The secret life of reindeer


    The first thing you need to know about reindeer: They are a little different from their deer cousins.

    "They come from two completely different parts of the world," says Danny Aldrich of Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm in Clare, "They come from scandinavian countries- Norway, Finland, Northern Russia."

    Danny, whose family has worked with reindeer for nearly 3 decades, says geography is not the only difference, "They're fully domesticated. They are the only domesticated deer in the world, actually. They've been domesticated just as long as horses."

    So, reindeer are they are more like farm animals and, sometimes, house animals.

    "Every once in a while it happens where the mother doesn't accept the calf. So we'll take em and raise em right in the house. We'll bottle feed em like you would a baby. Every 45 minutes and it goes up from there," Danny adds, "It's a lot of fun. It's a lot of loss of sleep; but it's worth it at the end."

    These reindeer are far from skiddish around people, Danny says, "They know people, they answer voice commands. These guys all know their names."

    Reindeer do have a pecking order, and you might be surpised by who would guide the sleigh, Danny tells me, "Females usually are dominant over the males. There's always one female that is always dominant of the whole herd."

    Male or female, reindeer are not afraid of a little hard work, either.

    "We hook em all up, we've pulled sleighs with them. They're really good at it," Danny says, "They're extrememly strong. "

    This is all great information, but we need the truth here. Can reindeer really fly?

    "Sure they do!" Danny says, "They fly for Santa. Unfortunately, they haven't left any of that magic dust for us yet. "

    Still Danny says, his family quickly found, there is a little magic in every reindeer, "Once we got the chance to have a couple of these on the farm, we got two and that was 27 years ago. We went from there."

    The Rooftop reindeer travel the state, so you may be able to catch them out on the road. You can also meet them right at their farm in Clare. They are open weekends, and the reindeer will be happy to see you. Just visit their Rooftop Landing's website for more information.

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