BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Harold and Deloris “Dee” Keutzer, married for 30 years, enjoy their animals at their Monroe County home. Recently, they took advantage of a mildly warmer day to get out of the house and survey their flower gardens.
Driving west on Kirksville Road, you’ll see rolling hills, dormant hayfields and grazing cattle. If you look carefully, you might catch a glimpse of an emu, a rhea or even a peacock roaming on the few acres that Harold and Deloris Keutzer own.
They don’t raise the birds for meat or for the eggs. They raise them because of their genuine love for animals.
Deloris, or Dee as her friends call her, has a way with the animals that would rival Dr. Doolittle. Over the years, Dee and Harold have enjoyed the company of llamas, miniature horses, ostriches, squirrels, raccoons and swans — and even a baby doe came to visit for a while before returning to the wild.
The couple feed them, work with them and treat them with the kindness they believe every animal deserves. They moved to West Kirksville Road 28 years ago, just two years after they were married, and started gathering their animals a year later.
“We just had them for the kids to look at,” Harold told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/XzZtpo ).
They have opened their small farm — Dee calls it “our Kornfield Ranch” — to local elementary schools for several years, giving young children the opportunity to see animals they had only read about in books.
But as they both approach their 70s, they have decided to let their herd start to thin.
Harold has worked for a local farmer in the spring and summer since he retired from RCA in 1998, and Dee runs her own cleaning business, mainly for elderly clients. They both see retirement nearing.
“I used to say, ‘I help these elderly people,’” Dee said. “But I have to realize I’m elderly too now. Because I’ll be 70.”
“But you know, sometimes I forget that I’m 70,” she said. “Because I’m active.”
They are down to a handful of peacocks, two emus, a rhea, two Australian shepherds and a few barn cats at their little ranch.
It’s a little sad for them to see the animals they love so much pass on, but as they near the next chapter of their lives, they know it’s for the best.
“When you get this old,” Harold said, “your mind don’t think you’re this old. But when you go try to do something, your body will tell you.”