Some may say that Joel and Marcy Brust live exotic lives as owners of Indian Point Ostrich Ranch. Exciting as it may be, however, the Brusts are looking to retire after 26 years operating their working farm, which is tucked against a mountainside above Cummings Valley in Tehachapi.
The Brusts are looking to sell the 20-acre farm, and perhaps also the 60-acre mountainside ranch and historical home on the opposite side of a county road.
“We would prefer if they moved the ostriches, but the new owner can stay for a while if they wanted and we could show them all about the business,” said Joel.
The Indian Point Ostrich Ranch was founded by Joel in 1992. To understand more about the man locals call “The Ostrich Guy,” one would have to go way back to when Joel lived a different life — a life he fondly refers to as “Chapter One.”
“In another life, I worked in a world with large corporations,” said Joel.
Once the president and CEO of his own computer software company in Los Angeles, Joel has consulted, installed and overseen computer systems for Fortune 50 companies throughout the country, as well as on military installations.
Looking to escape the corporate world, Joel started looking around for a good place to lay down roots and plant a whole new kind of lifestyle. That’s when he came across the vast acreage where he and Marcy now reside — acreage that is home to Indian Point Ostrich Ranch.
“This was thrashed,” Joel said of the vacant property. “It had been deserted for many years.”
After purchasing the dilapidated property, Joel kept one foot in the fast-paced world of big business while sowing his dream of a quieter life as a ranch owner. He hired contractors to breathe life back into the historical site, once owned by Milo and Marjean Sprinkle of the Sprinkle Brothers Cattle Company. Many of the original buildings and structures that supported the Sprinkle family from the 1940s through the 1970s remained, but they desperately needed attention. So each week the builders would report what materials were needed, and Joel would in turn bring the necessary supplies to the ranch on the weekends.
“This went on for a while. When it was finally finished, and I had water that I could use in the house, I started looking at all kinds of things,” Joel said, recalling how he considered what type of working ranch would best suit him.
Joel said he entertained thoughts of turning the land into a cattle ranch, pot bellied pig ranch and alpaca ranch, as well as other possibilities.
“None of that made any sense to me,” Joel said.
After collaborating with the South African owners of a small ostrich farm that once stood on the opposite side of Cummings Valley, Joel reached his decision.
“That’s what I have been doing ever since,” he said. “My Chapter Two was going to be totally different than my Chapter One. No suits. No ties. No meetings. No airplanes.”
Joel said when he finally settled in Tehachapi, the town had just one blinking light downtown, a couple of restaurants and a few small stores in which to shop.
“I watched empty fields become something,” Joel said of the vast change the local economy has undergone since his arrival.
After meeting on Match.com, Joel and Marcy married in 2009, and they have since operated the farm together.
“I’m originally from South Dakota, and I’m a farm girl, so I fit right in here,” Marcy said.
Indian Point Ostrich Ranch draws several thousand tourists each year. During the ranch’s 20th anniversary celebration, more than a thousand visitors came across the ranch’s threshold within a single six-hour period.
“When we looked out the window, before we were opened, there were cars lined up along both sides of the road,” Joel said.
“I was like, how are we going to handle this many people,” Marcy recalled.
“It was scary, but we did,” she added with a smile.
Joel said one of most satisfying aspects of owning the ostrich ranch for past 26 years is the opportunity to now welcome a second generation of visitors.
“I kept running into people, and they would say, ‘Hey! You’re the Ostrich Guy! You gave me a tour years ago,’ and they would have their kids with them,” Joel said. “We are also getting kids coming on tours with their schools, and they tell us that their parents came to visit the ranch when they were kids.”
The Brusts say they will consider offers for part or all of the business components and land, which includes two natural springs that run year-round. Once home to 300 breeders, the Brusts have downsized after selling a portion of their business a year and a half ago to a company in Idaho, but there is plenty left.
“I imagine we now have somewhere between 30 and 35 breeders,” Joel said. “We are a working ranch, and I have incubators down in the barn. Our meat brand is Blue Feather, and we sell to Albertsons, and have for quite a number of years. We sell edible ostrich eggs, and a lot of people come to the ranch just to buy the eggs.”
Besides the Blue Feather Ostrich Farms and Indian Point Ostrich Ranch portions, other components include the ostrich oil and lotion business, the Ostrich Nest Visitor Center & Ranch Store and the historic home and surrounding grounds.
The Brusts say they have recently spent their weekends looking for 2- or 3-acre places for sale.
“We’ve been driving around and thinking about where we want to live when we sell the property,” said Marcy, who retired as a teacher with the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District two years ago.
The Brusts say they will miss the peaceful solitude of the ranch, but they are ready for something much, much smaller.
“I’m ready for my second retirement,” Joel said.
Financially qualified individuals interested in carrying on what has become a much beloved and popular fixture of the community can call Joel Brust at (661) 750-7815. For more information on the Indian Point Ostrich Ranch, visit the website, indianpointranch.com.