Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wall and gate

The gates at the head of Peaceful Camel Valley currently consist
of a set of rustic gates and rock-wall. We like to joke that the rock-wall was designed by the camels... :)

In time, as funding allows, the gates themselves will be custom-made to feature a camel motif, and the posts above the rock-wall will be decorated in some manner still to be decided.

Set into a stone shrine, our Sacred Camel Valley sign features an image of Allen Deutsch's great, "Tom Dooley", probably the best white Bactrian bull in the country.

Tom is the father of our handsome, two year old white bull, "Everest".

Trailer, truck & shed

Initial accommodations in Peaceful Camel Valley consists of a 35 foot 5th-wheel trailer. Much thanks to good friends Bart and Ina Burger, and Michael Macy for making this possible.

It's not yet hooked up, so might be in for a cold winter... :) But it's a whole lot drier and more comfortable than the cheap tent I tried living in last winter!

At left is our hay, feed and tool shed, still under construction. The red toyota truck was made possible by good friend, Sandra Gutman.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"De babies are like birds."

Recently, in an artifact shop in Sacramento, an old man from Senegal, Mamemor Mbacke, reminisced about some of Africa's animals with us.

When we got on to the subject of camels his face lit up, "Oh, yes... spiritual animal. Camel are sign of spiritual tings. Camel is only creature on eart to remember all 1000 names of God. Deep inside troat he 'rumble rumble...' all de names -- evry dey. Camels, also, can live widout food and water. And de babies are like birds!"

When he learned about the camels at the Sacred Camel Gardens, Mamemor responded, "Aaahhhh... good. Very good. Your people are most lucky to know dis type of animal."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Training Thoughts

No-one has the right to train another unless LOVE is the main ingredient of the relationship.

By love I don't mean an imaginary love or a romantic love, but love that is humble, self-less and filled with respect and understanding.

Too many people begin training before they have any knowledge, or intimacy, of the individual they wish to train.

As Bill Dorrance was fond of saying, "You have to get the feel of the horse. And the horse has to get the feel of you."

Get to know one another. Spend time. Expect nothing. Accept the camel, or horse or dog completely. Be willing to give more than you receive and you will get more than you expect.
Be patient. Don't force or rush. Slower is faster. Be willing to yield. Be willing to feel fully, as fully as possible. Never endanger yourself or the animal. Deepen trust at every opportunity. Listen.
Breathe. Relax. Be firm and clear. Don't ask for much. Build daily on the "ask". Give lots of praise when you get what you want. Praise them when they try for you. The "try" is worth more than any result.

Intelligence in Camels

I'm often asked if camels are smart, or how intelligent are they? I frequently hear something like, "are camels as intelligent as horses?", or "are they as smart as dogs?"

There are so many scientific studies, magazine articles, TV shows and books published on the relative intelligence of animals that are, mostly, very limited in their scope.

A large percentage of such research and reporting compares the intelligence of one species over another, almost always comparing a dog, a parrot, or a horse to a human. The basic thought is that if an animal is kind of like a human, displays any kind of intelligence or behaviour that seems close to that of humans, then in that species we can acknowledge some kind of superior intelligence.

But if a modern, civilized, human being entered the world of the baboon, or the sloth, or the lion... in that world he would display an extremely low level of intelligence. If such a human entered the world of a primitive tribal culture and had to fend for himself there he, or she, would like-wise be shown to be a complete idiot.

Reverse these positions and you would see the baboon as the un-intelligent one in the human landscape as well as when compared to the human mind.

So, how intelligent is a camel? For what it is intended a camel is exceedingly more intelligent than a human. And a tree, or a tick, is vastly more intelligent in it's world than a camel could ever hope to be. And so it goes...

Comparing the intelligences of other beings to our own intelligence serves, really, to impress upon ourselves how little we know, and how humble we are.

When the mind winds down, and comparisons dissolve, the intelligence of the heart, and of the "feeling life" becomes revealed as the constant, unifying and equalizing 'knowledge'.

Adi Da Samraj: At heart, all are One.

At heart, a human being is not the slightest bit different from the reptiles, the birds, the former dinosaurs, the elephants, the plants, the trees, the wind, the sky, the microbes.

