CHARLESTON – Christmas is over for most people, but for Pauline and John Broe the holiday of peace, love and joy hangs around all year. The Broes, from the Vermont Reindeer Farm, own the only reindeer in the state. The names of their reindeer are, appropriately enough, Comet and Prancer.
The whole idea of owning reindeer started when the Broes built on property that’s been in the family for several generations. John Broe, who works at his son’s farm in Barton, wasn’t interested in his own dairy farm. His wife Pauline got the idea of owning reindeer in 2008 after reading an article about a family that owned reindeer in New York State.
“I thought it would be kind of cool,” was her first reaction after reading the article. “I started looking into it and found out there are no reindeer in Vermont.”
Pauline started talking to the people mentioned in the article. The Broes started the process to obtain their reindeer by calling the Department of Agricultural.
“You don’t just say you’re going to buy a reindeer,” said Pauline. “There is a huge process to go through. It took us about eight months working with the Department of Agriculture to get them here. Vermont is free of all diseases and they don’t want animals coming into the state that don’t have that.”
The Broes joined the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association to help them find another state that is also disease free. That ended up being Indiana.
The Broes frequently open their property to visitors at no cost, except maybe a bag of apples or a bag of carrots, which usually surprises visitors. However, the Broes charge organizations to display reindeer at holiday events.
“We certainly don’t mind people coming here,” Pauline said. Pauline, who works at the Derby Elementary School, invites students to come on field trips. “We have a nature trail in our forest. It’s something we didn’t realize was going to happen.”
Children love visiting the farm and Pauline even made up a story to tell them. “In about August or September, Comet has shed his velvet; he will stand on a flat rock in the yard looking up at the sky,” said Pauline. “I tell the kids, 'That’s the rock he uses to look for Santa.' The kids think it’s so cool.”
“In this day and age, kids don’t have enough magical things to hold on to,” said Pauline. She said many parents thank her for helping their kids to still believe in Santa. “I find it fulfilling doing what we’re doing. I am happy to be able to share.”