Sunday, December 14, 2008


Hi, all,

So. Yesterday I went to see a patient who lives on a ranch. Her house is surrounded by a fenced yard, and there are various large fenced pens on the property. This week several of the sheep lambed in the bitter cold. Since the barn is rather far from the house, and the family were worried about coyotes taking the wee ones, several of the lambs spent the night in the enclosed porch of the house. The next morning some of the mamas refused their lambs, so they are having to be bottle fed, but the two moms in the photo are taking care of two each.

So cute, but that's not really why I'm writing. No. This is a warning. While I was taking pictures of the lambs, two emus who were outside of the yard near my car were stalking me. At first I thought, "Ah, bless. Aren't they cute."

Then I tried to leave.

The garden gate opens out. When I tried to leave the yard, one of the emus lay down in front of the gate effectively blocking my path. I started nudging it with the gate, and as it stood, it started stamping its HUGE feet. I flashed back to one of those nature programs and remembered that these birds can do some terrible damage with those feet. I must say I was a little scared. But then I remembered what a friend who raises emus--which he keeps behind a tall fence--once told us: if you make yourself appear bigger than the bird, it will back off. Easier said than done as this bird was at least six feet tall. Anyway, I had my visit bag with me, so I raised it over my head and nudged the gate open enough to slip through. This bird was not intimidated, and it swung its head around bringing its beak within six inches of my face. Yikes. I was afraid to turn my back on it, so I did a little backwards shuffle around my car to the driver's side door, the bird keeping pace. The door, of course, was locked, and as I fumbled for the keys--this required that I drop the bag and look small again--the bird leaned against the door. While I was opening it, he was stepping back to avoid being knocked down, but he kept his head above the top of the door (and above my head). Once I got in I felt pretty safe until he and I discovered at the same moment that I had left the window down about six inches.

Okay. I did manage to get the car started and the window up without losing an eye or anything, but I think the stress hormones may have caused some permanent damage.

So now the warning: I know it will be difficult, but stay away from emus.

Love from Spring Branch,


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