I pretty much tried everything. Antibiotics, which didn’t help at all. Essential oils, which gave her temporary relief for her breathing, but didn’t help long term recovery. Warmth (we were going through a colder-than-usual weather pattern here so I set up a heater near her cage). High protein foods to coax her into eating (for a long time she didn’t eat much of anything). Trips to the bathroom with the shower running hot to help clear her lungs in the moist, warm air.
And still, she didn’t recover. I tried not to give up hope, but it wasn’t looking good.
Then, one day, Harriet rallied back. She seemed much better almost instantly. She sounded better, too. And acted ravenous, scarfing up as much food as I’d give her. Her empty crop began to bulge a bit, after weeks of emptiness. Her runny, clear-ish poo started to look normal.
I knew we’d turned the corner. But in almost a month of sickness, she’d lost a lot of weight and muscle tone. I started letting her out for short recess breaks (it was still freezing here). We’d take little walks along the chicken fence to remind her and the rest of the flock that she belonged in there with them. She’d crawl under the big pine tree and find a nice dry place to take a dust bath. She started her characteristic skipping across the lawn again (she skips instead of walking).
I decided it was time to re-introduce her to the rest of the flock. At first she was still too weak for this pecking order hustle, so I’d protect her from the worst of it (she couldn’t stay on her feet), and keep the visits brief. I continued to give her exercise time away from the others, and watched her build her strength.
A few days ago, I went out to the garage and she gifted me with an egg! That egg made me happier even than the first she’d laid! I figured it was a good sign that she’d also gained enough strength to hold her own in the chicken yard, so I took her back out to the flock.
Last night, after an entire month, Harriet slept out in the coop with the other hens. YES! This morning, everyone seemed happy, so her re-introduction is complete and I’ve finally got a chicken out of the garage! A healthy, happy chicken.
I think we’re both relieved, me and Harriet. But I bet she’s going to miss the warm breakfast served to her every morning as she snuggled down on the end of the roost closest to her own personal little heater.
Me, however? I’m glad to have life return to normal. And I’m very glad Harriet made it.