Adopter’s 65th Anniversary Weekend: Part 2

Standard
Open Day 2017 AP40

Adopters and reindeer relaxing in the garden (Photo by Andi Probert)

Here’s a wee round up of day two of our 65th Anniversary weekend…

After a good night’s kip we were all up bright and early (well, early at least, not sure about the bright!) for another day of fun, this time over at our Glenlivet hill farm. We have a second base there, about an hour’s drive from the Reindeer Centre, where some of our male reindeer spend the summer months, and which also gives us access to the Cromdale mountains for brilliant winter grazing.

Barbara Butters2

Hamish looking at the view (Photo by Barbara Butters)

Andrew Smith2

It’s a tough life! (Photo by Andrew Smith)

Hen and myself headed straight over to help Tilly set up at the farm, collecting some fallen branches covered with lichen for visitors to feed to our reindeer on the way. We arrived to find everything already looking quite organised, but the first big job was to move some of the reindeer from their normal daytime area – a sloping field with access to a large airy barn – down to the garden ready to meet their adopters. Hen was primed with a list of which reindeer had someone coming to see them, and we both made our way through the reindeer, who were munching away at their breakfast, popping head collars on the first 10, who we distributed between the various helpers we had, before we led them down the yard and let them loose in the fenced garden. The reindeer thought this was thoroughly exciting, and Blue in particular went leaping and bucking off down the hill! We went back for a second run, and a partial third run, before leaving the shier and older reindeer to relax in the peaceful barn for the day.

Yvonne Bannister2

Reindeer socialising in the garden (Photo by Yvonne Bannister)

Open Day 2017 AP33

Aye Coffee providing caffeine and sugar to keep everyone warm! (Photo by Andi Probert)

Open Day 2017 AP36

Happy iron age pigs delighted to have fresh ground to root around in

By now, much to my delight, Aye Coffee had arrived to provide me with my vital caffeine intake for the day and were setting up their van, Derek was prepping the meat for the BBQ (low food miles indeed!) and Alan had moved a group of the Iron Age pigs down to a pen near the garden for the day, which they were cheerfully rooting up. Alan then quickly made himself scarce, not to be seen for the rest of the day (probably busy running up a hill somewhere!). The first adopters were arriving and the drizzle was just starting to dry up. There was a roaring fire going in the BBQ hut, which was the perfect antidote to any chilly fingers.

Open Day 2017 AP52

Lovely toasty BBQ hut(/sauna!)

Open Day 2017 AP34

Derek (background) serving up burgers and sausages from the farm.

As adopters arrived, we tracked down reindeer for them and made introductions. October is peak rutting season, so all of our young bulls were in a separate pen, and we mostly headed in ourselves and brought adopted reindeer down to meet their adopters at the gate, to save anyone accidentally getting caught between teenage bulls who were full of hormones!

Open Day 2017 AP56

Young bulls tussling.

Open Day 2017 AP48

Feeding lichen lollipops to greedy reindeer! (Photo by Andi Probert)

Open Day 2017 AP44

Open Day 2017 AP42

“I’ll have that!” says Scrabble

Open Day 2017 AP43

Oryx meeting his adopters

Linda Hoejland

Spider delighted to meet adopters! (Photo by Linda Hoejland)

In the garden, everyone was handing out lichen lollipops, and the reindeer were very relaxed – by the afternoon most of them were lying down fast asleep between groups of visitors. Tilly had arranged tractor and trailer tours, but had underestimated their popularity, so the first tour was one tractor and trailer, but by the last tour there was a progression of tractor and trailer, landrover, and quad bike and trailer! Despite our slight lack of organisation with them, everyone seemed to have a blast and most people who wanted to go on it did (possibly with the exception of myself!).

Carola de Raaf2

One of the tractor and trailer tours setting off (Photo by Carola de Raaf)

Colin Brazier3

Inquisitive red deer hinds and calves (Photo by Colin Brazier)

Andrew Smith

Beautiful setting for our red deer herd (Photo by Andrew Smith)

Open Day 2017 AP53

There was even cake!

Open Day 2017 AP54

Busy making badges to show who their adopted reindeer is.

Yvonne Bannister3#

Highland cattle wondering what on earth is going on! (Photo by Yvonne Bannister)

By 4pm, the BBQ was finished, the coffee van packing away, and the last adopters were heading home. There wasn’t too much to do except pack away the information boards, run the reindeer from the garden back up to the hill, lead the herd up onto the open hill for the night, and feed the bulls. And then, most importantly, head out for a celebratory meal ourselves! (Thanks Tilly!)

Open Day 2017 AP67

Puddock bonding with herders Fiona and Morna (Fiona just may have been plaiting his beard…)

joanne-jewers.jpg

Reindeer licking lichen off the walls! (Photo by Joanne Jewers)

Open Day 2017 AP60

It’s all too much for Moose! He was mid-dream at this point!

Kirstin Kerr

One of this year’s hand-reared red deer calves (Photo by Kirstin Kerr)

Belinda Beattie5

Big pig! (Photo by Yvonne Bannister)

We certainly had a lovely weekend, and great to meet so many people (old friends and new). We hope you all enjoyed yourselves too. We’ll do it all again for our 70th (once we’ve forgotten how much organisation it all took…)

Andi

Advertisements

Calf Training 101

Standard

October is a fun time of year as it’s when we train this year’s calves as well as harness training our young Christmas reindeer to pull Santa’s sleigh. Halter training and handling the calves makes them much tamer and easier to handle for the rest of their lives so even if they don’t end up pulling Santa’s sleigh at least we can catch them if we ever need to when they are out in the hills…well, most of the time anyway, some are always wild…it’s in the genetics!

Luckily reindeer are very food orientated, aren’t we all! So stage one is to get their heads in a bucket full of tasty lichen, chocolate for reindeer!

Calf training

Lotti luring the calf into the bucket of delights!

Once the head is ‘inserted’ a sneaky manoeuvre gets the halter on with them barely noticing what’s happened!

Calf training

Mel putting on the calf’s halter while Lotti holds the bucket

Once the wee ones are caught we get ourselves a couple of steady old boys to come alongside and ‘teach’ the calves…this day it was Puddock and Parfa’s turn to be the companions. We have found that they are better behaved without their mums, like some children! So mum’s go back up the hill once they have accompanied the calves down to the ‘training centre’ and the big boys take over.

Calf training

All haltered up, we are ready for a wee walk around Glenmore to see the new sights and sounds…….

Calf training

To try and make the walks a ‘fun’ thing we go off into the woods in search of yummy snacks!

Calf training

Enjoying some freshly picked tree lichen from Lotti.

Calf training

The boys enjoy the smorgasbord walks just as much as the calves! Puddock nibbling lichen from the trees.

Calf training

Fresh birch leaves are another favourite, Grunter snacking on leaves while Lotti feeds the wee calf.

Calf training

Moose ready to grab a big mouthful of leaves, it’s interesting to watch the technique. They grab the twig some way toward to base and then pull it throw their teeth and hard pad to strip off all the leaves but leave the twig and tip intact so they don’t actually damage it, clever!

Calf training

The training/buffet walk finishes with a wee graze of the grass.

Lastly with heads snuggly back in buckets of lichen, halters are carefully removed! After 2 or 3 outings like this they will be pretty much halter trained. The key to winning them round is lots of tasty snacks and pockets full of lichen as you will have seen and a couple of old boys who can be a good influence!

Mel