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Chicken Coop Dust

If you get sick from breathing the dust in a chicken coop what do you get? White Lung?

This was the topic of conversation this morning at the next table over in the little restaurant I stopped in to get a bite and kill some time while that oil was getting changed in my car (200,000 miles on my 10-year-old Honda CRV, thank you very much!). Three men (do I dare profile them as blue collar workers?) were discussing the perils of cleaning a long ago defunct coop that had never really been shoveled out.

“You’ve never seen dust like this, and after you’ve breathed it for about an hour, you start tasting it!”

For some reason, my Spanish omelet whose flavor was already somewhat weird became downright barfy. Having spent a good deal of time in poultry territory in my day I have a vivid olfactory memory of just what this fellow was referring to. There is little that compares to that smell, except for pig poop. I kid you not, the smell of pig crap gets into the capillaries of your lungs and stays there for days. If I were to get a whiff of a nasty pig sty today I’d probably have one of those bad-memory-induced seizures. My uvula (that thingy in the back of my mouth) would probably swell up in an attempt to block the noxiousness from entering my respiratory system again and I would pass out. Years of hypnotism could probably not remedy this hysterical reaction.

So by contrast, chicken feces are not so bad but like the guy said, when it gets all dried up and that dust gets in your lungs? Forget it. Makes me think of getting a bag of fetid flower thrown in your face (though how flour becomes fetid I can’t quite explain). Oh, the flavor….

The guy who was describing the scene seemed none the worse for his experience, but I wonder if that white stuff in his hair and on his shoulders was actually dandruff……

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