Sophie, Poppy, Rockie, Bandet and Peebs the sheep are used to visitors coming through the gate with goat cookies and carrots in their hands. But on one particular day it was different — there was a buzz around the barnyard. Even the donkeys and ponies could feel the excitement.
The four-legged residents at Laramie’s nonprofit animal sanctuary, Home On the Range Animal Haven, (HORAH) were recently presented with a new goat shelter, thanks to the big hearts and construction know-how of a generous local couple and their army of volunteers.
Longtime supporter and volunteer Ron Olsen was at the barnyard in May putting finishing touches on loafing shed doors when he inquired about the goat shelter. He said his wife, Anne Olsen, who is particularly fond of the goats, had donated money to purchase a bigger goat house.
“We had looked at several options for structures and none were working out,” said Deb Roberts, the sanctuary’s director and founder. “I talked with Ron about what we needed and his reply was ‘Why don’t we build a bigger goat barn” and so it happened.”
Ron, a skilled carpenter who had previously built a goat playground for the sanctuary, offered to take the lead and began drawing up plans and organizing volunteers.
The project began to take shape in June with the final product being a 24’ x 16’ goat barn, with windows made of antique glass from an old Medicine Bow Forest fire lookout and an enclosed walkway that connects with the smaller, existing barn. The barn also includes a catwalk leading to a loft, especially designed by Ron for the two cats, Sunny and Meow, who live at HORAH.
“I’m so glad Deb let us do this,” said Olsen. “It was so much fun to work with others and make Anne’s wish come true.”
Pam Brekken, Home On the Range’s president, said the project was a team effort with volunteers digging postholes, framing walls, painting and completing dirt work. Others helped with fencing, siding, roofing and leveling the ground.
Volunteers included John Nutter, Clint Brechheisen, Susie and Brad Holland, Joyce Powell, Chris Walruth, Brekken and the Roberts family including Wade, Shay, Kyler and Treysen.
At a small christening celebration, Ron hung a sign naming the building “Anne’s Place.” Roberts said few words of thanks quoting something she had read.
“Generosity with dirty hands expresses the highest reality of kindness,” she said. “Thanks for getting your hands dirty.”
In October of last year, HORAH was forced to leave their home of eight years. They found 42 acres south of Laramie with ample pasture but no outbuildings, electricity, or other infrastructure to lease. Through the help of generous private donations, HORAH now has shelter for all the animals, electricity and hope to have water in place before it starts to freeze.
It has been a challenge for Home On the Range the past year. Three months after moving to the new location a tragedy happened — the caretaker’s trailer located on the property burned to the ground, taking the lives of her four companion dogs.
Moving forward, HORAH continues to raise funds for feed, animal care and their next project that is a building to house a caretaker, which includes a place for volunteers and friends to gather.
Fundraising has been difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the nonprofit to cancel many of their traditional fundraising events. However, in October they held a raffle with the top prize of a $1,000 gift certificate from the Pedal House. Currently they are selling limited edition shirts, hoodies, and shopping bags at www.bonfire.com/results/home+on+the+range
About Home On the Range
Currently, Home On the Range cares for seven donkeys, three horses, two ponies, a sheep, four pygmy goats and two barn cats. All of the animals have been abused, abandoned or neglected. They will spend the rest of their days at the sanctuary. Read their stories or donate at laramiehomeontherange.org or schedule a visit by calling 307-760-0534.