Apart from their function in conditionality, all beings are the same.

Human beings are not uniquely to be...

3 Minute Memory

I recently read an article in a well-to-do horse magazine, the subject of which was equine memory.

It stated that after some extensive scientific research horses have shown that their active memory is around 3 minutes at best and often shorter.

I wish my memory was that short! :)

Of course, such a report makes no sense to people who know their animal companions.

A few days ago I was hand-feeding our 3 year old bull, Jelly, a flake of grass hay. Actually three camels were there together, completely absorbed in the hay. After about 15 minutes Jelly did an abrupt back-step and headed directly to the grain ration trough to lick up the grain-dust still lying their. In one gesture of his actually quite extensive memory, Jelly Baba obliterated the findings of some "esteemed" scientists somewhere in Europe.

It's really amazing what nonsense we are fed by those who claim to "know".

Diet Tips

A basic healthy diet for your camel (or horse):

- Hay = grass & alfalfa mix, but mostly good grass hay

- Grain = a good rolled grain mix with some alfalfa pellets etc

- Fruit and Veg = apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, broccoli, cabbage etc

- Natural browse = leaves, bushes, tree bark, grasses, herbs etc

Three good supplements:

- Azomite = This is an organic mineral and trace mineral compound mined in Utah, which supplies almost all the known minerals and trace minerals known to man. We mix the powder into the daily grain ration.

- Himalayan crystal salt = Mined in the Himalayas this is organic mineral salt, which supplies all known minerals and trace minerals. It comes in blocks or in powder form.
We supply our camels with both the blocks and in the powder - free choice. The camels love it.

- XPC Green from Diamond V Mills
= This organic dry-yeast culture supplies B-vitamins and other fermentation products for healthy digestion and immune function.
We mix the yeast in with the daily grain ration.

If you use these three nutritional supplements, combined with a healthy diet, you will have covered most of the nutritional needs of your camels (or horses)at a fraction of the cost of high-end designer supplements, and your animals will also be getting organic nutrition the way nutrition should be.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Lily Fund

In honour of the late camel, Montana Lily, the Lily Fund has been set up as the fund into which support and monies for the Sacred Camel Gardens are held

From the collected (donated) resources of the Lily Fund the Sacred Camel Gardens will be supported, maintained and developed with the intention of, day by day, transforming our, and present-time humanity's, approach to camels and all non-humans, and the world itself... for now and into the future.

The Sacred Camel Gardens' activities will develop in the direction of retreats with the camels, a training school for camels, equines and humans, and to serve as an educational resource for furthering knowledge about camels in the west.

To contribute to the Lily Fund choose from these tax-deductible options:
- online: sign-up for a monthly subscription
- check to FNM Zoo, 12040 Seigler Springs, Middletown, CA 95461
- we accept Mastercard and Visacard also
- encourage friends and family to do likewise

Thank you!

Visitation of Sweetness

A Visitation of Sweetness and Innocence
Montana Lily; 4/28/06 -- 8/20/07

On the morning of August 20 I noticed Montana Lily wasn't waiting with the others for her morning grain. I went looking and found her off in the rear of the enclosure, part way down a slope into some bushes, lying on her side, groaning. I called the vet and we started trying to help her. We couldn't get her to sit up, let alone stand. She was panting, her belly bloated. Her rear legs were not responsive. Every few minutes her whole body shuddered and cried in pain. We stayed with her for about an hour, trying to calm and cool her, keeping her hydrated, shading her from the sun. Eventually sweet Lily exhaled and let go. We all sat silent. Some started sobbing. I drew away, wanting to leave and never return. I wrote a letter to my spiritual teacher instead.

What kind of person was Lily? From her very first day here we knew Lily was special. Lily was born about a month premature. At birth her tiny feet had not yet fully formed and they took another few weeks to do so. She was little at first, yet she grew into a fine young camel of good size and proportion. Her face was a bit flatter than most camels'. Lily had big soupy eyes. She always felt compelled to walk up to everyone and look them directly in the eyes with her love. Her gaze and greetings were disarmingly sweet and innocent. She had her pouty, pissy, side but mostly she was the epitome of gentleness and depth. She stole your heart. She really was this way. More etheric than the others Lily would virtually brush you with her aura.

