MATING TIME AND THEIR CALVES
During the migration to the winter range the reindeer will mate. This is called the
"rutting" season and occurs in late August and early September. The adult bulls, or males,
will try to gather a group of five to twenty cows with which they will breed. Since this is
very, very, important to the reindeer, they will use their antlers to fight with other males to
control the females in their group. Only the strongest bulls will mate with the cows.
The cows, and their calves from the previous year, gather in the calving area. It is
sort of like a reindeer nursery, and this is where the new calves are born. The older calves
must now leave their mothers because she can only take care of one at a time. At the time of
their birth, the newborn calf has two small stubs of antlers already growing on its head.
Even with these stubs, they do not grow a full set of antlers until their second year. The
calves, or baby reindeer, weigh about 13 pounds. Within two hours of birth, the babies can
already stand up and walk. In only a few days, the calf can travel as fast as its mother, and
has no problem keeping up during the migration to new feeding grounds.
Most of the stories about me have some connection to this part of the world. The
area called "Lapland" lies in the far northwest part of Europe, right at the Arctic Circle.
Lapland covers parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The name itself comes from
the people who live there, they are called the "Lapps".
For hundreds of years, the Lapps have kept herds of reindeer, and followed the
reindeer herds on their migration from feeding ground to feeding ground. These herds
supply the Lapps with meat and milk, as well as clothing which they make from the fur
hides. The reindeer have very rich and creamy milk that supplies the Lapps with energy in
the cold environment. This reindeer milk is four times richer in butterfat than cows milk.
the reindeer supply the Lapps with so many things to survive, without them the
Lapps could not live in this area. The Lapps use the reindeer for many different
things in much the same way that the American Indian used the buffalo. The hides
are used for tents, parkas, trousers, gloves, boots, and bedding. They make
thread for sewing the hides together from the sinews of the reindeer. Sinew
is what holds your muscles to the bones. You may know it as "ligaments
or tendons". From the bones and antlers they make knives and other tools,
including excellent fish-hooks.
The reindeer are also a big part of the Lapplander economy. Many skins are sold for clothing and decorations.
They also use the reindeer milk to make and sell as cheese. The meat is exported, like some people export beef in
other countries. One of the biggest buyers of the meat is Japan, and other places in Asia. But it is the reindeer
antlers bring the most money into the economy. In Asian cultures, the men believe that the antlers, when cut into
small pieces and cooked with other ingredients, will restore their youth. Since the reindeer loose their antlers every
year, this is a very easy product to supply without hurting the animals.