Monday, July 12, 2010

Lazy 5 Review

CyndiA's Full Review: Lazy 5 Ranch

The Lazy 5 Ranch is about 10 miles from my house. It's an exotic animal ranch right in the middle of cow country. Most of the local farmers milk dairy cows. Henry Hampton tends exotics.

I was teaching at NC State when one of my students did a speech about her family's animal ranch. I was amazed to hear that there was such a ranch back home. The address is actually Mooresville, NC. Mooresville is right outside the Lake Norman area and is a thriving and growing city. The ranch is seriously out in the country – but not too far from Lake Norman. Coming the other direction, the Lazy 5 Ranch is an easy drive from Lowe’s Motor Speedway, so it’s a nice morning or afternoon trip for folks visiting for NASCAR.

My boys were little the first time we went to the Lazy 5 Ranch. It’s been open 15 years, and it had probably only been open a year or two at the time we first went. There were five family members running the ranch back then, and that’s how they came up with the name. It’s bigger now, but it’s still a very family type business.

You drive up the long driveway and get tickets and can also buy food for the animals. Be sure to get some food. It’s loads of fun to feed the animals. They are very friendly. Just watch your bucket. Some of the animals will grab your bucket away if you’re not careful.

The ranch is set up as a safari ride. You can drive your car through or pay a little more and ride one of the wagons. I’d recommend riding one of the wagons. Some of the little animals with hooves jump up on the sides of the cars and can leave scratches. My old car had a lot of scratches anyway, so we did drive the route several times. Now that I have a newer truck, we take the wagon.

There are all kinds of animals on the ranch, and they’re adding all the time. You’ll see big horned cows from Africa, pot belly pigs, miniatures deer, giraffes, llamas, and ostriches. Most are running free on the ranch, but some are enclosed in large nature areas. Some of the animals are rescues. An injured deer might end up at Lazy 5, because it’s protected, and the family is fine about less-than-perfect animals living there.

In addition to the safari drive, there’s a big area with exhibits like exotic birds and reptiles. There’s a prairie dog section which is a lot of fun and a petting zoo area. There are some skulls with horns for decoration, and my oldest son (when he was little) told me that his favorite animals were the bone heads. It took a while to figure that one out.

The ranch is open every day except Christmas Day. During the holiday season, they really deck out and have reindeer and Santa. It’s usually not terribly cold in North Carolina – even in November and December.

Recently there was some concern that the ranch might close. The county was going to back tax on something. Residents signed petitions and really got upset about the ranch getting shut down. It looks like things are going to be okay now. It’s hard to run a small farm in this area, and I hope government leaders will encourage alternative ventures like the exotic animal ranch.

Lazy 5 Ranch is great for a family visit, and it’s also super for school groups. It’s not huge and exhausting like some zoos. The habitat is natural. The animals run free and certainly seem to enjoy visitors. A llama slobbered all over me the last time we went, and I didn’t even have the feed cup.

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