Sun, 27 Feb 2011

The Story of the Weeping Camel

The Story of the Weeping CamelWe stumbled across this gem last night on the Documentary Channel, and I've got to say it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. Here are the Wikipedia and IMDB pages.

Maybe it's because we're shepherds ourselves, and heathen shepherds at that, that we identified with these folks. In fact, I had to think about how to categorize this post - it could just as easily have been placed in my Asatru category as in Agriculture.

The story is simple: it's spring, and the sheep, goats and camels are giving birth. One first time camel mom has a terrible labor, and ends up rejecting her calf, a white male. We've has this happen with our sheep, and we usually end up with a bottle baby like Little Mac. But yurts are smaller than farmhouses, and camels, even newborns, are way too big to bring inside. So the family has a dilemma. Losing the colt is an unappealing economic loss, but despite their best efforts, momma camel is having nothing to do with it.

They get a hold of the local lamas, who come out and do a ritual trying to get the land spirits to help calm the momma camel. It doesn't work. So they send their two boys to the nearest town to get out the "big guns" - a musician who will do a "hoos" ritual to bond mother and calf.

In the Washington Post review, the film makers recounted the run up:

Falorni and Davaa admitted that they asked the family whether they were absolutely sure the ritual would work. "They said, 'Yeah, it always works,'" Falorni recalled with a smile. "'It might take half an hour, it might take two days, but it always works.'"

And it worked - the momma camel is so moved by the music that she weeps, and accepts her baby. Within minutes, mind you. I have never seen a camelid cry - Hel, I'd never seen a sheep or a cow or a goat cry! Now I have.

We've worked with ewes who rejected their newborn lambs for weeks to no avail. Other shepherds around here have mostly the same experience - it's often easier to get another ewe to adopt a rejected lamb than it is to get it's mother to accept it. But this musical ritual did it in 30 minutes. Amazing.

You gotta see this film - good for the whole family.

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