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Animal Sanctuary

Figment Ranch Offers a Haven for Rescued Llamas, Alpacas, Goats and Other Unique Animals

Article by Erica Hernandez

Photography by Shannon Valentine | Lunalux, Josh Olalde

Originally published in Cypress Lifestyle

Figment Ranch is a slice of serenity on the edge of the suburbs. A country paradise where animals roam freely in their forever home and visitors ease their worries by befriending curious llamas and fluffy alpacas. 

The 20-acre animal sanctuary on Mueschke Road is bordered by Little Cypress Creek, dotted with sprawling oaks, a small pond and a party pavilion. It’s a picturesque place for kid birthday parties, intimate weddings, fashionable photography and small tours. A small, on-site cottage offers brides a place to prep for their big day or a rest stop for weary travelers eager to escape their everyday lives. 

More than 70 llamas and alpacas wander the property and happily greet any humans they encounter. About 30 other animals - from mini pigs to a Turkey named Strutter - also call the ranch home. Some were abused. Many are old. Most were rescued from precarious previous lives. 

Every animal has a story, and most everyone has a name. There’s Crooked Face, a kind, elderly llama who suffered a stroke, but still adores kids and treats. There’s Mayra the sheep, a high-school Future Farmers of America project who was left at Figment Ranch after her owner learned she was to be slaughtered at the end of the program. And there’s Wilma, a three-legged, 130-pound tortoise with a cracked shell.

“There are all special reasons why we have them,” says Ruby Herron, one of the ranch owners. “They find a forever home here in most cases.”

Ruby and her fellow ranch owners, Robin Turell and Sean Price, work around-the-clock to feed, care for and fund the animals every need. Sometimes, new owners step up to adopt the animals. Other times, the creatures are too old or disabled and end up staying at the ranch.  

“I think that’s our mission,” Ruby says. “I think God wants us to rescue some of these animals and get them out of bad situations.”

The ranch was a longtime dream for Ruby, who grew up without running water in the impoverished oil fields of East Texas. As a girl, she doctored injured animals and believed that the creatures are a spiritual “connection to God and your soul.” She always wanted a property of her own that wasn’t steeped in poverty where she could care for her beloved pets. Her father dismissed her idea though calling it a “figment” of her imagination. Decades would pass, but Ruby’s dream never faded. Today, Figment Ranch owes its name to that girlhood dream Ruby’s father never believed to be possible. 

Now, the ranch animals serve a higher purpose. Ruby, who has multiple sclerosis, bought her first llama from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 30 years ago and quickly learned it was therapeutic. The llama seemed to sense her pain and help her cope with her condition. Ruby and Robin now share their love of llamas with others who might also need therapy. They’ve offered yoga onsite and often invite children or adults with special needs to visit. 

“This is really like a little slice of heaven here,” Robin says. “You’re just at ease when you’re here.”

Those who do visit, find it soothing to pet the animals and learn more about them. Robin, a retired special-needs teacher, often gives impromptu lessons on how to feed or treat the animals kindly. It’s all about making the human-animal relationship better.  

“I love seeing animals happy,” Robin says. “I think they deserve to be happy just like we deserve to be happy.” 

A final stop for any ranch visitor is a trip to the gift shop. Here, visitors can purchase anything from llama-themed jewelry and T-shirts to hand-made rugs woven from Figment Ranch llama and alpaca fibers. Alpaca fiber shawls, tapestries, stuffed animals and felted soaps are also available for purchase. 

Years ago, the owners established a non-profit organization to help defray the costs of upkeep. They rely on donations and money from tours or events to bring in revenues, but times are tough. Since the rapid spread of coronavirus this year, they’ve offered fewer private tours, smaller events and take extra precautions to keep the animals and human visitors safe. They even offer virtual tours where viewers can watch the animals up close and ask questions.

In the end, Ruby and Robin hope those who visit - whether virtually or in person - experience the same serenity and safety they do every day. 

“When I am here,” Robin says. “There is total peace.”

Purchase a one-of-a-kind rug, shedule an event or book an interactive tour. All proceeds help fund the animals. wellfare. FigmentRanch.org