A Truly Unforgettable Reindeer Experience
I don’t even know where to start with this blog post as it was one of the most amazing experiences! This year, I had said that I didn’t want any gifts for Christmas and instead wanted something like an experience and a memory as that means so much more to me – and that’s what I got. Adam had given me one of the coolest surprises that I could think of! He knows how much I love animals (he does too) and reindeer are extremely special to me, so he organised a trip to see rescued reindeer at a farm and experience caring for them and being with them.
Now before I go into the experience, I need to put a disclaimer as I know there can be some issues and thoughts regarding wild animals and their well-being. I’m completely against animal cruelty in every way, I love them more than humans, and these reindeer are very well looked after. I wanted to make a point of saying that they are rescued from being culled, so Andrew and his wife specifically adopt reindeer that weren’t considered as good as others for reproducing in the wild and were going to be culled. Thinking about what happens to them makes me feel so sad, so I’m thankful to people like Riverways Farm for adopting them and giving them a brand new life. They have 14 in total so they live in their heard as they would in the wild, and they have huge amounts of space and different fields. The farm even adopts goats and has so many free range chickens (they sell the eggs – you can see a portion of their field in the background sometimes), that they look after, and there’s geese/ducks as well as pigs that they rescued from the end of their life. So do keep in mind what they are doing is a wonderful thing by rescuing animals and giving them a home.
This sort of experience isn’t something that’s open to anyone and they hadn’t actually done it before, but Adam sorted it out as a special gift and the money will go towards looking after the animals. We took a train from Bath to Reading and then from Reading to Twyford which is where Riverways Farm is located. When we got there it was surreal to see the reindeer! They were so excited that they all came over (as did the chickens) to see who we were. We got to feed them first so that they got used to our scent and saw us as friends, before we could take a few out on a walk to a new field. Blizzard seemed to take to me and we made friends instantly. We took 3 out in total, the first reindeer above with the red lead and the full antlers was Tornado, while the smaller reindeer with the pink lead was called Cloudy, and the white reindeer that has lost the fur on his antlers with the black lead was called blizzard, as he looks snowy.
I was surprised at just how friendly reindeer are, they’re very interested in seeing what you’re about, running around and being playful, as well as being inquisitive and enjoying the company, so that made me feel at ease right away that we were accepted by them and liked. I don’t like it if my presence stresses animals out, so I’m glad it didn’t. As reindeer can run up to 40mph and enjoy sprinting around, that’s the reason we had to have the fabric reigns and rope lead as we didn’t want them to run away. A lost reindeer is not good!
While we were walking with the reindeer, Andrew was telling us all about them and their anatomy (they have 4 chambers of the stomach like cows) and that was really interesting as I love knowledge. Their antlers lose their fur/velvet (they do this by rubbing on trees) around this time of year and then soon they will drop off, so a reindeer loses its antlers every year in order for them to grow back again, even bigger. They grow at a rapid speed! The female reindeer will hold onto hers a little longer than the males so she has more protection for her babies, which I thought was sensible. Their fur is incredibly dense and thick too which keeps them warm, they don’t even notice if they have snow on their backs. The antlers are much more warm at the base than the top too, as the blood supply is very strong. And the coolest part, you know that part of the Mariah Carey song ‘All I Want For Christmas‘ where she says ‘hear those magic reindeer click’, well they do. I found this out before, a couple of years ago, but each time they walk, there’s some ligaments in their feet that pop across and it makes clicking noises with every step. The purpose of this is because they’re heard animals and in Finland and their native countries, it’s so snowy and foggy sometimes that they can’t see properly and the clicking tells them where everyone is so they can stay together. Andrew is really passionate about reindeer and that shows through in all the information he was telling us.
As I’m a blogger, I couldn’t do this experience and not share it with all of you and document it with photos as I think photos are a huge part of a memory. I have a photographic memory so when I see visuals, everything comes flooding back and I can picture it well, so that’s why we stopped to take some photos for about 15 minutes or so out of the 3-4 hours we were there. Being part of a place that loves, rescues and protects animals was wonderful. The older chickens that don’t lay many eggs anymore are also re-homed and living out the rest of their lives on other farms and people’s houses, enjoying their freedom, which made me smile. It truly was a wonderful one of a kind experience and one of the best things I have done, so thank you to Adam for arranging this as a present and thank you to Riverways Farm for having us. Lorna xx.
P.S. – If you want to see a few videos, check out the Reindeer story on my Instagram profile by clicking here. It’s only view-able on the app version, not the desktop.