How did she die? We will never know for sure as no autopsy was done and nobody was with her when she fell, nor prior to it. At this point we are considering the following as possibilities:

- A rib may have punctured a lung
- Congenital internal weakness
- Fatal bloat due to something she ingested
- Snake bite or other venomous creature (no bite marks were found)

In Fiji, Avatar Adi Da did a very concentrated Blessing ceremony for Lily via her photograph. Later, He was exquisitely loving with those around Him.

We buried her body the next day in Peaceful Camel Valley. With the summer heat, by the time of the burial those present experienced the vision of death and decay very directly. Sweet Lily was now gone, her body simply a decaying, swollen, stinking, lump; yet even this was still loveable.

Coal, the big black Sanctuary dog, joined us in Lily's vigil. He sat all day with Lily's body, rarely leaving her side. Even when things happened that would normally draw him away he either stayed or came right back after investigating. He and I were up all night sitting with Lily's body. I'd never seen him so one pointed for so long. He showed me how to do a vigil. He also gave everyone so much good, serious, happy, energy.

Coming now at the very beginning of the Sacred Camel Gardens, Lily's life and sudden death is a gift of some of the sweetest innocence shown by non-humans, as well as the seriousness of this undertaking. We move forward now with this lesson always before us.

The future of Fear-No-More-Zoo and its Sacred Camel Gardens is in all our hands. More support is needed... please get involved. We invite your help and care.

According to Avatar Adi Da, the process and development of Fear-No-More Zoo can have a thoroughly benign, positive, influence in the world of man, and in man's relationship to the world we live in... and more profoundly than through any other non-human / environmental cause or project.

By giving energy to Fear-No-More Zoo, and the Vision of Fear-No-More, we contact, support and combine with what Touches the roots of human egoity, healing the heart as fear dissolves...

Service and support to Fear-No-More Zoo is a Prayer of Changes, in action, for the world at large.

When Lily died a part of me died also. Fear-No-More touches and soaks my heels. There are no mere animals at Fear-No-More Zoo, or anywhere else. Whether human or non-human we are all persons... "equals at heart".

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Back at the Trough

At this point Peaceful Baba pretty much has the hang of things in terms of food sharing. This morning the four of us, including Jelly and Muffin, stood quietly around the grain trough. Peaceful, to my right, was grumbling a bit. Muffin circled a little and Jelly, at my left, kept gesturing for the food by stepping back an inch or two, with a bit of head winding added to his request. We stood this way for about five minutes until the three of them settled down and the bargaining subsided.

When everyone was calm I whispered, "Gooo-ood...!" and leaned back slightly to invite them in. All three heads came down gently and quietly, and began vacuuming the grain up, calmly eating until it was all gone.

In the upper pasture, Everest galloped up to the food bowl as I poured the grain. As he closed in on me I gently nickered, "ah!" and he pulled up gracefully and respectfully stood with me. "Gooo-d..." I signaled and he began eating...

As Google Mama and Purnimama galloped in I brought them to a gentle lope with another "ah.." as they drew down to the food bowls. And I let HiHo and Delaney figure it out for themselves this time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Feeding, Sharing, Peaceful Baba

Peaceful Baba was hand-raised from birth because his mother didn't take to him quickly enough. She was young, herself, and not emotionally ready for mother-hood. Her new baby both entranced and terrified her. So Peaceful Baba grew up with humans. Consequently, Peaceful developed a variety of traits that he might not have had he been raised by a wise camel Mom. We did our best. He was my first child :)

Today, at about seven years of age, Peaceful Baba tends to be more complicated around food than the other camels. He likes to dominate the feeding trough, whereas camels in general are great at sharing food within the herd. Sometimes Peaceful is fine and content to share. But more often than not he gets into barking, grimacing, shrieking and spitting at the other camels to get them to retire from the trough. He's discovered that if he plasters the grain in the trough with his regurgitated cud the other camels' interest in dinner evaporates and he gets the whole lot to himself. The other camels also just get tired of Peaceful Baba's drama, and persistence, so they just move away, letting him have at it all.

