Reindeer Don't Always Live At The North Pole

| 11/25/2014 8:57:00 AM

Country MoonEverybody knows Santa’s reindeer, Dancer and Prancer, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph. Now we’d like you to meet Holly and her two offspring, Snowflake and Blizzard, who live on a farm just outside Centreville, Michigan.

It turned into a family affair when the Brueck family decided to start raising reindeer eight years ago. Larry and Vicky kicked around the idea, and it wasn’t long before their son Josh and his wife, Carrie, were also onboard. Larry laughs, “There always needs to be replacements in case one of Santa’s reindeer gets sick or hurt, and we thought having them around would be a lot of fun.”


This was right up Josh’s alley since he is a park ranger with St. Joe County in Michigan. “We got Holly from a woman in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when she was 1 month old,” he says. “She nuzzled right up to us so we knew she was the one to bring home.”

Not wanting people to confuse them with Santa’s reindeer but still keeping with the Christmas theme, they chose the names Holly, and Snowflake and Blizzard for her offspring. It is a challenge to breed and raise reindeer in captivity because the leg muscles don’t develop properly, which makes it hard for them to stand and feed. Part of this is due to the fact that they don’t have lichen, their natural food source that grows abundantly in Lapland and around the Arctic Circle.

So, what else do the reindeer do while they are waiting for Santa to call? The three of them, especially Holly, are celebrities in the area. Each year from two weeks before Thanksgiving until about a week before Christmas, their weekends are spent at area shows. Josh says, “Both young and old love to come and see a real live reindeer. Since there are only a few reindeer farms in Michigan, it’s not something you see too often.”