Newark’s emu farm
Large birds right at home on local farm
When her mother first told her she was considering raising emus, Carolyn Palo was perplexed.
“I was like, what the heck is an emu and what do you do with it?” Palo recalled.
But Palo was quickly convinced and, six years ago, took over the responsibility of raising the emus after her mother died. Today, her Pine Hill Farms sells a wide variety of emu products, including meat and eggs as well as lotions and salves made from emu oil.
“I have to give my mother all the credit,” Palo said, sitting in the living room of her farmhouse. “It was all her brainchild. She was a very smart woman.”
Native to Australia, emus are the second-largest bird in the world, dwarfed only by ostriches. To the uninitiated, the 5-foot, 120-pound birds look a bit out of place in Newark, but Palo’s roughly two-dozen emus are quite happy on Pine Hill Farm, a 13-acre plot just south of city limits on Smith Road, near Iron Hill Park.
The land has been in Palo’s family for decades, and her grandparents, John and Fanni Pollari, raised chickens there until the 1970s. Palo eventually bought the farm and began growing hay.
In the early ’90s, her mother, Viola, started raising the emus on her farm, located nearby on Dixie Line Road. After Viola died, Palo moved the birds to Pine Hill Farm, where she lives and works with her partner, Kathy Goldstone.
Palo said the emus are easy to raise, but noted they’re not loving pets.
“They are dumber than dirt,” she said. “Every time I walk in there, it’s like the first time they’re seeing me.”
With the exception of a farm hand that helps bale hay, Palo and Goldstone do all the farm work themselves. They also grow shiitake mushrooms.
“It’s such diverse work be- ing a farmer,” Palo said. “Every day is different depending on the weather and what needs to be done.”
Palo, 60, serves on the board of the American Emu Association and said she’s not aware of any other farmer in Delaware who raises emus.
She slaughters approximately six emus each year. Emu meat is considered a healthier alternative to red meat, she said.
“It’s a high-end meat,” she said. “It’s better than filet mignon if you cook it right.”
However, the most indemand commodity is oil derived from the birds’ fat. The oil is made into soaps, lotions, facial cream and shampoo. Other people use it to heal wounds and ease joint pain.
She also sells eggs and emu chicks and offers smoked emu bones for dogs.
Palo sells her products at the Glasgow Park Farmers Market each Friday and through her website, www. pinehillfarmsde.com.
“I can’t tell you how many people have no idea what an emu is. I’m continually educating people,” she said. “They’re really flabbergasted somebody is raising birds that size in New Castle County, Del.”
Carolyn Palo raises emus at her farm, located just south of Newark.
An emu roams around its pen at Pine Hill Farms.