Short interview with Tim
How did you come up with the extraordinary idea of running a small rhea farm (can you call it that?)?
Farm would be a bit too much to say, as I only have 3 animals and don't breed any offspring. The “purchase” dates back to 2009. Roughly speaking, I wanted animals that were relatively easy to care for, useful if necessary, and lived outside. At some point I got the idea of ratites and looked at emus, rheas and ostriches. I didn't like the look of emus and the ostriches were a bit too big for me (and not so pretty). The rheas seemed to me to be a very good middle ground. The animals do not have to be locked up every night like normal chickens to protect them from foxes and maggots. The animals do not require any feathers or foot care and are therefore quite easy to care for and also lay eggs.
When I last ordered you mentioned that it would take a while because you still had to eat a few of the eggs.
What is your favorite recipe and do you have any tips on how best to open a rhea egg so that the shell is preserved so well?
Favorite recipe is relative, as I prepare quite a few different egg-intensive dishes in order to process larger quantities. I really like making the Spanish tortilla (1 rhea egg, 1 kg of potatoes, a vegetable onion) and we love baking a chocolate cake on a tray with a rhea egg.
To open it I use a punch, it tapers to a point and can be easily hammered in slowly with a hammer until a straw fits through to blow it out. You can also first hammer a small hole with a nail and then carefully enlarge the hole using a knife or scissors in circular movements. Then I take a straw and blow out the egg. You can make blowing out even easier with a small compressor.
What is special about keeping rheas? Are you listening to your call? Do you build bonds with people? How old do rheas live? How do local animals react? Have you ever observed an incident?
Of course, they are not native animals and are therefore somewhat noticeable. A small front garden is not enough for such animals, so a real enclosure with relatively high fences (from 1.6 meters) and a lot of space (for me around 1000m²) is needed. The animals are officially threatened with extinction and can only be kept at great expense. You can use different noises to briefly catch their attention and make yourself noticed. They usually come close when someone (usually me) enters the enclosure. Otherwise, the animals are relatively trusting and curious, but it doesn't matter who is there. According to Wikipedia, the animals live between 10 and 30 years, but unfortunately there is no more precise information. There are different types of “other” animals that they may or may not interact with. Worms and smaller insects are still part of the rheas diet. My animals don't care about songbirds or mice, they practically ignore them. When they are the size of a cat or small dog, they defend their territory (enclosure), spreading their wings very wide in order to appear as large as possible. With larger dogs, however, they then flee.