The case of the mystery emu


See this ostrich looking creature here?  It’s an emu and he’s become my daughter June’s favorite buddy.  He just showed up on my neighbor’s farm one day. Just showed up, just like that, which, call me crazy, is a little like wandering into your backyard and spotting a gazelle slurping from the kiddie pool. Where did the emu come from? Why is he here? Who does he belong to? (Can we put a saddle on him?) These are the questions that have been confounding me for the past few weeks.

The first time I introduced the emu to June, she latched onto that name like David Letterman to Uma and Oprah. “Ee-moo?” She said. “Ee-moo? Ee-moo? EemooEemooEemoo?”

“Yes, emu,” I said. “Emu. Isn’t nature grand?”

Here’s what we know about the emu.  He found his way onto my neighbor’s property after a terrible storm swept through the area in early July, downing power lines, uprooting trees, breaking fences.  The emu stumbled upon a break in the fence line, wandered onto their pasture and ended up confined once the fence was repaired a few days later.  This is where he’s been ever since, hanging around with the horses and cows and chickens and goats.

But where did he come from? Did an ornithology convention sweep through town? Was there an ostrich race we don’t know about? Every time June and I drive past the neighbors’ farm, she points and cries “Eee-moo! Eee-moo! Eee-moo!”

Ellen and Bill who own the farm have fallen hard for their  latest livestock addition; they even named him “Big Bird.” (They go for straight forward, no nonsense names, these two.) The feeling must be mutual; Big Bird let Bill get close enough to touch him the other night.

The other day, I got a call from a friend of mine, Amy, who said she too noticed this giant bird sauntering around the neighbors’ pasture.

“He just showed up one day,” I explained. “They have no idea where Big Bird came from.”

“Well, I hate to break it to you but the emu actually belongs to Kristen,” she said, referring to  a mutual friend whose family lives on a farm ten miles away.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because I’ve seen that emu many times at their place before it went missing a few weeks ago,” she said. “Kristen and her family have been looking for it everywhere.”

Turns out the terrible storm from early July also knocked out some of Kristen’s farm fence as well and this emu walked ten miles through forest, fields and along a fairly brisk rural highway without getting eaten or run over before finding its way onto Bill and Ellen’s farm.

Ten miles! Ten miles for an emu is like 26.2 miles for a human! Ten miles along a rural highway notorious for road kill! What are the odds?

Somehow this plucky creature made what could have been its death march. And now Kristen and her family are planning to come over one of these nights to catch the emu and bring it back to their farm.  (Apparently, the only time to catch an emu is near the end of the day when its worn out and ready to bed down for the evening.)

But it’s been several weeks now and June still points and cries, “Ee-moo!” whenever we see Big Bird strolling around Bill and Ellen’s farm.  Maybe Kristen and her family are simply relieved to know the emu is alive and healthy and happy and have decided to leave well enough alone. Catching an emu does sound like a logistic nightmare.

I’m not sure what has been decided but June, for one, is delighted to have a real life big bird so close to home.

Stay tuned.








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