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Monday, December 01, 2008
An old-fashioned, country Thanksgiving
I spent Thanksgiving on a farm in the outskirts of the little town of Marcola, Oregon. My sister's boyfriend's parents raise reindeer and Guinea hens on their farm. It's an odd combination. The hens are incredibly neurotic and flip out whenever anyway comes within 30 yards of the house whereas the reindeer will only acknowledge your existence if they suspect you've brought them food. They like apples in particular but only certain kinds and they can't be mushy.
I spent a good portion of the afternoon asking his mother a million stupid questions about reindeer. What does their main diet consist of? Purina Reindeer Chow. Apparently there is such a thing (or, more likely, she was just messing with me). Why reindeer? There's a market for their antlers when they fall off in the spring, provided they don't break them by plowing into one another. These reindeer also spend every November and December touring the Willamette Valley. They're slated to make an appearance at Beaverton Town Square on December 6th. Further information can be found here.
They stick with female reindeer because they aren't as aggressive and territorial as their male counterparts. A few years ago, a member of their pack named Jingle Bells grew an impressive "rack" and landed herself on the cover of a magazine devoted to reindeer. Yes, there is such a thing. Sadly, that reindeer has since passed away but two new babies have been brought into the fold. Pictured above is Sugar Plum, who accidentally broke a horn earlier this season.
Here's a few photos of Frosty, the cranky, self-professed leader. Another reindeer, Dasher, has a problem with traveling and tends to faint the second a lead rope is attached to her harness. Maybe it's stage-fright or perhaps she's just a huge prima madonna. Reindeer can be tough to read.
Of course, as you're probably wondering yourself, I asked what they taste like. While they don't harvest their pack for anything beyond antlers, they have eaten reindeer meat at an annual reindeer convention. Do such things apparently exist? Apparently, you betcha.
So what does reindeer meat taste like? Roast beef. And now you know. Merry Christmas!