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Windswept Ranch

I hate them. Here at the ranch they happen. There are times when no matter how hard you try, how much you spend, in the end, you must say goodbye.

Over the past few years, I have embraced and let go of so many animals I loved that it seemed fitting to remember them in this, my last article of the season. For those of you who honor me by following these articles, some of these critters may sound familiar.

Walter, the dromedary camel came to the ranch so full of parasites, he was literally dying. He was a fighter and we decided that as long as he chose to fight, we would do battle with him. And battle we did with blood transfusions, plasma transfusions, antibiotics, anti-parasitics and everything else the veterinarian could come up with. And Walter fought hard, but in the end, there had been so much damage to his organs that he simply could not fight any longer.

Ziva was our wonderful damara zebra. She got a blockage in her intestine that required surgery so off we went to Alamo Pintado, a wonderful facility that specializes in this sort of surgery. The surgery went well, but in recovery, her heart stopped. Losing such a beautiful and sweet animal was sad, but the reason even sadder: Ziva's blockage was caused by a piece of a mylar balloon. Please remember, when you release these balloons, you do not know where they will end up. They could get baled in hay. The string on the balloon could get wrapped around an animals neck and cause suffocation.

Joy was one the last of the five fallow deer that started me on this odyssey. She lived at Windswept Ranch for 20 years, coming to us at 3 years of age. Fallow deer generally live to be 12, so her passing hit me especially hard. She began to fail in late winter and we had made plans to give her a special summer, one last season to celebrate life, but she just couldn't make it. When her suffering became obvious, I made the difficult decision to put her down.

Ember, most of you will remember the little fawn who came to us blind and covered with fire retardant from the Erskine fire. Ember never thrived. We sought help with her vision and did physical therapy on her hind legs which were very weak. On her last day here, I took her on her little walk. She happily bounced off my leg and managed to stay upright on those little legs. We went back to her safe space and she drank her bottle, cuddled a little and went to sleep. An hour later, when I went to check on her, she was gone. It was peaceful and she did not appear to suffer. I am always grateful when a life ends this way.

And one last good bye for now:

The ranch will close early this year. Our last Saturday will be October 1. If you have field trips or private tours booked, those will be on schedule.

Right now, I am dealing with health problems that need my focus and attention. If you are a believer, I would appreciate your prayers at this time. If not, perhaps just positive thoughts.

For now the plan is to reopen on schedule in April. So, if you haven't come out and met the critters yet, you still have time. We will be open Saturdays through Oct. 1 from 10 to 4 p.m.