May is here, and with it comes the first of our reindeer calves of the year! They are long-legged and lovely, stumbling around finding their feet and flopping down in a heap of fur and legs on the heather.
As with many animals, the reindeer seem to prefer calving early morning. So much to our delight, we start at 5am, a couple of us heading up the hill to search out females absent from their dinner the night before. To find them we walk round the 1200acre enclosure, scanning through binoculars for sight of a lone female. On a beautiful morning this is a delight, the Cairngorms behind us tipped red and gold, and the sky turning from white to blue. On a miserable morning this is more of a rain-drenched, hair-dripping, squelchy-shoe, wet-through-to-the-pants kind of job.
After finding her, we check the cow and calf are healthy and if possible, bring them back to our calving enclosure to join the nursery and allow us to keep and eye on them for a few days. So far we have had an equal number of male and female calves, from almost pure black to white, speckled to striped.
Reindeer calves are pretty tough little things, having to get up on their feet and keep up with the herd just a few hours after being born. To help with this they are born with seemingly very long legs for such small bodies, and so keeping balance often makes for a steep learning curve..
Unfortunately, rules are rules and we don’t reveal names of reindeer who have calved until our newsletter in June. So until then, you must wait with baited breath to hear who has had what, and in June we will reveal all!