She was lying on her side under the lamp. Not unusual as they often lie spread out (remember the 'roadkill' reference from a previous blog) but they had been spending less time directly under the heat and would always come over and have a look-see.
Brick's breathing was a little laboured and she was keeping her beak slightly open, not something I'd seen her do before . When I picked her up she was lethargic and not particularly interested in food or water.
Straight on the phone to the vet as it's been my experience that sick birds go downhill very fast. I was relieved when my call was answered as it was a Saturday morning and I was unsure of their weekend hours. But they were five minutes from closing and I was 10 minutes away. A bit of panicky blabbering later and we were en route, me trying to drive calmly and Brick on a hastily grabbed tea towel in a box. It seems my panicky blabbering was enough for them to hang on and offer me an out-of-hours emergency appointment which was a huge relief (I was blocking the cost of this appointment out of my mind at this point).
We arrived at the vets and checked in:
Nurse: What's your chicken's name?
Nurse: Brick? As in B-r-i-c-k?
Me: Yes, Brick.
A short but inwardly frantic wait and we were in. The vet gave Brick an all over check, could see she was unwell but was unable to give a diagnosis. He explained that chickens are usually treated en masse, as vets usually encounter them on chicken farms in their hundreds, if not thousands. A few chickens die of something, one is sent off for an autopsy, the diagnosis is confirmed and treatment ensues. One anxious woman with a decidedly dodgy looking chook was not the norm.
To cover all bases, an all round poultry antibiotic injection was prescribed. This was obtained, after a couple of minutes, from the depths of a storeroom, as the vet explained "we don't use it very often". It was administered between my fingers as I held Brick in position. Yes, the thought did cross my mind that I may be the recipient of the injection and that I would wake up the next day sprouting feathers and clucking.
I paid my (not too bad) bill and we headed home. I am happy to report that by the evening Brick was a bit perkier and in a couple of days was back to her mildly annoying self. We never did find out what was wrong with her but I am most grateful to the vets for hanging on for us.