It’s not every day you get an up-close look at an emu — that is unless you’re Janean Parker and Tony Citryhn, owners of 3 Feathers Emu Ranch and Farm in Adna — but Saturday proved the exception as the ranch hosted its 10th annual Spring Visit Day.
The sun was shining throughout the day, and in the time before the public was set to arrive at 11 a.m., Parker, Citryhn and some neighbors set up chairs and prepared a table of wares made with emu oil.
Emu oil is the primary product at the ranch, and often the integral part of most emu ranches and farms, said Citryhn.
The oil, which comes from the birds’ fat, is great for skin products and is highly beneficial for skin, muscle and joint conditions, he said. A table of their wares for sale was set up for the event.
“A lot of emu ranches are either raising the birds or making the product or selling the product, and we kind of do everything all together,” said Parker.
Thanks to membership with the American Emu Association (AEA), Citryhn said, all of their products are certified, guaranteeing that the products are, in actuality, made with emu oil. Citryhn said a test of 12 “emu” products bought online revealed that only four were actually made with the birds’ oil, making the seal of authenticity from AEA all the more important.
“The remainder were either blends or something other,” he said of the counterfeit products.
A self-guided tour of the farm was set up by a series of wire fences. There are around 70 emus on the farm, said Parker. Signs were set up informing visitors not to move too quickly or make loud noises, to avoid spooking the large, flightless birds, which can weigh between 80 and 120 pounds and run up to 30 miles per hour. Signs with facts such as those hung from the pens.
Some of the large birds began to stand when the pens were approached, stalking back and forth, while some stayed on the ground, unperturbed by being approached. Signs told visitors not to put their hands in the pen — if someone felt so inclined to put their hands near a bird weighing in excess of 100 pounds, with signs indicating they “will defend themselves by jumping up and slashing with their strong legs and sharp claws on their toes.”
“Not a lot of people know what an emu is. They don’t know what emu oil is. It’s a nice alternative agricultural endeavor, so this kind of lets people know about it,” said Parker, speaking on the inspiration for holding the event, which had been going on for a decade since Saturday. The year prior, 130 people showed up, said Citryhn.
Another popular product is emu meat. It’s a red meat that, Citryhn said jokingly, tastes like ostrich when asked for a comparison for the meat’s flavor. He then described its flavor as akin to corn-fed elk — a comparison much more likely to be understood by the layperson.
As individuals started to show up to the event, kids came over to a table of crafts that they could construct on their own and take home. A container of emu feathers sat on the table to be incorporated in their creations. Jan Dittbrenner, a neighbor to the farm, pointed out that the feathers were actually two individual feathers branching from the same stem.
A series of three microphones, surrounded by a semi-circle of straw bales for seating, sat in a grassy area. The band Harmony Ridge was set to play later on in the day, to provide some light music, along with the light snacks, products and tours of the farm.
The ranch was founded in 2009, after Parker and Citryhn researched what sort of farm would be feasible with the small acreage. That research would, inevitably, point them to emus.