It was pouring as I drove to Bandi Schaum Community Garden and the goats on a hilltop overlooking a section called “Jurassic Valley” (minus dinosaurs). The rain ended as I parked. Now it was humid with the droplets still clinging to the air and dripping from my skin.
Before the climb I stopped at the garden plots lush with vegetables and flowers growing to the music of a man playing on the makeshift stage who easily drowned out the competition of buzzing insects. It was the last hour of Goat Fest. Bikers were mounted to descend back to the street. A food truck with Caribbean food and one with jerky. The popsicles—sold out.
The sign pointed “To the goats”. Wrong shoes I rued as I started up the switchback muddy trail through the woods. I glimpsed people ahead of me on a higher curve. “Good luck,” a man said as he passed me on the way down. Near the top a kid warned me that some had gone barefoot for that last push to the summit. I made it with shoes. My toes brown with mud and the feeling of a thin icing of slickness between my feet and my flip-flops. I dried my feet in grass. There was the rolling hillside covered in invasive vines and plants so thick that only a hiker with a machete might attempt to pass through this jungle. Instead the goats and miniature donkey behind an electric fence paralleled with orange warning fence were chomping away doing the job.
Why would people flock to goats? Maybe it’s the sight of creatures not usually seen in the city. Perhaps a zoo effect. Maybe to see them up close and then envision their heads bent down eating away as you visit the gardens or climb the steps of the neighborhood. Clearing the way for humans and ridding a park of plants that were never meant to set their roots on this land.
As I began the descent on steps I had climbed on Step Trek two years ago, I looked across the jungle to the orange fencing holding the goats to their target area. They have a lot of work for us and food for them. Maybe this celebration is appreciation for our collaboration. Once this job is done, where will they go next?