I awoke today stiff and aching. My back ached, my arms ached, even my hands ached. This is not that surprising since yesterday at least four hours of my day were spent shovel in hand, scooping and hoisting wood chips into the back of a pickup truck. With the other Billings MCC crew leaders, we drove to Red Lodge, Montana to volunteer at a Wildlife Nature Center. The center provides a loving and safe home for injured and displaced wild animals. The task that they had arranged for us was to move a mammoth size wood chip pile from the parking lot at the front entrance of the Nature Center to the barns at the back of the center. So, not only did we shovel wood chips onto the bed of the pickup, we had to then shovel, push, and pull them off of the pickup bed at the designated location. I think it took five loads to move the pile in it's entirety, and by the end I was really wishing for a hydraulic lift truck that could have aided in our endeavor. I have to admit, though, I felt quite satisfied as we unloaded the last truck load behind the feed barns. A job well done. One that I won't, or perhaps can't, forget, at least not for a few days until the pain subsides.
The animals that have found a home there at the Beartooth Mountain Nature Center were quite varied. A bobcat named Garfield, two coyotes that howled a good-bye for us, a bald eagle with neurological problems, a raven that sayed "mama", two spotted asses, a lonely bison, a large and somewhat friendly mountain lion, a variety of deer and elk, just to name a few. I admire the folks who run this nature center and care for these animals that otherwise would not survive. It really was a great way to spend a day, even if shoveling wood chips dominated the outlined tasks of the day.