Saturday morning dawned clear and sunny — in my part of the valley anyway — so after grabbing a cup of coffee and a banana and doing a few situps and related exercises, I figured I’d head outside and take care of one of my weekly tasks: Shoveling out the barn stall shared by my three ancient goats.
Technically, they are my daughter Pam’s goats; Alpine does all,they are the three survivors from a total of six we acquired nine years ago so she could participate in goat 4-H. That, alas, never happened. Pam, now 21, quickly lost what little interest she had in the goats, and thus did I inherit them — just like I did her rabbits and Japanese quail, but those are stories for another time.
An aside about the goats themselves: Shortly after we obtained them, I was at Denson’s, a feed store in Corvallis, buying feed for them. “Goats, huh?” said one of the guys who works there, Delbert Hutchinson. “They make good jerky.” Sorry, Delbert. To me, they make pretty good pets.
Anyway, while I grumble somewhat about having to clean out their stall, I really don’t mind it all that much. For one thing, I have no sense of smell, so any olfactory burden someone else might have to bear, I don’t. Second, shoveling — at least that kind of shoveling (no roots,rocks, etc.) is really not that bad of a job.
Actually, it’s one of a number of manual labor-type chores that I sort of enjoy because they are both relaxing and exercise-providing at the same time. Some others:
– Firewood cutting and splitting, as long as there’s no poison oak around.
– Filling the in-stall water buckets of the horses that live here. I am not much for horses — I mean, they’re OK as long as they are somewhere else — but the whole bucket brigade thing is, again, both exerting and relaxing. Plus, my dog Jewel always keeps me company.
– Fence building. Setting posts isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs,but it’s satisfying to see a straight,tight barrier in place.
– Mowing the lawn,which I think I will try to do for the first time in 2012 today. Takes between two and three hours depending on the time of year with my non-self-propelled Snapper. Since 2007, I have listened to an iPod while cutting the grass; I can hardly believe I mowed all those years without tunes.
Before I close, here’s a manual labor job category I used to kind of like and now can’t stand: Anything relating to the lifting, loading, hauling, stacking or otherwise handling of hay bales. They are simply impossible to deal with without getting hay crumbs all over your clothes and you. Suffice it to say I long ago decided I’d had enough little dried-grass particles in my eyes and bellybutton to last a lifetime.