Cattle ranching has long been a part of the local economy; sheep are regularly brought to areas of our valleys for grazing. Wildlife is abundant in the area with sightings of deer and small mammals fairly common. A herd of American Elk are commonly seen in the Cummings Valley, Bear Valley Springs and Stallion Springs areas. The local elk are descended from animals that were released on a couple of large local ranches in the 1970s.

Tehachapi is also home to one of the country’s top ostrich ranches, producing meat and ostrich oil as well as offering popular tours. Alpaca ranches are also located in Tehachapi.

Indian Point Ostrich Ranch

Established in 1992, the Indian Point Ostrich Ranch has been "wowing" visitors with its "Os-trich-izing" tour for years. They combine fun, education and entertainment in an invigorating environment where you get next to living dinosaur-like birds. Their Ostrich Bonding Experience gives you the unique chance to feed birds that can grow to be 10 feet tall and weigh more than 500 pounds.

Visit their website for more information and visiting hours, which vary seasonally. They also have a wonderful ranch store with their own jerky, edible eggs, ostrich oil and lotions, jewelry, empty and decorated eggs.

Located at the end of Giraudo Road in the Cummings Valley area of Tehachapi.

For information, call 661-822-9131 or visit the website indianpointranch.com.

Adorable Alpacas

Alpacas originally were bred 5,000 years ago by the Incas for their fleece, which was reserved strictly for royalty.

Today, alpacas are also raised in Tehachapi for their extraordinary coats. Fortunately you don’t need to be royalty to enjoy alpaca fleece, which has many advantages over fibers produced by other animals.

It is softer to the touch than cashmere and creates seven times the warmth. Alpaca fleece is lighter than sheep's wool, does not have the scratchiness and is three times stronger.

Even if you’re not interested in modern textiles, a visit to a local alpaca farm will leave any visitor feeling warm and fuzzy.

Located in Cummings Valley, Adorable Alpacas is a boutique, eco-conscious ranch specializing in building elite alpaca herds and exquisite fiber for spinning and knitting. The public is welcome to take a tour and shop the ranch store. For hours of operation, call 661-805-3895, visit the website at adorablealpacas.com, or email AdorableAlpacas@aol.com.

Birding and wildlife viewing

Tehachapi is rich territory for birdwatchers with a wide variety of habitat and more than 250 species to see. The Kern Audubon Society has a Tehachapi sub-chapter that sponsors events and has a helpful website that includes a downloadable local bird list and other resources: kastehachapibird.org.

Equestrians love Tehachapi

Places to bring horses in Tehachapi include:

• Alpine Forest: 661-822-6525

(Alpine Forest Property Owners Association)

Call the association to get a map. Alpine Forest is a great starting point for miles of rugged back country trails.

• Bear Valley Equestrian Center: 26800 Bear Valley Road; 661-821-3690. The Equestrian Center has several arenas, camping, and is surrounded by miles and miles of well-maintained trails. Open to members and guests only.

• Pacific Crest Trail: Cameron Road, near Tehachapi Willow Springs.

Don't have your own horse? Spit Creek Ranch will provide the horses and take you on a trail ride in the beautiful Cummings Valley area, $40 per person per hour, call 661-972-5001.

Feline Conservation Center

Exotic Feline Breeding Compound's Feline Conservation Center, also known as the Cat House, is located in Rosamond, about 28 miles from Tehachapi (allow about an hour for the drive because of road conditions).

Cat lovers of all ages who discover this desert zoo/wildlife museum are surprised and amazed at the variety of wild cat species found here.

Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Wednesdays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and the day of a special event, Feline Follies, held each August.

Admission: $7 general, $6 seniors 60+, $3 age 3-12, free under 3.

Located at 3718 60th St. West in Rosamond, the center can be reached by calling 661-256-3793 during operating hours or 661- 256-3332 for recorded directions and information, 24 hours a day. Visit the website at cathouse-fcc.org.

Windswept Ranch

Windswept Ranch, located just east of the Tehachapi wind farms, also owns alpacas, along with a variety of other exotic animals, including camels and reindeer. They offer petting zoos and other activities that are geared toward allowing children to experience the wonder of these gentle and friendly four-legged friends.

The ranch is open Saturdays from March to October (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) with a $5 admission. For more information, call 661-809-3965, or visit the website at windsweptranch.net.

Rescue operations

Tehachapi has numerous pet and animal rescue operations, including:

• Have a Heart Humane Society, located at 1121 W. Valley Blvd.

Director Chelley Kitzmiller believes that dogs and cats deserve a caring home and a safe, healthy environment in which to live. Have a Heart Humane Society's mission is to rescue abandoned, abused and injured animals, provide low-cost vaccinations and spay/neuter programs, educate the greater Tehachapi community about pet responsibility and ownership, and partner with local organizations to develop and share resources for animal welfare. It also runs Rescued Treasures, a resale shop, to support its efforts. Call 661-750-2261, email haveaheart@bak.rr.com or visit the website at haveahearthumanesociety.org.

• Marley's Mutts Dog Rescue, located at 785 Tucker Road Suite G #411

Marley’s Mutts is a nonprofit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, trains and re-homes death row dogs from Kern County’s animal shelters. Assistance in training, rehoming and networking services is offered, in addition to low-cost spay/neuter programs and pet adoption. Call 661-556-7178, email inquiries@marleysmutts.com or visit the website at marleysmutts.org.

• S.T.O.P. (Save Tehachapi's Orphaned Pets)

S.T.O.P. has created a network of foster homes for abandoned pets by funding and staffing a foster home for adoption animals in cooperation with current government groups, other humane rescue organizations and private rescues. S.T.O.P. rescues stray, abandoned or relinquished animals from the surrounding communities and rescues animals from Kern County shelters. In addition, S.T.O.P. provides educational programs to schools and the community to help reduce pet overpopulation. Call 661-823-4100, email contact@stoprescue.org, or visit the website at stoprescue.org.

• Tehachapi Humane Society, located at 21600 Golden Hills Blvd. #3

The Tehachapi Humane Society is an all-volunteer organization that has served the area for more than 22 years. It offers three spay-neuter programs, including one for feral cats, at a cost ranging from no fee to $20. The society loans humane traps. The Humane Society helps low-income families with pet food and offers a vaccine clinic once a month. The group answers the community's animal-related questions and posts information about spayed and neutered pets seeking adoption on its Petfiner website. Call 661-823-0699 for more information.

Additionally, several horse rescue operations have facilities in the Tehachapi area which are open to the public; many ask that you call ahead — and don’t forget the carrots!

• Second Chance Ranch, located at 23028 Cummings Valley Road. Call 661-972-8395 or visit the website at 2nd-chance-ranch.org. Call ahead for a tour.

• Tranquility Farms has retired racehorses waiting to be adopted. Call 661-823-0307 for an appointment and driving instructions, or visit the website at tranquilityfarmtbs.com.

• United Pegasus Foundation, located at 20411 Pegasus Road; offers guided tours. Visitors are welcome, and a gift shop is available. Call 661-823-9672 or visit the website at unitedpegasus.com.

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