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The Red Dragons Den

March 2008

From Ebay to Emu
You really can buy ANYTHING on ebay!
Continuing Emu in my Kitchen!


4 weeks old

Lots more cute pics this week~ Hope your not getting tired of them yet~ it’s been 4 weeks and I still can’t believe I actually hatched and am now planning to keep an emu…….

that’s a hair scrunch on his neck~ we are considering trying to teach him to walk on a leash and wanted to see how he reacts to something on his neck (and it was funny!). No problem there~ but we discovered much like you can “lead a horse to water”…………….~ you CAN put a coller and leash on an emu……but you CAN NOT make him go for a walk!

No name yet~ we keep trying different names but nothing has “stuck” yet~ when we get the right name we’ll know when it “sticks”. We are trying “Dingbat” right now (morphed from Dingo to Dingbat) but I don’t think it’s gonna “Stick” either.

We finally got the emu food in~ but it won’t eat the emu food~ it still eats dog food. The vet says that should be okay (keep reading to see why I had to talk to a vet about the emu). So I’m not worrying about it. I keep the dog food and emu food out free choice all day~ and I give the lettuce and kale as treats now (discovered he will ONLY eat lettuce if available free choice all day and then get completely clear~ harder to clean up runny craps). He is growing very well~ in fact I have to shout to keep him from stealing the utensils out of the dishwasher now that he is tall enough to easily snatch them!

Of course the BEST food is still whatever is currently in So-Chee’s mouth~ and So-Chee is still being a super good sport about it all~ They are both looking at a dog treat that had been IN So-Chee’s mouth a heartbeat before the pic~ and trying to decide which one of them will eat it……….(So-Chee did~ I gave her that treat to start with~ and gave it back to her after the pic!)

We are trying to work our way up to moving him outside~ I’ve begun planning a emu house~ bought some of the supplies and hope to have time to work on it next week. Not really sure what emu real feathers look like~ so I’m not too sure how to tell when it is feathered out enough to go outside. I’ve begun putting him and the turkeys outside on nice days to get fresh air and eat some grass:

THAT’S where the problem came about. Earlier this week I put him out on a beautiful sunny afternoon~ and he started to squalling like he does sometimes. I tried putting So-Chee IN the dog kennel with him to calm him down~ but that’s when I discovered that while 13 four week old turkeys may CHOOSE to stay inside a chainlink dog kennel~ it apparently is no real barrier if the DOG comes in the kennel~ at which point all 13 turkeys squeeze down to half their size and bail out through the links!! This is very much fun for So-chee now called to attempt to catch turkeys~ but not very much fun for me or the turkeys. All the turkeys eventually wound up safely back IN the kennel and So-chee and the Dingbat had to content themselves with keeping company through the fence.

Yesterday was another nice day~ I put the emu and turkeys out for the day while I cleaned the kitchen floor. A short time later I checked on them all and I noticed the emu breathing~ LOUDLY~ mouth agape and gasping. I waited but it continued for well over an hour. So I looked up “open mouth breathing emu” online…….all I got was something about a fungus usually from dirty housing (He has VERY CLEAN housing ~ MY KITCHEN~ Thank you very much!) and that the emu would now Die……no cure~ just dead.

Well~ that’s a little worrisome. So I called my vet in Cullman.
He won’t see an emu~ told me to call a vet in Hartselle
He won’t see an emu~ told me to call a vet in Huntsville
He won’t see an emu~ told me to call a vet in Tennessee………..

Who said “You want to drive an EMU ALL THE WAY UP HERE? You know their not worth nothing anymore right?”

Yes~ I know.

“Well you want me to treat it like a dog or a pig?” (pet or livestock?)

……uuuuummmm…..well…….DANG IT! …………..Dog

We talked about the emu~ how I wound up with it (that was fun to explain) feeding habits (won’t eat the emu food I BOUGHT for it)~ living arrangements (this was turning into a nightmare to explain)……………….

