Step in to a new world of NC Agriculture at Misty Morning Ranch

by | Jun 8, 2023

#EscapeWithNCAg is a year-long series that will focus on agritourism across North Carolina. Many farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses in our state offer events such as tours, yoga, educational classes, pick-your-own events and festivals, to entertain the public and teach them about our state’s number one industry. Each Thursday, we will feature a new site for you to visit with friends or family. Stay tuned and learn how to escape the stresses of life by diving into agriculture! 

** This Farm is a Got to Be NC Member **

Ostriches are the biggest living birds in the world, so how would you like to be up close and personal with one? Ryan and Gaby Olufs grew up in California and never dreamed of pursuing a career in agriculture. In fact, you know the old saying, “never say never?” Ryan and Gaby are living proof of that! In July of 2015, they moved to Robbins in pursuit of land and a home to raise their family in. “I had family stationed in Fort Bragg, so North Carolina wasn’t far off the radar for us,” he said. “We fell in love with the area, not only because of the cost of living was more reasonable than California, but because of the amount of beautiful farmland.” Although they had no dreams of starting a farm, they purchased a home on a 60-acre lot and the journey to founding Misty Morning Ranch was born.

In May of 2016, Gaby and Ryan decided that they wanted to do something more with their land, so they started researching unique agricultural paths. “We knew that we didn’t want to grow row crops and we said that we would never be meat processors,” Ryan said, “but it’s funny how life often turns your nevers into forevers. I started researching alternative farming and ostriches were one of the first things to pop up. From that moment on, I was intrigued.” After visiting and working weekends at another ostrich farm near their home for six months, Gaby and Ryan decided to take a leap of faith and purchase their first pair of ostriches. “The more we worked with the birds and worked to build our farm here, the more we fell in love with it,” Ryan said. Today, they are the only ostrich meat production farm in North Carolina and home to 100 birds and other animals, including emus, cows, goats, pigs, chickens and donkeys. “We want to focus on the exotic animals mostly,” Ryan said, “so our future ventures will hopefully be animals such as alligators, camels and zebras. We’ve made a name for ourselves, and we would like to stay in that vein as we grow.” Not only have Gaby and Ryan dove headfirst into the agriculture industry, but also the agritourism industry by offering four staple events each year as well as seasonal farm tours for the public to interact with these amazing creatures.

When Misty Morning Ranch officially opened in 2018, Gaby and Ryan immediately jumped into agritourism by offering tours at the farm. “We wanted to get our name out there and encourage others to be a part of this experience with us,” Ryan said. Their tours cover a variety of topics in an hour and a half, including ostriches as both animals and livestock, the history of the farm, breeding, fertility, meat production and processing. Throughout the tour, visitors will have the opportunity to interact with all of the animals and feed the ostriches. “People are really given a hands-on experience when they visit the farm because we allow them to pet the animals and feed the ostriches if they like,” Ryan said. “This allows them to get to know the species and better understand all of the topics that we cover because they can physically see and feel it for themselves.” Tours at Misty Morning Ranch are $5 per person and can be booked online through their website. As a bonus for attending, Misty Morning Ranch offers a 10% discount on all their products upon the conclusion of the tour.

In addition to their interactive farm tours, Misty Morning Ranch also hosts four events throughout the year to involve the public and other local businesses. In April, they host Easter on the farm, where families can come for an egg hunt and time with the animals. “The kids hunt for plastic eggs like normal, and we also have an adult egg hunt where they look for ostrich eggshells and get to keep them when they find them,” Ryan said. “It’s a lot of fun for the whole family and of course the Easter Bunny is present as well as the other farm animals.” The surrounding community would echo that sentiment, as the farm hosted nearly 800 people at the event last year!

Following the Easter event is the Makers Market in May. This event truly incorporates the entire community because producers of all types and sizes in Moore County are invited to showcase their products. “From food products to drinks and crafts, we offer space at this event to all variety of producers in our area,” Ryan said. “They can come out, bring their stuff and network with members of the community.” The public not only can invest in new products through this event, but also truly get to know the producers of those products and build relationships that can last a lifetime.

September is reserved for the farm’s Open House event, which stands as a way for individuals to come and learn about the farm, meet the family, and experience the animals. Then in October, the family hosts an On-Farm Dinner, catered by a local business, for individuals to come and enjoy the beautiful scenery on the farm while enjoying a local dinner and live music. “We love this event because it not only gets people out to the farm but allows them to experience it in a relaxing way with their closest friends and family,” Ryan said. All of these events can be found on their website and Facebook page each year so keep an eye out for updates and ticket information.

Experiencing life outside of the industry prior to starting Misty Morning Ranch gave Ryan a unique perspective on agritourism and allows him a true sense of pride in work done on the farm. “I love having people out to the farm because I get to watch them enjoy it as much as I do,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how everything is so interconnected in agriculture and be able to teach that when people come out and visit. It truly is the circle of life” Not only do they enjoy sharing their passion and love of farming with others, but also educating the next generation of leaders. “We have to be able to feed the future, which means we need to be able to not only maintain the agriculture that we have today, but grow it,” he said. “When kids come to visit our farm, they can see agriculture come to life before their eyes. They ask questions, get inquisitive, are exposed to new areas of this industry, and can start to see that this is a viable career path for them.”

In addition to owning and operating Misty Morning Ranch, the couple also owns Southern Pines Academy where Gaby works full-time as the Director. “We certainly have a very busy lifestyle, but we wouldn’t change a thing for the pride that we feel in what we do,” Ryan said. “Not only are we influencing the NC Agriculture industry in a new and unique way, but we are also able to influence the next generation of leaders and hopefully increase sustainability through our farm.” Start making your plans to visit Misty Morning Ranch today and experience all that they are doing for agriculture in our state. We are proud to have them on board and look forward to seeing where the future takes them!