Nevis ranch is a no-fly zone
To crossword puzzle fans, an emu is a large, flightless Australian bird spelled with three letters. To George and Patricia Constans, emus are a business and a passion. "We really believe in what we're doing. 'Whatever it takes' is our motto," Pat...
To crossword puzzle fans, an emu is a large, flightless Australian bird spelled with three letters.
To George and Patricia Constans, emus are a business and a passion.
"We really believe in what we're doing. 'Whatever it takes' is our motto," Patricia said.
The couple own and operate Heart of Minnesota Emu Ranch in Nevis, about 110 miles northeast of Fargo-Moorhead.
The ranch has 484 emus.
Most of Heart of Minnesota Ranch's income comes from the sale of products containing oil from emus raised by the Constanses.
The couple market their wares under the EmuMagic Products banner.
Emu oil is made from the bird's fat. The oil has long been used by Australian aborigines as a pain reliever and to treat burns, wounds and bruises.
The Constanses also sell emu meat, eggs and feathers.
They established the emu ranch in 1993. Before that, the couple owned and operated a certified public accounting firm in the Twin Cities.
People who knew the couple many years ago often are surprised to learn they're running an emu ranch, Patricia said.
"I go to reunions and people tell me, 'You're doing what?' " she said.
Their career switch was tied to George's health problems, which he said emu oil helped to alleviate.
"I was as skeptical as anybody at first. I didn't think it was going to help. But I tried it, and it worked," George said.
"After that, we were on a mission to help others," he said.
The Constanses say they routinely encounter people who don't believe emu oil provides health benefits.
"All we ask is a chance to talk with them and demonstrate our products," George said.
Heather Moe of Hastings is a devoted EmuMagic user.
She said the products have done wonders for her daughter's skin problem.
The Constanses travel frequently to sell their products at trade shows in the region and across the country.
Their products also are sold at a number of area businesses, including Tochi Products in Fargo.
"People seem to like it. We keep selling it," said Will Hoglund, proprietor of Tochi's.
Contact the Constanses through their EmuMagic Web site to obtain a list of businesses that sell their wares.
The Heart of Minnesota Ranch consists of pens and barns spread over five acres.
Learning to raise emus in northern Minnesota was a challenge, Patricia said.
But both the emus and the Constanses have made the adjustment, she said.
About 10,000 families in 43 states raise emus, with Texas accounting for 3,000 families, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Emus are ratites, a group that includes all species of flightless bird, including ostriches and rhea.
The Constanses also have 27 rheas, a South American bird. They are investigating the potential use of the rheas' oil and fat.
Emus, which can reach a height of 6 feet and a weight of 130 pounds, generally are docile and nonaggressive.
The Heart of Minnesota Emu Ranch offers public tours, but reservations are required.
A few emu facts:
- Females produce a distinctive drumming sound with an air sack in their chest.
Males produce a sound resembling a pig's grunt.
- After the female lays her eggs, the male sits on them until they hatch. Incubation takes 56 days.
Patricia said she and George, as well as their two employees, have developed a close attachment to the birds.
The ranch, working with animal welfare groups, has taken in emus neglected by their former owners, she said.
"Emus have become our passion," Patricia said.