The Pebzz team were exploring the Arctic conditions in Northern Finland in January. Staying at the welcoming lodge at Basecamp Oulanka. Whilst taking some time out from snow shoe walking the scenic trails, learning Finnish woodcraft skills and learning to x-country ski, we took a day trip to visit the Palosaaren Reindeer Farm at Ruka-Kuusamo.
Jalmari Palosaari founded the farm in 1920 when he built the log cabin which is still in use. Jalmari's reindeer herd was almost completely lost during the second world war, after which he had only two of them left. Since then, the farm has been rebuilt and passed through three generations, now owned by Jalmari's granddaughter Satu, who received her first reindeer ear mark in 1982 - the method used to identify which reindeer belong to which farm. Satu's father, Reino, still keeps his hand in at the farm, although now retired.
The visit started with a reindeer sleigh ride through a small, woodland trail near the farm. The reindeer were clearly used to the work as they didn't need much guidance from us.......knowing that the end resulted in a fresh supply of their favourite lichen treat.
Next we went into the farm enclosures where all the reindeer live during the winter months.....and they let them all out so we could feed them and get to experience them close up and personal! It was easy to attract their attention by grabbing handfuls of tasty lichen which they could not resist.
The most interesting part of the visit took place in the original log cabin, sat round the cooking fire, where Satu talked us through the seasons on a reindeer farm and what work needed to be done. It was fascinating to learn how the industry is regulated to ensure sustainability of the National Park and reindeer numbers. Geographical areas are given fixed numbers they have to maintain, with farmers working together to herd the reindeer back from the woodland for the colder, winter months.
The National Park eco-system and farmers' livelihood work in unison to ensure that both last into the far future. Even the dreaded mosquito is key to the working year, as increased numbers in the summer mean more reindeer herd together for protection, which then makes them easier to locate and bring back to the farm. Yes, it's true...the mosquito is the reindeer farmers' friend!
So, if you ever get the chance then make the effort to visit the Palosaaren Reindeer Farm at Ruka-Kuusamo. A fantastic, informative and fun day out where you get to be as close as is possible to these beautiful animals.
Visit Polasaaren Reindeer Farm at www.palosaarenporotila.fi/en/reindeer-farm
Visit Basecamp Oulanka at www.basecampoulanka.fi