When all the camels ran together we fed them their grain ration in four or five separate bowls and troughs. So everyone got their share no matter what mood Peaceful was in. But when we recently moved them into two groups Peaceful, Jelly and Muffin ended up with one trough between them.

With one trough it has become more important for Peaceful to out-grow some of his anti-social leanings. We've been approaching the issue gently, steadily, carefully, slowly letting Peaceful know that his smart eating habits are inappropriate... giving him the opportunity to take our cues and shift his behaviour without us having to get tough. He'd clearly come to know that his food hogging was not appreciated, but he'd only partially let it sink in.

I wanted to be sure that when I got tough, if I had to, he knew exactly what for. I also wanted to apply just the right energy, not more or less than was needed, when I was ready to stand my ground on this issue.

Yesterday the time came. He was particularly obnoxious right from the start. I gave him a moment to calm down and then sent him away. I sent him away a good distance while inviting Jelly and Muffin to eat. Peaceful did not like this. He pulled his lips back exposing all his teeth and the insides of his villi covered cheeks. Growling in high pitched tones he started approaching. I headed toward him, forceful in my energy. He moved back again, lips flickering. He wasn't being aggressive at all, just protesting this new situation. I held him there, under the large oak tree, with my gaze. He kept moving one foot forward, his lip flickering at me. I'd lean toward him, holding him in check, until he stepped back.

After a minute or so I moved further away, still holding Peaceful in place with my attention and gaze. I moved over on the other side of the happily feeding Jelly and Muffin, about 30 feet from Peaceful. At this particular meal, because he was so riled up, Peaceful wasn't going to get any grain at all.

Each time he made a move toward the trough I leant back toward him with a "haa!", and a stare... Jelly and Muffin cautiously kept an eye on the two of us. Jelly would lift his head to look at me, then at Peaceful and back at me before burying himself in the trough again, clearly appreciative of the situation. And eventually Peaceful resigned himself to his position.

After the meal, when the three of them had moved over to the hay, I went to Peaceful. I wanted to connect and give him a pat and a hug. He was very receptive, with no carry over from the earlier interactions. Things felt good between us.

The next day, when the grain went into the trough, Peaceful barked a little again so I backed him up a few feet, waited, then invited them all in. Jelly and Muffin dove into the trough, while Peaceful held back, looking at me with a little uncertainty. I stepped back and guided him forward with a soft tone. He brought his head down smoothly, and quietly, alongside Jelly. I bent forward and praised him, scratched behind his ears, praising him some more.

It's going to take some further work with Peaceful but the standard for him has been set now, and he knows it. He clearly appreciates something about it, but is not yet convinced that it's all good. Another good, very important, result of this process is that Peaceful Baba's respect for me is deepening through my gentle, graduated, firmness.

When Peaceful was still a 'pup', yet another military crisis had just broken out in the world and Adi Da Samraj named the young camel, "Peaceful Baba". This camel has his rough edges, but he much prefers the peaceful way once he is shown it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Folded Wings

Most people tend to think that a camel's hump is a repository of water for the enhancement of their desert survival. This idea is but one of the many legends that surround the mysterious camel.

If you give thought as to how much a camel might drink in the hot desert you will quickly realize that a hump or two full of water wouldn't last long enough to help much in drought conditions.

A camel's hump is actually comprised of dense fat tissue, and sinew. The humps serve several known purposes.

One is to support the camel through long periods without nourishment. Camels adapted to harsh conditions have been known to survive more than 40+ days without food or water. The fat in the humps is consumed during long periods without food. Surviving without water is made possible because the camel's physiology becomes highly adept at moisture conservation, giving them the ability to do without additional water intake for very long periods.

Other purposes of the humps are to help regulate temperature. The humps provide increased surface area, which in hot weather can allow for greater regulation of body temperature through the skin and extra fat. In cold weather the humps of fat along the back provide additional reserves of body warmth.

Also, in the realm of legend, is another story about camel humps; a story that came to me the other day while observing some camel antics. This story is mythic. It is also symbolic of the world's need for man's re-awakening, and of the non-humans' patience with us, while we still sleep.

