Friday, March 27, 2015

From the Source Friday: Joe's Camels

The fourth Friday of every month is From the Source Friday! Show your appreciation to these dedicated fiber farmers as they teach you all about where your yarn comes from. Today we are going to learn all about camels. Did you know that yarn can be made from camel fiber? You may have heard of the luxuriousness of camel hair coats. Just imagine how fun it would be to crochet with camel yarn! Joe of Joe's camels is here to tell us all about his animals.

Life on the farm...
We have a herd of 5 female and 1 male Bactrian Camels.  Camels have cattle nomenclature, so we have 5 cows and one bull, with a few calves due this spring.  There are two main types of Camels.  There is the one-humped Dromedary Camel from the Middle East, North Africa and India, with feral populations in Australia.  We, however raise the 2-humped Bactrian Camel from China and Mongolia.  There is a true wild Bactrian Camel and it is one of the most endangered large animals on the planet.  Domestic Bactrians far outnumber Dromedaries globally, as well as in North America.  There are supposedly only a few hundred Bactrian Camels in North America, versus a few thousand of their single-humped cousins.  The two types of animals can cross breed, with the offspring being large in stature and having a very large hump. 

They're pretty easy keepers and the management of Bactrian Camels is awfully similar to cattle.  They are easy on our electric fences, but are very susceptible to parasites.  Coming from a dry environment, their systems haven't been used to the parasites our livestock often carry.  Parasite control is the most important components of a camel management plan. 

The benefit of Bactrian Camels is their enormous fleeces, which luckily shed off in the spring.  No, there is no need to sheer our animals, thankfully it simply sheds off in the spring time.  We brush it out and they will often line up to get brushed.  I liken it to wallpaper removal, as it will often hang in big clumps off of our animals.  We often find the hair in clumps in the field.  It has been stated that one Bactrian Camel can produce as much as 30 pounds of fur, and it is so much hair that their fleeces will literally hang to the ground in the winter time.  The under hair of the animal is the desired product of the fleece and the guard hair is the least desirable.  We have our fiber processed and de-haired at Zeilinger Wool Mill in Frankenmuth, Mich. 

A Camel Story
Calving time can and has been much more time-consuming and even emotional.  My wife (Marcia) and I were in Europe last spring and we had a calf born.  The calf had a rough start at life and was also born all white.  White Bactrian Camels are extremely rare.  This calf's mother was not raised on our farm and isn't the most friendly of animals and she calved out in the field a snow white little bull calf, we named Olaf.  He was too weak to stand but he had a strong will to live and was definitely hungry.  My folks, who daily manage our animals, worked around the clock to ensure Olaf pulled through.  He was still too weak to stand after the first day and was taken to Michigan State University Vet. Clinic.  He spent a few days at the Clinic and received blood transfusions from another one of our camels and made a great turnaround.  The work of my folks and the MSU Vet. Clinic saved Olaf's life.  He definitely looked forward to his around the clock bottles and even loved to kick a soccer ball.  Olaf was placed in a loving home near Philadelphia.

We have names for all of our camels including; Emma, Gracie, Barbie, Camella, Bonnie, and Eugene.  Bonnie and Gracie are the stars of the barn and one can't come into the barn without saying hello to those two.  They love ginger snaps and Gracie is trained to kiss you for a treat.

Have a look!

So cool! Wanna see more camel pics? Check out their website. Joe's Camels also posts a "hump day" picture on their Facebook page every Wednesday. How cute is that?? Camel fiber and roving is available on Etsy. Thanks for sharing with us today, Joe!

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