Candy Kitchen is one of my favorite places in the world – and it’s a place few people have heard of. It’s a tiny community, with the neighbors spaced far apart, somewhere between Grants and Zuni in New Mexico. I lived there for several years, with few amenities (the nearest actual grocery store is 60 miles away, my house never had actual hot water, and the floor was dirt). But it’s gorgeous and full of wildlife – a great place to relax away from the cities.
We’ve been neglecting this blog a little as we’ve travelled around the Southwest this fall. We spent some time in Bisbee, camped throughout the southern Arizona mountain ranges, went to Tucson, and eventually made our way north to spend a week in Candy Kitchen. We have old friends all through this place – their generosity is unparalleled and it’s a heart-warming place to stay.
One of the main attractions of Candy Kitchen is Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, my old employer (the picture above is from when I was a caretaker). The sanctuary is a home for wolves and wolf-dogs, all captive-born, who need a quiet place to live out their lives in comfort. Usually there are around 60 animals, and the wolves have been joined by dingos, singing dogs, and other assorted canids. They’re working on enclosures for a group of coyotes who are coming from the midwest.
Chloe and I took the tour of the sanctuary on Tuesday, and were talked into coming to volunteer on Wednesday. To any of my old friends who used to work here, our assigned task will be familiar: meat separation!
A butcher shop in Albuquerque sends their scraps as a donation for the wolves, several times a week. But the wolves can’t eat all of it; the fat needs to be picked out, as well as any bullets, shattered bones, hooks, mold, or extensive trauma. Each bone or piece of meat needs to be looked over before throwing out or feeding to the wolves – and we had seven barrels of meat to go through!
Surprisingly, it’s not a very gross job. Some of the meat looks delicious, and you’ll get occasional surprises like a trachea or set of testicles, which are great to throw at other volunteers.
If you ever get a chance, head to Wild Spirit – they’re always happy to show you around. You’ll never forget the sound of the wolves howling all around you!