Camels can be looked at from physical and scientific points of view. They can also be seen from many other points of view.

There is their own point of view. There is the point of view that their predators have of them. They can be seen from the viewpoint of the birds overhead, or the birds who break open the camels' dung to find seeds. Or the view of them by the soil beneath their feet.

A camel, like anything else, is never just one thing... unless we make it so.

Looking at camels, or looking at anything, from as many, and varied, points of view as possible changes our view of reality and deepens our understanding of any one thing, and of everything. "We are more than what we look like."

Picture a camel (one humped or two) standing in an open grassy field. Picture it gallivanting about, jumping, bucking, twisting, rearing up on its hind legs, leaping exuberantly as if trying to fly. Can you picture a camel flying? What would it look like? Do you think camels have the impulse to want to fly? I know I do...

Did you know that camels actually once did fly? And that they might do so again? Folded tightly and neatly within those humps are their now dormant wings, with which they used to use to soar through the skies.

When humans once allowed themselves and the world to be free and wild, the ancestors of today's camels used to be the creatures we now, in our imaginations, call dragons. We rode them in the skies. We were partners. Now, neither of us fly. We both share the memory and the desire to fly again, but we humans are now afraid, and our fear keeps the world around us from being free.

So the camels wait. They wait until we are ready. And in the meantime, if you ever get the chance to know a camel up close, and with due respect, you may notice that they will try to help you beyond your fear, because they know that in such direction lies our, and their, renewed flight, and freedom.

Throughout recorded history camels have been beasts of burden, carting us and our goods across continents, into war, over deserts. The wild herds live in remote places, as far from human fear as possible. Both wild and domestic camels are waiting, as are all creatures, for humans to let go of our fear so that all can be free again, and again to live as equals, at heart.

Look into a camel's eyes and you may come to feel that this is true.
One day, now, when we have surpassed our fear, the great wings within the camels' humps will unfold once more, and they will begin to fly again, and we will know we are free!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Keeping Watch

Yesterday we discovered that HiHo had a few scratches on his chest and forelegs. We haltered him and cleaned them off. They were superficial luckily. How it happened we don't know. They have a big pasture with bushes, trees, rocks and logs. Keeping watch over the camels' safety is a daily, constant, responsibility. Every night before going to bed I go out into the pasture, either by moonlight or with a flash-light, usually around midnight, to find each camel and check them over for anything unusual.

They have a few favourite groves of brush oak they like to camp in, but lately I find them, each night, clustered together at the fence dividing the upper and lower pastures. Both groups come together there to sleep the night as a herd, finding comfort in greater numbers. Everest and Muffin are often close, with the fence between them. Jelly and Peaceful usually seem to be co-joined at the hip, looking like a two-headed dragon sometimes. Google Mama is often seated about 20 feet from the group. HiHo and Delaney tend to pod together. And Purni takes her bed somewhere near either Google or Everest.

Visiting them in their camp is always a treat. Their big, warm, woolly, bodies set down in scattered, quiet, repose, wide eyes firmly on me through the darkness. I don't presume to intrude on them beyond a brief head count and then I'm away with a "goodnight, monkeys".... and I'm off to my own non-camel bed.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Lessons for HiHo

We have a little yearling bull here, silver in colour with a white blaze and a little white beard, and black tufts along his "ridge-crest". He's cute. Humans think he's cute. His character, and facial expression is a little quirky and quizzical too, and humans think this is cute as well. But the rest of the camels have a different opinion about HiHo.

What humans find cute and endearing in HiHo the other camels see as not quite right. HiHo, for whatever reasons (size, upbringing, early-life influences), is very strong-willed, wants to do things his way, resists guidance, becomes defiant. He clearly knows what is being asked of him but mostly wants to do things his way.

The other camels see HiHo's behaviour as an endangerment to the herd. In the wild HiHo's independent streak might put him, and others, at risk, drawing predators around the herd. Additionally, his social behaviour isn't conducive to the cultural balance of the herd. Because of this he has a hard time fitting in.

The older camels are always watching HiHo's behaviour. They repeatedly lay down the law of the herd and demand that the little guy get straight, and become safe to be around. This involves repeated chasing away and bites to the rump, with HiHo squealing like a pig.

