There’s a poster that has been kicking around the Reindeer Centre for as long as I’ve known. It’s since been framed and we keep it in our shop area as it’s a rather sweet poster with some words of wisdom when it comes to reindeer herding.
In case the image is too small to read properly, the text is:
- Shepherd thy herd closely when calving for thy calves are more precious than rubies.
- Kill not thy healthy reindeer except they be in abundance or be castrated and castrate not thy young reindeer for they will grow slowly and fatten as quickly as thy bulls.
- Husband thy pastures carefully that they not be over-grazed or destroyed by fires or trampling and never allow surplus reindeer to graze on winter lichen ranges.
- Love thy reindeer as thy sons and daughters, protecting them from wolves and bears, and assuring them abundant food and water all the days of their lives.
- Thou shalt not cause they reindeer great stress or make them to run swiftly for they will lose weight or overheat and die as surely as though smitten by thy sword.
- Healthy reindeer grow fat and have many calves, whereas sickly and diseased reindeer bring only shame and an empty purse.
- Seek solace for thy reindeer in cool breezes when hordes of mosquitos and warble flies haunt the summer ranges.
- Suffer not thy old, thy sickly not thy castrated reindeer to endure another snowfall for these reindeer are unproductive and will not fatten further.
- Attend to thy tablets carefully for the keeping of tally sheets and daily journals is the hallmark of a successful reindeer herder.
- Honour thy pasturelands, its waters and all its creatures, large and small, for they are a family that has endured for centuries.
In reference to point 2, I’ll add that we don’t cull any of our herd at all – when they were reintroduced from Sweden in the 50s it would have been the intention to cull ‘extra’ males who weren’t needed for breeding, but the direction of the herd changed pretty quickly to being purely a tourist attraction. No reindeer burgers here!
And on point 9, a diary has been kept daily since the 50s, recording the movements of the herd and any interesting information, and this is something that we continue to this day. Of course now it’s on a computer rather than hand-written, but everything is religiously recorded, day in and day out.