Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Volunteers needed at Windswept Ranch

Windswept Ranch

Saturdays at the ranch begin early. There are the regular chores to get done plus preparing for guests. We usually begin at 7 a.m. and are still scampering around getting things done when the first visitors arrive.

The animals know. They just know. You can see a level of excitement as they wait for the first guests to arrive.

And that is when the fun begins! Visitors are greeted at the gate and checked in, then led on a personal tour which includes teaching about the animals, taking the time to answer questions and give guests an opportunity to interact with the animals.

We make every effort to ensure everyone who comes to the ranch has a unique experience. We have guests that come three to four times a year, and guests who are here for the first time. Most folks love the experience, but we do get complaints. A couple of weeks ago we had an angry visitor who came out and wanted to do pony rides. We love doing the rides but lately we have not been able to do them. Poor Charlie Horse stands idle. Why? We simply do not have the volunteers we need to make this work.

Ideally we need about 10 volunteers in order to make the tours what we want them to be. We need someone for the pony rides, the "test drive" and we need a person at the gate. We need a person who can be in the petting zoo and monitor the interactions of visitors with the animals while answering questions. We need tour leaders and it would be nice to have at least five or six people who like teaching and love animals. We could even use a person who could just cut carrots. I cannot tell you how often guests have sat at the table and helped out by cutting carrots.

Bottom line is we need help. It is impossible to imagine opening next year without help. It is unfair for the three to four people who are here every Saturday to continue working alone. And yet, they insist they want to go on.

If you ask them, every Saturday is so special. They love meeting the visitors and are so impressed with the questions they are asked. They love the way the animals interact with people and recognize this time is valuable to the animals. And they love the vision of the ranch.

I am left in the position of wondering if doing this is worthwhile. Is the time and energy this takes well invested? Is there a better way I could spend my time? And I wonder what Saturdays would look like for the animals if they did not have visitors. I will be pondering lots of things during our hiatus, which begins in November.

If you haven't been to the ranch yet, the next few Saturdays could be the last opportunity. The ranch and the animals will still be here, but the ranch may not be open.

Our schedule for the rest of the year is: Camel rides on Sept. 29 and Oct. 27. We will have Santa visiting on Oct. 20 and will have photo ops with Santa and a reindeer, so wear your ugly Christmas sweater and make a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas card. Don't forget to bring your camera so you can catch a great shot.

We hope you will come on out and meet the animals and share the vision. And give some thought to possibly becoming a volunteer. The ranch really needs you.

Directions: From Tehachapi take Highline east to Tehachapi Willow Springs, turn right and go 11-miles to the "OPEN" banner and turn right up the dirt road. Any questions, call (661) 809-3965.