The Emu Rodeo

A few days ago, I went outside to get some tomatoes from my garden and noticed something moving around in our supposedly empty pasture. When it got closer, I realized it was an Emu. You know, one of those huge birds that look something like an ostrich. “Well!,” I thought, “where in the heck did that thing come from.”He was about six feet tall, very mean looking, and seemed determined that he lived here.

After some thought on what to do, I called the Lincoln County sheriff’s office to see if anyone had reported a missing emu  After the sheriff had stopped laughing at me, (and that took a long time) he said that he hadn’t had any reports, but that he would put up a notice in case anyone did call in. Then I called the man who leases the pasture and asked him if the emu was his. Mr. Buroughs, who already thinks I’m a few cards short of a full deck, was polite, (but I just knew he was trying not to laugh too,) said the emu wasn’t his either. So I called the post office and told Carla,*the postmistress, that if anyone mentioned a missing emu, I had their bird in my pasture Now Carla, deals with everyone in this town I live in, and we have a few real inbred types wandering about in these here woods, but she even laughed at me and asked if I had taken my medication that day. However, she posted the notice for me.

I then sent an e-mail to my husband informing him what was in the pasture. He called me right a way to ask if I had taken too much medication, and said he wasn’t too sure if he believed me. I was beginning to wonder about myself, except every time I looked outside, there he was, a six foot tall bird, with beady black eyes and long feathers. So, I determined I was either entering the “Harvey” syndrome, there was really a bird out in the pasture, or I had gotten hold of some really strange medication.

I was relieved to know that it was the second option. Our neighbors had just purchased a breeding pair of emus and the male had jumped the fence and wandered over to our place. I was so glad to know I’m neither unhinged nor over medicated. However, it became evident that an emu rodeo would be necessary to retrieve the stray bird.

About eleven-thirty the next morning, three pickups pulled in to my drive. Six guys unloaded two four wheelers and a dirt bike. After the prerequisite howdy-do’s, they told me they were here to round up, as Tiny Woods put it, “That thar big ole rooster whut done jumped on your property.” It actually took a moment to register that he was talking about the emu. Then, there commenced a rodeo I will never forget.

First, being men, they didn’t think beyond their toys, and that the noise of the four wheelers and the dirt bike was going to be rather distressing to that huge bird. Second, it is not a good idea to upset something six feet tall that runs up to 40 miles an hour and kicks like a horse. The guys loaded up and took off across the pasture and split into three trails, two cutting right and one left. I guess they were planning on getting around behind the bird and running him into the corral to load him into the truck. Right. I climbed up on top of the pickup and wished I had a video camera, this was going to get good!

That old emu looked up and saw three loud vehicles roaring at him with five big, hairy, whooping men on them and took off at a dead run right for the trees. One four wheeler cut around to the back of the stand of trees and ran right into the deepest gully on the place. All I could see was a plume of dirt, and bits of metal flying off the machine. I got an earful of inventive cursing, screams of surprise, and loud crashing sounds.

Meanwhile, the dirt bike ran right through the trees following the emu as he headed due south. I lost sight of them when they disappeared in the direction of the creek. The second four wheeler decided to cut behind the trees in the opposite direction of the first. Things got real quiet for a few minutes except for the distant sounds of the engines Suddenly, the emu came crashing out of the woods headed due north at a dead run. Out in the open he picked up speed, heading right for us. Tiny Woods, who is about six feet seven inches and weighs in at around 350 pounds, jumped into the bed of the truck like he was a skinny kid just as the emu took a long jump and went sailing over the back of the truck. Tiny got kicked right in the chest and fell off the truck on his large posterior. I fell flat on my face on top of the truck and ducked in case the bird came back for revenge. About then the guys on the wrecked four wheeler got it back on its wheels and came tearing after the emu, and the other two vehicles came out of the woods throwing up grass and dirt. Predictable, the guys were getting more inventive in their language by the second.

The bird cut around behind the barn and headed for the second stand of trees behind the loafing shed. Tiny jumped in the truck, as I slid down into the back, and took off – nearly throwing me out on my backside. He went around by the house to cut off the bird while the other three vehicles went through the woods, but that old bird was on to them, and he went running back around the barn heading for the pond. Tiny just about tore the transmission out of the truck turning it around, and the dirt bike rider took a header over the handle bars when he ran right into the creek bed.

One of the guys on a four wheeler strung out a lariat and commenced to whirl it around his head like he was going to rope the emu. Just about the time he let the rope go, the bird jumped over the end of the pond and took off for the back of the pasture again. The driver of the four wheeler couldn’t stop and went right into the water, kept on going, and came out the other side of the pond, then headed after the bird. The dirt biker got back on his bike and took off to the back too. The second four wheeler was going down the fence line behind the trees, as if he were going to be able to sneak up on the darned bird make that much noise with an engine. Tiny slammed on the brakes at the top of the hill and I climbed back on top of the truck to see better. Before the bird got back to the woods, he turned and ran straight back toward where he’d been at the barn.

