Update

 So June arrived.  Not sure how that happened as it seems it was only early May a short time ago…when Fiona arrived.   It has been a busy time for us.

There is Fiona, of course, who is always busy playing and chewing.   She takes up a LOT of our time.

Here she is with her new frisbee.  

And here is the pink elephant she got at the Vet’s when she went for her shots.

And with her brush…she just kept stealing mine, so we got her one of her own.   Of course, she still steals mine, but there you are.

But we don’t spend ALL our time with her (though we would like to).  Life goes on and there are things that must get done.  We managed to finish the girls’ big run.

The connecting tunnel that we had originally designed with hardware cloth didn’t really work…we are still working out the details for that.  So in the meantime we just put up a connecting run with vinyl fencing and bird netting. 

 It works and was easy to install.  The girls love it.  They can come and go as they please now.

The entrance to the big run…no door, just an opening.

 We cut a hole in the little run for them to use..  

And installed a door.

It is closed and latched at night.

The roof is poultry netting (the green part) and there are boards where the trees are. The boards are close together to keep out hawks, but the trees can grow through them.  I will plant herbs and raspberries and maybe blueberries around the edges….possibly morning glories or roses over the top.  It is a wonderful space for Beatrix and Prudence and they are enjoying it.

June is also a big month for gardening in New England.  Our last frost date is May 31….so it is now safe to plant all tender plants and veggies.  So there is generally a flurry of activity at this time of year.

I have been working on the windowboxes.  They needed painting this year before I could plant.  But once that was done it went smoothly.

 Here is the front window.

The little shed.

 And of course, Cluckingham Palace.

 Most of the vegetables got planted…though there are still a few for the greenhouse.  Here are a few photos.

We have had plenty of rain this year and the weather has been mild so things are looking good.  There is still more to do in the gardens….some mulching and a few more annuals to plant.  And it will get done..somehow.

But tomorrow we are expecting a call from the post office.  Our baby chicks are due to arrive!

The brooder is ready….and so are we! “Chicks?  What are chicks?”

Posted in Brookwood Shire, Gardens, Hens, Nature, Spring | Tagged , , | 2 Comments


On Monday we went and picked up our new puppy.  We have named her Fiona Rose.  Fiona since all our dogs have Celtic names which begin with F. (Finn, Fergus..) and Rose because it is the tradition in the Shire  (the one in Lord of the Rings) to name girls for flowers.   We thought she might be a Rosie, but it appears she is Fiona.

She is, of course, delightful, enthusiastic, adorable and exhausting.  So things have been a bit chaotic for the past few days. But we are loving having a puppy in our lives.

She spent some time exploring her new home and is settling in nicely.

Outside, she captured a pine branch.

And tackled a milk carton in the girls temporary run.  Since they can now use their new run, this has become a puppy pen.  It is especially good for middle of the night bathroom excursions.  But it is a fun place to play as well.

She loves her crate.  A nice place for a nap.

Though there are other places to nap as well.

Sometimes there is even company for a nap.

All that playing and chewing is tiring!

And she even helps with the clean up.



Merlin, though, is less than pleased with her arrival.  He has moved into the laundry room in the cellar.


He has a pile of pillows and blankets to snuggle in.

And his crate.

And of course, Coco is there…as well as his dishes.  It is not as horrible as he seems to think.  And he is welcome upstairs.  He is hoping she will just leave I think.  He did come upstairs briefly today.  He explored all her things while she was outside playing.  But when she came back in he left (in a bit of a huff to be honest).  It will take some time, but I think he will come around…

While initially, the girls avoided her, they have decided she is harmless now and mostly ignore her.

They are very happy in their new run and much too busy looking for worms to worry about a silly puppy.

Gardening and other projects seems to be a bit on hold for the moment….

Fiona seem to be stealing all our attention!

