For the past few years we have run an ‘in house’ competition to guess which reindeer will calve first. It’s restricted to reindeer herders and based on our knowledge of individual reindeer, when they ran with the bull, how rotund they look and their past history of calving we each choose a reindeer. The winner gets a pat on the back, but the person whose reindeer calves last (or not at all!) has to swim in Loch Morlich.
Loch Morlich is a big expanse of deep cold water constantly rejuvenated with more cold water from the Allt Mhor burn, a fast flowing stream which starts high up in the northern slopes of the Cairngorms, where snow from last winter is still lying. The loser has to complete their forfeit before the end of June.
Last year, I chose Ladybird who was one of the earliest cows to calve from the ones we all picked. I was not going to be the one who took the plunge, that duty was left to Hen, who graciously took the plunge when her reindeer, Lulu, was the last to calve.
This year, I again plumped for Ladybird, with a good track record I guessed I couldn’t go wrong. But how wrong could I be because as all the other cows calved Ladybird showed absolutely no signs of joining the mother/toddler group. With the last calves born it became inevitable that I would be the one getting the wooden spoon this year.
As the days slipped by I was suddenly reminded that the end of June was nearly upon us so I would need to fulfil my forfeit soon. Unfortunately everyone had ‘hot dates’ after work on the 30th June so only Fiona, Julia and the dogs, Sookie, Tiree and Moskki were there to witness ‘the boss’ taking the plunge. It was cold and invigorating but I did it! And there are photos to prove it.