Have you ever heard the one about the British farmer who made milk from the camels he purchased in Spain?
Pull the udder! No, seriously, it’s true. Maria, Seraya and Sinai pump out so-called “white gold” A relatively low daily rate
But it’s early days in this venture which has certainly helped Joe and Rebecca Fossett get over one hump – the impact of lockdown.
The former circus couple had 13 camels and were in a lot of pain after the pandemic halted their racing and polo events.
They hit on the idea of dairy, bought a milking machine from the United Arab Emirates and are now selling – to locals and followers on social media – at £20 a litre.
Joe, 60, is the farm’s owner, while Rebecca, 50 is his assistant.
There are five rare breeds of pigs, three horses, three felines, three cats and two tortoises.
But animals have been Joe’s life. He was brought up in the famous Fossett’s Circus family and for 35 years trained lions, tigers, elephants, bears, horses and, yes, camels.
He shifted his attention to camels and only them two decades ago after an outcry regarding circus animals.
The lockdown that brought an end to their shows put an end to the daily plant.
The Fossett’s purchased their three milking camels last year.
Intelligent Joe says: “I have always loved camels. They’re so caring, affectionate and intelligent. We were shocked when lockdown occurred. ‘What are we waiting for, let’s do it’.
“And we started milking in April. All that goodness is still in the camel’s milk. It’s still early days, so we will see how things go.
“We’ve always been committed to the highest standards of welfare and they’re incredibly well looked after.
“People are surprised how well behaved they are. It’s down to how well-trained they are.
“Now we’ve got cats, dogs, horses, pigs, chickens, tortoises and camels all living here with us now – and they’re all part of the family.”
There have been one or two hairy moments. Farmhand Ryan McGinley, 27, was bitten on the arm and spent a week in the hospital.
Joe was left sore too after one of the beasts kicked him. But in general, he says, they are quite timid.
After milking, the camels roam a stunning 15-acre plot – used recently as a backdrop on Good Morning Britain’s weather bulletin.
Leo, a Chemistry student, has created White Russian-style cocktails while Daisy sells milkshakes at local farmers markets.
Leo rode a camel along with his friends to make a dramatic entrance at the school prom.
After being inspected by the Food Standards Agency, Fossett’s was approved to sell camel milk.
Rebecca is adamant about the potential health benefits. She has piles of research suggesting camel milk is lower in fat and lactose, is loaded with vitamins and minerals – and reputedly cures a hangover, which could be handy after a Leo cocktail.
It’s been lauded as a remedy for a range of conditions in North Africa and the Middle East for centuries and is said to boost libido.
Rebecca swears by the beauty benefits of it, too. “I went to see a dermatologist to get my capillaries done in my face and she tested the hydration in my skin.
“Three months later I went back and the only thing I had changed was the camel milk and my skin had improved on all counts.”
Camel milk is a lucrative business. Long-life Camelicious, produced by 6,000 camels owned by UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has been on Asda shelves since 2017 at £12.98 a litre.
Also, store sales might be on the Fossett horizon
“We have lots of options,” Rebecca sips a camel milk cappuccino.
“But we’ll take each step as it comes. The milk has been a great bonus. I love it!”
The potential doesn’t stop at milk. Customers who believe it has medicinal properties have been offered camel urine by the Fossett’s.
They admit to having faced protests from camel racing opponents at events they hosted.
Two decades ago, they stopped working with large cats because of a backlash against animal welfare.
That coincided with Rebecca falling pregnant, as she explains: “We were thinking about travelling to Las Vegas on tour with our lions and tigers but then I got pregnant.
“It didn’t seem like the best time to be working with lions and tigers. So it was actually an accident that we fell into camels.”
Joe launched Joseph’s Amazing Camels, which have appeared on TV and film including Location, Location, Location, Countryfile, Nativity and even an e-Harmony advert.
The Three Kings and Their Camels parade in local towns is a popular event. They hope to revive the tradition this winter. They’ll, of course, milk the applause.