How was I useful today? I went to the Belmont Goats and helped muck out their shelter. This morning, one of the herd owners who I'm acquainted with asked online if people were available to help with the job. A quick bus ride later, and a little after 12 noon I was shoveling, putting my upper body to use, and trying not to step too badly in goat poop. Though it's in pellet form, so it's not as potentially messy as, say, dog poop.)
(I will stop talking about poop.)
Conveniently, and I hadn't realized this, the shelter is designed for its side panels to come off easily: Bix, the owner who was there (he's one of three owners), took three side panels off, which helped the shelter to air out. He stood inside with first a shovel and later a pitchfork, moving the old straw to the corner with the open panels. I stood outside with a shovel and scooped the straw into a pile next to the shelter, making sure to dodge around the goats and one chicken (really) who were wandering around. The goats liked that the open panels exposed straw that had fallen behind feeders; they scarfed that down even more enthusiastically than I'd seen them eat before.
During a break where Bix went to eat and I stayed at the site — I read more of Cherie Priest's horror novel Maplecroft, sometimes reading aloud to the goats, who didn't seem to mind — a guy showed up with a pitchfork that he said we could use, just call him when we were done with it. That apparently helped.
The Belmont Goats, which first moved from the Buckman neighborhood to Lents in 2014 (I took pictures that day), are preparing for a third move; later this spring they'll move a couple of blocks from SE 91st and Reedway to SE 92nd and Harold, next to a Boys and Girls Club and on a different piece of city-owned land. The owners had hoped to wait until that move to fully muck out the shelter, before disassembling it and reassembling it at the new site, but mucking at least part of the way down became a priority. And a priority that's now done!
So that was a few hours well spent. Not how I'd expected my day to go, but I like that it did. And that I could come home to a hot shower, preemptive dose of pain reliever, and chili.