We decided not to bring the emu to Tennessee when it only had ONE symptom……….especially as it was probably fooling me because it was upset about being forced to be outside like an animal rather than in my kitchen like one of the people…………..The vet had me go to TSC and buy some tetracycline just in case we see any more symptoms………and explained that’s all he can really do for the emu because if it really did have that asperillus stuff I read about online there is nothing he can do about it and the emu would really just die. (stupid thing better not ever get sick for real!). The emu breathing went back to normal when I brought in back in the house last night (OMG~ It hyperventilates when I treat it like an animal~ this is ridiculous)

So~ I had to go back to TSC………..
Which is how I wound up with………………

Apparently I have NO self control or sense

"Watch the Chicken?"

I was a little.......naughty about the ducks.

My sister Karen lives with us.  When we first discussed moving to the country she said she wanted ducks. I got a book~ read up on them~ and nixed the idea in favor of chickens and turkeys after reading some books. Well~ yesterday when those three ducks followed me home from TSC


Anyway~ when my sister got home from work last night she found this on her bed:

And when she came up stairs to show us the her new ducks my son Will and I both exclaimed how wonderful it was that she decided to get ducks!
"Wow! You bought ducks! And they are SO CUTE!"

She's a good sport~ and played along after a few moments.
Those are HER ducks~ the Duck Stork dropped them off on her bed~ with a book (which I have already read!)

And the emu................
well.........we need to have a couple discussions this weekend about the correct and the incorrect way to interact with ducks.....

HINT~ Dangling ducks by one foot almost 2 feet in the air while running from the woman screaming "OH! NO! NO! NO! NO!" counts as INCORRECT duckling management............


5 weeks old
It’s been another week~ and I swear he grows an inch or more a day! He still doesn’t have a name~ this week we are trying “Peck”~ I’m not too sure about that one but it seems to be sticking so far….and “Out of the way Peck!” is hollered at him at least three or four times a day. (Old movie buffs will recognize the line from Willow~ a great movie!)

After several suggestions that there is such a thing as a “bird diaper” I tried it. Sounded like a great idea. But~ like many great ideas…….I could not pull it off. Turns out those diapers are designed to fit on birds with stiff tail feathers~ emu have no tail feathers that I can see~ or at least Peck does not. I thought “I can do it anyway!” so I got out the costume scraps and some velcro. It looked good~ I was pleased…………..putting it ON the emu was another story entirely.

Did you know Emu can MUSK~ kind of like a skunk?

Neither did I!!!!!!! But it turns out if you attempt to hold down a young emu and force a lovingly crafted vinyl diaper lined with Bounty towels between his legs and over his butt…………he will struggle~ Kick~ Squall~ and when that all fails to put you off the intention of diapering his little tushy……..he will suddenly smell REALLY BAD! Not only the emu will smell really bad……but so will YOU~ YOUR KITCHEN~ YOUR DOG~ Pretty much everything you own will stink. And it doesn’t wash off…….you have to wait for it to wear off………………

The emu house is not really progressing. I’m just so busy all the time! But the weather was nice this week so I set Peck and the turkeys out in the dog kennel all day and gave my kitchen a break! The Turkeys love being in the dog kennel~ Peck threw such a fit! Slamming himself into the fencing until he cut his foot up on a small loose wire at the bottom ~ I was honestly afraid he was going to break his neck sticking it through the links and thrashing about. I got some tarps and old sheets and pinned them to the lower three feet of the kennel so he can’t see out. That seems to have worked……..but it sure is an ugly monstrosity in my yard now~ covered with tarps and old sheets on the top and the sides! And it wasn’t easy to do~ Took me half a day to jury rig an Emu day play pen! ~ gee I wonder why I don’t have time to build an emu house?

Peck still spends the nights in the kitchen (and rainy days like today) and the turkeys spend the nights in the brooder~ but I’m GOING to get the emu/turkey house built…..SOON! I hope the rain takes a break long enough for me to work on it some today!

Being outside with the Turkeys has been a new learning experience for Peck.

Turns out the “What’s in YOUR mouth??” game is only fun if Peck is the one snatching food out of So-chee’s mouth~ when the Turkeys play that game after the turnip greens in Pecks mouth he does not seem amused!

I also learned this week that the Emu does not like the Turkey food OR the Emu food~ but the Turkeys sure like the Emu food! And everyone loves the Dog Food! (everyone NOW likes the brown peices and the yellow pieces get thrown about).  Poor So-Chee. She is a such a good sport…………..

