Warning: if you have recently eaten or have a weak stomach, stop reading now.

I have always thought of myself as having a tough stomach. I grew up dissecting dead animals we found in the woods, I have assisted in gynecological surgical procedures and I ate my way through the back alley streets of Peru without any problems. Yet, nothing prepared me for the stench of cleaning out a chicken coop.

New Morning Farm has hundreds of chicken. There are the fluffy baby chicks that still cling to one another when they go outdoors, contrasted nicely by the featherless ‘things’ that have been in so many chicken fights it’s amazing they are still alive. All of these chickens live in separate pens in the chicken coop and all of these chickens have active digestive systems. Every couple of months someone is honored with the task of scrapping up and shoveling out the excrements. We were the lucky couple this time!

I rarely admit defeat, but this coop defeated me.

I blazed into the coop, pitchfork in hand, mask securely fastened to my face and ready to clean up the crap. Ten minutes in, I was doing all I could to stop myself from gagging every time I lifted up a new pile of waste. Suddenly, my gallant knight in rubber boots strode in to relieve me of my task and finish up the coop himself. All I had to do was keep shoveling the manure into the wheelbarrow and bring it to the tractor. An hour later, Chase emerged from the coop without any signs of disgust. What a brave boyfriend I have.

I took a final peak inside the coop and, surprisingly, I could see the bare wood floor. Chase’s ability to fight through the smell resulted in a beautifully clean home for the chickens. We layered in fresh straw and let the chickens back into their shiny new home. I am still deciding whether the deliciousness of fresh eggs is worth the disgust, but I am leaning towards yes – especially with Chase in the picture.

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