Tenderly, the breeder looks at Nour, Timone Faya, Rifla and Jaïd, her four young dromedaries, feasting on brambles, ivy and fresh grass in the fields.
“I have always dreamed of having a herd of sheep. I grew up with a shepherd grandfather and uncle, a great-uncle who was the last itinerant shepherd in France”, confides this dynamic mother of two children. , 39 years old.
Two years ago, Camille bought a farm and its 30 hilly hectares in Terre-de-Bancalié, in the center of the Tarn, and embarked on two productions, “so as not to put all (his) eggs in one basket” .
She acquires a “small” sheep farm with 115 heads, as well as four camels – three females and one male – with the project of manufacturing cosmetic products based on their milk. She touts its moisturizing benefits, especially for people with skin problems.
Why camels? A choice dictated by chance encounters with two other breeders, and love for her alpacas – also camelids – which she adopted as pets ten years ago.
– “Promising market” –
There are about thirty camel farms in France, mainly used for tourist activities. But only three concentrate their activities around milk, “and it’s very recent”, told AFP Bernard Faye, retired veterinarian, researcher and specialist in large camelids.
“There has been a great enthusiasm for a few years” for these animals that the collective imagination associates with hot and desert countries, “and more and more farmers are interested in the production of camel milk, a buoyant market”, he said.
According to him, the reputation of this milk, consumed in certain Arab-Muslim countries, “is probably overrated”.
“There are indisputable empirical observations which show that regular consumption of this milk is beneficial for certain diseases, but it certainly does not have all the virtues that are attributed to it”, he believes.
In France, however, it cannot be sold for lack of the necessary approvals. So the breeders are content for the moment to transform it into cosmetic products.
Lucie Tardieu, a few months old baby in her arms, is a loyal customer of Camille.
“With my job as a masseuse, I have to wash my hands very regularly and this soap saves me the problems of drying out. It is also perfect for my baby’s skin, there is no need to go looking for very expensive big brands”, launches the young woman of 30 years.
– “Curious, stubborn” –
At the farm, on the internet, and soon at fairs, the breeder is just beginning to sell her first soaps, at six euros each. The goal is to sell some 4,000 per year.
But as her young dromedaries do not yet produce their own milk because the first baby is only expected in a few months, she gets her supplies from a farm in Lozère.
“It’s a long-term project with a significant financial investment. A female dromedary is almost 5,000 euros and the prices keep climbing,” she says, hoping to reach profitability by five years.
At the Réalmont tourist office, Suman Rasiwamala, in charge of reception and tourist activities, was seduced by the experience.
“When Camille told me about it, I immediately said to myself that we had to value it, because it is quite unusual in the department, and it will allow us to attract people that we would not have not usually,” she enthused.
The curious can already meet the camels on the farm, where they live “very well” with the sheep, according to the passionate breeder.
And contrary to a priori, these desert animals adapt very well to the Tarn environment: “they just need space to walk, and can withstand negative temperatures of up to -10 degrees without problem”, assures she.
Not counting her hours to achieve her “dream”, Camille juggles her jobs as a farmer, responsible for the communication of her project and shopkeeper.
Always with an overflowing energy transmitted to her, she says, by her four dromedaries “curious, stubborn, endowed with a memory of hell, but to whom you must not make dirt, otherwise it won’t work!”