So-chee likes to go for walks around the property with Peck~ and we take several walks around the house a day. She doesn’t mind Peck chasing after her generally believing he is a dog. He insists on being within eye sight of either So-chee, me or Will~

It’s convenient that he insists on being close to us~ he runs so fast that if he didn’t insist on being right with us we would not be able to take him for these little walks to stretch his legs! But I know that won’t last forever~ Hopefully we will have the perimeter fencing finished before he outgrows that convenient trait!

Seems that So-chee is willing to share the house and her people. Even willing to share the dog food and to share the dog treats she is eating when Peck snatches them out of her mouth…….. But that football is a whole other story!

(That’s a Karen's sulcatta tortoise named Ramsey in the pic with So-Chee, Peck and the football)

She doesn’t get nasty with him over it~ but CLEARLY he is not to touch the football. If he pecks at it she snatches it and runs across the yard~ which is nice……gives Peck a good bit of exercise chasing her! They both enjoy playing Fetch with Will~ he throws the ball and they both take off like a shot~ So-chee is always faster……but when those legs get a little longer she may not be anymore!

(That’s Karen in the background)

And after a good hard run they both lay down, pant and wait for their turn of the pets and scratches.
“Whose a Good Dog?”
“So-chee’s a good dog! And Pecks not a bad dog either!”
I think we may be “the weird neighbors”


Six weeks

Wow I’ve been busy this week! Not many pics of Peck this week~ because there are just so many other pics! I’m sure there will be more of Peck next week when his pet geese come in and hopefully I’m a little less busy!

I know y’all want to see pics of Peck (and by the way~ why didn’t y’all suggest the name “Ebay” before “Peck” stuck? It was PERFECT! We may try changing his name!) Anyway~ I know you want to see him……but how long can this entry be!?! Here is one of him with my oldest son (home on Spring Break from Auburn) to hold you over till next week. Have you ever seen a better looking emu or kid? Well~ I guess it would be hard to decide since I showed y’all a pic of my younger son last week!

The emu house is finally progressing~ but it is slow going. Like I said~ BUSY BUSY BUSY! The mouse house had to be worked on ~it had to be moved from it’s original location~ it was trying to slide down the hill! But it’s getting there and the rats/mice WILL be out of my garage before the summer heat bakes that smell into my walls! That garage is under my BEDROOM! It WILL be done before summer! And I finally finished the costumes for Scott and Will to go to the Sci Fi convention…….just in time!! A staple here~ a little super glue there on the way out the door to the convention!
I’m positive now~ we ARE the weird neighbors!

The guys said the costumes went over very well at the convention~ and by the time the next convention comes around maybe I’ll have time to actually finish them (I wonder when I’ll do that? When I’m sitting on the couch eating Bon-Bons and watching Oprah? After all~ that’s all house wives do right?)

I know! I know! WHAT ABOUT FORT EMU?!?!

Well now that you know WHY I was so busy this week I’m getting there! (I’ve dropped my Bon-Bon!)

Okay~ so we started Fort Emu~ and Peck (Ebay?) has moved in! HE HATES IT! The turkeys love it though!

So here we are~
We started by laying out the fencing on the ground to keep predators from digging in~ its just 4’ welded 2”X4” wire~ layed out on the ground so 2’ extends outside and 2’ inside the entire perimeter of Fort Emu.

then T-posts driven in at the car ports leg locations to add some foundation~ and more of the 4 foot fencing on them~ so nothing can push in or out through the tarping~ and so we can lift the sides in the summer heat and keep it a bit cooler in there. The upright fence is fastened to the fence on the ground fence with plastic zip ties to keep predators from just slipping under. (that’s the mouse house in it’s new location just behind it there)

Next the carport goes up~ is tied to the t-posts with steel wire~ and the Kennel Gate panels go on the ends~ secured to the whole monstrosity with more steel wire

Finally the sides and ends are put on~ both ends zip up like the open end is in the pic~ So-Chee inspects for quality

Dirt piled up to cover the wire on the ground~ more dirt piled against the outside base to TRY and slow the wind whipping under the side tarps~ Hay piled against the walls inside to also TRY and slow the wind. Chicken wire across the front to stop Peck sticking his neck through and thrashing about and it was Done!

