“There are tooo many poopers in the pen!”

While my new schedule will have me off on the weekends, I had scheduled today off for a youth temple trip.  Sadly, the stomach flu and then the weather here in central Texas both did not want to cooperate for a such an adventure.  With roads and overpasses iced over, I was still curled up in bed under a mountain of blankets with our cats while checking in with my team from work on #Slack to make sure everyone was accounted for.

With my first “full” day out of bed ahead of me, my husband decided since I was only suffering the after effects of the horrid flu (abdominal aches and pains) and since I hadn’t spiked a fever since it broke at about midnight, that it would be a good idea to pack up this afternoon and head out to his parents for the day.  His plans are to reload ammo for a family trip to the range in three weeks up in the ammo reloading room above the shop.  My plans are completely different:  go through the lesson on Grace that I’m teaching Sunday next, check in with my team at work, begin a read through the personal progress book and delve into some personal scripture study.  If I feel really adventurous I may plug myself into my phone and listen to Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik on Audible (nothing like a bit of the Napoleonic Wars with dragons to make your day).

Something you have to know about Mister Matt and Miss Lisa is that at their home there are currently 28 yearlings, nine breeding pairs, twenty six hatched babies and ninety five eggs in the incubator room with an average of sixteen more eggs each week for a hatch rate that is just above fifty percent.

What are we breeding and hatching?  Emu.

Double take time.  Read that again.  I promise there’s a point to this rambling during another of these, ‘getting to know me’ posts.  But first, how about a few adorable baby birdies? as a distraction?

Two weeks of hatchling indoors

Too many poopers in the pen!

And this of course leads me to the title of today’s post.  “There are too many poopers in the pen!”

It has just been too cold to move the four older hatch lings from the hatchery out to baby house.  So the title probably is making more sense.  There are ten babies in that indoor pen that normally houses five to six at the week old mark and that means that in addition to those adorable babies, there is a lot of poop!  Sure the poop does make for some amazing fertalizer, but they’re stinky right now.

The hatchery pen normally looks something like this:

baby emu in hatchery

Hatchlings in the hathery pen,

Our family is definitely interesting with Mister Matt as the bird whisperer and a huge mob of birds.

Now if you are curious, these adorable little guys will eventually weigh between 100 and 150 lbs and could potentially stand with heads as tall as six feet.  If you’ve ever seen Jurassic Park and can recall the scene of the raptor tapping it’s talons, well, lets just say I’ve heard that before, but they were emu talons.

So what does this mean for today?  Today we’re moving food, lighting a fire in the house, checking for eggs, feeding birds and then hopefully making with our plans for the day which are to just relax as much as possible.

And just in case you are curious, and have never seen these wingless birds before, here’s a picture of Miss Lisa with a bird on a leash.

Emu caught after three week absence

Bird on the run, cuaght

In late November, we had a pair of some of the sweetest birds escape over the fence after a predator approached the pen they were in.  While we were able to round up Wylie within a week, we thought that this guy, the road runner, was lost to us.

After about a month one of the neighbors posted on the local board that they had an emu in their front yard and we were able to wrangle him in.

Even against the pavement you can see his huge talons and can understand that while they’re sweet birds under normal circumstances, that there can be trouble on occasion.

For example, an emu can kill a steer, easy.  Two and a half years ago during the emu rodeo Mister Matt and a bird he was wrangling both fell and he was garroted.  There were some major miracles that day since I was at work (I’m a trained medic) and it was just Mom, Dad, and two of my sister in laws.  The morning FaceBook post that day said “Emu rodeo, what could possibly go wrong”.

With his major vessels exposed Miss Lisa and the girls got him to the hospital and we know the Spirit was definitely with him because none of those exposed vessels were ruptured.

Needless to say, the girls don’t get too hands on with the birds during rodeo season and my husband and I make sure that we’re present.  Additionally, no one ever says “what else could possibly go wrong” anymore.

Another thing to keep in mind is how strong these gentle giants are.  When we had to get the birds certified for nPip registration, my husband was holding down Oscar and Mister Matt was trying to get the blood draw and Oscar easily picked up my six foot seven husband and my h\husband clocks in at about 260 pounds.  To keep Oscar down, I was on my husbands back after that.  I’m six feet tall and not really a light thing.  Oscar still managed to get us both up off the ground.

These stories aside, our mob is pretty amazing and incredibly friendly  During the weeks that Road Runner was missing, Wylie was loose in the main yard.  When you sat down on the side walk she would come up next to you, flop down and warp herself around you.   Sure, they’re a lot of hard work, but we love them all the same.

Even though Mister J and I don’t actually live here, we spend a lot of our time here working with the birds.  Between feeding, egg safaris and tagging and caring for the little ones and keeping the big ones safe from predators, life is pretty crazy for us before you even begin to add in work and church.

Life is definitely interesting for us around here this time of year, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.