What would we do without grandparents? They love us unconditionally and spoil us horribly. This meets with the joyous approval of the ‘grandchilder’ but is often greeted with a certain amount of wariness from the weary parents.
I know this good stuff from experience, y’all. My Papa and I pulled numerous scams on my grandmother, who to put it mildly was not a pet lover, and that is how I came to own my Welsh pony, Silver, who sometimes visited our urban home and grazed in the backyard, compliments of Papa, and how I acquired my pet chicken, Walla Walla.
It is also how my own dear kiddos became the proud owners of their very own pair of emus. After several discussions with Momma and Daddy about whether or not an emu would be a wise investment, our younger daughter took it upon herself to call Gramma and Grampa to gauge the temperature there.
Rory and I were outside in the front yard when her happy face stuck out the door to announce that she’d called Grampa to ask if he’d take her to get some emus.
“Oh yeah?” Rory asked her, “What’d he say?”
“He and Gramma’ll be here in a few minutes!” she happily crowed, face glowing with joy.
Sure enough, in short order, Gramma and Grampa drove up the drive, picked up my daughter, and off they went. Upon their return a few short hours later, our pair of emus and our daughter were safely deposited in the front yard. Gramma and Grampa had to leave and hurry home, however, because they were the proud owners of 10 emus themselves!
Rory threw up a pen outside the old barn on our farm while the emu babies (named Twit and Tweet) lived in a box in the house and terrorized our poor elderly Pomeranian, Samson, by chasing him from room to room trying to peck his eyes.
They grew quickly and soon it was too late to saddle train them as our offspring had intended to do. It was also too late when we realized that grown emus can easily escape right over a six foot fence. Twit was gone and Tweet was inconsolable.
Where do you look for an escaped emu? A quick tour around our rural area gave no clue as to what had become of Mr. Twit. The next order of business was to attempt to console the once-proud owners of the emu escapee. A bit of research revealed that emus are the ultimate hunters/scavengers and that they can forage out a living with great success in just about any region. Equipped with that amount of comfort, the girls slowly adjusted and life at Avignon Farm went on. Tweet adjusted to being an only emu, but taking pity on her we soon gave her to Grampa and she moved to his farm.
About six months later, on a lovely fall day, the dogs began to kick up a fuss. Several times I went out onto the porch to see what the matter was but there was nothing to see which could explain their upset. Several times I called out to them to quiet but they always started up again shortly.
When Rory got home from the plant that afternoon, he became concerned at my report on the dogs’ ongoing behavior. As they had for me, they hushed for awhile at his insistence and then began barking again. Rory ventured out into the field searching for an explanation–to no avail. We gave up.
It was toward dusk that we noticed an increase in the dogs’ level of excitement and ventured out again to survey the situation. Rory was the one to spot the cause for the alarm.
“Look,” he said grinning widely, “the emu’s back!” Sure enough, Twit was making his way slowly up the field, wariness exhibited in every step he took. Rory grabbed a cattle lead and was off in a flash. The children and I watched as he circled around to the side and came up beside the bird in a smooth motion which caused no alarm to Twit. He put his hand on Twit’s back and that emu actually seemed to be glad to see Rory. Rory gradually fixed the loop of the lead around the neck of the great bird who seemed not to mind and seemed no worse for wear after his six months of adventure. He was a bit lean but seemed healthy.
After his escape, our pen was no option and he needed to be transported to Grampa’s place as soon as possible.
Emus have tremendous strength in their legs and have huge sharp talons and claws and they must be handled carefully. While more gentle than the ostrich, if they feel threatened, they can do just as much damage. Rory quickly wrestled him to ground and roped his legs for the journey. We moved Twit into the back of the Suburban and the girls accompanied him to his new life at Grampa’s.
If they ever missed the emus, they never said so. I know that they were glad to see Twit and to know that he was alive and well, but it seemed to be a chapter they were willing to close.
They were ready for the chapter of The Sheep…