A baby goat is standing on top of a goat
Prairie Life by Bill Radford

Prairie Life

Lotsa goats, farm animals, dogs, cats — more goats

By Bill Radford

More than 10 years ago, we came to the rescue of a baby goat apparently stranded at the Powers Ranch; its ears shredded by dogs or other predators. All these years later, we still have Nana.

Our one rescue goat is way outnumbered by the goats that have found a safe haven at Outpaws Sweet Home Sanctuary in Peyton.

Carrie Thornburgh is the sanctuary’s founder and operator, aided by a corps of volunteers. The enterprise is just the latest reflection of her love of animals.

“As a child, I was out bringing home stray dogs and hiding them under our deck from my mom to save them and help them out,” she recalls. She grew up in the suburbs in Alabama; in her early 20s, she had her own farm and saw how, out in the country, people would simply dump animals.

After moving to Colorado, she began the nonprofit Outpaws Animal Rescue, a foster-based dog and cat rescue, in the Denver area in 2013. “We saw the need for people to approach it as more of a business than crazy dog ladies who had good hearts but weren’t quite going at it the right way,” Thornburgh says.

In 2021, she sold her home; she had an arrangement with another animal rescue and planned to move again, this time to New Mexico. When that deal fell through at the last minute, she found herself between homes — until a past Outpaws volunteer and adopter invited her to stay at her parents’ farm, which was sitting empty as they had moved to Oklahoma.

“I came here with no particular plan, but sort of cleaning up the property,” Thornburgh says. Then she was asked if she was interested in buying the property.

A sign that says sweet home sanctuary on a fence in a field

Outpaws Sweet Home Sanctuary has many rescued
animals on 80 acres in Peyton.

A baby goat is standing on top of a goat

A young goat finds a perch on an adult goat at the
sanctuary.

She was. And, “Once we had 80 acres, we decided to change up the mission to a farm animal sanctuary.”

A vegan farm animal sanctuary, to be precise. Thornburgh wasn’t vegan before, “But after learning about the meat industry and the cruelty that occurs to the animals, and knowing how many other options are out there, we choose to be vegan and to save lives and not take them.”

And so Outpaws Sweet Home Sanctuary has taken in a variety of creatures in need, including sheep, cows, pigs, dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks and turkeys. Each has come with their own story.

“All three of our cows came from the dairy industry,” Thornburgh explains. “They were discards. Most people don’t know that male calves are discarded in the dairy industry; they’re usually sold off for slaughter.”

One of their pigs, Huck Fin, fell off a meat truck in Nebraska at 3 weeks old; a family stopped and saved him. Another of their pigs was being given away in a parking lot in Walmart in Wyoming; a developmentally disabled young adult got him, Thornburgh says, “And his parents were like — no.” Three turkeys, meanwhile, were rescued off of Craigslist just before Thanksgiving a couple of years ago.

 And then there are the goats. The sanctuary had seven goats before a population explosion in October, courtesy of a hoarding situation in the Fountain area.

The owner, finally realizing that things were out of control, called Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary in the Denver area; Broken Shovels, in turn, contacted Outpaws to partner with it. They expected 22 female goats when they arrived, with Thornburgh planning to take perhaps a dozen. But it turned out the homeowner was woefully short with her tally. The groups rescued 58 female goats, with Outpaws taking 46 of them. And that doesn’t count the males, whose future remains unknown.

“There were goats everywhere,” Thornburgh says. But with the boys climbing all over the girls in hopes of mating, “We knew if we didn’t take all the females that the whole thing was pointless,” she says.

Despite the chaotic scene, Thornburgh praises the homeowner for reaching out for help. Often in such a situation, things deteriorate to the point that the animals are in poor shape and animal welfare has to swoop in. In this case, Thornburgh says, all the goats were healthy.

And, in many cases, pregnant. Of those 46 goats that came to Outpaws, 17 were pregnant; all have given birth since. That’s 26 babies, many born in the middle of the night.

The immediate needs with the sudden influx of goats: food and shelter.

A woman holding a baby goat in a barn
Carrie Thornburgh, founder of the sanctuary,
retrieves a young goat that escaped to another pen.

“We had to quickly work to build new pens for them, build outdoor runs. We had to set up kidding pens to pull the mother out when they were delivering and separate them from everyone else for a few days. So we had volunteers out here throwing together pens right and left.”

For the most part, the sanctuary serves as the forever home for those animals rescued. But with such a large group of goats, some have or will be adopted out. Meanwhile, the need for help — in the form of both money and volunteers — remains.

“We love our volunteers,” says Thornburgh, who in addition to managing the sanctuary still has her day job as an attorney specializing in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. She is recruiting volunteers for daily shifts, for feeding and animal care. “We also do workdays on Saturdays and Sundays; we’ll do big projects then,” Thornburgh says. “We also need virtual volunteers if anybody likes to work on social media and event planning and things like that.”

For more information on Outpaws Sweet Home Sanctuary or to volunteer, go to http://outpaws.org. Outpaws also is active on Facebook.

Photos by Bill Radford

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About the author

Bill Radford

Longtime local journalist Bill Radford and his wife, Margaret, live on 5 acres in the Falcon area with chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, a flock of parakeets, goats and two horses. Contact Bill at billradford3@gmail.com.

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