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….





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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.

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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.

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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!


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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!










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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.


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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?”

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