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Winter Dairy Duties

Time to start milking again! I took a few months off to finish much needed barn renovations - hooray for winterproof walls and windows! - and also to nurse a very sick Journey. We almost lost her to parasites this summer, but after four months of treatment and quarantine she is back to her ornery self, parasite free.

This means I can now begin the winter leg of dairy operations in earnest. I've missed seeing the animals' quirky behavior up close and eating breakfast and supper with the nearly unwashable smell of camel still on my hands. Last week our farm hand, Russell, helped me prepare the milk room to start taking customers again. Our massive, hairy hybrid Desi and her 10-month old calf Jericho will be customers #1 and #2 early tomorrow morning.

The tricks to a successful milking will be timing and teamwork. I'll have to distract our two pregnant mommas with breakfast (shouldn't be too hard) while I ready Desi. Though her calf is growing up, her protective nature is still enough to keep me a bit on edge. This makes leading her into the narrow stanchion like asking a woolly mammoth to climb into a barrel of monkeys. But she's mostly a sweetheart so I really don't anticipate trouble. Jericho has grown heavier and taller since he and I last did our milking tango in October. We dance around Desi until he finally decides to nurse on her teats like he means it. I'm glad he's stayed relatively mellow since we broke the routine, since he can now easily rest his chin on my head.

Changing routines can be an opportunity for conflict at first, but learning, too. The camels thrive as much on an active mind as reliable routines. Because we're farming moms and babies it's very important we cultivate active minds so no one goes to sleep on the job. Bored camels become careless and dangerous camels. Who wants that?

Wish me luck!

Desi and her handsome son, Jericho


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