We loaded up the cat kennel in the Fiat (our urban farm vehicle) and headed hours north. Through our old county, our old town, past our old farmhouse, and down the Kiowa-Bennett road. The prairie is breathtaking even in winter. Golden strands peek through layers of snow as the sun glistens across the vast expanse of country. The western sky a watery blue stretching far and wide. Singing to country music on the radio and a good feeling in our hearts, we drove towards Danzig’s Roost, a rooster and animal Sanctuary in Bennett, Colorado.
Sometimes the carefully protected public get glimpses inside factory farms. What we consider family, humane, free range, and all the other marketing words that help sell meat is all a façade of chicken houses crammed with suffering birds and sometimes people are able to get a peek at those and the whole operation is exposed. The huge chick rescue in northern Colorado this month made the news and raised thousands for resourceful sanctuaries. But then so often apathy returns and people continue their habits. Sad that animals are suffering, but unwilling to omit them from their plate.
We were on our way to take home some of those rescued birds. Chickens are snuggly, sweet, and have all different personalities. One of the chicks we brought home is tiny, fluffy, and sings day and night like she is singing her songs of thanks to the heavens. She doesn’t like to be put down. As it happens, we went to get between four and six birds and ended up with seven, soft, white babies. They are in the guest room. They have every disease you can think of from parasites, E coli, to upper respiratory infections. That is what is in meat. I am treating them with my herbs. So far they are thriving. These lucky few were saved and will live their life here on Pumpkin Hollow Farm dust bathing, getting treats, and sitting in the sun or on our laps.
We are only allowed poultry in Pueblo but one day we will have land where we can take in more animals, save more lives, do what we can. But every life counts.
Jewel Straightedge runs the sanctuary that we picked the chicks up from. She has, what looks to be, hundreds of roosters that she has rescued. Two calves with big, heartbreaking eyes are from the dairy down the road. The little girl fights to live. Darling sheep and goats and geese that clearly know the friend that rescued them all add to the raucous singing of the farm. Turkeys strut about. The wind picks up and turns cold and we hasten our tour.
Jewel and her team rescued over six hundred chicks from the thousands and thousands that were being inhumanely killed and dying without food and water. With the swift turn in weather, we help her chase hundreds of chicks trying to get them back into their warm enclosure. It is every bit as hilarious as it sounds. We are happy as we head back towards home.
(Note: the chickens we rescued ended up dying anyway because they are meat chickens. We still had a bit to learn about that breed! This experience reinforced in us the desire to buy from friends who have small farms or raise our own.)