Dude ranch on the brick of closure

Drifters mini dude ranch may be closing down for good.

Chayde Jackson

Chayde Jackson

Animals at Drifters Mini Dude Ranch in Vanderhoof will be needing somewhere to go, pronto.

The owner of the ranch, Blanch Lawrence, announced earlier this month that she is selling off most of the animals due to the lack of visitors combined with the cost of maintaining the animals.

“It was a tough decision but we may be closing down for good. We got too big too fast and now there is just too many mouths to feed,” said Ms. Lawrence.

The mini dude ranch, located a few kilometres east of Vanderhoof off Blackwater road, is home to countless miniature animals such as miniature goats, ponies, geese, chickens, pigs and rabbits. It’s also home to a few full-sized animals including a lama, a bull, a donkey, horses and pigs to name a few.

Some of the animals roam free throughout the property which make the children’s guided tours interesting for everyone.

“[The goats] may nibble on your jacket or even jump up on you but they’re not going to hurt you,” said Ms. Lawrence.

Kids can interact with just about every animal on the farm, especially since they are mostly their size.  They can take turns feeding the bull, ponies and llama grass treats, or pet a goat or soft bunny rabbit. Although everyone likes something different, Rusty the rabbit in particular is especially clean considering he is the only rabbit on the farm that is potty trained, said Ms. Lawrence.

“I like the miniature ponies the best because I’ve never actually seen one until now,” said Mikayla 8, who came with Giggles to Words daycare on a trip to the ranch.

Two of the most unique animals on the farm are the Patagonian maras, a near threatened species of rodent that resembles a large jackrabbit. The Argentina-born species is rare in Canada and can jump over five feet high and run over 45 kilometres in an hour.

“When they play they’re rolling around and jumping and spinning. It’s really fun to watch,” said Ms. Lawrence.

The brown Chinese geese are also fun to look at because of the black knob sprouting at the top of their head. However, these birds are not to be messed with for some people use them as guards on large plantations or wineries, said Ms. Lawrence.

“They are quite loud when disturbed and one wing can send pressure of around 50 pounds, which is enough to break a persons arm,” said Ms. Lawrence

Dayla Metcalf, owner of Giggles To Words, was sad to learn the ranch was closing.

“The kids love it there. They have conversations for days when they see animals they’ve never seen before. The ranch is a way for them to interact with animals that are hard to come by,” said Ms. Metcalf. “This is only their third year, I just can’t believe they’re already going.”