Thursday, October 25, 2012

Camel Dairy?

How the direction of our lives can change in such a short period of time. Life is truly amazing and unpredictable.

While we have not had much opportunity to get out and work on our land, due to our lack of funds, we have done a few things, like clear more sage for the other leg of the fencing on the west perimeter of the land, and Richard built and installed a door on the shed (out of disassembled pallets), and we had our first experimental try at making adobe bricks.

Richard fills the adobe brick form.
Adobe bricks.
Pallet shed door
Bus shopping center: General store and restaurant.

In other news, I have decided to start a church on our property, or more likely online, with some meetings and ceremonies at our place. This will utilize my minister ordination and allow us to connect with more folks in regard to creating a sustainable community and planet. I learned a new term this week, which aptly  describes my current position in life: Spiritual Activist. I seek to help awaken others in the hope that we can all spiritually evolve in an attempt to save the planet from the destruction that is running rampant with current policies and methodologies, especially in my own home country of the USA.

It is vitally important that we all set aside our differences and come together in order that we may evolve into a new humanity that supports the ideas of peace and equality for all and environmental responsibility. No, I don't support communism, just peace and love, and happiness or the pursuit of, for all people.

Life is full of lessons isn't it? And people who are bigger than me, in the sense that they are more open-minded and forgiving of different belief systems that go against everything they stand for. That is commendable and I am lucky to have made a new friend over the past few weeks who is just such a person. This woman came to my house to buy our extra roosters because we decided they were more than we wanted to take on in regard to processing. Richard's chicken processing classes have not been very popular, and in fact most of the classes we have offered have met with little interest in this community. Perhaps we need to rethink our audience.

It turns out this lovely soul is the mother of three beautiful little girls who all suffer in some form or another from allergies or ailments, including symptoms on the autism spectrum. My daughter was diagnosed with PDD- NOS last year and, although my son did not receive the diagnosis, his behavior mirrors his sisters so much, with a good bout of hyperactivity thrown in, that I have to wonder if his lack of diagnosis was correct. In any case, his allergies are beyond reasonable and he is also on the gluten, casein, soy free diet his sister is on. We also feed only organic, additive free, preservative free, nitrate free, dye free, non-processed foods. It is an expensive diet, but one that should be adopted by everyone concerned with their own good health, and a diet we hope will help to heal our children of the health issues that actually combine to cause the condition of autism.

So I met this wonderful mom who is on a crusade to heal her kids, as many parents of children with autism are, who asked me if I had ever heard of the benefits of camel's milk? Well, no, I had not. So she provided me with the beginning research that would lead me down an interesting path indeed. She had noticed my llamas, who are always eager to meet new people and stood hanging their curious faces over the gate.

Camel's milk is a fairly new to the world of autism, but researchers claim the benefits of drinking the milk have had profound positive effects on diminishing the symptoms of autism. Here is an article in Natural News that explains this amazing milk. Also their are claims that donkey's milk might just have similar positive effects. As I began doing my research, I was directed to a site that sells camel's milk, called Camel Milk USA, and a naturopathic doctor named Millie Hinkle, who has helped many people set up camel and/or donkey milk dairies. She in fact got a law passed that allows dairies to sell this milk in the US.  So, I called her.

Yes, she can help us find a dairy to buy the milk for our kids. The milk is incredibly expensive though, so I asked her about starting my own dairy. We have the land, and even some know how...with milking goats, but not camels. Camels are also incredibly expensive. As are Mammoth donkeys, which she recommended. But, we could start with regular donkeys and work our way up. On a whim, and because it has come up, I asked her about llamas. Well, llamas, being of the same family as camels, have milk that is just as beneficial, but milking a llama never produces enough milk to really make a dairy any profit. So what, I thought. Llamas are accessible and I know something about llamas, having three of my own. But, we never bred any of them and all three of our males are gelded. Too bad.

But then, 7 free female llamas show up on a Facebook site my new parent friend has recommended to me. Wow. Talk about miracles. Talk about life jumping in a new direction. Now, I am in the process of acquiring these seven llamas, and wondering how this whole thing can be pulled off. Especially when Richard reminds me how we barely came up with the money to buy hay for our own llamas. I spent the whole night tossing and turning and wondering if a had made a huge mistake. The woman who is giving up the llamas can't afford to feed them through the winter. Will I be in the same position?

