Ne­wark’s emu farm

Large birds right at home on lo­cal farm

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com Our Town is an oc­ca­sional se­ries that ex­plores the peo­ple, places and tra­di­tions that make Ne­wark unique. Send ideas to jshan­non@ches­pub.com.

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.”

NE­WARK POST PHO­TOS BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Carolyn Palo raises emus at her farm, lo­cated just south of Ne­wark.

An emu roams around its pen at Pine Hill Farms.

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