It was done on a NICE day!
On Wednesday we had a wind storm. THEN it tried to become a giant BOX KITE!!!
We THOUGHT the mouse house and the garage would act as a wind break for Fort Emu…..but we were WRONG. If it were not for the T-posts holding it down it would now be my neighbors BOX KITE!

So I ordered more Tarps~ ones with grommets on the bottom as well~ the car port kit only had grommets on three sides and the tarping is thin~ already showing wear where they rub against the fencing in the wind. I ordered extra grommets so I could custom fit the new heavy duty tarps to Fort Emu and I’ll wrap duct tape around the tops of the T-posts to blunt the edges on them. The weather is supposed to be nice the rest of the week so hopefully I can get Fort Emu FIXED before we have another WINDY day! Meanwhile Peck (Ebay?) and the Turkeys moved into it Monday……and weathered the Wind Storm Wednesday in it fine if a bit ruffled.

It’s SO NICE to not pick up emu poop off the kitchen floor every 3 minutes! But I must admit……I miss his happy little morning trilling and talking to me as I make breakfast every day. We take him out and walk him 3 or 4 times a day~ and I wish I could show y’all video. He is SO FUNNY in the mornings. He gets so excited~ he jumps straight into the air and dances~ twists~ hisses~ and takes off like a shot running and playing with So-chee!

It will be better when the guys finish up the emu fence and he doesn’t have to be locked in Fort Emu all day. The guys are working hard~ but only so much can be done at a time!

So lets see………………
That little $15 Gee Whiz I bought an Emu Egg on Ebay?

Car port for emu house $199
Fencing for emu house $100
Dog Kennel panels for the emu house $140
New heavy duty tarps for emu house $150
Hay for emu house $25
Fencing for emu yard $700 (so far! It only a 4 foot fence and may have to have electric run across the top when he gets taller to keep him in)
Gate for Emu yard $90
Emu food the emu will NOT eat $23
Dog food the emu will only eat the brown pieces and throws the yellow pieces on the ground to get mushy (and the turkeys also only eat the brown pieces!) $30 (SO FAR!)

Emu cooing first thing in the morning………….Priceless!


March 31, 2008
I know everyone has been waiting for an update about Ebay (Peck).  I’ve just been so busy trying to make Fort Emu predator resistant and to finish the Emu yard~ that I’ve not had time.  Unfortunately I’ve also been so busy that I’ve not been paying as much attention to Ebay as I had been either.  Finally Fort Emu is nearly complete and the emu yard is pretty much done……

But now I think Ebay is sick.  We first noticed it Saturday night.  He just wasn’t acting himself.  A little quieter~ not following me as closely or carefully as usual~ not excited about snacks (turnip greens~ his favorite) but still eating~ just not with his usual gusto.  He wasn’t really showing any symptoms of being sick~ just not acting like Ebay.  And after being in the kitchen for over 5 weeks we are pretty familiar with “Normal” for him.  Sunday morning he was even quieter~ and not eating that I could see.  So I put terramycin in his water and started watching more carefully.  This morning he is back in the kitchen.  He is not eating at all~ not even the turnip greens.  He was shaking and just wanted to lie down and go to sleep when I petted him.

Now that he is back in the kitchen I can watch him more carefully.  He is drinking the water with the terramycin in it.  He is squalling and getting agitated when I leave the kitchen.  (I’d like to leave So-chee in the kitchen with him but I’m afraid she will drink the medicated water).  When I’m in the kitchen he is quiet and snoozes.  He is not shaking anymore (I suspect he was cold and not eating enough to maintain body temp outside).  He looks better inside than he did when he was outside~ more alert.  He has had a bowel movement since being in~ it was completely liquid ~ no solids.  I have not been able to convince him to eat anything at all though.

  suspect he ate something bad for him while I was too busy to watch carefully.  He was running around with us as we worked trying to put up the fence to keep him safe and could have picked up just about anything~ a piece of plastic or metal, a cigarette butt, feces of some other animal~ could even have been a bug or plant that doesn’t agree with emu stomachs or he could have been bitten by whatever he tried to eat (there are a lot of spiders and hornets out now that it’s spring here).  He usually eats or tries to eat just about everything he see’s.

