Sightseeing in Northern Michigan: Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm

There are officially 95 days left until Christmas, but for some, the holiday spirit is alive and well 365 days a year.

For this week’s Sightseeing in Northern Michigan, Corey Adkins takes us to Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm in Clare.

Getting a Santa’s eye view of the Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm, you can see these animals find plenty to keep them busy in their off season.

"Right now there’s 15 or 16 and we’ll hope for a half dozen calves in the spring, the more the merrier. There’s very few in the country right now,” says Dave Aldrich.

Dave is one of the owners here. Of course he also loves Christmas. The gingerbread house is just one giveaway. 

"I was always a Christmas nut, so yes, once I got the chance to get a couple of reindeer, of course I jumped on it," says Dave.

Dave and his family had raised other deer, but these animals won them over quickly.

"They were a lot of fun, because we could put halters on them and lead them around. You can’t do that with any other deer. Pretty soon we started getting invitations to parades and different events and that kind of kicked it off," explains Dave.

Domesticated for 5,000 years and intelligent.

"They’re a gentle animal. They can be trained, they’re very intelligent. Their mind is somewhat similar to a horses in that they can be trained. They learn their names and respond to simple voice commands," says Dave.

Like Prancer, the bull of the herd. Right now he’s in rut.

"He’s very aggressive right now, and what he’s doing is keeping all the open females, the un-bred females, he spends all day rounding them up and pushing them into one corner of the pasture. He wants to keep all the girls together," says Dave.

But when he’s not in rut, the girls here are the dominant animals.

"Right now we have a yearling reindeer. Her name is Angel. She’s one we bottle fed and he’s kind of taken over the herd. Even though she’s the smallest and the youngest, she is the dominant animal. So, when she walks up to the feed trough everyone else will step back a bit," explains Dave.

While the herd instincts are in full effect on the farm, when these guys go on tour they are perfectly behaved — and that takes a lot of time and training.

"We take them in parades, we take them inside schools and libraries, so they are pretty much around people all the time. We have to know how they are going to behave. They do have very large, sharp, pointed antlers, so we have to know what they’re going to do, how they are going to respond in different situations," says Dave.

A lot of work, but it’s a life this family loves all year round.

"We really enjoy it. Even my grandson can get out here and lead these animals around. He’s 8 years old and he’ll be doing the Christmas events with us this year, and he enjoys it as much as the rest of us."

The farm opens for the season October 29. Santa comes for several visits at the beginning of December, and the animals make several stops across the state.

Categories: Northern Michigan In Focus