In the months preceding HiHo's introduction to the bigger herd I spent many hours patiently repeating myself to HiHo, gradually getting his agreement to respect me and stand on his own, but in relationship to me. It took a long while, not pushing too hard, gently bringing him through. And at a certain point he started to get it, he started to come with me.

Now, with the herd this last week, he's going through a repeat of that same education process and a deepening of it. Everest and Purni, especially, are on his tail a lot. I can tell its challenging for him, and I really hope he can respond appropriately and become evened out by the other camels' input and guidance (a mixture of mild shunning and hazing).

For his own happiness, balance, maturation and acculturation as a camel we are hoping he'll soon accept the social demands that the others are offering him.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Al Deutsch, Pioneer

Al Deutsch, and his wife Terry, have been incredibly good to us, helping us build up our herd, giving us loads of good advice and encouragement. We consider them both very good friends now. Good people who have good camels.

Their love for camels is infectious. Al has been breeding camels for over 30 years, and developed probably the biggest herd of Bactrians in the US, numbering over 70 at one point. He has some of the very best breed-stock in this country, some really top bulls and a lot of high quality females.

Al's camels really love him too. You can see it in the way they relate to him. Terry is also excellent with the camels, especially the babies. Camels have been a major part of their lives, and one of the things that brought them together.

We bought five young camels from Al and Terry, who were incredibly good to work with through the negotiations and deliveries, and with follow-up advice. In a lot of ways they seem to consider our new camels to still be theirs too, often calling just to see how they are getting along.

Al and Terry moved their ranch from Colorado to Montana. They can be contacted on their Montana phone number: 406-467-2365 (current as of Oct 5, 2007)

I wish they would move closer to us, so we could help them with their ranch work and learn from them as much as we can, and cut down on phone calls.... :)

I think Al and Terry have significantly raised the bar on high quality camels and camel husbandry in this country, and we hope to follow on from their lead and continue with their good work, while bringing in our original energies as well.

Al and Terry will always significantly figure into the history and tradition of camel ranching in the United States.

Wishing them well in Montana, and hoping to see them soon (and often, if it wasn't for the distance).


Thursday, October 4, 2007

E-Fencing for Camels

For camels we have found it very effective to run a single hot-wire along the top of the fences (and gates if desired) to prevent them from leaning on fences and gates. They quickly develop respect for the fences this way.

Unless your pastures offer natural surfaces for rubbing and scratching, be sure to provide ample rubbing posts for the camels if you set up hot-wires on the fences.

As soon as funds permit, we want to convert our entire fencing to one of the high strength electric braid fences, running 3 or 4 strands.

Because of our pasture's remote situation we are using a solar power charger for the fence, which works well enough.

A draw-back with the electric fence is that in the winter when our Bactrians' wool gets thick their flanks, necks and backsides can contact the hot-wire without the zap penetrating to the skin. So far, though, this hasn't ultimately diminished their overall respect for the fences.

One Becomes Two

For some time now we've been running our camels as one group. With the two bulls getting older (2 & 3), larger and more precocious, and with the winter breeding phase nearing, we recently transitioned everyone into two herd groups.

It was a gradual transition, over about a week, so as to minimize their concerns over the new changes and to reduce the chances of accidents.

In our lower pasture we now have our three year old black bull, Jelly Baba, living with Muffin, who is a mare, and the gelding, Peaceful Baba.

And in our middle pasture we have our two year old white bull, Everest, living with Google Mama, Purnimama and Delaney, who are all mares. Little HiHo lives with them too, for now. HiHo is a silver yearling bull with a huge character. We're not certain yet whether he is going to get much bigger, but right now at a little over a year old he seems to be in the "miniature camel" category.

This week we also set up a 200' X 100' arena to more formally serve our human / camel cultural integration "rituals". We have called this arena, "The Arena of Feeling Camels".

Only when, in each case, cross-species relational integration has reached a clear depth, will other types of personalized training be explored... such as, consensual ride training, trail riding, light jumping, consensual dressage, pulling, trailering... all with a view to furthering understanding, and deepening relationships, between camels (and other animals) and people.