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  • Luke

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Every Thanksgiving we take time to celebrate the first settlers to come to America and their gratefulness to our Lord for their blessings - including food - despite their many struggles and hardships. This year, we'd like to tell the tale of another first group of settlers – camel settlers.

Did you know that in the mid-19th century the Army recruited camels as pack animals to explore the great deserts of the vast southwest? The United States Camel Corps was the brainchild of a few soldiers and researchers who braved public and political backlash when they championed the idea that camels could outperform mules on the desert trail. If you can believe it, there was an actual mule lobby in Washington that fought hard against pilgrim camels. They mostly thought camels would look ridiculous in breeches and wooden shoes.

Jefferson Davis, the new Secretary of War, finally pushed past the mule wall and obtained $30,000 from Congress to gather the first camel herd from the Middle East. Sailing through the Mediterranean Sea in a ship we’ll call the Wallflower, an ambitious Major Wayne ultimately gathered thirty-three camels total from several different countries, including Egypt, Malta, Greece, and Turkey.

Once aboard the ship, the camels promptly threw up. It’s not in the record, but c’mon. Actually, Major Wayne laid out strict guidelines for caring for the animals and the group arrived in Texas healthier than when they departed. One died, but two calves were born somewhere between Gibraltar and the Bahamas. On a second expedition, Wayne gathered forty-one more camels, though five died on a harrowing return trip. The rest knelt and prayed when they reached shore.

Altogether, seventy camels and two camel drivers hired from the Ottomans formed the Army’s first cud-chewing, vomit-spewing, perfectly adequate camel corps. As predicted, they outperformed mules in every way. Exhausting treks with no water, snake bites, and heavy loads did not wear the camels down, and their endurance impressed everyone in the party. The wayfaring camels began gobbling up once impassable land at the amazing clip of 4 mph. The famed frontier explorer Edward Fitzgerald Beale reported he would rather have one camel than four mules. A white-haired camel named Said became his prized mount. Said’s bones now rest preserved in the National Museum of Natural History.



The camels survived everything but politics. The mule lobby eventually regrouped and fought off requests to import more of the one-humped wonders. The Civil War did her in, as they say. Jefferson Davis became Confederate President and overall interest faded. Our courageous camel pilgrims were sold at auction to mining companies, zoos, and business speculators, or let loose to wander in the desert, where they became a bit of a legend. One became known as the Red Ghost and haunted the Arizona desert until a certain ungrateful farmer shot him for grazing in his tomato patch. Another died a war hero. Old Douglas, as he was called, became a member of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry and was reportedly shot and killed during the siege of Vicksburg. Some say he was buried nearby, but I can imagine a few hungry Confederates had a hard time resisting the thought of camel burgers.

The first camels may not have been Puritans and they probably didn’t wear breeches, but just like the New England Pilgrims they did face many hardships when coming to America. Their God-given endurance made it possible for pioneering soldiers to chart out huge sections of the southwest.

As a side-note, you can experience the history of the camel expeditions brought to life by our friend and mentor Doug Baum, a top-notch cameleer who heads up Texas Camel Corps. Doug is a terrific guide who teaches through camel treks, historic reenactments and programs at schools, libraries, museums, and historical sites. Check him out at texascamelcorps.com!


Thanksgiving was originally a celebration for what God provided through the Pilgrim’s faith and endurance. Today we hope you can reflect on all of God’s graces and all that you and your family have endured. Eat some good food, rest, talk about football, halfway laugh at dad jokes from Grandpa, and – hey, why not remember and celebrate these brave camels from the past with some luxurious camel milk soap? (You really think we’d leave that out? 😊)


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Special thanks to our media specialist, Laura Rothhaar, for helping put this together!


  • Luke

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

Mediterranean breezes swirl down the streets of Aleppo in Syria, carrying with them a spicy blend of old-world fragrances that are impossible to pin down. You might pick up black pepper, jasmine, pomegranate, fresh pine... the everyday aromas of Cleopatra. Whatever you discover, it’s a trip for the senses worth experiencing over and over. And our Aleppo soap makes it possible.

You might wonder, how can soap made in Indiana be called Aleppo soap? It’s all about the recipe. The star of traditional Aleppo soap is laurel oil, which is emulsified with olive oil and lye to form an ultra-creamy, ultra-cleansing bar that is individually stamped at the end of a nine-month drying process. This recipe is among the oldest soaps, thought to have been developed in Syria during the time of the Romans before it moved west across Europe after the Crusades.

