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  MaryLane • SislyMichaelTami  



Lane Lasater

Tour of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
“Sanctuary—a place of refuge”

My visit and tour of PPS just after Thanksgiving 2012 was profound and inspiring. I met 200 rescued farm animals, experienced the loving environment and individualized care that Michele, Chris and volunteers provide to each animal, and learned about the philosophy, vision and hard work that make this place of refuge possible.

PPS in Eastern Colorado in wintertime is a study in contrasts—gleaming sunlight, drought stricken land, cold and bitter wind, and lively and loving people and animals—goats, sheep, chickens, cows, turkeys, pigs, ducks, llamas, and more. As a harsh reminder of the ongoing magnitude of animal suffering, within sight of the sanctuary and along the way there are farms and ranches where there is no animal safety and sanctuary, and on the highway trucks carrying lamb, cattle, sheep and pigs to slaughter. The signs of suffering are everywhere but subtly or completely hidden unless one knows what happens behind those drab walls or closed gates of trucks hauling frightened beings to slaughter.

The tour took place as the animals were gathering for “Sunday Brunch,” a selection of fresh but discarded fruits and vegetables donated by a Whole Foods store in Denver and brought out by volunteers in the back of a pickup. While the volunteers removed tags and rubber bands from the produce, Michele introduced eight visitors on the tour to each animal by name and told us in a flowing narrative about how animals come to the sanctuary.

The PPS philosophy is simultaneously pragmatic and visionary—the sanctuary accepts roosters and feeder animals only if the former owners agree to stop raising chickens entirely in order not to enable a hobby and industry based upon suffering. The llamas ranging across the prairie came from a farm that went bankrupt and abandoned the animals entirely. Chickens from egg operations are depleted and traumatized.

Providing refuge requires continual hard work and expense—in the middle of Colorado’s deep drought the price of hay has skyrocketed but hungry mouths must be sustained. A dairy cow, Ember, with a prolapsed uterus from multiple births is in constant pain and requires expensive veterinary care. Chickens with severed beaks and neurotic and disoriented from massive confinement are given a place to spend their remaining days in what peace they can find. Stalls that provide shelter from the winter winds and snow must be mucked and fresh straw laid, and dying animals cared for lovingly and kindly. In the face of endless animal need, Michele and Chris and volunteer helpers maintain a spirit of cheerful service and give and receive love continually with their furry and feathered guests.

When the produce was ready, volunteers brought the pickup into the pasture and spread the bounty across the ground for the swarming animal community. Sounds of munching filled the air as each animal found its favorite delicacy—plump strawberries, grapes, carrots, peppers, pineapples, onions, and more. After much feasting, many settled down in the sun to digest, others searched for remaining morsels or shared affection and gratitude to the human visitors. Members of this special community were safe and secure for another day.