Mongolia: Camel Training in the Snow

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October 8th 2017
Published: October 18th 2017
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Set backs are to be expected. This is never more the case than when you are working with animals, people or the weather. We, unfortunately are managing all three of those factors and we are trying to do it in a developing country. To say the cards are stacked against us is an understatement.

Today the biggest obstacle was the weather. The very brutual weather that swept over this unforgiving terrain briefly stopped us in our tracks.

It is no secret the cold weather is not something I embrace, but each year I endure it because of living in the Midwest and cohabitating with livestock. However, when I was standing in the blowing snow wondering if I would ever feel my toes again, I couldn't help but think, "did I really pay to do this? Is it really 85 degrees at home?"

It is amazing where our passions take us and what kind of conditions they propel us into. And most amazing is how we do it all with a genuine smile on our faces.

The strong winds, the freezing temperatures and the drifting snow tried to shut us down. Instead of advancing right into our next lessons, we slowed the pace and allowed the camels to catch their breath. We allowed for them to adjust to the climate changes and allowed them to burn off the extra energy brought on by windy gusts and dropping temperatures.

They are hungry and seemed confused by how these snows are covering the tiny bits of grass they typically graze. We took them out to the meadows near camp to let them burn off some of their innate browser energy and let them eat a bit. The entire time, reminding ourselves what our camel professors Russell and Tara keep saying, "A hungry camel is a dangerous camel."

It was interesting to watch the camels as we took them out. They were, as expected, energetic and a tad chaotic, but they did not begin to chow down. They seemed to look for forage, but didn't know how to navigate the snow. Some of the camel training team members tried to show them how to brush the snow aside to reveal the grass, but the camels neeeded more time to learn.

They eventually settled in, but many of our lessons had to be delayed as everything is more difficult in the blowing snow.

Despite the miserable weather, there were some highlights to the day. Leading the camels in this winter wonderland lent us a beautiful backdrop of white nothingness that just kind of took your breath away.

I am not going to lie, a caravan, a trekking string or even just a large group of camels can stop me dead in my tracks, so I understand there is a certain aesthetic bias when I relay this idea. Seeing the camels being led through the snow in their string made my heart flutter a bit and reminded us we're definitely deep in Mongolia.

The other bright spot of this annoying storm was watching my new Aussie friends who had very little to no experience with snow. I saw a day of bitter cold and increased obstacles where they saw a new life experience and a true adventure. Like little kids they made snowmen, had snowball fights and even dropped down for some snow angels.

While I thought of the warm weather being had at home, the childlike excitement of the Aussies was almost infectious. Almost.


Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 24


Blackie Can Be Exhausting...Blackie Can Be Exhausting...
Blackie Can Be Exhausting...

But he is worth it! Photo credit: Gillian Barber
Another View of Camel CampAnother View of Camel Camp
Another View of Camel Camp

Photo credit: Gillian Barber
Snow Covered CamelsSnow Covered Camels
Snow Covered Camels

Photo credit: Kaila Frazer
Breakfast TimeBreakfast Time
Breakfast Time

Photo credit: Gillian Barber

18th October 2017

Wind chill
Any idea the wind chill?
18th October 2017

Wind chill
I believe the wind chill was "damn cold!"
18th October 2017

Wind chill
Any idea the wind chill?
18th October 2017

Loving this
I am so enjoying your writing about your experiences. Your passion and excitement is contagious! Thanks for sharing the adventure!
18th October 2017

Snow Day
Students here get snow days. I hope you were as kind to your students!! Back to green grass and blue sky, please.
18th October 2017

What an awesome adventure! It's been fun following along and seeing pictures! Have a great time and keep the posts coming!

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