I’ve just come in from cleaning out the chicken coop. While doing this chore, I found myself pondering why it didn’t bother me–shoveling poop, that is. Well, chicken poop, I corrected myself quickly. Then I thought of all the kinds of poop I’ve had the pleasure of shoveling this year: horse, dog, cow, goat, duck, chicken and turkey. It’s a symphony of poop around here: it is on any farm. The only poop I seem to have an innate revulsion for in that list is the dog’s.
What is it about the dog’s poop that is different from the other animals’ poop? As I pondered this question, I realized that I would be equally repulsed by human poop. Yet what also struck me at that moment was how un-bothered I was about handling the chicken poop: breathing it in as the dust rose while I scooped it up and moved it to the wheelbarrow, picking up bits and pieces that fell from the shovel, generally handling it in ways I would not dream of doing with human waste. It was quite a little reverie I was engaged in this morning.
Soon my mind wandered to the next task, of getting it to the compost pile, then to how it would make its way to the veggie patch come spring, then to how it would get turned into the soil. With sudden clarity, I realized that, ultimately, I would eat it. Of course, it will have composted down first, then have been turned under into the soil, before being taken up by the plants as nutrient. Nevertheless, eventually, it will be consumed by yours truly. It will feed me, I thought.
Looking at it on the end of my shovel, it is simply chicken poop: something that needs to be dealt with, moved, composted. But now as I move it from the chicken coop, its immortal potential is catalyzed. It has begun its sacred transformation through the cycle of nature. It’s going to nourish my body, feed my soul; it is, in fact, chicken poop for the soul.
Now, I have to get back out there and clean the other homes and pens as well.