By Miriam Raftery
February 5, 2016 (Ramona) –“Valentine’s Day will always be very special here at the dairy, as this was when our beloved Valentine was born in the snow,” writes Nancy Riegler, co-owner of Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona.
The story of Valentine’s survival is remarkable. Born during a snowstorm in 2008 (a rarity for San Diego), Valentine’s mother became confused and abandoned the newborn. Checking the maternity pen at midnight, Gil Reigler found the baby camel frozen, her legs and neck stiff.
He scooped up in his arms and raced into the house, shouting to awaken Nancy. He filled the bathtub with warm water.
“Gil and I worked together, leaning over the tub for forty-five minutes, warming and rubbing the tiny calf,” Nancy wrote in a story posted on their website. “She slowly began to move and breath, gurgly at first…We moved her to the garage and worked with her for two and a half hours, rubbing her with dry towels and warming her with blow dryers.”
The calf slowly improved, able to sip a full, warm pint of colostrum (first milk) from a small bottle after three hours. Gil and Nancy inflated an airbed and slept beside the calf, until her hungry cry awakened them. “She is a little miracle,” Nancy concluded.
Even more amazing, Valentine was one of several calves born that February, the couple’s first year after breeding their camels. Some of the other births proved challenging, but all of the babies and mothers survived.
“February is all about love at the dairy,” says Nancy, adding that the winter and spring seasons are the bull camels’ “season of love.” This year, two camels are pregnant, so more calves are expected to join the growing camel herd soon.
There are also four baby lambs born recently at the ranch from a flock of miniature babydoll southdown sheep.
“Our guess is that maybe the only thing that comes close to the cuteness of a baby camel is a 'baby babydoll'!” Nancy exclaims. “You can’t help but smile and laugh as they `boing’ around the pastures.”
You can come see the new arrivals, along with other animals and birds, at the upcoming Open Farm Tour and Show on February 13 and 14. The event also includes camel rides, a show featuring camels, exotic birds and more, plus an opportunity to purchase camel milk products from lotions to soaps, as well as camel wool items and more.
For more information, visit www.CamelDairy.com.