Meet Lulu,one of our much loved camels who we purchased from the sale yards. In that moment her fate changed. No longer destined for live export,she came to live with us.
We had barely had her a week she gave birth.I had suspected by the size of her teats that she was pregnant, but Gill and I were only just beginning our journey with camels and the camel ‘expert’ we purchased her from was adamant it was from last years baby,wherever that was!
After twenty four hours we realised her newborn had not fed. We knew we needed to do something. The colostrum so vital to the babes welfare is only produced in the first few days. Reluctantly we decided to milk her so we could then bottle feed her baby. I wasn’t at all enthusiastic about this. We had only just got her,she was still very wild and the thought of crouching down at her teats and milking her,worried me. I knew it was going to be me doing the milking because I was the only one who’d ever done it before.
Gill and I always talk to our animals and we gently explained what we needed to do and let Lulu know we were wanting to help. Lulu who barely two weeks before had been grazing freely out in the desert with her herd, stood there and let me do it!
I was glad we could help but it was heart wrenchingly sad too. Lulu stood so still for me and all the time I milked her tears flowed down her face and they did so every-time I milked her over the next few days.
On the 3rd day we arrived in the yard ready to milk her again. Her nostrils flared when she saw us and she stamped her foot on the ground. The next moment we saw Windy,her new born calf run over and drink from her teat. Lulu was in her power again and didn’t need us.She was a proud mumma and she was letting us know.
Gill and I have lived everyday with our camels for almost fifteen year and there is something so incredibly powerful about getting to know a herd with all its dynamics. A camel,like all animals remains in its power when it has the entire family structure around it. What we learn from the matriarchs is different from what we have been taught by our bull and so on down through the herd.
In all the time we have lived with them,we have only seen individual camels cry five times. We have seen they’re eyes water from the dust and wind, but when they cry, they’re sorrow is palpable. You feel it and your heart weeps with them. They don’t cry if they trip and bang they’re knee, or they are having a shit day,they are much more stoic than that. They cry as any mother would when they cant feed they’re own babe,or because its been taken away and they cry when we separate them from they’re friends.