Dickens, yet! (Ahhhh, I kill me…)
Literary puns aside, it’s been a pretty serious few days, here, at Heedley’s Hens, and in the coop of NotHeedleyWendy. Both NotHeedleyWendy and I have been on nursing duty, for two very different reasons.
In her own words:
I first noticed Frances acting odd on Wednesday when I found her in the nest with her head/neck all slumped back to the left. When she got up to walk she was walking with her neck to the left also. The next morning she was still walking around funny so I gave her a feel down and discovered her crop was HUGE. Everyone else’s felt about the size of a golf ball, hers felt like a baseball. After doing research the lightbulb went off that the day before a squirrel had eaten/shredded the plastic top of their treat jar and I got sidetracked when company arrived and didn’t clean it up. I think she ate plastic and it got stuck in her crop. I crated her and tried to get her to eat soft foods with vegetable oil in it and kept massing the crop. It SLOWLY went down, thank doG!
Here’s a pic of Frances, below, eating normally again:
These are the Cliff Notes (Coles Notes, for my Canadian peeps). NotHeedleyWendy went through quite an ordeal trying to feed Francis, massage her crop, get oil into her to aid the emptying of the crop, and did some pretty scary research on impacted crop surgery. Thank goodness it didn’t come to that (I had volunteered to assist.).
Frances is out of the hospital today, and back with her sisters. Her crop has returned to a normal size, and she is processing food as a chicken should. That’s one happy ending!
On to the second sickie…
I had quite the day here, yesterday. I went to the barn to collect eggs to find the newly-laying-again Maisie in a “discussion” with Jezebel over who had possession of The Tennis Racket. Which is No Longer The Tennis Racket, which is Another Story.
I reached under Maisie to find an Haley egg and a Maisie egg, which, in this coop, means it’s time for Maisie to get off the nest and let the next girl have a go. But, my finger came away quite bloody. Had Maisie ripped her vent getting back into laying after a long break for molting? I have been amazed at the sheer size of the eggs 1.0 has been laying.
I flipped Maisie over and had a good look at her vent (do you mind?!), to find…nothing. Huh. There was definitely blood. From whence came the blood?
I set Maisie on her way and took a look at Jezebel, to find…wet blood on her comb. It seems Maisie had put up quite a fight, not wanting to surrender her two eggs. It wasn’t serious, and Jezebel was in no mood to let me look at her. I decided to leave her be. Judging by the scabs I see on the girls’ combs from time to time, this is a normal outcome of the pecking order in action.
But, she is not the second sickie. (It was quite a day.)
I was waiting for The Man to come home after lunch to take us both to an elementary school assembly (where the mood was quite tense and somber, as you might imagine). He came into the library with a chicken in his arms. This was unprecedented. The Man does not carry chickens.
It was Gidget; he’d found her on the road as he’d driven up to the house. He’d thought she was just sleeping there at first, but she’d been hit and couldn’t walk. That he found her before she came to more deadly harm is nothing short of miraculous, in my estimation.
Examination revealed her to be shocky, panting and holding her wings out. She was unable to stand on her own, falling on her face. There was a small patch of missing feathers, just where the left wing connects to the ribcage. There was no blood or wound of any kind, save for a small quantity of blood on her comb, and one toenail that looked as though it had taken a good hit.
We set up the chicken hospital crate in the lodge, and I settled her into a padded nest with water and cracked corn. She swallowed water when I dipped her beak: a good sign.
There was just no way to know if there was internal injury, and, if so, how extensive it might be. There was nothing I could do for her except keep her calm, warm and immobilised, and encourage her to eat and drink. She would either recover or she wouldn’t.
She is still with us today, and seeming less shocky. Her breathing also seems to have less rattle in it. Here she is, above, with her breakfast of eggs and sunflower seeds in one easily-accessible jar, and her Sav-A-Chick vitamin water in another. Today, she has been eating and drinking without my having to tempt her. She seems particularly fond of the (doubtless sweet) vitamin water.
So, the three major functions we look for after injury are: drinking, eating, and…pooping. Is it all getting through the system properly?
I didn’t want to move her to check for poop yesterday, because her legs are not working well. She hasn’t broken anything, and she can retract her feet on both legs on her own. I think there is either deep bruising or a pulled ligament/tendon to blame. She seems to be favouring her left foot, in particular; I need to fold it underneath her, or she’ll lie down with it sticking out behind her.
I did pick her up this morning to have a look, and, while she had pooped, it was not a reassuring sight. There was a liquidy combination of poop and yolk all through her hind feathers: a most unpleasant situation, for both of us. The presence of the yolk concerned me. She had laid yesterday morning, thank goodness; had one of the eggs in her pipeline broken from the trauma, and is she in danger from broken shell in her system, or is the yolk merely a manifestation of extreme stress? In any event, I decided to give her a bath.
After moving the chicken hospital into the cloak room next to the bathroom (so The Man can resume practicing bagpiping in the lodge…really!), I settled Gidget into a sinkful of warm water, with blue Dawn and some epsom salts. She did not struggle, and stayed there quite patiently, as I rinsed out her nethers.
That was some dirty, stinky water, I have to tell you. I would pay good money to get that smell out of my nose…
Towelled off, she is now resting in the wicker nest, in the crate, in the cloak room. Y’all know, I’m no expert; my guess is that she will make a full recovery, but it will be a long road. So, we have a house chicken for a while.
Yes, Wee Beastie; there is a Santa Claus…