I’m always down for a new adventure, so when Karen and Matt, the co-directors of Kindness Ranch in Wyoming, asked if I wanted to fill up a baby pool with water, plastic balls, peanuts and cherry tomatoes for the pigs-in-residence during my time there volunteering, I could not refuse. The pigs lit up when they saw what we had created. It being rather warm in Wyoming, these guys were ready to cool down while hunting for their favorite snacks. It was one of the more unique, hysterical and bizarre parties I’ve attended.
Kindness Ranch is a sanctuary for animals that have been used in laboratory research studies – some studies less unnerving than others. Because I want to be respectful to the founder (as well as Karen and Matt) who ask that the stories be kept short so they remain on good terms with the companies doing these studies, I won’t share all the details; however, I will say, Kindness Ranch is doing a remarkable thing here. Rather than having the horses, sheep, pigs, dogs, and cats that were used in these studies across the United States be put to sleep, Kindness Ranch offers them a home on 1000 acres of rolling hills in Wyoming for life or until they find a new home. They provide rehabilitation and adoption programs as well as life long homes with staff and volunteers for those who should remain in the care of the ranch.
My days there were spent helping out around the farm – that’s everything from shoveling horse poop, cleaning pens, rubbing sunscreen on pigs, feeding and just loving up these sweet animals. Dinnertime around the farm was quite spectacular and my favorite time of day. One night, while feeding some of the horses by the barn, from the distant pastures, four gorgeous horses came running in for food. One by one, each horse, one more beautiful than the last, pranced into the barn to say hello and have dinner. I was stunned by how magical each horse was with the picturesque rolling hills behind them. Quite a contrast to their previous conditions that limited their exposure to other horses, kept them indoors at all times and constrained each horse to individual standing room only cages.
When you come to volunteer at Kindness Ranch, you stay on site in a yurt. For those of you who don’t know what a yurt is, this yurt is an air-conditioned, one-bedroom circular structure with a fully-stocked kitchen, dining and living room area, bathroom and a washer and dryer. The views are incredible from every window and it’s a fantastic set-up at a cheap rate that is helping support the non-profit. If you’re looking for a way to give back to some incredible creatures who are re-entering the world or for some entering for the first time, Kindness Ranch is a beautiful place to visit. It’s peaceful, calm and truly moving to see these animals thriving in their natural habitat. If you’d like to learn more about the ranch or to donate, please visit www.kindnessranch.org
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