January 11 – We were hoping to acquire some emu eggs, and sure enough, come fall, the female began laying them, here and there in the pen and not in any nest. As the weather grew colder, I would often find the current egg split by the freezing temperatures, a big waste of good eggs. On milder days the eggs would survive and be added to our collection.I decided to try eating an emu egg, and made a hole in one end of the egg and shook out the contents. Chris scrambled or fried it, I don’t remember which, and I ate most of it in a couple of meals. Chris did not venture to eat much, just tasted it. It tasted quite a bit like a chicken egg. Emu eggs are quite large and are maybe equal to half a dozen chicken eggs. They are dark green in color on the surface, and white underneath, so pictures can be carved cameo-style on them. I collected as many as possible, and used some as gifts to friends. Exposed to light for some time, they fade to a much lighter color.
One day I noticed that the male bird was sitting in its big straw bed in the coop during much of the day, and wondered why. Giving him a prod, he half rose, and there underneath was the green of several eggs. Aha, finally, we were going to have baby emus. Male emus do the incubating of the eggs, and even baby-sit the young birds, while the female just goes along with the family and takes little responsibility.
The male sat there for close to two months, and then one day there was a chick next to him, outside of the nest. I caught it and was going to place it under him. It cheeped loudly and he leaped up and I knew what was going to happen as the protector of the family took action. Speedily I put the chick down and fled the scene, and all ended peacefully!The male sat on those eggs until all five had hatched and he led them out into the pen and walked them around. I put some ostrich food into a big shallow container and those birdlets knew just what to do with it. They grew fast, but for a while they were small enough to get through the spaces in the cattle panels and would run out into the yard to explore. You don’t think of birds as being playful, but these were. They would race around, lie down on their backs and kick their feet in the air, chase each other, and have lots of fun. As they grew larger and now had to stay in the pen, they became eaters instead of players.
Two of the chicks did not survive very long, but the other three grew tall and soon were eating from the raised tray along with their parents. It was becoming expensive to feed five big birds, so we advertised for a buyer and a fellow came over with his truck and bought the three young ones. We chased them down, tied their legs together, and put them in the back of his truck, and we never saw them again.
One day we found that the female emu had a large injury in her chest and she was just lying down, obviously ill. We did not know what had caused this injury and even surmised that perhaps she and her mate had had a disagreement and he had kicked her. The next day we found her dead.
That left just the male bird to care for, and since he did not lay eggs, his value was not too great. So we advertised a free emu and a young man came over with a truck and trailer. We proceeded to try to capture the emu and get him into the trailer. He ran and ran and ran, but finally we cornered him and held him down and carried him over to the trailer. Then we realized that he had died in our hands, of shock, it seems. Into the trailer we put him, and the young man said he would take him home and feed him to the hyenas in his animal collection. And that was the end of our emu endeavor – feeding an Australian emu to African hyenas. – DALE