HomeEntertainmentMusicJohnny Cash Once Fought an Ostrich With a Stick: Story Behind the Bizarre Moment

Johnny Cash Once Fought an Ostrich With a Stick: Story Behind the Bizarre Moment

by Katie Maloney
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Have heard the one about Johnny Cash fighting an ostrich?

Almost everyone knows that Cash’s Tennessee home was equipped with studios and farms. But did you know that he also owned an exotic animal park just down the street from his home? Well, he did. And in his 2003 autobiography, Cash: The Autobiography, Cash talks about a run-in he had with one of his pet ostriches.

According to Cash, Tennessee was experiencing a particularly cold winter. Unsurprisingly, the ostriches – who traditionally live in the hot savannas and woodlands of Africa – weren’t fairing well. Nearly half his ostrich population perished because of the weather including one of the females who refused to be transferred from her outdoor habitat to the barn where she could stay warm. According to Cash, the female’s death angered her male partner who decided to seek revenge on Cash.

Johnny Cash Shows An Ostrich Who’s Boss

As Cash walked through the compound as he regularly did, the male ostrich jumped out in front of him and angrily hissed. Nothing happened that time but Cash heeded the ostrich’s warning and decided to prepare himself for the walk back out of the compound. On his way back, Cash picked up a large stick, just in case he needed to fight the ostrich. Sure enough, as Cash made his way back out of the compound, the ostrich returned even angrier than before.

“When I came back I was carrying a good stout six-foot stick, and I was prepared to use it. And sure enough, there he was on the trail in front of me, doing his thing. When he started moving toward me I went on the offensive, taking a good hard swipe at him,” said Cash.

However, Cash missed and the ostrich lunged at him.

Cash Thanks His Belt Buckle For Saving His Life

The fight continued and, according to Cash, his belt buckle ultimately saved him from having his guts “spilled.”

“He was in the air, and a split second later he was on his way down again, with that big toe of his, larger than my size-thirteen shoe, extended toward my stomach. He made contact—I’m sure there was never any question he wouldn’t—and frankly, I got off lightly. All he did was break my two lower ribs and rip my stomach open down to my belt, If the belt hadn’t been good and strong, with a solid belt buckle, he’d have spilled my guts exactly the way he meant to. As it was, he knocked me over onto my back and I broke three more ribs on a rock—but I had sense enough to keep swinging the stick, so he didn’t get to finish me. I scored a good hit on one of his legs, and he ran off,” said Cash.

Johnny Cash talks about his exotic animal farm and home.

The Man in Black won that round, but just narrowly. We’re glad the ostrich didn’t get the best of him.