Santa Maria Sun / Biz Brief
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 34
Spotlight on: OstrichLand USA
BY FRANK GONZALES
Between vineyards and horse ranches on Route 246 in Buellton sits a scene more out of Africa than California wine country. On the dry land that stretches out toward the Santa Ynez Mountains, scores of large dark figures dot the golden brush and tan dirt. These are not the cows that once formed the backbone of the Santa Ynez Valley economy and still provide a show for drivers on nearby Highway 101. These are birds—giant, flightless ostriches and emus that are the star residents of the popular ranch attraction, OstrichLand USA.
On second thought. the sight fits the area quite well. The climate and topography of the Santa Ynez Valley are very similar to parts of Africa and Australia, the respective primary habitats of wild ostriches and emus. Just as winemakers imported the Mediterranean practice of winemaking to the valley in the post-war years, it was only a matter of time before the same connection was made for these birds. Current owner Trudy Ann Brown has been in charge of the site—founded in the early 1990s—for almost 10 years. Brown said that taking care of a ranch full of ostriches and emus isn’t much different from running a more ordinary business.
“It’s still a business,” she explained. “It’s taking care of the animals and providing the best care for them. We also have retail and websites. So it’s still basically a business.”
OstrichLand has become a main attraction in the area, with many tourists stopping by on their way to and from the Chumash Casino, Solvang, or local wineries. The ranch made its big-screen debut by appearing in a number of scenes from the 2004 film Sideways. The main characters pass by the location and mention it in their lines. As a result, OstrichLand is included on a map many visitors use to retrace locations from the film.
Once inside the ranch, visitors have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the ranch’s 50 ostriches and emus by feeding them from little bowls. The two-toed ostriches weigh as much as 350 pounds, grow to eight or nine feet tall, and often live to the age of 75. They have the ability to sustain 35 mph on the run with 45 mph bursts, leaving Usain Bolt in the dust. In some parts of the world, their speed has led people to ride the birds like horses, race them, and hitch them to carts.
But the birds on this ranch have a much easier life, especially when all the meat and jerky sold at the ranch is sourced from other ostrich ranches. If you’re planning a visit, late summer and fall are some of the best times, because that’s when the ostrich eggs hatch and the baby birds are available to view. The birds grow fast (one foot per month), and will already be juveniles by winter.
In addition to feeding the birds, visitors may buy a number of ostrich and emu-related products from the well-stocked and colorful store. Merchandise includes ostrich eggs (fresh, decorative, and ornately painted), ostrich feathers, and emu oil. There’s also a good selection of bird-related clothing, books, and toys for children.
The ranch is open to the public all year round from 10 a.m. until dark. Admission for individuals 12 and younger costs $1, and admission for guests 13 and older costs $4. The ranch asks that groups of 15 or more give advance notice.
For more information about OstrichLand USA, visit ostrichlandusa.com or call 686-9696.
• Dollar General, a discount market opening soon in Lompoc, will be holding a job fair at the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center, 1120 W. Ocean Ave., on Nov. 9.
Company officials expect to hire 30 to 40 employees to staff the store—the first Dollar General in Santa Barbara County. The store is scheduled to open in a 25,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Vons and next door to the DeWees Center.
The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, visit dollargeneral.com.
Biz Spotlight was written by Intern Frank Gonzales. Highlights are written and compiled by Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, e-mail, or mail.
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