A week went by and nothing had changed except for the mass becoming slightly more pliable. She was passing small pieces of hay here and there but only one or two tiny pieces a day. At that rate, the impaction was never going to move.
On Monday, January 11, 2016 I got a text message from my sister at 9:05AM I got the following text from my sister:
"Any chance you could take care of the chicken for a few days? I'm beginning to hate her. I might have to eat her.... I need a break". My sister and her boyfriend of 7 years just moved into my grandmother's house with a couple of friends of theirs and there are 4 crazy dogs now living in a small house with 4 people. A chicken added to the mix was practically impossible to cope with considering 3 of the 4 dogs are chicken eaters and one of the roommates kept egging the dogs on.
So anyways, I told my sister I was happy to take Mindy for a while, expecting for it to only be a few more days before the impaction passed through. My husband and I just bought our first house on New Years Eve and now I had to tell him that we would have a chicken living in our new house. He barely tolerates the 2 cats we have, let alone live poultry!
I had just gotten Mindy settled into her place on top of my Guinea pig's cage in the living room when he came home. I yelled from the living room a quick hello and said "don't get mad..." Well, he turned the corner to the living room and saw Mindy's cage as I began to tell him what was going on. He took it rather well, (not that he had a choice) as I told him it was probably only going to be a few days until she was better or until my sister was rested enough to take her back.
Mindy spent her first 2 days with me happily eating her mush and drinking lots of water and enjoying morning and pre-bed time snuggles. However, on the 3rd day, she wouldn't even look at her mush. She wasn't interested in pellets in ANY form- mushy or dry. I started offering her favorite foods- peanut butter, meal worms, banana. She would eat all of that but I soon stopped the peanut butter after several people from BYC advised against it. The next day she ate tuna and diced tomatoes. I thought I had found the solution! Until the next day.... She wouldn't even LOOK at either of those foods. But she did give birth to this:
So even though her appetite was not right, I was still optimistic she was going to wake up the next day with an empty crop and a beastly appetite. The rest of the day the only thing she would eat was a slice of wheat bread soaked in water and a few slivers of banana. (Not the most nutritious, I know but it was all she would do).
The next morning, I woke up confident she would be normal. I was very, very wrong. The crop was about as hard as it had ever been and still big. For the first time I was beginning to lose hope. She had lost a lot of weight and wasn't interested in eating anything. I began thinking surgery might be the only option if I wanted to save my baby. She had always been my favorite of our 12 girls and I just couldn't bare to lose her. I searched the Internet for surgery costs and couldn't find any helpful information. I found a user here on BYC who had put one of her chickens through crop surgery back in 2013 so I sent her a message asking if she wouldn't mind sharing with me what the expenses were. I got a lengthy reply from @TheSpiceGirls detailing the cost and care from her experience and that it was a last resort. Needless to say, it was far more than I could justify spending on "just a chicken". I was beginning to think I might have to be one of the people who open up their own chicken but Mindy wasn't that bad just yet so I held off. TheSpiceGirls was extremely helpful with my questions and situation and gave me a ton of advice, support, and encouragement. I swear she was the only reason I was even remotely hopeful she might survive another day. So a HUGE thank you to her and everything she has done for Mindy and me from halfway across the country behind a computer screen even when she didn't know me from a hole in the wall!!!!!
By this point, she had been living in my house for over a week. Hubby was getting frustrated that she wasn't gone yet but I had had the best luck with getting her to pass hay in her poop so it looked like she was going to be with us for the long haul (however long that would be). He finally did touch her though and while he'll never admit it, I think she was starting to grow on him.
I had found that Mindy would eat tomatoes again, she was enjoying mealworms soaked in olive oil, and she loved destroying blackberries and apples! I finally felt like I was at least getting some vitamins into her. The crop seemed to be diminishing too! It was now down to the size of a baby's fist! I was ecstatic! It had shrunk by more than half in the last couple of days!
The next day, however, she was lethargic and disinterested in berries and even mealworms. She was still devouring tomato and apple but how long would that keep her alive? Hell the blockage in her crop grew again and she hadn't pooped anything more than water all day. She had already dropped to 2.7lbs and couldn't afford to lose another ounce! As I sat on my living room floor, discouraged and hopeless I got a text message from my mother. "We have a dead chicken. Norma is gone. She was alive this morning and just now I was collecting eggs and she was in there dead." My heart practically stopped. My beautiful Norma baby. My gorgeous americauna hen, my other absolute favorite girl was gone. How did I have any chance of keeping Mindy alive when I couldn't even keep my healthy ones alive? I was heartbroken and devastated. I was almost ready to throw in the towel when right as I was crying into Mindy's feathers in a heap on my floor, *squish*. There it was, I big, steamy pile of chicken poop. Not just water, a real poo! Maybe there was a chance after all. I CAN DO THIS.