not the big bird you were expecting

I had an epiphany today.  My childhood was nice.

It was filled with lots of unique adventures and experiences that I will relish for the rest of my life.  I thought as I am preparing for the baby coming into our lives at some point that I would chronicle a bit of my childhood.

When in middle school, my parents bought a farm.  It wasn’t a modern farm, but an old quaker homestead with rolling meadows.  The first animal they brought home was a white Alpine goat which we named Feta.  Then they started accumulating other animals from a local farm auction.

I will never forget this one Friday night at the auction.  As usual, we were surveyed the goats, calves, chicks, and then we came across these unique pair of golden birds about a foot tall.  It was a hot night and the auction barn was filling fast so we went to find our seats.  With limited seating, my parents had to split up and this is where it got interesting.

You see, eventually the golden birds were brought out for bidding.  I was with my mum, I think, and she bid $15 for the pair.  Then someone else bid.  Then she bid again.  $18.  The someone else bid again.  I think the next price was $20 and we didn’t raise.  After the bidding was done, we found my dad who was so happy to announce he had won the pair of golden birds!

As we went to collect the birds, we asked what they were.  “Emus,” we were told.  Then we inquired what to feed them.  “Dog food,” we were told.

Other than a three-letter crossword entry for a large bird, we had no idea what they were.  I’m not very old, but I’m old enough that we didn’t have the internet and there was no Google let alone Wikipedia.  We had to look up this bird species in a real hardbound encyclopedia.  I forget the exact entry, but it went a long the lines of this.  Emus are the second largest bird in the world and can grow up to six feet.  They can live for 15-20 years and reach speeds of up to 30 m.p.h.

So, yes, growing up we had emus.

The two pictured here are the original pair, Sydney and Perth.  I think that it’s Perth on the right, because Perth was the female.  I won’t lie… she was scary.  My dog is on the right.  She’s not sure if she should be scared or not of these things.  The birds were certainly not scared of her!

Once, Sydney escaped.  My dad called the local TV station asking for them to make an announcement.  They replied that they did not appreciate prank calls.  Someone eventually called the feed store in town reporting the “big bird” in her yard.  She lived five miles away.

Sydney and Perth lived with us for a very long time and many offspring which were donated to camps, family members, and eaten on grand occasions.  My parents had the original pair for well over a decade before donating them to a local 4H program where some more children got to experience these majestic Australian birds.

Oh, I am thankful for parents who have a zest for life and the unknown!  I hope to provide similar experiences for our child.


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