With this page I want to give everyone a understanding of what my family and I are working with.
Just the basics.
First of all you need to know that to be/become a reindeer herder you need to be a native Sami. In short, we’re indigenous people living in the north part of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia.
My family has been reindeer herders for as many generations we can count. My mother Berit-Marie come from a Sami family in the north part of Norway but when she met my father Stefan over 30 years ago, she moved to him and his family in Sweden. My father has been working in this business since he graduated from junior high. Today we own between 1.000 and 1.500 head (depending on the year) and am using the same land as my grandfather, great grandfather, etc. used at their time being alive. Below I want to give you the best possible description of a normal year in my life.
The calendar year start with January 1st, we ‘start’ our year in May when the females give birth to the calfs. This is nothing we interfere with, they’ll have to manage on their own. Our livestock is mainly wild and we rarely get to come close to them. At this time a year we’re located up on the mountain ranges together with a couple of more families, we use about 500.000 acres at this time. We try to let our livestock be on their own as long as the calfs are young, we keep them somehow together but in the beginning of their life they’re very fragile. It’s not until June we really begin to work with them, to keep them on specific places. Under all of this time we do our best to protect our livestock from predators like Wolverine, Eagles and Bears but because of the Swedish laws we can’t really do much about it.
Is one of the most wonderful/magical months in my life. We’re mainly up on the mountains together with our livestock and it’s time to mark the newbies. Ever reindeer-owner has his own mark (in the ears). It might take about two/three weeks before we’ve seen through 10.000 head. This is also the most beautiful month in the year and we doesn’t have any dark moments. The sun barely leaves the sky.
It’s time to gather them together again to do our annual slaughter. We’re still up on the mountain ranges.
It’s time to move down to the forest because the winter’s coming up. Our livestock decide themselves when it’s time to go and we start gathering them together again. Now we separate from the other families for the winter (if there are too many head in the same group, they’ll get problems finding food). Usually my father and I collaborate with my uncle over the winter, now we run about 3.000 head.
It’s winter and we’ve got plenty of work. This is usually a time when there’s no days free from work. We have plenty of pressure from predators but also from main-ways and train-railes. We work every lit hour of the day (it’s between four and six hours). We have no time to waste.
It’s getting lighter and lighter for every day, the suns stays up longer. We’re now gathering together the herd to prepare the long move up to the mountains again.
It’s time to move up to the mountains. We have about 20-30 miles before we’re safe up on the mountain ranges again.