Split into three trails, all three vehicles came roaring after the bird. Tiny jumped out of the truck and ran to open the corral gate. Even thought the bird ran right into the corral, he just kept right on going and jumped over the back fence like it was a foot high instead of nearly five feet. Tiny looked so funny standing there with the gate closed and a stupid look on his face, with the bird long gone toward the front of the pasture that I lost it and started laughing. I got so tickled that I feel off the top of the truck and ended up on the ground. About that time all three vehicles went tearing past us headed to the house.  Both passengers on the four wheelers were getting ready to throw lariats, and the language was even more inventive. Geez, I wish I could curse like that when I got mad instead of crying saying the same old words over and over.

The emu was now in the woods headed for the dump at a good clip. Tiny and I jumped in the truck and we went flying around the end of the woods and by the house. The bird passed us going the other way. I was laughing so hard I was incoherent and Tiny was cussing and roaring at the guys on the vehicles as if they could hear him over all the noise. As Tiny cut a donut in the pasture, all three drivers passed us and went roaring over the dips (washed out places where water runs off into the pond). One passenger on the four wheeler went flying off the back when the driver hit a particularly bad dip, and he was almost run over by the dirt biker. The other four wheeler went round to cut the bird off, heading it back toward the truck. The guy on the ground took one look at that big bird running straight for him and dove right into the pond, lariat, boots and all. The emu just missed landing on him when he jumped into the pond too.  There was a mad scramble and lots of splashing and muffled cussing as they both tried to to get away from each other as fast as possible. Just as the bird ran out the other side of the pond, the other roper managed to get a lariat around the bird’s head, and the fight was on!. That was one ticked off bird and he tried to bite, kick, and stomp that poor cowboy to death.

I had never seen a roper try to run away and hang on at the same time. By now I was beyond mere laughter, I was cackling and trying not to wet my knickers. Tiny was mad because every time he told me to hush (only not so nicely) I would look at him and fall apart laughing harder. That poor roper was yelling for someone to rope that darned bird’s feet so he could get him down, but the other roper had lost his lariat in the pond and was fishing around for in the mud at the bottom. Meanwhile, the bird took off again, dragging the roper with him (why that boy didn’t let go is beyond me), and the roper got the ride of his life. I am willing to bet he had never run so fast before. That boy’d be up, then down on his bum, then running alongside, then being dragged along behind. That bird tried to scrape him off on the side of trees, drown him in the pond (resulting in the other roper having to run for it again), slam him against the barn and drag him through the corral fence – face first. Around and around the barn and pond that bird went with the roper hanging on for dear life, and the vehicles making worse because the drivers were trying to keep the bird from heading for open pasture.

Finally, the other roper got his lariat out of the pond and managed to get along side the emu and rope his legs. All three went down in a tangle of feathers, boots, ropes, and dust. After a bit of insane activity, they managed to hog tie the bird’s feet and wings so he couldn’t stand or flog them. But the first roper didn’t manage to get out of the way fast enough and that old bird bit him right on the bum. I had managed to get my laughter under control, but that caused me to lose it again and I simply sat on the ground next to the truck and howled with laughter, All six guys, cussing and yelling at each other had to pick up the bird (after they tied his beak shut) and put him in the truck. No one thought it was funny but me, no sense of humor these inbred types, none at all.

I offered them something to drink, and was politely refused. But, as they drove out of the drive way, that bird must have gotten his beak loose, because I heard outraged cussing followed by a meaty smack from one man to another and the words, “I thought I told you to tie that *&%##@ bird’s mouth shut!” I sat on the porch and laughed until I had to go in and use the bathroom or really wet my knickers. Heavens, it was funny! Only in Oklahoma would there be an emu rodeo where the bird darn near go the best of six men, four vehicles, and two lariats.

*names have been changed to protect myself.  I don’t think that those involved would appreciate being the object of humor.

4 thoughts on “The Emu Rodeo

  1. I actually worked in the aviary with all the smaller birds. I loved it, but it was only a summer job. Sigh . . . Ah, well, I don’t think they have large ranches in New Jersey, do they? The only time I have been there was to board a ship for a holiday.

    I have lived a rather eclectic life in 11 countries,and had a multitude of jobs, lifestyles, and adventures. Older than dirt, married 41 years, expecting a great grandchild in February. Almost 58 years old too! You, however, are a young sprat with two adorable kids.

    1. Yes, I know what they look like, I used to work at a zoo. They chased it because they are worth a lot of money for their feathers and skin. It was odd, VERY odd, but very very funny too. I don’t know where you live, but in Oklahoma raising things like buffalo, ostrich, and emu – along with other exotic critters is big business. The only way to catch one is to run it into a blind or rope the darned things. They bite, they kick, and they scratch. . . not nice birds at all. Personally, I would have gone for the blind. But then, I tend to be practical instead of thinking like a predator.

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