The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

A Day at the Fair – Part Two: Camel Dairy! July 4, 2010

Getting the camel ready for milking

Yes, the camel dairy demonstration gets its own post! I had seen the camel dairy ranch from the road when we drove to Palomar Mountain for backpacking in May, and so was very excited to learn more about it.

Gil and Nancy, the owners of the camel dairy, had three camels with them at the fair –  a mother and baby, as well as another female to keep the mama camel company. Their dog was also there to keep them company and help with the camel handling.

mother and baby camels

The adult camels were in the middle of their shedding season, so we got to pass around some soft camel fur. We also learned that running a camel dairy is tough! A female camel will only give milk when her baby is nearby, so you have to have plenty of baby camels to keep the dairy going! Gil told us that nomads in the desert  have sometimes resorted to stuffing baby camels that die in the desert and carrying them along with the caravan to trick the mother camel into providing milk – that’s pretty hardcore!

Baby camel searching for some milk

Fortunately no such deception was necessary at the fair, and we got to see the super-cute baby camel up close as he waited for milk and had a feeding.

Milking the camel

Gil was able to get about a quart of camel milk fairly quickly during the demo; he and Nancy were stocking up for their Camel Milk challenge – living on nothing but camel milk, dates, and water for two weeks as a rehearsal for spending a month trekking through the desert next year with similarly limited provisions.

Cuddly baby camel!

We were disappointed to learn that it’s not possible to obtain camel’s milk form the dairy due to pesky laws concerning the sale of raw milk, but I’m hopeful that the ranch will eventually be able to get permits to sell the camel’s milk (and then we can make it into cheese! and cheesecake! and ice cream!). The camel demonstration was really fun, and I’m looking forward to heading out to Ramona on one of the weekends that they’re offering tours!



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