TROY, Ohio – It started some years ago with Michelle Iddings finding animals for a live Nativity Scene at a church. Her love of animals and desire to bring some of them closer to home led to the creation of Idle-Hour Ranch.
Her husband Brian and daughter Brittany also have responsibilities at the ranch.
“She started collecting live nativities and pretty soon got into some of the exotics and found out how neat those are,” said Brian Iddings.
The ranch was opened to the public in 2007 out of a desire to create a revenue stream to support the animals. The full-time jobs of the Iddings weren’t enough.
In a good season, the ranch will get around 7,500 visitors. Iddings said 10,000 visitors are what they need to break even and they’ve not done that since 2014.
“Every bit of money that comes into this ranch, be it admission prices, feed prices, activity prices, camel rides, pony rides, mining sluice – all the money that comes in goes directly to the animals. You are not paying my electric bill when you come here; you are supporting the animals.”
Most of the animals were acquired by the Iddings to serve in Nativity Scenes. Some are “rescue” animals from individuals who can’t care for them any longer. Others were brought to the ranch because they’re “cool.”
Idle-Hour Ranch also has a 4-H alternative program for participants who would rather have their animals live out their full life, as opposed to being set to auction at the end of a 4-H event.
“Sloth encounters are huge. We have people that come as far as Saginaw, Michigan, to do a sloth encounter. We use it as a fundraiser to get Queenie, who’s four years old, to get her a mate. We think there’d be nothing cuter than a baby sloth.”
The ranch also has goats and a water buffalo. There are kangaroos, miniature ponies, and camels. There are birds and fish, a coyote and a fox. You may even catch a glimpse of a South American Jackrabbit.
You can ride the ponies and camels for an additional cost.
Idle-Hour Ranch also features a corn maze and kids activities. The maze theme for 2019 is Ohio history.
The ranch is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and will close for the season in early November.