February 5th, 2016 by Ed Bruske
In the past we had a large load of hay delivered to the farm to feed our animals over the winter. That didn’t work out this year, so we turned to the farmers who sell us our non-GMO feed–the Elsworths–and they agreed to set aside enough hay to tide us over. The only hitch is, I to fetch it in our pickup 36 bales at a time.
The hay also is in a different location. The Elsworths sell their feed out of Easton, 12 miles west of us. The hay is stored nine miles north in Greenwich. It’s lovely country–rolling hills, winding roads, a stretch along the famed Battenkill. This is the original Elsworth farm, 400 acres where the family raises its corn, oats and soy, and also it’s hay.
As I discovered on my first trip, there’s something else that sets this farm operation apart. A flock of big, strutting, prehistoric looking emus.
They don’t walk so much as glide around an area behind an eight-foot fence next to the hay barn, peering through saucer eyes like creatures from Mars. “We wanted to do something different,” says Bill, the elder Elsworth, by way of explaining the presence of these exotic creatures in New York dairy country.
“Different” hardly describes the emu business. For instance, what do you do with them?
Well, when the time comes, the Elsworths have to truck the birds to Manchester, New Hampshire, to be slaughtered for the meat. Then they drive fat–frozen–to a place in Tennessee to be rendered, so they can turn the oil into a skin balm.
Skin balm? “You rub it on your skin,” Bill Elsworth explains. “It’ll heal any kind of skin problem.”
I swear, I’m not making this up.