Camels in the San Luis Valley
CAPULIN — Nestled in a valley between Capulin and La Jara, is a unique farm featuring camels.
Matt and Meghan Stalzer own The Camel Farm. Meghan, aka the Camel Chick, spins camel and sheep wool, teaches spinning wool classes in nearby Alamosa, and makes fudge treats, using camel milk and other organic ingredients.
Pronounced foodge because of its smoothness, the Stalzer's camel fudge is so good people have said it is the best fudge they have ever eaten.
Meghan also makes soap out of camel milk.
In addition to the farm, the Stalzers have an unusual bed and breakfast, Camels and a Yurt, which provide visitors the chance to experience these animals and a slice of farm life with spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains and of the San Luis Valley.
They have a hard-sided yurt with a propane heater, wood stove, bed, futon, and coffee service, with enough room to sleep four people. The bed and breakfast is open year-round.
Why camels? It turns out camels are ideally suited for the harsh climate of the San Luis Valley.
"They tolerate temperatures from 140 to -40 below zero," Meghan said. "Camels love eating cactus and sagebrush. Their mouth has tentacles to help move the food into their mouth. Camels can change the pressure in their feet, like a car tire, for going on a hard or soft surface. They have three eyelids and furry ears."
Matt and Meghan Stalzer have always been interested in homesteading.
One day, in the homesteading magazine "Grit," they saw an article about camels. The Stalzers went to a camel seminar in California in 2012, met other camel farmers, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 2014, Matt found a piece of property near Moffat. The Stalzers started Mudita Camel Dairy with Big Momma Maya and her son, Niam.
Mudita is a Sanskit word meaning "our happiness comes from your happiness."
Meghan shared the benefits of camel milk.
"It is naturally homogenized, like goat's milk," she said. "It has lower fat than cow's milk. Camel milk is good for lactose-intolerant people and is the closest to breast milk."
In 2018, the Stalzers found their dream property, 35 acres near Capulin with endless views of the San Juan Mountains and plenty of room for the camels. The property has a couple of centuries-old cabins left by the Martinez homesteaders long ago.
Currently, the Stalzers are not selling milk. But Big Momma is pregnant and they hope to sell camel milk again in the future. They plan to sell food from their garden at farmer's markets this summer.
The Stalzers have four female camels. Niam, the male is full grown. They also have four donkeys.
There are predators around but Meghan explains, "Donkeys are also known as guardian livestock. (Also) ...the unique smell of the camels is off putting to the coyotes."
Along with camels and donkeys, there are ducks, chickens, and a special 5-year-old boy who embraces his parents' lifestyle.
To find out more about The Camel Farm, the fudge, soap, or the bed and breakfast, Camels and a Yurt, go to www.camelbnb.com or go to Facebook and look for The Camel Chick.