Did you know there are reindeer in Ontario County?
Ok, they may not be roaming around in the wild, but we do have 2 resident real-life reindeer, and I got to meet them!
A few weeks ago John & I had to take a quick drive to Canandaigua to pick up some cattle supplies, & while driving through Shortsville we saw a man walking his reindeer on the sidewalk near Red Jacket High School.
So, of course, I made John pull over so I could see the reindeer up close!
Turns out the gentleman walking his Reindeer was Mike Schaertl owner of the Shortsville Reindeer Farm, LLC, with Moose, and Little Buddy, who were on their way home from an appearance at a Red Jacket Youth Football event. Mike was nice enough to introduce us to his reindeer, and after some chatting even invited us back to learn more about his boys and get more pictures.
Because I had so much fun and might have fallen a teeny bit in love with the reindeer, I thought I’d share what I learned about reindeer, and how you can meet Moose and Little Buddy too (details below).
How Did Reindeer End Up In Manchester New York?
Reindeer, who are native to Arctic, sub-Arctic, tundra, and mountainous regions of Northern Europe seems to be an unlikely sight in Upstate New York, but Moose and Little Buddy have found a comfortable home at Mike’s peaceful homestead.
According to the Shortsville Reindeer Farm website, Mike got his Reindeer in 2017 to realize his lifelong dream to be a world-renowned eccentric ?. But, after meeting Little Buddy and Moose, I think the better question may actually be, why would you NOT have Reindeer!?!
I mean come on, look at those eyes!
Jokes aside, the Shortsville Reindeer Farm is certified by the USDA, is a member of ROBA (the Reindeer Owners & Breeders Association of America), and currently approved by the Town of Manchester to house up to 6 Reindeer.
Reindeer Are Actually Pretty Chill
Meeting Little Buddy and Moose on their home turf was a little different than our encounter on the sidewalk. Recovered from my initial excitement of actually seeing reindeer, I was able to appreciate their character and temperament.
Moose and Little Buddy both have a curious, gentle and friendly temperament, and surprisingly are also fairly sedentary. While I was there one seemed to doze off while standing up. “They lie around most of the day,” Mike said, if he is working along the fence line or in the pasture they will follow him, but for the most part they seem to be saving their energy. Maybe for pulling Santa’s sleigh??
While the reindeer are mellow, I am not going to lie, the antlers are intimidating. The large growths are truly bones, that are fed by a blood supply which is carried in the outer velvet covering, kind of the reverse of bones found in the body, they are regrown and shed each year. Since their sharp and pointed antlers can inadvertently prove dangerous, Mike has trained his boys for ease of handling, and to tolerate their sensitive antlers being touched by adults and children who are intrigued by the large headpieces. His reindeer are also very tolerant of large crowds and strangers, which also really surprised me.
Owning Reindeer Isn’t all Fun and Reindeer Games
After meeting Moose and Little Buddy for the first time, I jokingly told my husband I wanted to add reindeer to our farm, but owning reindeer isn’t a passive hobby. There is a tremendous time commitment, as well as a financial investment, specifically in regards to the health and disease prevention of these animals.
Because of the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease, a contagious and deadly disease, to members of the deer family, Mike has taken the extra precaution of erecting 2 fences; a lower interior fence, and the state-mandated 8-foot high fence a few yards away, so there isn’t the possibility of his reindeer coming into nose to nose contact through the fence with local whitetail deer.
Despite Mike’s extra precautions, In November of 2017 Little Buddy, contracted Babesiosis, a parasite spread through tick bites, he became quite ill, and in need of specialized vet care. Little buddy received treatment for his illness at Cornell University Equine and Nemo Farm Animal Hospital. Moose also made a trip to Ithaca to keep his friend company and provided blood for a transfusion that saved Little Buddy’s life. Little Buddy made a full recovery and is back home with Moose. They are both all ready for the 2019 Holiday season!
Where to see Reindeer this Holiday Season
I had SO much fun running with Moose and Little Buddy during the Run with The Reindeer Event in November, and I am really hoping that it will become an annual tradition!
If you were unable to attend the Run with the Reindeer event in Manchester, but would still like to see the Reindeer, you are in luck! On Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 12 PM – 4 PM you can see the Reindeer at their home!
Moose and Little Buddy will have a break from their holiday travels and invite you to come visit them at their farm. For a $5 admission fee (kids 5 and under free) you may come into their pen and and meet a real reindeer up close!
Depending on the number of visitors, you may be able to get a picture with one of the reindeer. They also have 2 red sleighs available for pictures. Unfortunately, Santa will not be available on this date as he will be prepping for the big day!
If you are interested if meeting the Reindeer at their farm, make sure to check out the event information on Facebook for the latest information including directions!
Don’t forget to check out Shortsville Reindeer Farm website for other holiday events near you.
Little Buddy and Moose are also available for private events, gatherings, festivals, photoshoots, and parades. Contact Shortsville Reindeer Farm LLC for more details and information regarding on-location reindeer events.
As always, I do my best to provide relevant and accurate information regarding events. With any event dates and times are subject to change, please confirm dates, times, and availability before attending an event. Events are posted on Home in the Finger Lakes from information found on, but not limited to, attraction sites, government city sites; as well as submissions from individual attractions, press releases, and PR firms. All events are subject to change without notice and Home in the Finger Lakes cannot be held responsible.