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  • This week marked the end of an era for my hubby and me. The era ended with sadness and relief...

    We have a small hiring business, but with economics and competition, it is a permanent struggle to make ends meet. About 5 years ago, we got involved in the Emu business. Emu’s? Yesss!! Those ugly looking flightless birds that resemble a half drowned, smaller version of the female Ostrich. In spite of their looks, they become quite tame and can actually become nice pets. But pets were not what we had in mind. They were goldmines! – That is to say if one listens to the wise-ass who promoted and sold them to us! Emu oil IS brilliant stuff. Please do yourself a favor and Google it! Being very scarce in South Africa, we were going to become rich off these birds!

    They are resilient, relatively easy to keep, the by products are similar to the ostrich (no fat in their tasty “red” meat!), with the added bonus of the golden liquid that gets made from their fat. And truly, the oil is amazing stuff.

    It takes 3 years of input before any money can be made, but we cashed in our savings policies and the insurance money that was paid out when hubby got cancer. We came into the market when the prices were sky high and bought a breeding pair. No breeding happened and we bought 10 chicks the next year, so that we could start selling the fat in 15months time. The next year we bought another 30 chicks – and still our breeding pair had not even mated. Except the time the male pinned me in the corner when I was on my haunches cutting grass – NO help from hubby, who was rolling around in fits of laughter!! We paid 14 grand for them, so it’s not as if you just chuck them and take another pair! But the following year we bought 2 more breeding pairs and had over 100 eggs that went to the incubators of the conman who we were dealing with. Nothing came of it as his wife was ill and he did not attend to it.

    All our money was spent with feeding and putting up camps, so hubby decided to work in America for a few months as he did 8 months in 2006. Just to help us tie things over till the first batch would be sold by the end of that year. Due to the Soccer World cup here in SA, the airfare was exorbitant. Due to visas, he could buy his ticket only at the very last minute. Two weeks in and he came back in a state, no explanation of why and I was not allowed to discussed it. What happened I do not know to this day, but I DO know we were now deeper in financial trouble than ever before!!

    They guy who was going to slaughter the birds, had a dying wife and pulled out. He was going to pay us R600 per liter oil and you get between 10 and 14L per bird. Then he moved to another place and we ended up having to try and slaughter the birds ourselves! More than 6 months of extra feeding of 40 birds –you tally the sum! Due to the specialized way of extracting the oil, we delivered all the fat to him. We hoped he would still be good on his word, in spite of almost 5 years of non-delivery. Cause he talked money and we wanted money.

    Before you know it, you wake up one morning and realize you have been had for a sucker. That you are angry at that bastard who got you into this, but in reality you are exposed as the fool who fell for his sweet talk. You are angry at yourself, but are too proud to stand up and say: It's me! So now you have to blame that other bastard and not the one you see in the mirror every morning.

    We did not want to get rid of the breeding pairs, but they cost too much to feed. They have been with us for an extra year, now they had to go - except one pair. Hearing the last shot ring out this morning with the death of our last breeding pair, I could not help the tears. It was with relief that we ended off a disappointing venture that did not only cost us money, but took of our souls. And a feeling of in-adequateness and sadness that it did not work. Leaving one tired, drained and hopeless.

    But the pair we did not have the heart to kill? They are on eggs now and I guess they will be with us for a while?!
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