 I’ve got him on the medicated water~ and back in the kitchen where its nice and warm until I see him eating again.  Not sure there is anything else I can really do at this point.

 Sorry this week’s update is a bit of a bummer.  Hopefully next week I’ll be able to report that he is feeling better and back out in Fort Emu.


3-31-08~ More info

He didn't eat at all today on his own~ I watched and tried to tempt him.  As always I had a dozen things to do today…..but I spent most of the day sitting in the kitchen floor with Ebay tryint to tempt him into eating something.  He is doing that pecking at and pretending to eat thing he did when he was fresh hatched~ but that’s all.  So this evening I "assist fed" him.  Not sure if that is the proper terminology for poultry~ with snakes "force feed" is when you force feed into the mouth and down the gullet~ "assist feed" is when you force feed into the mouth and then the snake swallows on it's own.  Anyway~ I "Assist fed" Ebay this evening around 6pm.  I opened his beak (not difficult~ he was weak) and put some butter worms to the back of his throat.  He swallowed on his own which I consider a good sign (or at least in snakes it would be a good sign that the instinct is still there).  I tried some of the emu food but it is in a "crumble" and I could not get it far enough back in his throat~ he was able to shake it out of his mouth too easily.


A couple hours after the butter worms I scrambled some egg and put about a quarter of an egg in small bites to the back of his throat.  He swollowed that as well and struggled more~ fighting me on the opening his beak~ I think that’s a good sign too.  The calories from the butter worms must be helping some.  I'm feeling a little better that at least some calories are in him.  He is still voluntarily drinking the water with the teramycin in it~ (So-Chee obviously does not understand why she can not go into the kitchen with him but I don’t want her drinking that water).  He (Ebay) has had 4 movements~ mostly liquid~ but obviously he is not completely stopped up as the liquid he is drinking is coming hack out again (oh fun~ emu crap on the kitchen floor again!). 


He clearly wants to go into the crate in the kitchen where he used to sleep~ but the crate has baby geese in it so I put one of the carpets for the crate in front of it with his stuffed animal (did I ever tell y'all he has his own stuffed animal?  It’s a stuffed ape face that we thought might mimic an adult birds bottom when he first hatched~ he has had it every night and snuggles to it even when outside with the turkeys snuggling to him) he is sleeping on the carpet snuggled up to his stuffed animal.


So~ the antibiotics are in him~ and a little bit of calories are in him.  I don't think whatever he ate has him stopped up as he is passing the water he drinks after a few hours~ I don't know what he ate~ whatever it was has not passed out while he was in the kitchen but if it passed while he was out in Fort Emu I'll never find it.  If we can just keep enough calories in him to keep him alive until his appetite returns maybe he'll be okay.  We'll just have to wait and see.  Still in the kitchen~ a little more energy but still not eating on his own~ here is a pic of him with his stuffed animal on his carpet in front of the crate a little earlier this evening…..



He ate! He ate some turnip greens tonight! Just now! Not much~ but a little voluntarily!

I've been assist feeding him 3 times a day~ not enough to make him full~ just enough to keep him alive. Got terramycin, and poultry pac vitamin/electrolytes in his water~ been dusting the butter worms and dog food pieces I've put down him with Bene-Bac (stomach bacteria for birds). He seemed better~ but did not show interest in food. Then today he started picking at the food pieces but not eating them. Just now I was fixing a dog treat and he came over to beg like he did before. I offered him a dog goodie but he snubbed it~ so I offered some turnip greens and he took them!! I didn't give him to many~ just a small handfull and then tore up a bit more and put them on the emu food hoping to get him to eat the emu food when he goes for the greens. I don't want to fill him up with treats after such a long fast and make him sick again. He's not taken any of the greens on the emu food yet~ but

He did eat voluntarily tonight! A little~ but that's a lot more than any other time this week!!!


That's it for March 2008~
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Cheryl Marchek


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