Ostriches are Really Dumb and Other Life Lessons from My Childhood
The dust rises in his wake and bystanders watch in awe as his powerful, piston-like legs pound the sod — a picture of athletic grace. Long, purposeful strides thrust him through yard after yard, and though the muscles in his strong thighs strain, somehow the speed looks effortless. He runs, so close to flying that it feels like he could take off at any moment.
He runs, flying past rocks and trees and fields, and then *POW*, he hits the fence with the impact of a truck, and falls, dazed, to the ground. Feathers hang in the air before finding a resting place on and around his still form.
Having a brain the size of a walnut isn’t easy.
And watching a giant ostrich run into a fence every few days was pretty traumatic as a six-year-old.
Giving directions to my house was an easy task growing up.
“Go down Peaster Highway, take a right, and look for the red barn mailbox… oh, and THE BRIGHT YELLOW BILLBOARD with the ENORMOUS BLACK OSTRICH SILLHOUETTE.”
The billboard said “Carden Family Ostrich Ranch,” (my maiden name is Carden, in case you haven’t had your coffee yet) and it was notorious all along Farm Road 1885, which is probably I didn’t get asked out a lot as a six-year-old. My dad was a smart, charming guy (he passed away when I was 12), and I guess that’s how he was usually able to convince people that BAD ideas were in actuality, really GOOD ideas. (Apple… tree.) Proof: Our entire family of six was once photographed for a Christmas card wearing matching plaid outfits and holding hands. Holding… hands. Even my teenage brothers. Great idea, DAD!
I remember sitting around our kitchen table while Dad, the prototypical entrepreneur, graphed the profits we would make by exponentially increasing our ostrich holdings from a comfortable zero to a flock of 60. We had all of these great, impossibly naive ideas. My brothers could ride the ostriches like in Swiss Family Robinson… I was going to tame one and call it Jessica and it would be the twin sister I’d always wanted… We could sell the eggs. We could sell the feathers. We could sell the leather. Some guy in South America wanted the brains… which was weird… but hey! It sounded great! We built a barn. We bought the birds. We put up the billboard. School children eventually started to tour our farm — more on that later — and slowly but surely, I realized it was all a huuuuuuge mistake.
The first birds we bought were promptly named Adam, of fence collision fame, and his wife, Eve. The next were Abraham and Sarah, who were intended to birth a great nation of dumb animals. They lived in a little paradise we called “The Barn,” which we built about a fourth of a mile away from my house. My dad began to write for ostrich magazines, travel abroad for ostrich meetings and speak at national ostrich conventions across the country. (It’s still shocking to me that there were national ostrich conventions. Ostrich farming was going to be HUGE, guys!)
As I got a little older, I attended several conventions with my dad where I was asked/forced to wear an ostrich costume while serving hors d’oeuvres. This costume featured a large feathered body made of cardboard and potentially some sort of plaster with a tail, neck and head attached, complimented by pink tights.
Looking back, I can pinpoint this time as exactly when “awkward teenage years” began… and I was only 10. (No, there are no photos. No, I will not let you see the photos.)
After about a year of our ostrich business, school children began visiting our farm to take tours. Evidently our farm was a spectacle to so-called “city folk,” since we kept bees, ostriches, dogs, horses, cows, snakes and a variety of unnamed animals. At one point, a child actually asked my mom if we “made our own furniture.” And she was my COUSIN!
I didn’t love being a sideshow act (thankfully, Dad didn’t make me wear the costume), but occasionally it was fun being all, “Hey, step back — we haven’t fed these guys in fourteen days and their tongue is long enough to devour your eyes from ten feet away.” #creativelicense
And because you likely never got to attend an ostrich farm tour (what a loss!), I’m going to recreate one for you right now.
1. Ostriches don’t stick their heads in the sand. That’s wrong. That’s not a thing, and we ostrich people laugh at you behind your back when you ask us about it.
2. Ostriches are very large (they can get up to 9 feet tall, 320lbs), very fast (they can run up to 70mph), very dangerous (they’re one of the few animals that can kill a lion) and very angry (they can’t fly and have never gotten over it.)
3. Ostriches are extremely, extremely — I really can’t stress this enough — dumb. As I mentioned above, they are VERY large, and yet their brains are the size of a walnut. Here’s a helpful illustration:
This complete lack of brainpower leads them to do very dumb things, such as attempting to eat nails, trees, their own children, truck bumpers, and human hair. I once had to clear the giant pens of all twigs because ol’ Cain tried to eat a freaking tree branch.
Related: because these very dumb birds are known for running at 70mph into fences / walls / barns / their untimely death, we had to install rubber fencing to keep them from dropping like flies. (Despite this precaution, they managed to run into trees, our barn, and each other on multiple occasions, EACH OTHER!)
We also had to ensure that each rubber fence had rounded corners, no 90-degree angles, because otherwise, the ostriches would walk into a corner and panic, not knowing how to get out, possibly suffering a tiny, walnut brain aneurism.
We’re talking about a 320lb bird, angry because it can’t fly, with the ability to run 70mph aaaaand a toenail kick that can kill a lion… but it can’t TURN AROUND? Can anyone else see why this walking rage feathered idiot cocktail wouldn’t make a great farm animal? Bueller?
I guess that’s too much foreshadowing, but we did get out of the ostrich business. Maybe the guy from South America bought them, realizing the brains thing was a no-go? I’m not entirely sure what went down, except my level of abject embarrassment. But here’s the point of this email (aside from CANCEL THE OSTRICH FARM):
Don’t be an ostrich.
Some of you (like me, like all of us) are doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. You’re running at full speed into the fence, picking yourself up… and running right back into the damn fence.
You’re trying to DIY a boring, big box template that does nothing to showcase your particular brand of awesome, won’t attract your dream client, and that you’d need to be some sort of magical code wizard to customize. Then probably getting tired of that template and buying a new one in six months. Rinse, weep, repeat. FENCE.
You’re plunking down your life savings and your firstborn to search for and hire a designer who will spend months and months cranking out something arguably “custom” you may or may not love in the end. Getting stuck in a site you can’t change or edit yourself and wondering if all the money and headache will be worth it. BOOM. FENCE.
Guys. It doesn’t have to be this way. Your brain is WAY bigger the walnut, and we’re here with a way out of the fence-slamming cycle:
We’re TONIC — the cure for the common website template. A designer site you can download in an instant; completely customizable, built to stand out, convert, and attract your dream clients. Strategic, stunning, and made to grow and adapt as fast as you do. Easy to use, easy to change, easy on the eyes. Giving you the confidence in your online presence you need to do what YOU do best. All for a tiny fraction of the cost of a custom design. (No firstborn child required.)
If you’ve been struggling, feeling like your brain may never fly without the creative wings it needs to take off (too much?), can I just say… your runway’s waiting and we’ve got wings ready for you right here:
(Someone’s not going to like that metaphor, so let me be clear. We’ve got website templates for you, and they’re made to show YOU at your best online… to convert your dream clients, sell the hell out of your services and products, rid you of that “Ew, I hate my website” vibe you’ve been carrying around for WAY too long, and elevate your brand waaaaay past 70mph…. so you can go back to doing what YOU do best.)
|So, don’t be an ostrich. Go pick out your new website.|
And when you get stressed today, imagine me in a giant ostrich costume with pink tights, holding a tray of lukewarm pigs in a blanket.