Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2013

MOUNT ULLA — Take it as a sign of spring. The Lazy 5 Ranch has baby camels.

The mothers and calves are doing fine, and you can visit them in the Horse Barn on your next trip to the ranch. They’ll only be in the barn a couple of more weeks before joining the other grazing animals.

You hate to say the birth of camels is a run-of-the mill thing for the staff members at Lazy 5, but Sarah Rogers and Jamie Ellsworth, who have been looking after the calves, are experienced in this kind of camel thing.

“I wouldn’t say old hand — but once or twice,” says Ellsworth, who has been at the Lazy 5 for seven years. “It looks great on your resume.

“… Just like any other babies, you have to watch them closely.”

Rogers says the mothers have been quite attentive. A veterinarian assisted in tube feeding the calves right after birth, but they took to nursing from their mothers almost immediately.

Like young colts, the camels stood on their wobbling legs within 30 minutes to an hour after birth.

Between the Hamptons’ two ranches, the Lazy 5 on N.C. 150 and The Farm at Walnut Creek in Ohio, staff members see the births of three to four camels a year, Rogers estimated.

Right now at the Lazy 5, there are six adult camels — five females and a male — and the two calves, which have yet to be named. There’s another pregnant camel in the herd due this spring.

The new mothers, Mary and Martha, came to the Lazy 5 from Ohio prior to Christmas so they could participate in the ranch’s nativity scenes. The staff also wanted the pregnant camels in a warmer clime for their deliveries.

For Mary, it is her first calf. She had a baby girl Feb. 19. Three days later, Martha gave birth to a baby boy.

To say they’re cute doesn’t quite do the calves justice. How can you not like those ugly mugs, the super soft and curly fur and the long, skinny stilts for legs?

The dromedaries have one hump, more like bumps on the calves. Besides nursing, they’ve been sampling alfalfa hay and some mixed grains.

The gestation period for camels is 12 to 13 months. When born, the calves usually weigh 50 to 75 pounds. Mary’s baby girl arrived at about the normal size. Martha’s boy has been a bit punier, though he seems in good health.

As you cam imagine, the visitors to Lazy 5 like baby camels.

“Any kind of baby in here is a hit,” Rogers says.

But young camels often suffer an identity crisis. When they’re in a pen without the mothers around, the calves usually are mistaken for llamas.

That doesn’t seem fair.

The Lazy 5 hasn’t decided what to do about names for the calves.

The staff might ask visitors to choose the names in some kind of contest, which no doubt will lead to suggestions such as “Lumpy,” “Humpy” and “Bumpy.”

But what about “Sarah” and “Jamie”? Having camels named for you has to look great on a resume, too.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263,or