When Betty Lou Cauffman was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in Oct. 2003 she felt like she had “one foot in the grave.” She suffered from five compound fractures and five herniated discs.
“Someone told me to try natural healing,” Cauffman said. “I truly feel that God moved me in this way. I am a believer.
“I feel my mission is to open this up to other people.”
Through natural healing, Cauffman began a regiment of emu oil. Little did she know the animal she had raised since 1994 would help save her life.
“Emu oil has such healing properties,” Cauffman said. “Within 10 to 15 days my pain was gone, in three weeks my diabetes was gone and within four-and-half months my cancer was gone.”
Today, Cauffman’s feet are out of the grave and firmly on the ground. Last Thursday, July 19, her Valley View Emus on Golf Drive north of Fennimore was visited by Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel.
When Cauffman was first contacted by the Travel Channel a month ago, she believed someone was playing a practical joke.
“I get all kinds of things like that,” she said. “I was super busy and I didn’t need to be bothered.”
Cauffman said she had no idea how Zimmern and his team learned of Valley View Emus.
“They are very closed-mouthed,” she said.
Cauffman realized the situation was not a joke and the wheels were put in motion for Zimmern’s visit, which was part of a tour of several locations across Wisconsin.
“I’m trying to call attention to the people who practice contempt prior to investigation,” Zimmern said. “Eating emu is not bizarre to any of the people here that we are with today, but to people right down the street, it would be really, really strange.
“It eats like beef, it’s great for you, it’s a sustainable resource and I think more people should be eating those kind of products.”
Gary Craig of Craig’s Meats & Catering of Mindoro prepared the emu for Zimmern during his visit.
“Meat is meat, trust me,” Craig said. “It’s how you cook it and how you flavor it.”
Craig said at one time it was “nothing” for him to butcher 100 emus in a day at Craig’s Meats & Catering, but that is far from the case now.
“There is a very major shortage of emu, both the meat and the oil,” Cauffman said. “We are trying to encourage people to consider it as a diversified ag.”
Cauffman plans to open a processing plant in Highland later this year. A retail/wholesale store is also in the works.
Believe it or not, a visit to Subway led to Cauffman’s purchase of her first emus.
“I went into Subway when they had their open house and saw how well they were doing,” Cauffman said. “I walked out of there and thought, I’ve got to get outside the box.
“I started research and there was an emu farming article in Parade about three weeks before that.”
Cauffman had previously planned a trip to Texas, which just happened to be the setting of the Parade article. She purchased two pair of emus and later purchased a third pair.
A weatherization visit to the farm on Golf View Drive led to the purchase of the farm in May 1996. Today, there are between 120 and 140 emus at Valley View Emus.
What does Cauffman enjoy most about life at Valley View Emus?
“I like working with the product,” she said. “I used to hate farmers’ markets, but now I enjoy it.”
Cauffman travels to the Dane County Farmers’ Market in Madison throughout the year. The Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the U.S.
After the cameras and crew had departed Thursday afternoon, the visit had yet to sink in for Cauffman.
“I can’t believe it,” she said. “I really enjoyed it.”
The episode of “Bizarre Foods” featuring Cauffman and Valley View Emus will air in December.
Zimmern called Cauffman a “one of a kind human being.”
“Once you hear her life story and hang out with her, even just for a couple of hours, she’s every encouraging. Not just with beating cancer, she’s the type of person that is a role model for people of all sizes, stripes, sexes, colors, race, it doesn’t matter where you are,” he said. “Here is a woman who says I am going to do what I wanted to do, I am going to make a go of it, I am going to buck the current trends and I am going to be true to myself and I am going to be responsible for my own happiness.
“And she’s principled, and I admire principals higher than anything else in other human beings, and I think she’s cool.”