Laurel is an evergreen tree that grows around the Mediterranean (think laurel wreath). It produces small, dark red berries, from the pulp of which is extracted the famous laurel berry oil. Every hair stylist and skin specialist in antiquity hunted down this essential oil for its cleansing power and anti-septic properties that keep skin and hair free of bacteria long after each use.

More well-known today is olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants that help prevent aging skin and contains vitamins A, D, E, and K. With a combination of these oils, it’s no wonder why the intensely moisturizing Aleppo soap is so beneficial for sensitive or damaged skin.

And then along comes camel’s milk, our signature touch to this otherwise perfect recipe. It brings to the party alpha hydroxyl acids to (these remove dead skin cells) and its own anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties (and so much more!).

Ready to give it a try? Perhaps the best part is that you don’t have to fly across the world to experience the final result. It’s all made right here at the farm with the highest quality ingredients and can be purchased on our website or picked up in person.


Laura Rothhaar contributed to this piece - THANKS!

Photo by Laura Rothhaar

  • Luke

I’d like to start off by saying I’m not your typical farm wife. Growing up, while I always dreamed of having a large white farmhouse and land to explore and ride my horses on, I never really got into that whole “grow your own food” and “get up at the crack of dawn to care for animals” thing. I still don’t. Actually, it was my sister who was more rooted into farm living than I was, growing a garden and raising chickens, pigs, and beef– I seemed to just be along for the ride. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I was never really sure of it enough to give it a go for myself. Ironically, my sister now lives in the suburbs of Indianapolis and here I am on a camel farm of all things!

Jericho and me - boy is he getting big!

Anyone who knows me knows that I despise the cold and winter with every fiber in my being. Spending more time getting your winter gear on and off than the amount of time you spend outdoors? No, thank you! So, when it comes to winter chores with the camels I rely pretty heavily on my husband, who willingly tends to the feedings, water maintenance and barn cleanings, all geared up in his Carhartt’s, winter boots, two coats, two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves and two hats – which takes him at least 15 minutes to layer on top his already long-johned body. Bless him.

There are occasions, however, where I will wrestle on my snow pants and heavy coat to brave the icy blast of winter in Indiana. Today was one such occasion. Though it wasn’t without its tantrums - coming from this momma trying to fit toddler fingers into gloves – it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday. We laughed, we fell in the snow, we said hi to the camels, we lost gloves, cried because our hands were cold without the gloves, and promptly trudged back inside the house. Ahhh, fun times. You know what I like? Summer. I like summer. But I also like being a farm wife. Despite the drawback of winter, I am energized by the challenge of maintaining a property and animals through every season. It’s a career that has a history like no other - so deep that it started at Creation in the Garden of Eden when God, “took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” It seems that God made farm living for a reason – it teaches us things about life, His creation, and ourselves in such a special and unique way. An extreme challenge at times? Definitely. But SO worth the effort, especially when we see ourselves growing as a family and we get to witness our children learn more about their Creator. Yep, the life of this farm wife is blessed indeed.





Camels in the Cornfield

Writing down what's up on the family farm
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Luke's left-handedness explains a lot about him. This according to Amber, who watches him do everything backward, camel milking and wrangling included. But whether spreading seed in the pasture, winterizing the barn, or everything else he may or may not remember to do,  Luke does actually try to think with both sides of his brain...and with the Lord's help, keep the farm moving toward a bountiful future. 

Head Milk Man

Luke Blakeslee

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Amber is not a picky person. She just doesn't like pie, peanut butter, broccoli, or a messy soap room. What she does enjoy is tackling each day with gusto - you should see her daily lists! - and taking plenty of time out to laugh and work with the kiddos on projects. Fingerpainting, anyone? Her husband (writing this) and children are blessed every day by her in so many ways! 

Head Soaper and Manager of Operations

Amber Blakeslee

The pigtails say it all! Our little Pokey Bear is all girl, but with no small amount of future farmer mixed in. On nice days she pulls on her light-up boots and follows her Daddy into the barn for her favorite job, pouring grain for the camels. She also models merchandise and, yes, is the official "sniffer of soaps." 

Lead organizer and sniffer of soaps

Priya 

If there is work to be done, we can always count on Lancer Dancer to be....wait, has anyone seen Lance? Alright, so he is still catching on to the sun-up-to-sun-down work routine of farm life. Yet this boy radiates sweetness at every turn, even when he's putting shoes in the toilet or decorating the couch with a thousand candy sprinkles. We love this little boy!

Early rising jokester 

Lance