A Bit of Australia in the Appalachians

Advent is upon us—the great expectancy of Christmas (the birth of Christ).

During a recent Christmas arts and crafts “studio tour” around Keedysville, Maryland—which is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains—I had a little bit of an adventure.

I knew I was in for a treat when I stepped onto the porch of the farmhouse, which was situated on a hill overlooking the valley below and the South Mountain ridge of the Appalachians beyond. With the owner’s permission, I took some pictures of the farm.

From inside the house, which that day was laden with sewn crafts and enticing edibles—such as award-winning “South Mountain Jam”—I spotted something large out along the fencerow, obscured by some trees and shrubs. From a distance (a very long distance), its head resembled a turkey; but its overall form was large and gangly. It might have been a llama, (which the farmer also owned); except as my nephew pointed out, lamas have four legs. (Note to self: Must pay more attention to pictures when nephew reads Llama, Llama Gram and Grandpa.)

It was an emu! …In America. …And not in a zoo.


The emu is native to Australia and is Australia’s national bird. It’s the second largest bird in the world—the largest being the ostrich. Emus grow to be 5 to 7 feet tall (with the female taller and broader in the rump than the male). Emus eat plants, insects and small vertebrates.


I spied two emus that day–perhaps a male and a female? The one made a rum-rum, drumming noise–a reverberating sound I later learned is characteristic of the female.


A female can lay several clutches of eggs in a breeding season. Interestingly, the male incubates the egg, which is dark green. …The egg, not the male.

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