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WQAD.com

It’s worth the drive: A farm in Western Illinois where you can see real reindeer

Husband and wife team Scott and Tracy made their living as teachers but after retirement, they realized a new love in life might have to do with their last name...

Husband and wife team Scott and Tracy made their living as teachers but after retirement, they realized a new love in life might have to do with their last name: Snowman.

Yes, that's their real last name! About five years ago, they learned how fascinating reindeer were and knew they needed to combine their love of teaching with the beautiful animals. Since they already lived in a rural setting in Central Illinois, they knew what they had to do.

That passion turned into an epic family destination for those wanting to get in the spirit of Christmas. Every year, several thousand people visit their farm to pet the beautiful animals and learn about them.

There's also part of the story that involves magic! Tracy tells us about a bell that they discovered in the barn one Christmas morning. "If any one of Santa's reindeer are tired over the states of Illinois or Indiana, Santa can borrow one of their reindeer, leaving Santa's tired reindeer in one of their stalls to rest."

The only way the Snowmans know? Santa leaves a beautiful bell on the stall as a kind gesture to them.

The farm has several buildings and is a wonderful destination in any type of weather. When News 8 visited, the wind was howling and it was mighty cold. But there are concessions to warm everyone up and several buildings and gift shop to explore.

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There are only a few more days left in the season to pay them a visit, and a few of the days around Christmas require reservations. Click here to learn more. They are about a 1 hour 45 minute drive south of the Quad Cities.

snowman

Thank you so much to Tracy and Scott for the invitation to meet their reindeer. Not only are they wonderful and gracious hosts, their farm will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime!

Here are 12 facts about reindeer, thanks to the National Wildlife Federation:

12 fascinating facts you can use to impress your friends and family:

  1. In North America reindeer are also called caribou.
  2. Both the males and females grow antlers.
  3. Their noses are specially designed to warm the air before it gets to their lungs.
  4. Reindeer hooves expand in summer when the ground is soft and shrink in winter when the ground is hard.
  5. Some subspecies have knees that make a clicking noise when they walk so the animals can stay together in a blizzard.
  6. Some North American caribou migrate over 3,000 miles in a year – more than any other land mammal.
  7. Though thought of as a tundra species, a form of caribou lived in southern Idaho until the 19th century (there are ongoing efforts to re-establish them in the state).
  8. Northernmost species are much lighter in color than species at the southern end their range.
  9. Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and Subarctic peoples.
  10. The name “reindeer” is of Norse origin (from the old Norse word “hreinn” for deer) and has nothing to do the reins of a sled. The name “caribou” comes to us through the French, from the Mi’kmag “qalipu,” meaning “snow shoveler.”
  11. Golden eagles are the leading predator of caribou calves in the late spring and fall.
  12. Once the entire body of a reindeer was found inside a Greenland shark (most likely a case of near-shore scavenging, as opposed to a migrating land shark).