Where There Is A Will There Is Emu Oil
by Patty Cogdill & Jill Roloff
When we started our River Valley Emu Ranch five and a half years ago, we did it with six pair of six month old chicks. We weren't after the get rich quick scheme, but we were after self-employment and comfortable livings for both of us. Little did we know what was on the eminent horizon. The breeder market dropped to an all time low. Marketing value added emu byproducts was not in our original plan. We had planned on raising the birds to sell. Much to our surprise that didn't happen. Like so many others, we had been drawn in by the allure of an exotic alternative animal and now we began to wonder what we were going to do with those nearly 200 emu and winter coming on.
We needed to become resourceful. We joined with another ND emu producer facing the same obstacles as we were and we created our own private label emu oil. This way we could at the very least send off our fat to an AOCS approved facility, get our own oil back, and sell it. This helps to pay the feed bill. Plus we carry several lines of emu oil based skin care products. There is no one particular label that has everything we want and our customers like, so we combine what we feel is the best of the product lines we have researched.
We use both the natural color and the dyed feathers for craft accessories and the fly fisherman say they make awesome flies because they are so boyant.
The hides are shipped off to make leather accent items.
Infertile eggs are blown out and sold for painting, etching, and carving.
The meat is a wonderful, low-fat, red meat. Most people are unaware that it is red, they see a "bird" so it is automatically white or dark. We have people call us who have heard about the 97% fat-free and want it, and not always just because their doctor recommends cutting out red meat entirely.
Becoming active in the industry has kept us informed and continues to keep us believing in the value of this bird. We had a friend, Norine Knutson, who to this day is our inspiration. When times were tough or looked gloomy, she would inevitably say in her very upbeat voice 'I truly believe in this industry you guys'. Ever positive and undaunted in her thinking. We draw on those words to this day and reflect at all that has happened over the past several years and the advancements the industry as a whole has made.
We are members of the American Emu Association and our North Dakota chapter. Patty is the reigning President of our state chapter and I am the Treasurer. We have both been on the board since 1997 and holding offices since. Patty is also running for Region 3 AEA Director this year.
We have joined a tri-state co-operative. Midwest Emu Growers Alliance has 92 members from North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Patty is serving her second year on the board and her first as Secretary. I am not on the board, but have the auspicious title of Product Distribution Manager, which boils down to sending and receiving products. I am very happy to see the increased participation of our members since taking over that position last April.
We read whatever we can related to the emu industry to keep well informed. We subscribe to Emu Today and Tomorrow, in fact we
each have a subscription, primarily because I never wanted it to leave my house, so Patty felt that if she was going to get to read it, she would have to get her own.
We each also belong to four or five emu email lists and when our servers go down, we (or at least I) go in to shock. Being without our email access for any length of time is comparable to being without caffeine.
We are members of the local Farm Bureau and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture's Pride of Dakota, which actively promotes North Dakota businesses.
We promote the oil and other by-products on a daily basis. We attend the state fair and outlying county fairs annually. We showcase our products at flea markets and conventions. We have an open house each fall at the farm. We give farm tours as often as we can. We have emu oil in nearly two dozen stores across northwest North Dakota. We advertise in the local newspaper and electric co-operative magazine. Last but not least, we are working on finalizing our new website www.emuoilproducts.com
Like so many others, our goal is to do our part by helping make the emu industry a success and subsequently make a living doing it. We congratulate those of you who have gone before us and we look forward to the day we can join you. We have gotten to know so many nice people over the years and been able to make some life-long friendships. I have been taught that good things come to those who wait, so I figure we are all due.
Here's wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2000