I am currently trying to enlist the help of other parents to donate funds to help buy hay and build a shelter for these llama girls. We do not have the llamas yet, and maybe I could back out of it, or even take a few less. However, I feel this is the beginning of an opportunity that won't come again. If I get these llamas and get them bred, then in a year, we will have access to the milk that may help my kids heal inside. Everything is a gamble. There are no guarantees.

I feel that if I can pull this off, I can then graduate my dairy up to donkeys and perhaps even camels one day, A female camel, bred, costs about 15,000$. That's a lot of money we don't have. But we do have seven free llamas at hand with almost the same milk, although, admittedly, there is a lot less of it and we will have to learn how to milk these girls with a syringe. Doesn't that sound interesting? We also will have more llama wool, assuming I find someone to shear them, which we might be able to sell, or at the very least use for insulation in our house building endeavors.

We could try to take the llamas trekking, which might raise more money, but my life partner seems to have very little interest in this whole endeavor at this point. Shame. Maybe I could take them for llama walks to generate some money while he stays home with the kids. I just don't know. I do know this is an opportunity that probably won't present itself again. And, if it doesn't work out, we could re-home the girls in the long run, I suppose. But why not give it a go?

So, I'm running on blind faith now, hoping that within the next few days a solution will present itself in regard to financing this dairy endeavor. I don't have the llamas yet. Nor do I have fencing to contain them or a shelter for them to get out of the harsh, mountain, winter weather that is coming. Thankfully these critters are adapted for living in these conditions.

I have to believe this will all work out for the best. What else can I do? If I don't jump, will I always wonder at an opportunity missed? Don't things have a way of working out?

If you'd like to donate to this endeavor, please follow the link here: Green Desert Sanctuary
If you'd like to buy some art, which will go to support this endeavor anyway, please follow this link: Kerry Bennett and if you are interested in an original piece of artwork, please contact me through the artist website. I will give you a deal. I have seven (plus three) llamas to feed.

Let's get this camelid dairy going! And thank you Vivian for showing up in my life when you did and being such a noble and courageous person and dedicated parent! We can do this!! You have renewed my faith in people and lead me back to the belief that even in spite of our profound different beliefs, we still have so much in common, the very basic being we are simply people, trying to survive and take care of our families in the best ways we know how.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life on the homestead. Life in Taos.

Haven't written for a while. Been feeling down with little money to invest in Our Place. It's hard to sit at home when we want to be out on our land building. We did pick up a bunch of metal barrels off of Freecycle, which Richard wants to turn into biochar and rocket stoves. We took the barrels out to the land, but didn't do much else. I meditated on the serenity as a Raven circled our work area.

Life in Taos goes on in the weird ways it normally does.

New business on the Mesa

There is a new bus out on the Mesa, called The General Store Bus. Wonderful. We did not stop in, but signs say they carry pet food, firewood and car parts. And pizza. Competition for the ice cream/coffee/burger bus?

This past week I went on an adventure of sorts, wildcrafting with a local herbalist.

Mullein--first year

On our day trip, I got to see the beautiful trees. Fall is here. I can no longer turn a blind eye to the snow that is coming.

Aspens in the Ski Valley

Today, while at home on the 'Stead, I followed Fluffy around. He's my giant Cochin Buff rooster. Reminds me a little of my tiny Cochin Napoleon from the Colorado homestead. I miss that fiesty little roo. (He died mysteriously one morning. Sad, sad day for me.) Here in NM this past week or so we lost one of the ducks to some mysterious illness. One day they are fine, the next day, stiff as a board, lying in the yard. No amount of research has yet yielded an adequate answer.

Fluffy Pants/Fancy Pants the Roo and Guadelupe the lonely duck.

While I play with my chickens, the always inquisitive llamas stick their noses into my business. Or, maybe they are just saying hi.

"Hey, whatcha doin'?"

And an ultralight airplane soars overhead as I watch the hot air balloons rising over the hills (Taos Gorge balloon rides). Interesting morning.


Also caught two snakes in the mudroom this past week. Bull snakes, but they do a fine impersonation of a rattlesnake. Caught on two different days. One huge one...about five feet long, and then a tiny baby about a foot long. An angry baby--hissing and striking at the glass of the jar we caught him in. He puffed his head up into a diamond shape, and he is so lucky he did not have a rattle nub on the end of his smooth tail.

Snake medicine.

I have decided to take an herbology course when the funds come in.

Sold a painting. An original no less. Not much money, but enough to buy 20 bales of hay for the llama boys. Stocking up for the winter. The next art sale goes for propane. Or maybe to register the trailers. Or the van. So many choices. Buy some art here!!

Just another amusing week in northern New Mexico.