Posted in Brookwood Shire, Nature, Pets | Tagged | 5 Comments

Spring Projects…and a Pleasant Surprise

We have been home now for about two months.  Ireland seems a distant memory in many ways.  So what have we been doing?  We have been busy settling in, and we have been making a list of things we want to do now that we know we are staying.  And then of course, there was the chickens.  Beatrix had her little adventure with an impacted crop and then Prudence had her little problem with fluid.  Both were worrisome things, but they seem to be holding their own at the moment.  So we have been moving ahead with our projects.

First, we have been busy designing and building the girls’ new run.  Prudence and Beatrix are anxious to use it!   It is coming along.  It took some time to figure out how to build it on a slope (almost all of the land around Brookwood Shire slopes) and there are trees on the site we wanted to include in the run.

We decided to cut the posts so the top would be level and let the bottom follow the slope.  Since there is no floor, it works.  We kept it short enough so it wouldn’t loom over everything else, but tall enough so, at least by the door, I could walk in easily.  Once the frame was up, we added the hardware cloth.

That part actually went quite smoothly once we got the process down.

We still need to put some sort of netting over the top, and make the connecting tunnel and door so the girls can go in and out as they please. But for now I can bring them back and forth..and at least they can get out and scratch and peck a bit.

While we were doing that the electric company came to talk about our hemlock that is under the power lines.

You can see it here.  You can’t see the wires in the picture but they are close.  After much discussion about  could we just cut it back a bit and leave it, it became clear that it just wouldn’t work.  They would need to cut the top and some of the branches on the wire side. It would look awful.  And they would be back in a few years to do it again.  So I decided the best thing would be to let them cut the tree and plant something smaller.  It was not an easy decision.  I hate cutting trees.  But I didn’t see any way around it.

It was quite shocking at first….but there are a few little apple trees that were trying to grow under the hemlock and they are looking much happier now.  I will continue the forsythia hedgerow and we will look for a magnolia or a redbud (if we can find one that doesn’t get too tall) and I have been planning to plant a few fruit trees as well.  I am trying to view it as an opportunity.  Of course there was a shade garden under the hemlock, so that had to be moved.

I was able to find room for most of the plants in the woodland garden.

And speaking of gardens, I, of course, have been loving having my gardens back.   I raked and tidied them all and added some compost and manure to freshen them.  They were somewhat neglected last year when we were thinking we were going to sell the house and go to Ireland…so it was a bit overdue.  Spring has been slow in coming this year, despite a few warm days but at least we have had rain.  It seemed to take forever for thing to come back this year.  Or perhaps I was just impatient. 

But May has arrived and with it… Spring!.  The gardens have really come to life and there is color at last!  The woodland gardens are first…

The gently arching bleeding heart dances above the wood poppy.  St Francis watches over it all.

The lamium is gorgeous.

These are the primroses that Joan, our housesitter, got for me as a welcome home gift.  They cheered up the house throughout March and April and now they are outside…still blooming.  A bit of color in a shady spot.

Some woodland phlox…

And more bleeding heart.  They love the cool Spring days.

The creeping phlox has also begun.  It creates carpet of color as it blooms.

I have planted some kale and chard, and some peas but I have been focusing more on the flower beds this year…there will be time for veggies as the weather warms.

The work on the run and the work in the gardens will be ongoing this summer I am sure.  But there is one more exciting piece of news I want to share.

We had contacted the breeder we got Fergus from shortly after we got home.   We will always miss Fergus, but it is time for another puppy.   She had three litters but they were all spoken for.  She was planning an August litter, did we want one of those?  Yes.  We had hoped for one sooner, but August would be fine.  So that was the plan.  Until she called yesterday.  One of the families who had reserved a puppy, changed their mind.  She had a female, yellow available.  Did we want her?

Did we?  Of course we did!  We will pick her up Monday.  I think she will be a perfect addition to Brookwood Shire.

Today we went out to get her a few things…a collar, leash, a few toys…

And I set it all up in her crate.

Merlin was very curious.

I think he approves…




Posted in Brookwood Shire, Gardens, Hens, Nature, Spring | 5 Comments