Is your emu missing?

I received a strange call this week from a Johnson Lane resident who said while she was out walking her dog at the very east end of Stephanie Way, she saw an emu walking down the power line road that connects over to the Johnson Lane jumps. An emu I asked, like that Australian bird? She confirmed it was an emu because it had only two legs, a long skinny neck and a beak. She said her girlfriend had also seen it the day before. I suggested she walk with a rope in her pocket. Could she catch it? She thought it would be much too big to walk it home.

This got me curious as to what emus are all about so I did a little research. The Wikipedia Encyclopedia says emu in Latin means "fast-footed New Hollander." Apparently they can be as tall as 6 feet 7 inches and weigh between 66 to 100 pounds.

I didn't realize they were that large. Now I see why the lady didn't want to try and rope it and walk it home. They also can run 30 miles per hour if they have to escape capture. Emus are Australia's largest native bird, but they can't fly.

Here are some more interesting things I learned. When the female starts to lay her large (up to 2 pounds) dark green, thick-shelled eggs, it is the male emu who sits and incubates the nest.

The female will lay between 11 to 20 eggs in one nest. The male will sit on the nest without eating, drinking or using the rest room for the entire 8 weeks until the babies hatch. Do you know what the female does while the male sits on the nest? She goes and finds another male and makes a second nest. And to top that, she may find a third male and make even a third nest.

Emus have an inflatable neck sack that allows them to make a booming sound. They also make grunting and drumming sounds. I think they would make good yard art because they eat grass, crickets, caterpillars, ants and grasshoppers, among other things. They would be great to have when we are inundated by Mormon crickets or grasshoppers which has happened here more than a few times in years past.

So if your neighbors have emus, maybe you could put a call in to them and ask if they are missing their pet. I sure would hate for a predator to find the emu before the owner does.

Older than dirt

When my father turned 60 a few years ago, along with our good friends Warren Ryan and Gail McCormick who have birthdays on the same day, we started saying that when you turn 60, you belong to the Older Than Dirt Club. My father always jokes that he was alive when dirt was invented.

There is a wonderful book I would recommend if you know someone who is older than dirt called "Some Things are Worse than Being Older than Dirt" by Ben Goode. I laughed during the whole book at statements like, "You can drive recklessly; it's expected," or "You can insult people any time you want. They'll just write it off as Alzheimer's" or "You are probably past the stage when you'll get acne." My favorite funny one, "Your idea of a fun time is a successful bowel movement."

Happy Birthday Dad, Warren and Gail.

-- Lisa Welch is a Johnson Lane resident and can be reached at 267-9350.


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