After several months, its still a bit of a struggle to get Copper haltered up and out of the gate. Once he starts eating the dandelions and clover he doesn't want to go back to the pen until his mom, Crystal, goes back. The reindeer get jealous if only one or two get to go for a walk. We try to take them all out at the same time whenever we have enough "reindeer walkers" to help out.
Copper resting in the fall leaves.
It is usually July before we change over to a halter with the reindeer calves, but Copper is just too big for the harness. One afternoon, Harvey managed to catch him with a dandelion lure. Getting the halter on wasn’t too difficult, but getting Copper to move was a different story. He doesn’t like the halter any better than the harness. Copper redefines the word stubborn.
The dandelion trick didn’t work a second time. Next trick was to herd Crystal and Copper into the adjacent garden to narrow down the catching area and escape routes. The halter went on pretty smoothly, but getting Copper out of the garden wasn’t so easy. Alternating with a push on the rump and a pull on the halter worked, but how slow and tedious can this be? Once outside the fences, he wasn’t too interested in eating all the treats such as dandelions, clover, or birch. He did settle down a little for some willow leaves.
Hush, Copper! It's nap time ...
Now Copper is onto us. No more tricking him with dandelions or trapping him in the garden. But, the other five reindeer are anxious to go for a walk outside the pen and crowd against the gate to get out for their treat (weeds!). Copper gets right in there and is an easy catch up against the gate. Quickly, get the halter on and right out the gate we go. A bit of a struggle at first, but with all the clover just outside the gate, maybe Copper finally has it figured out...
Copper is growing faster than any of the other reindeer calves. At a month old he looks like a two month old calf. He’s big enough the other reindeer don’t treat him like a baby. In the past the other calves, especially Granite, were at the top of the reindeer herd ladder. When the calf approached a feeder the adult reindeer walked away, leaving all the feed for the calf. Not so with Copper. Mica and Granite shoo him away when he approaches. Crystal and Jade are the only adults that let him tag along and share a feeder.
Hello, I'm here! Been waiting long?
Harness training became impossible….Copper just wouldn’t let us catch him. If we kicked his favorite ball back to him, he would let us get within a two-foot radius to play with the ball. Then if we slowly stretched our arm out to him, he would let us scratch his head between his antlers. But no way was he going to let us catch him!
Another boy!…..Little Copper arrived about 8:00 am on April 7, 2005. Strong and healthy, he was up wobbling alongside mom, Crystal, when Harvey found him at feeding time that morning. Copper was a bit independent and stubborn from the start. Harness training started on day three. After the first day in the harness, he didn’t want us to catch him again. The next couple of tries, we had to wait until he was alongside Crystal and reach over her to catch him.
At a week old, he got wise to our methods and didn’t take his eyes off us when we came near him or his mom. He grew so fast, within a week he was too strong for Sandy to hold alone. She managed to grab him one morning and hold on as he knocked her over. What a sight… lying flat on her back with a twenty pound reindeer scrambling in her arms. Where’s the video camera when you need it?