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Where the big birds roam

Quail Run Ostrich Ranch in Lake Hughes has ambitions as large as their stars

Posted: July 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Jacquie Royce talks to one of two ostriches, Sarah and Cora, as she feeds them in their pen at Quail Run Ostrich Ranch in Lake Hughes on Tuesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

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The ostriches’ names are whimsical and in some cases creatively spelled – Anthony and Cleopatra, Elvis and Prissilla, along with Drussilla, Sarah and Cora.

Their personalities are equally playful, says Jacquie Royce, who with her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter runs Quail Run Ostrich Ranch in rural Lake Hughes, a relatively recent operation that seeks to make itself a destination for local residents seeking a different kind of experience, along with couples seeking a quixotic place to be married.

For the bride-to-be whose mind doesn’t immediately leap to “among the ostriches”when pondering a destination wedding site, the Royce-Byers household has all the answers.

The 17-acre property offers several venues for weddings: Couples can tie the knot at the rose garden or the stone bridge, and can host post-wedding festivities at the outdoor dance hall. 

Conveniently, Jacquie Royce is an ordained minister and wedding photographer.

The family opened the ranch for public visits in May and hopes the unique opportunity to interact with and learn more about ostriches will draw visitors.

“Each one of them has their own little personality and they are so fun to work with,” said Royce. “It’s not a chore, it’s a joy.”

“They’re really unique animals that you don’t get to see every day,” added her daughter and ranch co-operator Jessica Byers.

In May, the same month the family opened the ranch for public visits, it welcomed its newest hatchling, Aldrich, who has become its official mascot.

“Aldrich symbolizes the growth that this ranch is going through,” said Royce. “We started from nothing.”

Besides offering nuptials and tours, the Royce and daughter Jessica Byers hope to create a series of children’s books with Aldrich as the protagonist. Aldrich and his nameless human friend experience the various nuances of growing up like going to the dentist or starting school.

The Royces and Byers also make several ostrich-related products ready for sale. Jessica sells ostrich shampoos and lotions. Jacquie practices “eggery” – the making of art work from ostrich eggs.

Meantime, Lou Byers owns a concrete pumping business to help fund the ranch.

“It’s a good place to just kick back, relax and see wildlife,” said Royce says.

Quail Run operates under an “open door policy” – it will open at any time for interested guests. Those who want to visit can call in advance at (661)-724-1592 or view the website at quailrunostrichranch.com.

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