The Work of Living
Animal Stories from

From Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

We celebrate the rescue of desperate animals, we take pride in the quality of care and shelter, we celebrate the expansion of the sanctuary's physical boundaries, as well as the expansion of its virtual boundaries through effective vegan education.

But we rarely, if ever, describe the sanctuary's accomplishments in terms of the hard and meaningful work done by its residents. Yet it's their work of living, coping and loving in the human occupied world, their trials and hard-earned victories, their toil to fulfill lives that are wrecked from the start for our amusement that is the real struggle and the most astonishing victory. It is their work of surviving, becoming, learning, teaching, rebelling, loving, grieving, enduring, forgiving, healing, failing, hoping, yearning, mending, growing old that informs us most deeply and drives our ambitious vegan advocacy program.

In the months to come, we will continue to document the strife and splendor that is their life, giving each resident's story the time and space it needs to unfold. We hope that, by showing the depth of feeling and awareness that each of these souls brings to the world, we may begin to grasp the inestimable value of what we protect if we're vegan, and the magnitude of what we plunder if we're not.

Justice, Juliet and her son

The day Juliet and her son escaped from a neighboring family farm, she tore through several electric fences, ran across several empty lots and kept going until she reached the distant sanctuary pasture where Justice, the sanctuary steer, was waiting for them, probably having called to them and beckoned them there all along. There, she stopped. She laid down in the tall grass, exhausted, and Justice licked her forehead, then cleaned the dozing baby's face before settling down next to them with something in his person that can only be described as bliss. He acted as if he'd always known them, as if this desperate young mother and her doomed only child were the family he'd never had and had never stopped yearning for. The sun was out, the breeze was blowing over the hill bringing scents of happy animals, the peace was profound. And the three of them huddled together as if they were a family, as if this was home. As if it was going to last.

Libby and Louie

Libby, the crippled laying hen who lost one foot in the wire floor of her "cage-free" shed, and Louie, the resplendent rooster, dressed in all the colors of the rainbow, are inseparable. Of all the hens living at the sanctuary, Louie is devoted only to Libby - skinny body, scraggly feathers, missing foot, wobbly gait and all - not to the fluffy gray hen, not the fiery blond hen, not the dreamy red hen, not the sweet black hen, not to any of the many snow white hens who, to our dim perceptions, look exactly like Libby. He loves Libby and never strays far from her - they walk together, forage together, nest together, eat together, rest together - and he protects her in terms that everyone understands and respects, even OJ, the "killer" cat.

It's just him and Libby in the world, a monogamous couple in a species where monogamy is the exception. It's true that, with our dull senses, we cannot see a fraction of what he sees in Libby because we can't see, smell, hear, touch, taste, sense a fraction of the sights, scents, sounds, textures, and tastes he does. But, even if we could see Libby in all her glory, it would still be clear that it's not her physical attributes that enrapture Louie. If he seeks her as his one and only companion, if he protects that union from any intrusions, it's not because of her physique but because of her presence.

Doris and Tolstoy

Then there's Doris, the frail, elderly ewe, hopelessly in love with someone of a different tribe, a different age, a different species: a glittering, glorious male of the goat tribe. And, even though, she makes no effort to ingratiate herself to him when she's near him, she does go to impossible lengths to find him - leaving the safety of her herd, abandoning her post as the group's sentry, forgetting her age, her species, her pain-wracked arthritic legs - only to be near him and stand there frozen in a sort of trance, gazing at him intently. He pays no attention to her. He looks right past her as he walks by her in his strong body, his glossy mane, his magnificent horns, his regal bearing - the radiant promise of that mysterious something that Doris' soul desires and that only Tolstoy seems to embody.

To learn more about the animals, visit the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary site (or visit the animals in person at the sanctuary, if you can!)

Visit our image gallery to see how cows and chickens and sheep are brutalized for profit.

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